Reflections on Faith and Community

Dear friends,

In this blog, you will find weekly reflections on life and faith. My hope is that, in some way, they will prove helpful to you in your daily living. May God bless you on the spiritual journey.

Andrew S. Odom
Pastor

02/22/2016 10:30 PM

Practice vs. Purpose

02/22/2016 10:30 PM
02/22/2016 10:30 PM

You abandon the commandment of God and hold to human tradition. (Mark 7:8)

A practice followed by many Christian families, including my own, is to offer a blessing before each meal. We give thanks for the food and the hands that prepared it, and we ask God to bless it. For most of us, it is a practice we inherited from the families we grew up in. We might even still use the same prayer from our childhood. When we are asking the blessing though, are we intentionally mindful of the purpose in doing it? Do we remember God in the asking, or is it an empty practice that we do so routinely that it passes without a further thought?

Every Thanksgiving, my grandfather would offer the same prayer as a blessing. It was a quote of the first four verses of Psalm 103: Bless the Lord, O my soul, and all that is within me, etc. Every year he said the same prayer. It was a family tradition. We all knew he would say that prayer. We expected it and even looked forward to it. It was the practice, after all. But why that prayer? Why not some other psalm or other words? Was there some significance to why he had chosen that one over others? Did he grow up with it himself? Did something happen in his life that made those particular words stand out as special? I never knew. I still don’t. Though it did and does serve as a fine prayer to offer, I must admit that we expected it to happen because it’s what always happened.

Sometimes the practice takes the place of the purpose, and in a small way, we run the risk of abandoning God by holding to human tradition.

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