Written by Bryan Francisco
In the fast paced society of Singapore, where all we can really ever think about is what we’re going to do next, be it at work or at school, what does it mean to “put God at the center of our lives”?More often than not, when we say we put God at the “center” of our lives, we often tend to compartmentalize Him. We say we’ll give an hour of our day to the Lord to speak to us and limit Him to that one hour with “Speak Lord in this time!”
And when we do not discernibly hear Him in prayer, we begin to view our prayer time as routine and dry, leaving us restless and eventually losing our purpose or initial intention to make God the centre of our life!
It is crucial for every committed Christian to have a disciplined schedule and structure in their lives which includes time for prayer. In addition to protecting our prayer life, how can we truly allow God to be at the center of our lives? Here are some things that I find particularly helpful.
1) Include Him in our every action
Start every activity with a prayer; invite the Lord into our every minute, every hour and really just allow the Holy Spirit to guide us in our thoughts, our words, our actions. You’d be surprised to see how tangible and noticeable God’s hand is in our daily lives. Personally, this practice has helped me to become more Christ-like in my every action.
This mindfulness of the Lord has helped me to navigate trying conversations by allowing me to see the face of Christ in the other person and challenging me to honour their true identity as a child of God, whether they are life-giving to me or not. This grace has allowed me to lay aside any frustrations or resentment that I normally would’ve felt. It allowed me to love my fellow brother or sister in Christ genuinely and made it a whole lot easier to forgive them and let go of the negative emotions.
2) Spend quiet time with Him when alone
While waiting for time to pass, I tend to turn to my phone and look at the latest feeds on Instagram or scroll through the countless videos on Youtube. In this season of Lent, I have given up social media and am making the most of the newly freed up time to spend more time with the Lord in personal prayer.
In other words, I have found a better use of my alone time, to let even a few short minutes at the MRT station be time with the Lord, without allowing myself to be carried away by any distractions.
Consider what you can give up for Lent in order to give more to grow your relationship with the Lord. It’s not about giving up something for its own sake but in order to make ourselves available for something greater from the Lord.
3) Attend Weekday Mass whenever possible
Pope Francis reminded us that Christians do not go for Mass in order to give something to God but “to receive from Him what we really need.” In the Eucharist, we receive Jesus Christ in the most tangible and fullest of ways.
In 2 Corinthians 12: 9-11 it says, “but he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.”
The fact is if we do not continually allow the Lord to sustain us, feed us, strengthen us in our weakness, hunger and tiredness, the first two steps will eventually become too difficult for us to maintain on our own. It is to Him we must run in order to receive strength and grace for every need!
4) Be Open to God’s word
The closer we grow to the Lord, the more sensitive we would be to His voice and soft promptings. Our duty as God’s people is to listen for His voice and to respond to His call and say “Here I am Lord, send me!”
Monsignor Ambrose Vaz once said that only by us allowing the reflection of God to emerge from within ourselves, are we then able to discover just how wonderful life is. “We have within us the key to happiness but it has to be unlocked by our openness to God”.
The habit of writing the daily readings in my journal has helped me to listen to the Lord through His Word and respond to His call to reflect Him in my daily actions. The parable of the sheep and the goats in Matthew 25: 31- 46 is a constant reminder to me that the Lord calls us to love one another, regardless of social status, reputation or character, “Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’
In practising living out a Christ-centered life, I am able to see God in the smallest of things. In the smiles of strangers, in the small conversations of every day, I can see the presence of God. I have also become more aware of the countless different opportunities that present themselves to me in my day to day life – be it to help random strangers hold the door or catch the bus – to be the light in the darkness, to be His instrument on this earth and to share His love with others.
Besides the day to day experience of God, I am comforted to see His hand in my life. The past year has been particularly challenging for me, with several doubts about my self-worth and His plan for me creeping in. With no university placing and literally no plan in mind, I was lost, hopeless and felt completely abandoned by the world and my friends. But the Lord was faithful; the unplanned free time has allowed me to venture into jobs that I wouldn’t have imagined being in. It led me to my first-ever job at a hotel and then eventually working here at Office For Young People(OYP) till entering university in the upcoming months. This period in my life has allowed me to deepen my love for the Lord and has prepared me well for the trials that may come in the future because I know now, that the Lord is for me and not against me.
I am truly blessed to be able to live out a life with freedom and confidence knowing that I have a God who is so selfless and loving and how He just wants all of His creation to experience His love. It is truly a privilege to have been given this identity as a child of God and to have Him with us, within us, for us. Our loving heavenly Father wants you to be close to him and realise just how close He has been to you all of your life. Will you say yes to allow God to be the centre of your life? Trust me, you will not regret it one bit.