A saying that is often associated with Saint Francis is
“Preach the Gospel at all times. If necessary, use words.”
How exactly can we pray constantly? By making everything we say and do a kind of prayer and offering. In the morning, we can wake up and complain about all we have to do for the day, or we can get up and ask God to be with us throughout the day, to guide us in our thoughts and actions. When we go on our daily commute to work, we can complain about the traffic or we can pray a Rosary, or listen to praise and worship as we get through the morning rush. When we’re at work, we can complain about our bosses and supervisors or we can figure out ways to help around the office without bringing attention to ourselves. You get the idea.
God offers up plenty of opportunities for us to be like Christ to the world. We can live out God’s word by giving food instead of just money to the homeless guy at the next stoplight. We can preach the Gospel by helping out kids who tend to cause trouble in the neighborhood. Every action we do in God’s name can be our prayer.
Of course, there will be times when words are necessary. When someone comes to us for advice, ask the Holy Spirit to come over the both of you. Make sure to listen to them and let God speak through you. We can also use our words to encourage others or to caution people before they take a dangerous risk. Don’t underestimate the power of your words.
Using our words and actions as constant prayer is not an easy thing to do, obviously, but it helps when you keep the motto of the Jesuits in mind: Ad Majorem Dei Gloriam “For the Greater Glory of God.” It means that everything you do, say, and write needs to follow God’s will. It won’t always be straightforward, but praying constantly helps in discerning the nature of our thoughts and actions.
What are some opportunities for prayer through action in your life?
- Reflect on a time when your words had more impact than your actions. Then reflect on a time when your actions spoke louder than words. What was the difference?