John 14:23 (NKJV)
If you look in a dictionary, you can find several definitions for the word "ritual". One of those definitions is that a ritual is something that is done in a certain way and repeated, something done in a predetermined method. Rituals are not necessarily a bad thing and some rituals are helpful. For example, we can have a certain way that we do some things at home, or at our place of work, where the routine of a ritual helps us to remember what it is we need to do and how we need to do it. But something could also become such a ritual to us that we lose the real meaning and purpose behind what we do.
When Jesus walked on the earth He talked about His heavenly Father in a way that was different than many of the religious leaders of the day, it was more personal than what most people were used to at that time. In the four Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John we can often see Jesus confronting the religious leaders about how they had turned what was supposed to be a relationship into nothing more than a ritual. The sad thing is that today many believers are falling into the same problem, they have a set of rituals and a routine that they follow without the corresponding relationship to God.
While the Old Testament did prescribe rules for how many things needed to be done to please God, the religious leaders had completely lost touch with the God that the Old Testament pointed to and the Redeemer who was to come, which was Jesus. It is true that there is a right way and a wrong way to live, but if we only focus on those guidelines and rules we will fall into rituals that will hurt the real relationship we should have with God. We build our relationship with God through His Word and by spending time with Him in prayer, it is not just a ritual that we follow, it is a way for us to maintain a close relationship with God.