Form And Substance

“But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you” Matt 6:6

America’s preoccupation with image seems to have reached outrageous proportions. A Christian, like everyone else, wants to put his or her best foot forward as often as possible. Unfortunately, this can sometimes lead to majoring on form and nearly losing substance altogether. Consider this story:

rituals cat tied to postA devout Christian who had a cat used to spend several minutes each day in prayer and meditation in his bedroom. He read a portion of scripture and a devotional book, followed by a period of silent meditation and prayer. As time went on his prayers became longer and more intense. He came to cherish this quiet time in his bedroom, but his cat came to like it too. She would cozy up to him, purr loudly, and rub her furry body against him. This interrupted the mans prayer time, so he put a collar around the cats neck and tied her to the bedpost whenever he wanted to be undisturbed while at prayer. This didn’t seem to upset the cat, and it meant the man could meditate without interruption. 

Over the years, the daughter of this devout Christian had noted how much his devotional time had meant to him. When she began to establish some routines and patterns for her own family, she decided she should do as her father had done. Dutifully, she tied her cat to the bedpost and then proceeded with her devotions. But in her generation time moved faster and she couldn’t spend as much time at prayer as her father did. 

The day came when her son was grown up. He also wanted to preserve some of the family tradition which had meant so much to his mother and grandfather. But the pace of life had quickened all the more and there simply was no time for elaborate devotional proceedings. So he eliminated the time for meditation, Bible reading, and prayer. But in order to carry on the tradition, each day while he was dressing, he tied the family cat to the bedpost. 

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