Going Through The Motions
By: Lauren Hailey
“The Lord says: ‘These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.’” Isaiah 29:13
I came across this verse in my quiet time, and I was immediately amazed at how complex this verse is. There is so much conviction in these two sentences.
This verse is The Lord stating a problem in the church. This is a problem that occurs within our family of believers. Yes, you believe in God. Yes, you have a relationship with Him. Yes, you go to church every Sunday and Wednesday night. And yes, you have a quiet time with him often. You might believe that you are right on track because you spend so much time doing these things. While it is wonderful to be involved in these activities throughout the week, it is not about the quantity of minutes, it is about the quality of those minutes.
The question you have to ask yourself is, “what am I getting out of these interactions with God?” In this verse, the Lord acknowledges the fact that Christians come to church and they pray and worship in His name. However, The Lord knows our hearts, and He knows our intentions. I was thinking about this, and I was convicted thinking about how many times during group prayers or during worship that my mind drifts off and I begin thinking about other things. Whether I think about all the homework I have to do when I get out or something funny that happened that day, I let my mind become distracted from God.
“Their worship of me is based on merely human rules they have been taught.” As I was thinking about my worship, I become convicted of the fact that while I sing the words, I sometimes don’t take the time to truly think about what I am saying to God. We sing all of these wonderful songs each week to praise the many, many amazing things about our God, and yet sometimes I simply sing just to sing. This is the kind of empty worship that The Lord is talking about in this verse.
Some people go to church because that is how they were raised. I know for myself, going to church was not something that I usually wanted to do. However, I went every Sunday because my parents forced me to go. For me, it was just a routine, something that I had to check off my list on Sundays. We often treat our quiet time the same way. We do it to say that we did it. Even more so than that, often times we do that with our prayer, our worship, church events, etc. We each have to be careful that our faith is not simply “routine”. A true relationship with Christ is constantly growing. It never ceases to change. It is anything but routine.
Think about your quiet time, your worship, your prayer life. Do you simply attend church because that is what is expected of you? Do you do your Bible Study so that you can check it off your “To-Do List”? When you worship, do you simply sing the words without thinking about what you are singing?
Please help us to be intentional in our quiet time, our worship, our prayers, and at church. Help us to stay focused on You, for You are the whole reason we are here. I pray that we, as a church, would not just go through the motions of a relationship with You, but that we could all experience that deeper, more intimate relationship. Forgive us for the times that our worship has been empty or we have allowed ourselves to become distracted and give us a renewed focus on You as we enter this week.