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Author Topic: Praying with eyes open or closed  (Read 884 times) Average Rating: 0
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Ignatius II
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« on: January 13, 2012, 11:00:35 AM »

I once heard someone say that Eastern Orthodox normally pray with their eyes open and Catholics pray with their eyes closed. Probably a rather inconsequential issue, but it kind of made me wonder.  I guess with me it depends on what I am praying or if it is in private or public.  Most protestants, particularly ministers I recall close their eyes very tightly, and I would have to say it seems thatit appears most Catholics seem to close their eyes at least during a public prayer.  Just curious if there really is any difference between protestants, Roman Catholics, Eastern Catholics and Eastern Orthodox. Any input?
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« Reply #1 on: January 13, 2012, 11:06:37 AM »

I've been told by numerous Orthodox sources that one should keep one's eyes closed during prayer and open them only to "recharge" one's prayer by looking at an icon if one feels distracted.

FWIW, I do both. 
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« Reply #2 on: January 13, 2012, 11:26:06 AM »


I do both, as well.

It depends on the prayer, and where you are.

Sometimes, if the church is crowded and folks are moving about, and kids are playing with their toys, and people are chit chatting, it's easier to simply block them all out by closing your eyes and focus on the "sounds", not the "sites".  Then you hear the hymns being sung, the words of the priest's petitions, you notice the sweetness of the incense, etc.

However, if there's no major distractions, open and look at the salvation before you.  The icons, the priest's gestures, etc.  It's communal prayer.

It all depends.

However, I've heard that the faithful are not to "imagine" things, and not "visualize" things...which is apt to happen with closed eyes.  If they are open you have a harder time of visualizing, as your mind is locked on what your eyes are looking at.

I am curious if there really is a right or wrong here.

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« Reply #3 on: January 13, 2012, 04:34:51 PM »

I once heard someone say that Eastern Orthodox normally pray with their eyes open and Catholics pray with their eyes closed. Probably a rather inconsequential issue, but it kind of made me wonder.  I guess with me it depends on what I am praying or if it is in private or public.  Most protestants, particularly ministers I recall close their eyes very tightly, and I would have to say it seems thatit appears most Catholics seem to close their eyes at least during a public prayer.  Just curious if there really is any difference between protestants, Roman Catholics, Eastern Catholics and Eastern Orthodox. Any input?

I really wish I had a dollar for every time I've heard the statement: "I once heard someone say," followed by weird and often inaccurate information.

How one prays depends on the person. I've never seen or read anything anywhere about Orthodox praying with eyes open or closed. The closest thing I have found relates to where the hands are, and even this varies, though mostly they are at the sides.
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« Reply #4 on: January 13, 2012, 07:56:39 PM »

I close them when everyone else is closing theirs and bowing their heads. Otherwise I keep them open, so I can see the icons... or the words I'm supposed to be praying  Grin
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« Reply #5 on: January 13, 2012, 07:57:33 PM »

That's interesting. I had never heard of a rule about it, but the way I do it is this: in church, eyes open. At home, usually closed.
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« Reply #6 on: January 13, 2012, 08:03:22 PM »

I've been told by numerous Orthodox sources that one should keep one's eyes closed during prayer and open them only to "recharge" one's prayer by looking at an icon if one feels distracted.

FWIW, I do both. 
Doesn't praying with one's eyes closed tend towards engaging the imagination in prayer?
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« Reply #7 on: January 13, 2012, 08:05:07 PM »

Shanghaiski-

I'm not exactly sure of the implication of your response if you were questioning if I actually heard this statement or if I had been supplied with inaccurate information. I am assuming you meant the latter. Irregardless, here is one source as a reference to the eyes open prayer issue: Ancient Faith Radio's podcast of entitled -At the Intersection of East and West series dated Jan 7, 2009 by Deacon Michael Hyatt titled "10 Things I Wish I Knew".   I haven't listened to this podcast again to verify if this is the correct one.  If you find it is not the correct podcast, let me know and  I will try will try to  locate this particular source.   
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« Reply #8 on: January 13, 2012, 08:06:55 PM »

I've been told by numerous Orthodox sources that one should keep one's eyes closed during prayer and open them only to "recharge" one's prayer by looking at an icon if one feels distracted.

FWIW, I do both. 
Doesn't praying with one's eyes closed tend towards engaging the imagination in prayer?

I can't speak for others, but for me, it helps to shut out distractions.
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« Reply #9 on: January 13, 2012, 08:29:42 PM »

I keep my eyes open. . . whether I'm at home or at church. . . it is very very rare that I will close my eyes.  But that isn't anything I've ever been taught, that's how I've always prayed.
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