Why Africans Close Their Eyes To Sing

Do you lose points on your Christian scorecard by keeping your eyes open during prayer?

I’m an “eyes open” kinda guy during church and worship services. Even during prayer I prefer to keep the peepers unleashed since closed eyelids usually signal to my brain that it’s time to sleep. Or daydream. Neither of which is very conducive to a conversation with my Maker. 

Perhaps I earned some points back today in Uganda as we participated in the local team’s morning devotion and I closed my eyes. I struggled to suppress the voyeuristic urge to simply watch them sing, pray, read and worship as it was truly something special. Lest I become a mere spectator, I quickly shut my eyes so I could get in on this good ol’ African worship. 

It was a timely reminder that God’s love is truly universal and His people share a connection spanning countries, continents and census data. 

The Ugandan group speaks about God with gritty assurance, a strain of battle-tested faith born from adversity and answered prayers. Their prayers are direct and familiar. Their songs were not rehearsed nor their voices refined, but they were real. Raw.

Lydia, a former slum-dweller turned worship leader, played a “vintage” keyboard while a young guitarist attempted to find the chord. Instead of eloquence of speech or elegance of song, we all harmonized with our hearts. God smiled on this moment and it was a truly amazing way to start the day. I wonder why I don’t do this everyday.

So I kept my eyes closed a bit more today but only during the devotion. Afterwards we started our trek around Kampala to see the city, the slums and the people. They were wide open then.

More to come!

Post-devotion small talk with Daryl and Robert

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