We all enjoy a change of pace from time to time. Busy people, we are prone to get caught, or stuck, in ruts and routines. Lacking energy, time, or inspiration, we can find ourselves going through the motions, but not fully engaged. We’ve heard it before. We’ve done it a million times. We always do it this way. We only have time for this much.
What Kind of Rut Have You Experienced?
Do any of these phrases sound familiar? We can find ourselves feeling this way in our work. Day in and day out, routines can dull the senses, and sand down joy with the grit of the mundane.
We can fall into a rut in our relationships, taking one another for granted and not pausing to see others with fresh eyes of appreciation.
We default to routine in physical workouts…run two miles, 30 push ups, 50 sit ups. Done. Research teaches us that our bodies reap the most benefit with we change type of exercise ever six weeks. Changing up routines brings a different challenge and stimulates muscles to work harder. Are our spirits any different?
What is a Worship Rut?
Routine can also have a negative impact on our worship. Ever catch yourself tuning out because you know what to expect? When our heart for worship becomes staid or rote, we can find ourselves praying on autopilot, singing without expressing the meaning of the words, reading scripture with a “hurry up and be done” attitude (not that we’d admit that).
When we disengage in worship, we run the risk of finding ourselves with little joy and making no impact for the Kingdom of God. Faith can wane right along with the neglect of embracing truth and a lack of desiring God.
You have seen many things, but you do not observe them;
Your ears are open, but none hears.
- Pay attention.
- Be observant.
- Care about what you see and hear.
“Because this people draw near with their words
And honor Me with their lip service,
But they remove their hearts far from Me,
And their reverence for Me consists of tradition learned by rote,
- Mean what you say in worship. God cares more about your heart than your words.
- Be real with God–don’t depend on rote prayers and traditions.
- Put your heart into it.
And when you are praying, do not use meaningless repetition as the Gentiles do, for they suppose that they will be heard for their many words.
- It’s not how much you say, or how many times you say it that causes God to answer prayer. Pray with sincere heart and simple words. Put your faith in God and not in your method.
Going Through the Motions: Symptom of a Worship Rut
All three of these verses point to problems in worship that are often the result of disengaged faith–going through the motions and faith in the formula or activity. Routine in worship can tempt us to fall into a pattern of insincerity -not because we do not believe, but because we are preoccupied.
Christmas can be a time when we are most tempted to spiritually disengage. Busy with activity, traditions, tasks, and celebrations, we can find our eyes glazing over when we hear the same scriptures and sing the same songs year after year.