Yesterday in class Dr. Okholm said “Sometimes we worry too much about what something means to us and not enough about what something does to us.”
We worry sometimes that if we do something too often, we’ll lose the meaning and it will be empty and useless. People hesitate to do such things as prayer, giving, going to church, and reading Scripture, because they’ve lost the meaning of these practices. They fear they “won’t get anything out of it.” But what we forget is that these practices are not important only because of what they mean to us but their importance also lies in what they do to us and what they mean to God. They never get old to God. He will continue to use our prayers, our worship, all of our rituals to change us.
When prayer becomes meaningless to us we must attempt to recover the meaning, yes, but we cannot forget what it does to us. Think about what you’re doing when you pray continually. You are making it a part of yourself, you are conditioning your heart in prayer until it becomes an essential part of who you are. Even when it’s lost its meaning, even when we feel like we’re talking to the wall because we just do it too much, as long as we are pouring ourselves into it prayer has the power to seep into the deepest parts of our spirits. Now I’m not talking about “meaningless repetition.” I’m talking about real prayer.
Breathing isn’t much different. We can rush through it and forget that each breath we take has spiritual value. We can forget that God has given each breath but we don’t stop breathing. Breathing still gives us life even when we forget its meaning. Now, of course we should try to recover the meaning. Of course we should appreciate the value but even when we don’t, it still gives us life, our breathing still has value to God.
Please don’t forget the meaning but—even beyond that—don’t forget what it means to God and what it does to you. It only becomes truly meaningless when you stop doing it.