Our five-year-old grandson Collin Thomas, told his mother that his father didn’t say prayers with him the previous night after he read a story to him. His mother usually reads to him at bedtime. She asked him how he had noticed this. “Has Yia Yia been praying with you when you spend the night with her?”
He said, “No, it wasn’t there.” Sometimes he starts belting out songs that he’s learned in his Christian school. “Did you learn it at school?” she wondered. “No.” he said.
“Windows into heaven.” That’s often the way we hear icons described and while it’s true, it is only half the picture. As eschatological images, icons offer an image of those transfigured by divine grace; a glimpse of how the persons depicted in them will be at the end of the ages when the Lord “will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. 
“Where did you learn this?” He pointed to the icons on the wall in his bedroom and said, “The icons tell me.”
But windows open into two realities on both sides of the glass. As witnesses of the New Jerusalem, icons put a question to those of us who stand face-to-face with them on the other side of the window in this world. Like Christ, the “Image not made with human hands” Who is a doorway between heaven and earth, in Whose Person there is an “unconfused” union between the uncreated world above and the created world below, icons reveal a multitude of witnesses who testify to this reality through the uniqueness of the transfigured persons depicted in them.
The faces of the icons are windows into an eternally present reality and our response to them is indicative of our desire to encounter here and now, the world they reveal which is yet to come in its fullness, but already present. In this sense, icons are also an invitation to us, waiting for a response: “If you are interested, if you love the One Who is revealed in and through us and who re-members you eternally in love; if you seek entrance into His Body, the Church, then Come and see  for yourself.”
Come and see. Face-to-face communion is the Christian path. Prayer is a response of the whole person to another. It is love. This is why being Christian entails more than simply ‘saying’ prayer and holding certain beliefs or doing certain actions. It cannot be entered into through the intellect alone. Communion, like life itself, is a living relationship that is infinitely beyond human comprehension and cannot be reduced to an object of human knowledge or perception.
The believer, who moves within the territory of supernatural knowledge, the “knowledge” of the Uncreated, is not called upon to learn something metaphysically, or to accept it logically, but to “undergo” something, by communing with it. [emphasis added]. 
Neither is Christian life a matter of individual willful ascetical effort alone, but a response to love. St. Isaac the Syrian emphasizes this distinction in a dramatic way, elaborating on what St. Paul beautifully expressed in I Corinthians 13, that human efforts alone are inadequate and are nothing compared to love which is the sign of communion and begins with tears of repentance that are the mark of having tasted the love of God that surpasses human understanding.
Though you should suspend yourself from your eyelids before God, do not think you have attained to anything by the manner of life which you live until you have attained to tears. For until then, your hidden self is in the service of the world; that is, you are leading the life of those who dwell in the world, and do the work of God with the outward man, but the inward man is still without fruit, for his fruit begins with tears. 
Nor can Communion be reduced to a technique of meditation wherein like Narcissus, one may become increasingly enamored of the beauty and infinite expanse of consciousness itself while yet failing to discover the infinite vulnerability and love of the divine Person of Christ. Archimandrite Sophrony, from his own experiences, was careful to point out the risk of becoming more deeply cut-off from love by failing to recognize the distinction between the infinite expanse of the created realms of the human soul and the living Person of Christ whose origin is uncreated and can be known only in the communion of love entered through the door of recognizing human helplessness to achieve this on our own.
All other paths deflect our mind from the personal interrelationship between God and the one who prays into the realm of an abstract trans-personal Absolute, into impersonal asceticism. In diverting our mind from all images, meditation can afford us a sense of tranquility, of peace, of release from time and space, but there is not feeling of standing before a personal God. It is not real prayer—face to Face. This can lead to a state where one who is entranced by meditation will be content with the psychical results of such experiments and, worst of all, perception of the Living God, the Personal Absolute, will be alien to him. 
For the one who begins to move beyond the confidences and naïve securities of humanistic achievement to stand face to face with the icon,
As soon as he enters a church he is immediately arrested and surrounded by a true and vibrant reverence for God and divine things. On account of his joy it seems to him—and he is convinced of it—that he is no longer standing in an earthly church, but that he had entered the upper Jerusalem, and that he is in that glory where the supremely praised and glorified King is hymned by myriads upon myriads of divine angels 
Surrounded by the faces of the saints, including the living icons all around us, who are re-membered in love forever by Christ who is our life, let us go with Him to Jerusalem and discover the great mystery of how His love transforms death into life.
Come all ye faithful, let us venerate Christ’s holy resurrection, for behold, through the cross joy has come into all the world. Ever blessing the Lord, let us praise His Resurrection, for by enduring the cross for us, He has destroyed death by death. 
The icons tell us that Christ our Bridegroom wishes to meet us face to Face in Communion. As we walk the path to meet Him during this Holy Week, let us respond to their entreaties and approach the Lord in fear, faith and love. Knowing that He has already met us in the place of our greatest shame of unworthyness and now calls us by name, seeking to raise us from the grave clothes of our helplessness in the face of certain death, let us place our hope in Him rather than in ourselves.
 Rev. 21:4
 Jn. 1:39.
 Metallinos, G. The Way: An Introduction to the Christian Faith. From Chapter 11 “Faith and Science as a Theological Problem, http://impantokratoros.gr/6072C7D8.en.aspx, downloaded 1-18-2016.
 Homily 14 The Ascetical Homilies of St. Isaac the Syrian, Boston, MA: Holy Transfiguration Monastery, 2011 pp. 201-202.
 Sophrony, A. On Prayer, Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 1996, p. 139.
 anonymous, The Watchful Mind: Teachings on the Prayer of the Heart, (trans. by George Dokos), Yonkers, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2014,p. 39
 From Orthros of Resurrection and the priestly prayers at the Holy Altar during the Divine Liturgy