Recently, a friend of mine who is going through a significant shift in her faith life sent me an e-mail asking the following:
How do you do it? How do you go from a non-denominational church to an episcopal church? How do you post a prayer from St. Teresa of Avila on your website and still feel close to God?
I can so relate to these questions.
I never knew the language and practices of church tradition could ever speak to me. I never knew written prayers — the same prayers people have been reading for centuries and are read by me, the same words, over and over again each week now — could speak to my heart in a real and deep way.
I didn’t know those things could make me feel close to God, given my original church upbringing and experience. But they do.
Here is what I answered my friend:
You asked how I can go from a non-denominational church to an episcopal service or put a prayer of Teresa of Avila on my blog and feel close to God. I guess because when I read that prayer of hers or I visit the episcopal church, I feel like they put me in connection with the God I have come to love so much. It comes from a place of love in me that God has helped develop in me over the years.
No matter what the external practice of our faith looks like — whether we attend a formal or informal church, our prayers take a certain format or are more free-flowing and spontaneous — it’s the inward posture of our heart that makes the difference and matters to God.
That inward posture God desires in us is one of love.
Two people can attend the same liturgical church service, say all the same prayers, and go forward for the same invitation to communion but have two totally different experiences. For one, those prayers and that eucharist can touch the deepest places of their heart and connect them to God because their heart is oriented toward reverence and deep desire for God. For the other, those actions can be mere routine, something they do not experience at all in their hearts, something they do because it’s what they’ve always done and think they’re meant to do.
Where do you fit in this?
Do you have love for God? Do you desire to love God, even if you don’t right now? What moves you toward or away from that love for God in your heart?