Wednesday, January 6, 2021

Formulas Aren’t Bad

I like Kyle Idleman. I have used his stuff and will probably use it again in the future.

With that being said, I do have an issue with this tweet.

I understand the sentiment. It comes from that same line of thinking that says “Christianity is a relationship, not a religion.” 

The reality is that Christianity is both religion and relationship. Those two ideas are not opposites. We can have a relationship with God while believing the truths of the religion and observing its disciplines. 

In fact, I am not sure how you have a relationship with God apart from the religious practices discovered in Scripture.

The same is true with leaning on God and having a formula for prayer. Doing one does not negate the other.

In fact, they can, and should be, complimentary.

Here is the reason this is important to me.

This year I went through a time of depression, maybe the most severe depression that I have dealt with, and prayer was key in my struggle to overcome it. The prayers that I used (and still are using), the guided prayer of the One Minute Pause App and written prayers from the Wild at Heart App, helped my to “lean on” God. They provided me with the structure, words, and even purpose for my prayers when I was struggling to pray.

While it is essential to emphasis that we prayer to a God who is alive and desires to have a relationship with us, I think it is also important to provide people with resources and guidance in how to pray. There are activities, words, and themes that help us in our prayers.

I don’t want people to miss out potential life giving help because they want to avoid using “formulas” in their spiritual lives. What matters in prayer is our intention and faith, and if reciting the Lord’s Prayer or using a written prayer helps you vocalize that faith, then we should use it. 

God’s people have always recited prayers. The book of Psalms is basically a prayer book for Israel which helped guide them in their prayers and their worship. 

What matters is not whether or not we pray prayers “from the heart” or recite a prayer written by someone else, what matters is the faith and intention of your heart.

We can lean on God while using a formula to pray.

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