Heads bowed, eyes closed

Albrecht Dürer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Albrecht Dürer [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Heads bowed – eyes closed, prelude to prayer time. Reading this instruction, a lot of people will recall the enthusiasm of those far distant days in the Beginner’s in Sunday School with: eyes closed tightly, heads well bowed. Much the same in the earlier Primary classes in day school, possibly with a little less enthusiasm and a bit more peeping! What amazes me, when so many traditions in religious practice have bitten the dust, is that this mantra (in part) should still evoke a positive response. Let us pray is the invitation and the faithful instinctively shut their eyes and incline their head, ever so slightly. Why? Might be a reasonable question to put to them. After all, there is no recognized liturgical dictate requiring it. Of course I speak as a non-conformist – although it has to be said, things are changing. More and more who share the same view as myself prefer well produced and inspiring printed prayers, some with responses. Back to the question: why? One would hope heads do not drop and eyes close simply out of habit, or to catch a quick snooze, although I suspect this may be all too common. A great pity. Those who lead worship will have done their best to ensure that prayer time is given an adequate space and appropriate relevance. The days of the lengthy, wordy and rambling prayers are surely gone – hopefully! Were they ever close to being the best part of a fellowship or a time of worship?

Head bowed – eyes closed . . . why? I have not answered the question: I leave it with you…

Heads bowed – eyes closed. As we try faithfully to live the Christian life, we can never escape the testimony of the saints, men and women of prayer, that prayer, whatever its form, is an essential life-shaping, life-sustaining and powerful influence in discipleship. Prayer – volumes have been written, volumes remain to be written and I am about to add to it. From this posting of my blog, and for a few subsequent issues, the pattern will change. We will on each occasion take a further and different approach to the subject of prayer. The blog will consist of a number of prayers with the minimum of comment. We may use them as we would a theological exercise, or share them in a smaller fellowship gathering as a devotional exercise. A few of the prayers are given a headline title, but this will not apply to the majority of then.

Prayer is the soul’s sincere desire, uttered or unexpressed.

A prayer for the beginning of the day

Lord, there are people we will want to avoid today and if we happen to see them in time we will cross the street or turn to look into the nearest shop window. Some people do get into our hair. Forgive us if we are uncharitable. Fortunately there are those whose company it is always a joy to share. But are we any better than those, the sight of whom depresses and annoys? Lord, we hope that when people meet us they may feel better for having been with us. May ours be a good day because we have helped to make it a nice day for somebody else.

Father God, we are a fickle people – headstrong, thinking we know best, looking back; wishing; resenting. Father God, loving, understanding; forgiving, restoring. Father God, we look ahead, hope in the heart, coping, we never walk alone. Father God, bless you, trust you, love you.

Amen

2 thoughts on “Heads bowed, eyes closed

  1. John Staton

    I have to say that closing my eyes when praying helps me focus on God, but in public worship I often appreciate prayers which are printed or projected onto a screen, especially if they have responses, because that helps me to concentrate on what I’m saying and helps me fight the temptation to nod off. All the best, John

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