The heart of devotion opens spontaneously with a deep sense of reverence, aspiration and love. It is based on soul-contact with the Divine. External signs of worship, prayers, songs, rituals, repeating words of devotion are not indicators of the soul status necessarily and they cannot replace the true opening of the being that can occur at any time when contact from the psychic being comes to the fore.
It is common for people to show their devotion through external signs. In many cases this is however quite devoid of the deeper spiritual force of the psychic. It then can become a vital play for acceptance, attention or status. This is not what the yoga of devotion is all about however.
Of course, practices that help an individual contact and open to the psychic influence are beneficial and thus, prayer, devotional singing, worship services may indeed be of benefit if they spring from this inner need to focus and achieve the necessary contact and receptivity that is the heart of devotion.
Sri Aurobindo writes: “The nature of Bhakti is adoration, worship, self-offering to what is greater than oneself…. Bhakti is not an experience, it is a state of the heart and soul. It is a state which comes when the psychic being is awake and prominent.”
Sri Aurobindo and the Mother, Growing Within: The Psychology of Inner Development, Chapter V Growth of Consciousness, Means and Methods, pp. 101-102