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What does it mean to practice a religion?

  1. andrew savage profile image60
    andrew savageposted 5 years ago

    What does it mean to practice a religion?

  2. SidKemp profile image93
    SidKempposted 5 years ago

    I would suggest that there are six levels of practicing a religion:

    1) Some people identify with being of a particular religion, but don't do anything even once a year. They are likely to get married in their church, synagogue, mosque, or temple, and perhaps bring their child into the faith, and be buried there. I would call this being a member of a religion, but not practicing.

    2) Some people practice very little, just once or a few times a year. A Christian who goes to church on Christmas and Easter is like this, or a Jewish person who goes to synagogue on Hanukah, Passover, Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur. That is very little practice.

    3) Some people go to church or synagogue or temple weekly, and take the day or part of the day as a sabbath to celebrate or remember God. This weekly connection can spill over into their daily lives, especially when they have big decisions to make.

    4) Some people bring their religion alive each and every day. Sincere prayer (not just a quick grace) at mealtime is one way. Daily meditation, spiritual reading, or prayer is another. These people are also likely to study their faith and make decisions guided by its wisdom. This is a level of serious religious practice. In the Orthodox Jewish tradition, it can mean going to synagogue every day. In Zen Buddhism, it means having a daily meditation practice. A Catholic might attend mass daily; other Christians might join reading, study, or service groups or study and pray daily themselves. An orthodox Muslim will pray five times a day.

    5) Some people deepen their practice of religion by going on a retreat or a pilgrimage. This is an extended trip or time out from life to live the religious life deeply. I've been on pilgrimage to India and to Jerusalem, and I've done meditation retreats from 3 days to 3 weeks long.

    6) Some people bring their religion alive each and every moment. Meditating or praying several times a day, we also do things to keep the Divine in mind every moment of every day. We seek to surrender to, become one with, or be constantly guided by Divine Love and Wisdom each and every moment.

    There is another angle on this, as well. All religions call people to a healthy and moral life. A person who lives by religious principles will generally be humble. He is likely to take good care of himself or herself, but not to be selfish. Rather, generously helping others - and not just with time, but with real loving attention and care - is a practice of religion, too.