Posture in Prayer: The Lifting Heavenward Of The Eyes

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Coram Deo

Puritan Board Junior
The Lifting Heavenward of the Eyes


Does it matter what physical position God’s people assume when they engage in public prayer? The Scriptures mentions posture in prayer and indicates that it is not a matter of indifference or of little consequence. William Hendriksen, commenting on 1 Timothy 2:8-15, wrote:

Posture in prayer is never a matter of indifference. The slouching position of the body while one is suppose to be praying is an abomination to the Lord. . . . Different positions of arms, hands, and of the body as a whole, are indicated. All of these are permissible as long as they symbolize different aspects of the worshipper’s reverent attitude, and as long as they truly interpret the sentiments of the heart..

Psalm 25:15

Mine eyes are ever toward the LORD; for he shall pluck my feet out of the net.

Psalm 123:1, 2

Unto thee lift I up mine eyes, O thou that dwellest in the heavens. Behold, as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress; so our eyes wait upon the LORD our God, until that he have mercy upon us.

Psalm 148:8

But mine eyes are unto thee, O GOD the Lord: in thee is my trust; leave not my soul destitute.

Psalm 145:15

The eyes of all wait upon thee; and thou givest them their meat in due season.

Daniel 9:3

And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes:
John 11:41

Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.

John 17:1

These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee:

Acts 7:55

But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,


There does not seem to be one shred of evidence of eyes closed in the scriptures...

Remaining Questions...

When did closing of one eyes and not looking heavenward become the tradition? Was it with Charles Finney and his "New Measures"?
 

Dieter Schneider

Puritan Board Sophomore
The Lifting Heavenward of the Eyes


Does it matter what physical position God’s people assume when they engage in public prayer? The Scriptures mentions posture in prayer and indicates that it is not a matter of indifference or of little consequence. William Hendriksen, commenting on 1 Timothy 2:8-15, wrote:

Posture in prayer is never a matter of indifference. The slouching position of the body while one is suppose to be praying is an abomination to the Lord. . . . Different positions of arms, hands, and of the body as a whole, are indicated. All of these are permissible as long as they symbolize different aspects of the worshipper’s reverent attitude, and as long as they truly interpret the sentiments of the heart..

Psalm 25:15

Mine eyes are ever toward the LORD; for he shall pluck my feet out of the net.

Psalm 123:1, 2

Unto thee lift I up mine eyes, O thou that dwellest in the heavens. Behold, as the eyes of servants look unto the hand of their masters, and as the eyes of a maiden unto the hand of her mistress; so our eyes wait upon the LORD our God, until that he have mercy upon us.

Psalm 148:8

But mine eyes are unto thee, O GOD the Lord: in thee is my trust; leave not my soul destitute.

Psalm 145:15

The eyes of all wait upon thee; and thou givest them their meat in due season.

Daniel 9:3

And I set my face unto the Lord God, to seek by prayer and supplications, with fasting, and sackcloth, and ashes:
John 11:41

Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up his eyes, and said, Father, I thank thee that thou hast heard me.

John 17:1

These words spake Jesus, and lifted up his eyes to heaven, and said, Father, the hour is come; glorify thy Son, that thy Son also may glorify thee:

Acts 7:55

But he, being full of the Holy Ghost, looked up stedfastly into heaven, and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing on the right hand of God,


There does not seem to be one shred of evidence of eyes closed in the scriptures...

Remaining Questions...

When did closing of one eyes and not looking heavenward become the tradition? Was it with Charles Finney and his "New Measures"?

What about Luke 18:13?
 

Coram Deo

Puritan Board Junior
In Worship in the Presence of God, it is stated that Luke 18:13 falls under the section "other postures".

Luke 18:13 (Standing from Afar, striking the breast)

This posture was and is most likely like prostration which is reserved for special humiliation and mourning.. When grieving of severe sin...

I am not sure if they should be done in the public worship of God... But also notice that "He did not so much lift up his eyes" It does not say that they were closed but just cast down....

The teaching of Luke is not so much about Posture but attitude as the other passages refer to posture like the Psalms....


What about Luke 18:13?
 

jambo

Puritan Board Senior
I am amused today by our church prayer meetings where we sit and close our eyes which is quite different to the examples of people praying in the bible. In scripture we see people falling face down, or on their knees or standing to pray. Most of the time their eyes seemed to be open. When we read about Jesus praying he often had his eyes lifted to heaven. I did my own survey of prayer postures in the bible and as far as I can recall the only instance of one sitting to pray is David.

I think the posture of prayer relates to the type of praying. Worship in prayer lends itself to streatching out the hands whereas sorrowful confession is more subdued with the head bowed.

In private I always felt I could pray better when I knelt but I must confess that I often ended falling asleep. I actually find it a help to stand and lift the eyes towards heaven with arms outstreacted. It is also helpful to vocalise prayer rather than keep it silent.

During corporate prayer times in a previous church we encouraged those who wanted to kneel to kneel and those who wanted to stand to stand. If people wanted to raise their hands then they could do so. This was never seen as a distraction. However this was when I was in the Irish Republic where churches were small and the membership was around twenty. Maybe in a big church it would or could be more of a distraction. Having admitted to falling asleep when kneeling during my private devotions, it is interesting to note I never once fell asleep if kneeling at the church prayer meeting.

In one sense it does not matter so much that the eyes are looking heavenward but that the heart is looking heavenward.
 
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