In the same way, when we think of prayer we may think of closing our eyes, but this is not necessary or biblical. We can certainly pray with our eyes closed just as well as with them open, but the reverse is also just as true. In some parts of the world, where Christianity is outlawed and punishable by severe penalties, believers routinely pray with their eyes open to avoid unnecessary arrest and punishment.
In fact, praying with open eyes was probably the norm in biblical times. On two occasions when Jesus prayed to the Father, we are told that he looked up to heaven. In the first instance he was giving thanks: “Then Jesus looked up and said, ‘Father, I thank you that you have heard me’” (John 11:41), and in the second he was making a request: “After Jesus said this, he looked toward heaven and prayed: “Father … Glorify your Son, that your Son may glorify you” (John 17:1). Interestingly, the only other time a praying person’s eyes are mentioned in the New Testament is in the story of the repentant tax collector who was so distraught that when he prayed “… He would not even look up to heaven” (Luke 18:13), indicating that looking up to heaven would have been the normal way to pray.
There is a great deal of corroborating evidence to show that prayer in the Bible and in the early Church usually involved praying with open eyes, but acceptable prayer has nothing to do with whether our eyes are open or closed – any more than how we hold our hands. Sometimes we may wish to close our eyes in order to not be distracted by things happening around us, but often we may prefer to keep our eyes open to see that for which we are giving thanks or to feel a closer connection with the One who is "near to all who call on him" (Psalm 145:18).