Can I be ‘Spiritual’ but not ‘Religious’?

Recently on The Patrick Madrid Show, a young woman named Emily wrote into the show to ask what Patrick’s opinion was on the difference between Christian prayer and her practice of yoga, spirituality, and secular prayer.

She wrote:

I’m a young woman in her late twenties who considers herself spiritual but not religious. I still pray and I practice yoga as a yoga instructor. I’m a former Catholic and I know the Church is against yoga and Reiki. What is your view on Christian prayer and religion versus my way of prayer and spirituality?

I look forward to hearing from you.

Patrick, after expressing gratitude for Emily’s candor and genuine questions, pointed her toward a passage from Luke’s gospel.

“‘Why do you call me, “Lord, Lord,” but do not do what I command? I will show you what someone is like who comes to me, listens to my words, and acts on them.’” (Luke 6:46-47)

Jesus then describes a person who is intent on building a house. Someone committed to doing the job thoroughly and effectively would dig deep, lay a solid foundation, and build their house upon that. Then, when the floods come, the house will remain for it has been built well.

Someone who claims to be spiritual but not religious is vaguely aimed at the divine but has ultimately built their house on a shaky and ultimately unstable foundation. They are placing their trust in the universe, which is a creature of God, the creator of all. All of us will face “floods” in our lives and it would be better if our houses were built upon Jesus Christ, the only way, truth, and life.

Unfinished and ungrounded spiritualities often boast the tenants of optimism, good vibes, and positive energy, but these concepts are based on surface-level emotionality. It’s not bad to feel good about prayer or find resonance with some spiritual component, but it must go deeper than that. And Catholicism was founded on the deepest of foundations, Jesus Christ.

The choice for us may seem complex, but if we strip away all the distractions and the fluff, it’s actually very clear. We can either deny reality or we can embrace the truth that Jesus was sent by God our Father to show us the truth, die for our sins, and rise from the dead so that we may have salvation. But it should be understood that to embrace that truth means to set aside our desires and pick up our cross to follow Him. Our commitment will be tested.

The choice is ours, but if we deny God’s existence or His claim on our lives, we shouldn’t expect entrance into heaven. On the other hand, He will welcome us with open arms if we resolve to shed our half-hearted attachment to new-age spirituality and follow Him in both word and action.

“‘Not everyone who says to me, “Lord, Lord,” will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven.’” (Matthew 7:21)

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John Hanretty serves as a Digital Media Producer for Relevant Radio®. He is a graduate of the Gupta College of Business at the University of Dallas. Besides being passionate about writing, his hobbies include drawing and digital design. You can read more of his daily articles at and on the Relevant Radio® app.