There is a balance between being structured and being a free spirit.
Structure is helpful in so many ways. Regular eating, sleeping exercise, recreating work, etc. ensures that there is balance in our lives.
We also need to be able to be spontaneous, creative, adaptable, and flexible.
Structure in marriage and family life helps to keep balance within that family. Making time to be together, be there physically for each other, controlling our instincts and appetites are all necessary for healthy relationships.
This is also true of our faith life. Learning set prayers has its value, we can pray together with others, the same prayers around the world. When we are tired, set prayers can be helpful. Many times I see the lips moving, praying the Hail Mary or the Our Father, when I am ministering to a dying person. This is also true even when the person struggles to concentrate or is under the effect of medication. I have even seen this being very helpful also when one is suffering from dementia.
Having structure in prayer time helps us in our busy and often distracted lives, to actually make the time to meditate or pray.
Attending the celebration of Mass regularly, even when sometimes we do not feel like it, is a helpful spiritual discipline reminding us of the big picture and energising us spiritually. At Mass we are in a special way part of the offering of Christ Himself.
In times of spiritual dryness, structure in prayer and sacraments is also very helpful
Structure in the spiritual life is a good antidote to spiritual laziness. It also keeps reminding us of balance in our life and spiritual journey. It also reminds us of priorities.
Of course just saying prayers without the heart being present is useless. Yet we must not mistake this with needing to have lots of ‘pious’ feelings for prayer to be good prayer.
A loving parent will attend with deep love the needs of a child without there always being deep fuzzy feelings, such as at 2.00am in the morning having just been woken up by a crying baby!
Good structure can be liberating and deeply loving.