One should not read more than he can pray.
Such a simple sentence. Such a difficult path. I thoroughly enjoy reading books, articles, and opinions. There is something energizing about considering new thoughts, new perspectives, or new explanations. I feel like I’m growing as a person and increasing my mental capacities. We can easily be deceived into thinking that reading scripture and tackling theological debates define spiritual growth and maturity.
But how much of a difference have these viewpoints, perspectives, opinions and explanations made in my inner life? How many of them have made the journey from my head to my heart? Have they changed how I relate to my husband, children, coworkers? It’s so much easier to grab another book and learn something new or different. But God is concerned with heart change – not head knowledge. Heart change is usually painful, exhausting, and time consuming. No wonder we recoil from the process. There are no instant results. The rewards are not evident. Heart change makes us uncomfortable and requires humility.
This is where I am right now. I have been a Christian 40 years. I have accumulated a considerable amount of head knowledge. God has now focused his floodlight on my heart, and I am painfully aware of how little my heart has been changed.
O Lord, grant that I may greet the coming day in peace. Help me to rely upon Your holy will in every moment. In every hour of every day, reveal Your will to me. Bless my association with those who surround me. Teach me to treat all that comes to me with peace of soul and the firm conviction that Your will governs all. In all my deeds and words, guide my thoughts and feelings. In unforeseen events, let me not forget that all is sent by You. Teach me to act firmly and wisely, without embittering or embarrassing others. Grant me to bear the fatigue of the coming day with all that it shall bring. Direct my will. Teach me to pray, and pray Yourself within me. Amen.
- St Philaret of Moscow