4 little steps will have you ready to conquer what comes, thanks to Saint Francis de Sales
Nearly every recipe for spiritual growth includes a “morning offering,” a prayer that entrusts the coming day to God and asks his help and blessing for whatever it holds.
Of course, as Pope Francis says, “Prayer does not work like a magic wand!” And yet, the power of beginning the day on the right foot can’t be underestimated.
The following prayer outline, taken from St. Francis de Sales’ Introduction to the Devout Life, may be just what you need to ensure that today is a great day.
Give it a try.
1. Express gratitude and adoration
Thank God, and adore Him for His Grace which has kept you safely through the night, and if in anything you have offended against Him, ask forgiveness.
2. Become mindful of the present moment
Call to mind that the day now beginning is given you in order that you may work for Eternity, and make a steadfast resolution to use this day for that end.
3. Resolve to serve and take note of possible temptations
Consider beforehand what occupations, duties and occasions are likely this day to enable you to serve God; what temptations to offend Him, either by vanity, anger, etc., may arise; and make a fervent resolution to use all means of serving Him and confirming your own piety; as also to avoid and resist whatever might hinder your salvation and God’s Glory. Nor is it enough to make such a resolution—you must also prepare to carry it into effect. Thus, if you foresee having to meet some one who is hot-tempered and irritable, you must not merely resolve to guard your own temper, but you must consider by what gentle words to conciliate him. If you know you will see some sick person, consider how best to minister comfort to him, and so on.
4. Place your heart in God’s hands, trusting in him
Next, humble yourself before God, confessing that of yourself you could carry out nothing that you have planned, either in avoiding evil or seeking good. Then, so to say, take your heart in your hands, and offer it and all your good intentions to God’s Gracious Majesty, entreating Him to accept them, and strengthen you in His Service, which you may do in some such words as these: “Lord, I lay before Thee my weak heart, which Thou dost fill with good desires. Thou knowest that I am unable to bring the same to good effect, unless Thou dost bless and prosper them, and therefore, O Loving Father, I entreat of Thee to help me by the Merits and Passion of Thy Dear Son, to Whose Honor I would devote this day and my whole life.”
If the words of Francis de Sales’ prayer in point #4 seem a little too old-school, maybe something like this is more your style:
“Lord, I want to please you and do your will, but you know my heart is weak. You know I cannot bring about any good without your grace. Dear Father, through the merits won by Jesus on the cross, help me. I devote this day and my whole life to honor Him.”
The Introduction to the Devout Life was written in the early 17th century for the laity. It can truly be referred to as a “timeless classic,” since the book still today offers a guide to beginners in the spiritual life — and not just beginners, since as with any relationship, our friendship with God requires returning again and again to the basics.