Philosophy or Prayer?

I read a passage this morning that spoke to me personally and will I’m sure to many others. Often, we get too caught up in theology while ignoring practical application. God is not to be worshipped by mind alone but with all our soul, heart, and body as well. Let us always remember to balance the two. Our reading and theological education is a guide and means – not the absolute source of our communion with or knowledge of God.

“He who seeks the inner kingdom of God and a living communion with Him, will naturally seek to remain continually in the thought of God. Turning his mind towards Him with all his might, his one desire will be to read only of Him, to speak only of Him. But these occupations alone will not lead to what is sought, unless accompanied by other, more practical activities. A certain type of mystic talks only of these occupations: the reason is that such teachers are people of theory and not of practice.

This practice of reading and speaking of God will, used on its own, create a facile habit for such things: it is easier to philosophize than to pray or pay attention to oneself. But since it is a work of the mind, which falls so easily into pride, it predisposes a man to self-esteem. It may altogether cool the desire for practical effort, and consequently hinder sound progress by a flattering successfulness in this mental activity.

For this reason sound-minded teachers warn their pupils of the danger, and advise them not to concern themselves too much with such reading and talk to the detriment of other things.”

Theophan the Recluse


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