Jesus said, “If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light” (Matthew 6:22). What we do with our eyes is really important!
Continually in our world today “the lust of the eyes” tempts us (1 John 2:16) to take pleasure from looking upon someone or something that is not ours — or to be the one that is looked upon with desire. We think that no one knows about our secret looks or desires and that they’re harmless.
Lust excites our desires and provides pleasure. It also leaves us empty, guilty, and trapped in a downward slide in which we think more and more about the object of our lust and seek gratification. It keeps taking more and more lust gratification to provide pleasure that temporarily helps us to not feel so bad. Over the years I’ve provided therapy to Christian leaders and all kinds of people struggling with the lust of the eyes, which has manifested in struggles with pornography, flirting or having affairs.
But lust isn’t limited to sexual sin. “Lust” is an intense, unregulated desire. We might see how other people are blessed or have achieved success and desire that for ourselves, as lust mixes with jealousy, envy, or selfish ambition. We might lust for more success or power which can lead to workaholism. We might lust for people to be happy with us or impressed by us and become “people pleasers.” We might lust to buy things and then “shop until we drop.”
Coveting of all types readily becomes compulsive, it always crowds out Christ, and it never leads to contentment. It’s no wonder God warned us against it in the Ten Commandments.
Praying with Our Eyes
Praying with our eyes helps to purify our vision, focusing us on what is truly good and beautiful: God and his kingdom. So David prays, “I have set the Lord always before me because he is at my right hand I will not be shaken” (Psalm 16:8). He knows that the Lord is actually right beside him and so he sets his eyes on him and follows him continually.
My little prayer, “Eyes of Prayer,” inspired by Psalm 101 helps us to practice giving our eyes to God. It’s helped me and others to renounce lust and devote our eyes to God.
Eyes of Prayer
O Risen Christ, shining in glory, you captivate me.
I will lift my eyes up to you alone;
I will set before my eyes no vile thing;
I will keep my eyes on the faithful.
My eyes are your lamp, my body is your temple—you are my one desire.
(John 8:12; Psalm 123:1, 101:3, 6; Matthew 6:22; 1 Corinthians 6:19)
Offer your Eyes to God
In the Bible we’re taught to offer the members or parts of our bodies to God (for instance, see Romans 6:13). Our eyes are an important place to start! Praying with our eyes and the eyes of our heart in this way opens the way for our whole body to be full of light and for us to become the light of the world— we live in with the light of Christ shining out from us to minister to those in our circle of influence and draw them to Christ with us.
To pray with our eyes is to use our bodies in prayer, which helps us to engage our mind and heart on the Lord. (The Psalmist uses a variety of body postures and expressions in prayer and worship.) Try praying “Eyes of Prayer” again and this time use your eyes intentionally in these ways:
Lift up your eyes to set your sights on Christ in the heavens just above you (first two lines)
Close your eyes to refuse the lust of the eyes (third line)
Look straight ahead with love for your neighbor (fourth line)
Look back up to Christ (fifth line)
What form of lust are you most tempted by? Confess that to the Lord…
Then with that struggle in mind return to pray “Eyes of Prayer” once again — with your physical eyes and the eyes of your heart.
More Soul Shepherding
It helps me to be attuned to God’s presence to memorize a short Bible-based prayer like “Eyes of Prayer” and then to use it for prayer moments throughout the day. This is like using the Jesus’ Prayer.
Setting our sights on God is a form of meditation. In “Chew your Cud on God’s Word” I briefly describe how you can use Scripture to renew your mind.
You can go deeper in your appreciation for Christ Jesus. Unforsaken: With Jesus on the Stations of the Cross by Bill Gaultiere is 68-pages of heart-warming appreciation for Christ and inspiration to learn to live your daily life with his attitude of love for God and people.