When we pray do we have to close our eyes?
A: Dear Autumn,
There are actually examples of people in the Bible who prayed with their eyes open! One is Nehemiah, who, when we was standing before the King of Persia with his eyes open, said a quick prayer to God (see Nehemiah 2:1-4). Another example is Daniel, who prayed while looking toward Jerusalem (see Daniel 6:10). And the Bible also tells us that Jesus prayed with His eyes opened in one of His most famous prayers in John chapter 17. So the answer is No, we don’t have to have our eyes closed when we pray.
HOWEVER, the reason we usually do have our eyes closed (I do MOST of the time, and I teach my children to, also) is to keep us from getting distracted. When our eyes are opened, we are tempted to start looking at everything going on around us during prayer, and then we stop thinking about the prayer and start thinking about other things. When our eyes are closed, we can pay attention better. If we are in a time of emergency, like Nehemiah, or a place of peace and quiet without other distractions, like Daniel and Jesus, it is okay to pray with our eyes opened. In most cases, though, I would encourage you to keep them closed!
Thanks for writing, and remember, there's never been a better time to share Jesus!
Your friend, Pastor Howard
*Note: All Scripture references are from the English Standard Version unless otherwise indicated.