You shouldn’t do this. I think there’s a verse in 2 Thessalonians that mentions the need to have your eyes closed at all times when the pastor is praying at church. But if you do, if you willfully decide to crack your eyelids for a peek, the very least I can do is prepare you for what you’ll find.
It’s a church wonderland.
It really is. When you open your eyes during a prayer it’s like going snorkeling for the first time and being shocked at how much life is going on under the surface of the water. All the years you were clutching your eyes shut, you had no idea what you were missing.
The removal of instruments? The magical set changes or pulpit vanishing acts that happen on stage? That’s during prayer. The way ushers seem to materialize out of thin air with the offering buckets when the prayer is over? That’s accomplished during a prayer. In fact, the momentum of the church staff doesn’t stop when it’s prayer time, if anything it speeds up the moment you close your eyes. But that’s housekeeping stuff. What about the underprayer wonders you’ll see?
A few of my favorites include:
The guy that thinks he’s invisible when he’s praying.
You might know him by his more common name, “Nose pick guy.” He’s made the assumption that everyone has their eyes closed and he is therefore invisible. (My youngest daughter does this when we play hide and seek. If she can’t see you, she assumes that you can’t see her so the only body part she’ll hide is her head.) As soon as people bow their heads in prayer this guy suspends all social graces and has no problem combining a prayer with a ferocious session of nose-picking.
The bathroom jail breaker
She has got to go. And like Tom Cruise hanging from the ceiling in Mission Impossible, she knows this is her moment. She quietly gets up, moving with the deftness of someone playing the game “Operation.” And the second she breaks free of her row and gets in some open space, she starts powerwalking. The clock is ticking. If she’s going to make it to the bathroom and get back to her seat before the sermon, she knows she has to hustle.
The little kid who knows silence amplifies his yelling.
This rascal had his yelps and giggles hidden under a warm blanket of worship music, but no more. It’s quiet now and this is his time to shine and shine he will. Standing up in his seat he’ll fill that quiet time of reflection with loud talking, highlighted when his mother whispers, “be quiet” and he yells back “Why?” But if you’re really lucky, if you’re special, you’ll witness a “little kid call out” and will actually hear him yell, “Mom, that man is picking his nose.” Oh, so rare. It’s like seeing a unicorn fish floating about the reef. A creature so rare I had to make it up for the purpose of this paragraph.
The only thing that ruins a good open eye exploration session, other than that you might be missing the point of prayer, is when you make eye contact with someone else doing the same thing. It’s like bumping into a family of other tourists when you’re snorkeling. Some of the wonder of being in a completely foreign undersea world disappears when in the midst of floating about gently in a clear blue sea you bump into a guy wearing a “Fear This” t-shirt. Look away. Look away quickly and either close your eyes and jump back into the prayer or try to find a bathroom jail breaker you can time with your watch. Will she make it back? Will she get caught off guard by an unexpectedly short prayer and end up interrupting the sermon with her reentry? Ohh the intrigue.
Have you ever opened your eyes during a prayer at church?
(P.S. big shout out to Jered R. for suggesting this topic, or what he called “The cone of silence.” I completely forgot to mention him and that is my bad. The best ideas come from readers and this is one of them.)