Why Do People Close Their Eyes When They Pray

Why Do People Close Their Eyes When They Pray?

When people are praying in church, praying for a friend, or praying before a meal, it’s common for everyone to close their eyes. You’ll hear many pastors tell the congregation to bow their head and close their eyes during prayer.

Closing your eyes is the natural and socially acceptable thing to do while you or someone around you is praying.

Is there a reason why people close their eyes during prayer?

As I was researching this topic, I found a few reasons why people close their eyes.

Closing your eyes helps you focus on your other senses like hearing. Most people find that they’re less distracted when they’re closing their eyes. They can focus more on connecting with God if they’re less distracted by what’s happening in the room. Closing your eyes can also be seen as a sign of reverence or respect towards God.

But, closing your eyes during prayer isn’t mentioned in the Bible.

In fact, the posture of prayer in the Bible was quite different than how we pray today. If you watched people in the Bible pray, they would be standing or kneeling, and looking up towards the sky. The posture of prayer was similar in most religions.

Matthew 6:18

There are multiple Bible verses that show people’s normal posture of prayer.

“I will lift up my eyes to the hills—From whence comes my help? My help comes from the Lord, Who made heaven and earth.”

Psalm 121:1-2 NKJV

“Lift up your eyes on high, And see who has created these things, Who brings out their host by number; He calls them all by name, By the greatness of His might And the strength of His power; Not one is missing.”

Isaiah 40:26 NKJV

“Then He took the five loaves and the two fish, and looking up to heaven, He blessed and broke them, and gave them to the disciples to set before the multitude.”

Luke 9:16 NKJV

“And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, ‘Father, I thank You that You have heard Me. And I know that You always hear Me, but because of the people who are standing by I said this, that they may believe that You sent Me.’”

John 11:41-42 NKJV

Based on the scriptures, the normal posture of prayer wouldn’t be having your eyes closed and bowing your head down. 

Lifting your eyes up is a reminder of God’s greatness as reflected in creation.

There’s not a right or wrong posture of prayer.

However, there is effective prayer and ineffective prayer. When Jesus taught His disciples how to pray, He didn’t tell them how to stand, sit or kneel. Jesus didn’t tell them whether to have their eyes open or closed.

Instead, Jesus focused on the importance of private prayer. His instructions were to go somewhere private. During His ministry, it was popular for the religious people to pray in public, on street corners. There’s nothing wrong with public prayer, the issue was with their hearts. They weren’t praying to connect with God.

Instead, they wanted people to see them praying so they’d appear to be more holy and righteous. These people were trying to impress people, rather than develop a connection with God.

“Now in the morning, having risen a long while before daylight, He went out and departed to a solitary place; and there He prayed.”

Mark 1:35 NKJV

“And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there.”

Matthew 14:23 NKJV

“He went a little farther and fell on His face, and prayed, saying, ‘O My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass from Me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as You will.’”

Matthew 26:39 NKJV

We need to spend time in private prayer, just as Jesus modeled for us. Of course, there’s a time and place to pray in public and with other people.

You can keep your eyes closed or open during prayer. The more important thing is that you’re praying in faith, and developing a relationship with the Father through prayer.

“A concentrated mind and a sitting body make for better prayer than a kneeling body and a mind half asleep.”

– C.S. Lewis

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