40 Then you will remember to obey all my commands and will be consecrated to your God
Recently I’ve seen a lot of discussion among protestants belittling the use of material items that help others pray or worship or enter into devotion. They claim that “tools” used long ago are idols or belong to other mystic religions and don’t belong in our practices.
“Use sticky notes! Set your alarm! Trust the Holy Spirit or you just aren’t disciplined enough…or Christian enough!”
I have a husband, 6 kids with unpredictable schedules and needs, and a job that is gratifying but also requires me to help meet spiritual needs of the people I work with and for.
So to the nay sayers who condemn tools of worship items such as prayer beads, head coverings, shawls etc as tools of the devil, today i’m going to disagree with them, and Numbers is my reasoning.
It is the text where God instructs Moses to add a fringe to their cloaks to remember the commandments.
We do have the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, but in our overstimulated society that constantly interrupts and intrudes on our everyday lives, I believe God is perfectly fine with us using visual symbols to remember to stop and listen to His voice.
Even Jesus wore a Tallit. He was a recognized Jew and teacher who read in synagogs. He would have raised it over his head for morning prayers. He HAD a Tallit. The woman with bleeding touched the corner of his cloak, which would have tassels that represent the commandments. She had faith in God to heal her, and went to the symbol Jesus was wearing to reach for that healing.
YES YOU NEED TO BE CAREFUL. Be careful what you choose to use. Mixing images that are recognized as distinct to an alternative and particular religion is not ok. Don’t get caught up in the legalism or mysticism of certain or magic numbers. And don’t fall into the rut of mindless, meaningless ritual.
But in my busy day, if my son reaches into his pocket and feel a stone that says “Love” and it reminds him that God is with him, it has helped him look to God.
If i’m tired and about to fall asleep at night but see my string of beads that represent my gratitude, my family, my need for forgiveness, and my petitions, those handmade prayer beads have helped me look to God. Touching each bead as I pray means I don’t forget to pray for someone. And if i’m interrupted (usually by a child with a legit need) while I pray, I know where I was at and continue because my prayers are still sitting in my hand. Otherwise, the distraction often becomes permanent and my prayer left unfinished.
If a woman covers her head because it constantly helps her remember Gods physical protection over her and her family, then it has helped keep her mind on God.
If a sick patient wears a shawl and remembers that he is loved and people are praying for them in their suffering, then it has taken their focus even for a minute off of their suffering, and turned their thoughts to God.
If a ritual is done with mindfulness and purposeful intention to include God in that moment, it has brought that person into consecration with their God, who is also my God.
So PLEASE don’t condemn the Christian who uses a symbol, an item, a meaningful ritual that brings them even for a moment into Gods presence.
If you want to use your sticky notes(ps, how do you keep your privacy that way?) that’s your practice. And if you are highly disciplined and have predictable structure in your life, that is a blessing given to you.
What is important, is that we seek God regularly. And instead of discouraging people in how they do it, we need to be showing Christ to others, including other Christians.
(for reference: The first string is made of birthstones so I remeber each of my family in prayer. The last one is my 3 year olds, to teach him how to pray for himself and his family and to teach gratitude, to help him create the habbit of talking to God)