My day often consists of prayer, classes, work, talking to friends, meals, and homework. With so much going, it is easy for me to compartmentalize my day so that each task is separate from the next. Nothing is wrong with this, except for when I compartmentalize God and my prayer to specific times of day. God does not want us to give Him a certain time of day and then forget about Him the rest of the time. Rather, He longs to be involved in every aspect of our lives throughout each day.As Catholics, one of our goals in life is to be a saint. When looking at the lives of the saints like St. Joan of Arc or St. Maximilian Kolbe, we see people who have done amazing and courageous things. It’s easy to feel discouraged or think that we have to accomplish great tasks in order to be a saint. However, this is not the case. God calls us all to be saints, or holy people, and He would not call us to that unless we were capable of attaining sainthood.
Over the past few months, I have been reading and reflecting on The Practice of the Presence of God by Brother Lawrence who discusses how we can bring God into our daily lives and live in constant conversation with God. When discussing how we can become saints, Brother Lawrence says, “Our sanctification does not depend as much on changing our activities as it does on doing them for God rather than for ourselves” (24). This means that we are able to become saints by living our daily lives and devoting our actions to God out of love for Him.
One of Brother Lawrence’s points of emphasis was that we must be constantly aware of God’s presence and converse with Him constantly. When I first heard this, I was a bit baffled. How are we supposed to constantly converse with God and continue to do our daily duties? How can I have a conversation with another person and God at the same time? However, as I read on, Brother Lawrence makes it clear that thinking “we must abandon conversation with Him in order to deal with the world is erroneous” (12). We can both continue our daily activities and continue our conversation with God in our hearts. Sometimes our prayers do not have to be spoken words, but they can also be through the intention that we do our deeds.
In order to talk to God constantly, we first must be aware that God is always present. He is present when we wake up, when we hang out with friends, when we study and when we are driving to work. Once we recognize this, Brother Lawrence states that then we may “speak directly to Him every time we need to ask for help, to know His will in moments of uncertainty and to do whatever He wants us to do in a way that please Him” (23). He also says that when we converse with God, we should speak simply and frankly, revealing the desires and concerns of our hearts as the thoughts come to us. In other words, at any moment we should be willing to praise God, ask for guidance, know His will or offer our sufferings to Him.
Here are some ideas of how we can practice the presence of God, converse with Him throughout the day and offer everything that we do for God’s greater glory:
- Pray before moving into a new activity in the day, asking God for His will to be done and for any guidance that you may need. Offer the work that you do during that time for an intention.
- Pray after each activity, thanking God for allowing you to do the activity for His sake and for love of Him.
- When someone compliments you, thank God for giving you the gift that you are being complimented about.
- Offer up your school work and worries about grades to God by writing JMJ (Jesus, Mary, Joseph), AMDG (Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam, Latin for “to the greater glory of God”), or a similar acronym on the top of your papers as a reminder that you are doing this for God and it is in His hands.
- Say short prayers throughout the day, reminding you of God and his will. Examples could be “Lord, I am all yours,” “Lord, use me according to your will,” “Jesus, I trust in you” or “Jesus, for you.”
- Offer up any sufferings for prayer intentions. If you can think of none, allow Jesus to use your suffering for the souls in purgatory or for anyone who needs God’s grace.
- Do what your parents or teachers ask without complaining or grumbling.
- Occasionally pause your activities to give praise to God.
- Begin your day through a morning offering and end it with an examination of conscience.
These are just a few ideas to get you started. Remember that as Catholics, we are called to bring God into all aspects of our lives. By talking to Him throughout the day and offering our actions to Him, we are able to better understand God’s will for our lives.