Our day consists of many actions. We sleep a third of it, work another third, and relax the rest of the time. Well, that's true for most but for some the work time is longer and the time for relaxation shorter. We know that it is beneficial to pray, to have a conversation with God. We pray and God provides His Grace for us to carry on. "Eating, sleeping, etc. can be offered to God and this is a very spiritual act, but it is not prayer. It is important that we realize that other things besides prayer in the spiritual life are important and that we need not make everything a prayer. For instance, a sacrifice or penance is very important, but neither of them are prayer1." In order to make whatever we do during a given day meritorious, it should be something beneficial and it may be offered to God. Obviously, if we offer something to God that is against the Ten Commandments or the Commandments of the Church (if you are Catholic), then there is no merit in that and it is certainly not a prayer.
Prayer does not have to be a long string of words. The "Our Father" is a very beautiful prayer because Jesus Christ put it together (See Mt. 6:9) and certainly, the "Hail Mary," as a wonderful prayer because it is what the Angel Gabriel said to Mary at the Annunciation. There are people who pray endless prayers, words, more words. Now that works for some but it does not have to be such a long prayer. If the person about to be hit by a car on the road says: "God help me!" that is a wonderful prayer and believe me, God will hear it. I love small prayers. I am not a man of many words (except when I write these essays, hopefully with the help of the Holy Spirit). That is, because much of my day is spent alone. But my day is very much in the Presence of God. I consciously offer my time to Him, be it for the souls in Purgatory or for another intention. I may not talk to God all the time, but I know He is close. I have this wonderful feeling of peace within me, which I've had really since my years in contemplative life. One of my religious brothers from that period used to ask me "is that some sort of fuzzy feeling?" - well, no. It is a very positive feeling that I am not alone and that God is with me all the time. So I offer all I do to Him. My sleeping, eating, praying, work for others, work in the house (I am very sloppy, so work in the house takes effort), walking, going to Holy Mass, singing, praying the Liturgy of the Hours, etc., I try to remember to offer all these acts up to God. Of course, you can offer it up for any intention. Preferably for someone else (but it's OK to intention yourself, too). One could certainly offer it up for the intentions of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
Whatever you do, make your day count. Offer it up, not just your prayers but everything you do. Make it count for some intention or for someone you feel needs help. Heavens knows there are many people who need help. Many ask for help who are battling cancer and other life-threatening diseases. There are many people who do not know God and sometimes their lives are in despair, or meaningless. Some people are a menace to society... pray for them. The prisons aren't overcrowded for nothing... offer up your day that prisoners may have access to a Bible and begin to read it, so that they will learn something about the goodness of Christ and ultimately repent and begin a new life when they are released.
Please have a "holy" day!
Fred Schaeffer, OFS
July 8, 2003rev 2012