Week 9 Habit: Prayer Rituals

I’ve been unfocused in my efforts to write this week. My thoughts pull me in random directions, and I can easily use the distractions to veer off course of writing (and a myriad of other intentions). When I found myself starting a third topic change for this week’s habit and still dealing with excuses for waiting until later, I decided to begin my writing sessions with a prayer.

My internal dialog includes God 24/7, but I want pre-writing prayers to be specific and focused. I obviously don’t keep my eyes shut all day when I’m conversing with God, but thought it would be a helpful action for these prayers. I closed my eyes (and even covered my closed eyes with my hands), I prayed for clarity and inspiration, then my mind wandered to thoughts of why people close their eyes to pray and how that habit originated.

The “why” behind the “what” always intrigues me, like a mystery to be solved! Why do we close our eyes to pray? Why do we fold our hands, bow our heads, sometimes kneel, begin with “Dear Jesus” and end with “Amen,” and pray before meals and bedtime? I should add workouts and de-frizzing my hair to this list! I’m not saying any of these are wrong, nor do I believe any of these actions are requirements for communication between us and God.

Curiosity is a tool to question habits and heighten our awareness of what we do. I like Googling questions to research, so I tried “why do we close our eyes”…before I finished typing “when we pray,” it auto-filled three options: when we kiss, when we pray, when we sneeze. I resisted the urge to be distracted and decided to go back to a search for kissing and sneezing later!

Determining purpose is important to me, which is why I need to know the reason for rules. Even when it’s a tradition or ritual instead of a rule, I start with figuring out the point, then decide if and how it applies to me. Prayer is talking with God, and that’s the point of it. Since the Bible doesn’t have required physical positions or times to pray (other than praying all the time), I should follow what works for me and what I’m personally led to do. Adding requirements to myself and others in an attempt to classify prayers as credible or not is being legalistic. It’s missing the point.

Time to Google kissing and sneezing…