OK. I need a favor from you and allow me one of my idiosyncrasies to explore something with you. So please bear with me and feel free to offer your thoughts. I am wondering if any of you have pondered this before.
Scripture reveals the history of God both being transcendent (universally present and “out there”) and imminent (very close, within). I have a hypothesis that our body language in prayer reflects the way in which we perceive God in the present moment of our prayer. Neither is “right” or “wrong” so let’s leave this dualistic thinking in the trash bin.
I notice that when I “look up” or heavenward as the Good Books says, that I am acknowledging God’s transcendence and universality “out there.” My eyes, usually being closed, still gaze heavenward. Of course I want to make sure that we don’t get the mistaken idea that heaven is “up there” somewhere because Jesus teaches us that the Kingdom of God is in our midst or within us (Luke 17). When we are under stress or somehow feel distant from God, my prayers tend to be “looking” for the Divine Presence as I feel out of touch. So my eyes usually follow an upward path, looking for God.
However, when the Presence of God feels near, my eyes usually maintain a forward glance or look downward to connect more deeply within my body where the Spirit dwells. Breathing to relax, I rest more into the presence within me. The Kingdom of God is indeed, incarnated in our flesh within us.
The Mystics, those who spend a majority of their day in prayer and solitude, have often encouraged us to pray in the heart of God. Well, where exactly is the heart of God? If we trust that God is immanent, living and present where we are, then it would make sense that the heart of God lies within our own heart (along with everyone else’s). If we want to pray out of the heart of God then, why not focus our attention and eyes (half open or closed depending on what works for you) on our heart while we pray and pray to the One living within our heart, thus being invited and welcomed into the heart of God ourselves.
Try this. I have and the experience of the Divine Presence moves deeply within the heart. Sometimes the Presence rubs up against some conflict lodged there but it’s good because whatever is there, God will release it from our hearts so our heart space is filled totally by the Spirit.
Looking up or down no matter. Looking for God is always good. But let us remember that God is already here. Once looking upward to find God when feeling distant can transition to the descent into the heart where we meet in the heart of God face to face. There’s no words for this.
Look into your own heart for the heart of God. Therein lies our eternal home available to us right now.
Blessed be your heart,