She gave this name to the Lord who spoke to her,
You are the God who sees me, for she said,
I have now seen the One who sees me.
This prayer, recorded in Genesis 16, is the prayer of Hagar, the Egyptian servant of Abraham and Sarah. Years after God had promised Abraham and Sarah children, and no children had come, they took it upon themselves to “build a family through” this servant girl. And so it was that Hagar bore Abraham a son named Ishmael. The day came, however, when Sarah gave birth to the son she had been promised, and she felt threatened by Ishmael. So she had Abraham send Hagar and Ishmael out into the desert. They were disowned, devalued, abandoned.
Left alone in the desert to die, Hagar cried out to God to save her son. In response to her cry, God showed Hagar two things. God showed her a well of water nearby. And God showed her that she was not alone. Others may have rejected and abandoned her. Others may not have seen her. But God saw her. God saw her and her son through eyes of love and compassion.
Hagar’s response to God’s loving care is to give God a new name. She calls God, the “God-who-sees-me.” Hagar says, “I have seen the One who sees me.”
Prayer is being seen by God. And, prayer is seeing the One who sees us. Prayer is knowing that we are seen by God.
To be seen through eyes of love is, perhaps, our most fundamental need. Healthy parents are able to do this for their children. They look at them and see them. They see their child’s needs, feelings, limits, strengths, uniqueness. They see their children’s preciousness. They see their children with delight, empathy and tender affection.
This is the soil in which healthy children grow. Children who know they are seen and loved. Children who are free to see and love others.
Unfortunately, many of us did not receive this gift of being seen through eyes of love in our biological families. We may not know what it is to feel seen. We may not know what is was for our needs and feelings, our limits and gifts, our uniqueness and value to be seen. We may feel invisible.
Some of us may prefer to remain invisible. Some of us want only to hide. Being seen in the past may have meant being hurt. But if this were the case, we were never truly seen. To be truly seen is to be seen for who we really are as God’s much loved children. To be truly seen is to be valued. It is to be loved.
God is the God-who-sees-us. God sees our needs, our deepest fears and longings, our limits, our strengths, our uniqueness, our value. God sees us through eyes of love. God gazes on us in love.
Prayer is being seen by the One-who-sees-us through eyes of love.
You see me.
I am not invisible to you.
I am not overlooked by you.
You see me.
And, just like you saw Hagar,
with love and compassion,
you see me,
through eyes of love.
You see me deeply.
You see my longings, my fears
my desires, my love, my spirit.
You see me
and I know more fully that I am.
I am because you gave me life.
I am because you sustain me with your love.
I am because you see me.
Sit quietly, breathing slowly, with your hands open on your lap in a receptive posture. Be aware of the Presence of kindness and compassion. Be aware that this is God with you, seeing you through eyes of love. Allow yourself to be seen by the One who sees you with compassion and delight.
from An Enduring Embrace: Experiencing the Love at the Heart of Prayer,
by Juanita Ryan, 2012