Behavioral psychologists tell us that sometimes we need to act ourselves into new ways of thinking, rather than the other way around. Partners in a marriage gone stale, for example, who choose to act toward in other in a loving way even when they don’t feel loving may find, over time, that love is rekindled.
The early church had a similar insight. Fifth-century theologian Prosper of Aquitaine wrote that “the rule of prayer grounds the rule of belief.” In other words, what we pray and how we worship shapes what we believe. So I pray, and I sing hymns, and I worship, and I receive communion not because I understand it all but because I was raised to love and trust the God who loves me. Over time, the rhythms of the church’s language and actions become a part of me. And when I am struggling the most, when the questions are the hardest, then I ride the wave, trusting the prayers and hymns of the gathered community to carry me along when my own faith is weak.
This message is excerpted from “When faith doesn’t come easy” by Kathryn A. Kleinhans in the September 2017 Gather magazine.
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