Six pieces of simple advice from a little book of wisdom by St. Alphonsus Liguori.
Have you ever seen that bumper sticker that asks, “If Christianity were illegal, would there be enough evidence to convict you?” I like seeing that one as I drive because it always makes me reflect on my own life. How much am I doing to love God? Am I acting like a follower of Christ every day? Usually I think to myself, I should pray more … That would help me remember to act like Christ throughout the day, instead of just acting like sinful ol’ me.
But then the excuses kick in: “Well, I’ll be able to pray more after this busy summer.” Or, “I just need to finish up a few things this week, and then I’ll have time next week to pray.” On one hand I know they’re excuses; on the other hand, I really am busy! After I finish work every day, there’s a house that needs to be tidied so I don’t go crazy, dinner to make, dishes to do, and I need to spend time with my family. And that’s just on the nights when nothing else is going on.
But that little nagging thought is still there: I need to pray. I need to remember throughout the week — and not just on Sunday — that God is a part of my life and that I need to avoid little sins throughout the day.
That’s where one of my favorite books comes in. It’s a tiny book called: How to Converse with God, written by St. Alphonsus Liguori, and each chapter is just two or three pages long. In it, he gives little explanations and practical tips on how to make each day about God. He shows how everything in our day can becomes a prayer: from our work, to the things we notice throughout the day, to the moments when we’re happy, to the moments when we’re frustrated or trying to make a decision. It’s a quick read. Here are some of the takeaways that have helped me the most.
- Offer every day to God when you wake up. It can be a simple “Thank you God for this day. You are so good. Let me stay close to you today.”
- Offer every new thing you do to God throughout the day. When you arrive at work, offer your work to God. Then when you’re doing the dishes, or working on a project, or having game night with your family, just say: “God, I offer this time/this activity to you.”
- Let beautiful things around you remind you of God. When you see something in nature, like flowers, a pretty tree, a beautiful sunset, remind yourself that God created them and thank Him.
- Live each day as if it’s your only day. If today is the only day you have, how would you treat everyone in your life? How would you live your daily routine to the fullest?
- When you’re upset, or unsure throughout the day, offer that to God. You can do that by saying a quick prayer like “Jesus, I trust in you” or “Jesus, help me.”
- When you’re happy and joyful, say a quick “Thank you.”
The best part of these takeaways is that you can do them no matter how busy your day is! It will be hard to remember at first, but what a beautiful habit to form if you can keep working at it. When your first thought in the morning is to thank God, and your thoughts throughout the day keep coming back to Him, it’s just a little bit easier to love the people around you. And once you’re loving God and loving those around you more consistently every day, I’m pretty sure that seeing that bumper sticker won’t make you feel guilty. Instead, you’ll just say, “Thanks, God.”