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Personal Symbolic Rituals: A Way to Inspire Stewardship & Surrender

February 5, 2013 3 comments

I have been reading a book by Pastor Edmund Chan, titled Cultivating Your Inner Life: Reflections on Spiritual Formation in Discipleship Today. The most recent chapter described features of “toxic spirituality” and one example was Rituals without Reality. In it, he discussed the value of rituals such as Communion & Baptism, but also some of his personal rituals. An example of a personal ritual is when he offers up his watch to God as he prays to represent his desire to steward his time to God’s glory. timex watch

I began reflecting on ways to enjoy prayer through symbolism, too. I thought about¬† items I own or see on a regular basis that represent something that is of great value to me. So far, I have thought of seven items and I hope that when I see them, I’ll be reminded to keep this value surrendered to Christ’s lordship.

  1. My wrist watch: This represents my time & schedule. I hope that seeing this during the day reminds me to steward my time in a godly way (Ephesians 5:17).
  2. My cellphone: This symbolizes both my speech & my relationships. I can be short & sharp with my words so I hope that pulling my phone out helps me to pray continually that I’d be a woman who “opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue” (prov. 31:25). Secondly, I want to value my relationships and steward them well, but not be controlled by them by needing the approval of others (Gal. 1:10).
  3. Photo of Danny in my wallet: I see this photo throughout the day and I want to remember that my marriage is of highest importance for it is what displays the gospel to the world (Eph. 5).
  4. My tennis shoes: To me, my shoes represent Vision & Enthusiasm/Passion. I want to be a woman who has a contagious energy about her. I want to continually walk with God and move forward in mission (Isaiah 50:5-7). nike
  5. A pocket mirror: This item brings my mind to 2 values. First, to the verses that describe Character, “Strength & dignity are her clothing” & “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the LORD is to be praised. (prov. 31:25,30)”. Second, it reminds me that God is enthralled by my beauty (ps. 45:11) especially because when he looks on me he sees a Bride, blameless & holy (Eph. 5).
  6. My writing pen: This symbolizes my thoughts and ideas. I am far too protective & prideful of them.I want to surrender my thoughts so that I will be obedient to Christ (2 Cor. 10:5), rather than being opinionated or insightful. This also inspires me to have protected time of just thinking, reflecting, and evaluating so that my inner self is at peace, not in chaos.
  7. Cash/ Debit card: My money represents my possessions. When I see this I want to ask God to steward my purchase to His glory, not just to my comfort.

For now, I just want to practice prayer when I see these items. But, maybe in the future I will symbolically lay them before Jesus when I see my hand (heart) is holding them a bit too tightly. Maybe for you, it is a textbook for your studies, a pacifier to symbolize parenting, a house key to represent your household/home. Whatever it is that you find precious, I challenge you to practice surrender and stewardship in that area. If you lead a smal group, it may be a neat idea to ask your members to bring in an item that they are wanting to steward well for God this year. Hopefully, this is a private, active way to help your mind release to the Lord what already belongs to Him.