Rituals: for us or for God?

Rituals can be meaningful and powerful but only if we come with the right intentions

Zechariah 7.1-14

Reference: v.5 "Ask all the people of the land and the priests, 'When you fasted and mourned in the fifth and seventh months for the past seventy years, was it really for me that you fasted?'" (NIV Bible)

Explore: I recently I attended a church service which encouraged the whole church to fast during lent. I had a teenager with me at the time who thought it was a good idea that we all go on the fast. I would love to say that this desire to be a part of such a spiritual discipline was the result of wanting to get closer to God. However I believe it was the image of pop culture that was the over-riding emphasis and the hope of losing a few pounds would be the result of enduring the fasting process.

Application: Rituals can be very meaningful and powerful. However they can also become routine and lifeless. The difference all comes down to one thing: intention. If we intend to carry out a spiritual discipline because it's what we've always done and by doing so we tick off the 'God' element for the day, then the ritual is routine and lifeless. However, if we intend to carry out a spiritual discipline because we desire to connect with God on a deeper and more intimate level then the ritual is meaningful and powerful.
If someone was to observe another carrying out a spiritual discipline they may not be able to tell the difference between a lifeless ritual and a life-giving one. However, to the person being faithful with the correct intention, it holds a world of difference.

Prayer: Lord, I know that sometimes I get so carried away with the busyness of the day ahead that I forget to put the time and energy into deepening my relationship with you. Thank you for always being there for me when I stop to find You. Amen.

This article was written by Linda Bailey

Linda started theological studies in 1999 in Australia. After working for ten years in various church ministries, she now works as the breakfast producer at 89.9 LightFM - the Christian radio station in Melbourne, Australia. She writes blogs every day about passages she is currently reading in the Bible. Follow her on Google Plus +Linda Bailey or Facebook by clicking the like button on the right of this page.