The manual for the Freedom 2 class I am taking says “the degree to which our activity is based on our own judgment or program instead of humble, faith-filled, dependence on Jesus is the degree to which the activity becomes a religious form. It is action devoid of any real heart connection.”
The scripture used is 2 Timothy 3:1-51) But understand this, that in the last days there will come times of difficulty. 2) For people will be lovers of self, lovers of money, proud, arrogant, abusive, disobedient to their parents, ungrateful, unholy, 3) heartless, unappeasable, slanderous, without self-control, brutal, not loving good, 4) treacherous, reckless, swollen with conceit, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, 5) having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.
I was praying out of habit, not a bad thing really. I was feeling like it was alright to pray in the same way every time, with my personal concerns for the people in my life, not asking God about His desires for them. I was feeling somewhat guilty if something interfered with that prayer time and I didn't pray that day. It's not just prayers that can become a form of religion. A friend related that she found she sang praise and worship songs because she liked the music, not engaging her heart in actual praise and worship. How often do we sing on Sunday mornings, enjoying the music but our mind is far off on something else? Does it bother us that our heart isn't engaged with Jesus heart when we worship? It happens to me too.
Churches can get into "religious forms" as well. "We always sing 3 songs before we take an offering and then somebody reads scripture and someone else prays. You have a testimony? Well it'll have to wait until testimony Sunday in 3 weeks." Not that having an order of service is wrong, but are we engaging God in it? Do we consider God has something else for this Sunday morning a little bit different? I know some will be thinking about the liturgy in liturgical churches. What about all those written prayers and readings? Sure, it is easier for those to become religious forms than the more spontaneous prayers in many protestant churches. Anyone saying the liturgy and praying in a liturgical church can make those things come from their deep heart as offerings to Jesus, engaging Him fully. It isn't "what" we say or do that engages God, It is our heart, which no man can judge or see.
The Freedom 2 manuel is authored by Brian Brennt and Mike Riches