As I attempt to re-engage with the institutional church, I sometimes wonder how I missed some of things I now see. And I am not sure if I will ever be able to go back to just accepting things they way they were presented, or the way I was supposed to present them.
I am starting to see how God is intertwined into our lives, more than ever before and it has really affected my traditional prayer life. I mean seriously, during prayer, when does one finally say that that was God speaking to you and that it wasn’t your own thoughts? When I used to say God spoke to me in prayer I had this thought that it wasn’t me, but God who spoke. And I don’t mean that in a healthy relational way, but a transcendent, God took over my body kind of way. I am starting to see how religious activity, however effective in getting you to this point, is in fact only guide that needs to be dropped eventually. If you don’t drop it, you can become dependent on it. And not only that, you can become guilt ridden when you don’t do the vice properly. I am not sure how many times I have heard people state their guilt for forgetting to pray at a certain meal, or for missing a meeting at a church, or sleeping in and missing a “quiet time.”
I don’t blame people, like the family in the restaurant today, for taking time to pray expressively, with a beginning and an end, and a form of narcolepsy. I can only take responsibility for myself. Who knows, maybe that family still needs the reigns of the form in order to feel like they are getting it right, but when do we step away from the chains and realize they are actually not there?
I believe there are a lot of these religious helps in our Christian life that have become staples, when they were meant to only be temporary. Somewhere along the line we took the Coles notes and made them the Truth. When Jesus teaches his disciples to pray, I wonder if they thought if they were supposed to close themselves in a room for the rest of time? Well the bible certainly tells us they didn’t keep to that expression. Neither did Jesus.
This is my journey. Stepping away from the vices, in order to feel the freedom there is in God. For myself, stepping away from all the practices has helped in this endeavor, but I wonder, how many of us are actually willing or able to walk away from all the practices, the guides, the vice grips in order to try out a new relational adventure with God. It wasn’t easy for me and so I expect it won’t be for others. But I praise God for my exciting new journey.