Have you ever met someone who takes his/her faith seriously, as in more seriously than you? Maybe it was the way in which they spoke or a gesture of piety that they displayed. It could have been something that they wrote in a letter or email.
I met someone like this and my life wasn’t the same from that moment on.
His name was (still is) Fr. Dennis. A tall man with a great belly laugh and an ability to preach about anything and have it sound interesting, Dennis showed me that he took his faith quite seriously.
I saw his zeal for God in the most subtle of gestures:
- He always makes a little cross on the back of an envelope
- He makes the sign of the cross whenever he passes by a Catholic church
- He always prays before a trip in the car, even if it’s just to the local Wawa or 7/11
What he didn’t do was talk a whole lot about these little acts of faith. He just did them and they were enough to show me a more focused, honest lifestyle.
I’ve tried to do each of these in my own life. Thanks Dennis!
So how do you know that your faith isn’t as robust as it could be? How do you diagnose “spiritual flatness”?
- First, your prayer life is inconsistent and drab.
- Second, when you worship publicly, there is a disconnect between what the worship leader is saying and what your life is doing.
- Third and finally, when someone is spontaneously in need, you are paralyzed and do nothing to help them.
I can relate to these qualities and admittedly my spiritual life has gone through peaks and valleys. Once in college, I genuinely felt as if I had experienced what St. John of the Cross calls the “dark night of the soul”. It’s that time in your life when God feels distant and nothing seems to be going right.
|“To saints, their very slumber is a prayer.” St. John of the Cross|
So here are five ways that you can take your faith from flat to flying:
- Pray before meals. Whether you are at home on Thanksgiving or grabbing a burger at McDonalds, thank God for the blessing of provision. So what if others see you bow your head in prayer?
- Pray before you drive in the car. It’s amazing that more accidents don’t occur in parking lots, intersections or during commutes. Pray a simple prayer that God would keep you (and others) safe during your drive.
- Bless yourself when you pass by a church. God is everywhere for sure but what takes place each Sunday in a church is truly remarkable. Honoring this through a simple gesture like making the sign of the cross is another small way to acknowledge God’s presence in your day.
- Prepare for weekend worship. Find out what the readings will be and study them. Sit with them and talk about them with someone with whom you can talk about your faith. When you get in church later in the weekend, the readings will seem all the more alive. God can work with that kind of preparation.
- Commit to journaling every single day. I can’t emphasize this enough. If you’re not convinced of the power of journaling, read Bill Hybels’ book Too Busy Not to Pray. Guilty as charged if I keep mentioning Hybels’ book- it changed my life about two years ago.
These five action steps are extremely simple to put into effect in your own life. The one thing they take is a primitive desire to draw closer to God and take your faith more seriously. This implies courage- courage to be more than ordinary and courage to let the Lord actually make a difference in your life. As Hybels says, "
|Truly, spiritual courage is on the endangered character-quality list."|
Here’s to your faith and the the small ways that you can be more open to God’s grace and presence in your life. It only takes a minute to pray. It doesn’t cost anything to be aware of God’s presence in the middle of the work day.
Which of the five suggestions resonate with you?