Three ways to live

Which is your way?

On praying to icons

Filed under: Uncategorized — Vitali at 12:22 am on Saturday, September 22, 2007

The topic of praying to icons is a highly debated one. For many, including myself, it has an appearance of idolatry, e.g. thinking that it is the icon that answers the prayers rather than God. And, from my personal experience, this is exactly how many people think of icons – as mini gods.

So, it was quite a revelation for me to hear that this is against the original intentions of the Russian Orthodox church, which recommends praying on the icons, rather than to them. The icon should help you pray to God, rather than distract you from Him. One common way to avoid distraction is to shut yourself off from the world by closing your eyes, refusing to listen and just concentrating on your thoughts. The Russian orthodox way is to leave your senses open and use natural objects, such as icons, to keep your mind focused on God.

They are pros and cons in both cases, but I see the value of icons in this case. When I pray, I find it difficult to stop the flow of irrelevant thoughts. Also, many complain about difficulty of staying awake when praying at night with your eyes closed. I guess having an image in front of your eyes might help in concentration. But does this benefit outweigh the danger in following into idolatry?

3 Comments

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Comment by sUdkeOki

September 25, 2007 @ 6:21 am

talking of icons in the russian orthodox church, u should catch Andrei Tarkovsky’s Andrei Rublev! most intriguin n beautiful film on spirituality.

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Comment by Vitali

September 25, 2007 @ 8:50 am

Tarkovsky’s movies were popular in Russia when I was around 10, and at that age I found them completely incomprehensible. I think now I will be able to appreciate them so much more.

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Comment by Acolyte4236

February 14, 2008 @ 8:00 pm

This might help you think more clearly about the underlying issues surrounding icons.

http://energeticprocession.wordpress.com/2007/06/29/iconoclasm-the-eucharist-and-the-resurrection-of-the-flesh/

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