Praying with One Eye Open

Years ago, when I was working at an electronics company as a writer, my boss told me this story.

He said that they invited the pastor of their church and his family to join them for dinner. After they said grace over the food, my boss’s son spoke up, pointing out a transgression of one of the pastor’s children, a daughter if I remember right.

“She had her eyes open during the prayer!” he said.

My boss chuckled and asked, “How could you tell that she had her eyes open during the prayer unless you had your eyes open?”

The boy had a clever answer: “Well, I had one eye opened and one eye closed.”

Isn’t it funny how we pick out our own weaknesses in others and condemn them? Maybe you remember this scripture from Romans 2:1:

Therefore thou art inexcusable, O man, whosoever thou art that judgest: for wherein thou judgest another, thou condemnest thyself; for thou that judgest doest the same things.

Why do we do that? I think we do it to try to skirt responsibility for our own actions. It is difficult to forgive others and to take responsibility for our own actions when you are judging them or blaming them.

The best thing we can do is to stop judging them. But how?

We don’t judge unless we first have pride in our hearts. Pride exists, at least in part, to protect our egos, the overinflated part of ourselves that pops with barely a pinprick.

We don’t blame others unless we first judge them.

We don’t get angry unless we first blame others for our difficulties.

The key is to deal with our pride—then downstream troubles seem to fade away.

The antidote to pride is humility. Humility comes from honesty and integrity. That is, the willingness to look at ourselves clearly and to see ourselves as others do, especially those who are closest to us. Part of humility is the willingness to ask yourself and others, “How can I be a better parent or husband or wife? If you are willing to listen to the answer, either from the Spirit or from a friend or spouse or family member, then you will make progress.

I know that some think that as soon as you recognize humility in yourself, you lose it. But I don’t believe that is true. Remember what the Savior said about himself? “I am meek and lowly of heart”? (Matthew 11:29.) I don’t think Jesus lost His humility by recognizing these qualities in Himself. How can you become truly humble unless you can recognize what it is and see it (or the lack of it) in yourself?

The next time you are watching to see if someone else is praying with their eyes open, remember something that Jesus said:

And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye? Or how wilt thou say to thy brother, Let me pull out the mote out of thine eye; and, behold, a beam is in thine own eye? Thou hypocrite, first cast out the beam out of thine own eye; and then shalt thou see clearly to cast out the mote out of thy brother’s eye. (Matthew 7:3–5.)

I hope I can become more humble and learn to not judge others. I’ve got a long way to go, that’s for sure.

One thought on “Praying with One Eye Open

  1. Patty Ann March 25, 2011 / 3:23 am

    You and me both Mike. But I really am trying. Pride is such an deterrent to being spiritual.


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