The purpose for ritual in our religious life.
Ritual is the 'active vehicle' we use to allow spirituality to manifest into our everyday world.
Without the form of ritual we are floundering around, ever changing our focus in our religious life.
Ritual in the established church is in maintaining the traditional forms of the early church, ie the sacraments, worship, adoration, praise, prayer, supplication, and healing. These rituals came out of Judaism and were developed and practiced before the New Testament was written, therefore very valuable in helping us to know what rituals the early Christians used.
In today's Church, Ritual is performed by ordained ministers and a few laity, leaving the rest of the congregation with no guidance or structure to use ritual in private worship.
Here are some thoughts on the Private Ritual for the Christian .
Ritual is mostly confined to the church assembly.
Roman Catholic and Orthodox (Eastern, Greek , Russian et al) offer private ritual in the form of rosary beads for prayer; lighting a candle and/or incense.
Protestant churches offer little or no guidance or encouragement for private rituals beyond saying grace at mealtimes and prayer and meditation.
Scriptural basis for individual ritual.
The basis for individual ritual is found in the book of Exodus ch12 , the institution of the passover meal;
1 Corinthians 12 , St Paul wrote. “gifts of the spirit to all Christians (not just to apostles) healing, prophesies, working miracles... diversities of activities ...the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all... distributing to each one individually as He wills...”
The expectation of the first Christians was to perform miracles by taking the initiative themselves, under the power of the Holy Spirit, to heal the sick, cast out demons etc.
Being mostly Jewish, they would know ritual as an individual in their own homes, as even today religious Jews practice leading their family in psalms, prayers and the various celebrations.
Remember, in the book of Exodus, the instructions were for the head of each family to perform the ceremony of what became the passover meal.
The need for private ritual for the laity.
When an individual learns to use ritual for private prayer, adoration, praise and worship, there is a losing of one's self consciousness, the individual having to remember the form of the ritual, resulting ironically, in his/her often becoming innocently aware of the presence of God.
An example of a Christian prayer ritual can be found on my webpage 'Sacred Space'. It is a ritual I use frequently, with which I always feel encouraged to continue using.
This Ritual has been gradually evolving from a Celtic beginning to a Christian worship ritual, and is still evolving - as I am encouraged to change with actual practice and God's prompting.
Here you will find two excellent websites dedicated to the virtue of Ritual.