We taught our children “eyes closed and eyes open” prayers. “Eyes closed prayers” are for meal times, bed times, family times, and church services. The posture shows a proper respect given our Heavenly Father, who though loving and merciful, is nonetheless all-powerful, holy, and Sovereign Creator of the universe. He’s not our buddy, chum, classmate, or pal. And though He calls us “friends,” we never mistake the roaring lion Aslan for the Cowardly Lion of Oz.
“Eyes open” prayer is for driving in the car. Eyes open prayers are the ooohs and aawwws of fireworks and the spontaneous outbursts of joy and gratitude when transfixed by the deep purple and orange clouds after a torrential thunderstorm. Eyes open prayers are for color-drenched sunsets and mountain peak shards sparkling with snow against an azure sky.
In all those serendipitous moments in life where we see beauty and wonder, our children did not say, “Oh, look at that pretty field of sunflowers.” Instead, through eyes open prayer they spoke directly to God: “How beautiful are the sunflowers You made!”
How did we come to “eyes closed and eyes open prayers?” We couldn’t figure out any other way to teach them to “pray without ceasing” and to “give thanks in all circumstances” (1 Thes. 5:17-18). And as it turns out, the simple distinction taught our children reverential awe for a God who nonetheless calls us “friends.”