A question I was recently asked:
JM – do you think they (icons and images) can be helpful for the faithful to enter into more pious prayer?
The only aspiration for the Christian should be to exalt the Gospel, the free grace of God in salvation and declare this salvation through Jesus Christ alone. This was the practice of the early church before the so-called ‘Triumph of Orthodoxy.’ To enter into ‘more pious prayer’ we need to recognize our sinfulness and hopelessness for it is here that we experience God’s forgiveness and mercy. When we understand our helplessness in all our trials and earthly trouble we find Jesus Christ sweet, altogether lovely and our prayer is most pious (devout, dutiful, etc).
The better question is why not allow the revealed word of God to direct our worship? Baptists believe the Bible should dictate how Christians are to worship. When we deviate from scripture we invite superstition and idolatry into our church practices. Sacred and profane history has taught us that man manufactures idols out of the desires of his heart all of the time. The righteous man will make an idol of his righteousness and the religionist crafts an idol of his ceremony. To be pious and devout requires us to look to Christ and Him alone for all things.
I hope that helps.