How to Pray for Your Work

the prayer continued, Flickr

the prayer continued, Flickr

Do you pray? Do you pray about and for your work?

For some, your work may be in a church, school, or organization where prayer is encouraged. For others, your work may be in a place where prayer is simply for personal and private expression.

Regardless of your work context, it is important for us to remember that we are not alone in our work. God cares about you. God cares about the challenges you face in your work.

I’d like to provide some brief reflections on prayer and work

Prayer for Work

First, it is important to recognize that the Bible encourages us to pray for our work. Consider for a moment the example of Moses’ prayer in Psalm 90:16-17. In these verses, both the work of God and our work is addressed. Moses prays:

Let your work be shown to your servants, and your glorious power to their children. Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us; yes, establish the work of our hands!

This is a verse I frequently return to as I begin and go throughout my work days. As I put my hands to the work of my day, I want to be mindful of where God is at work (“Let your work be shown to your servant”), and I want to ask for God’s favor and presence to bless, guide, and establish my work (“let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands”).

A friend of mine who served as the director of a major international airport would often use his commute time at the start his day to pray about his work. He looked to verses such as James 1:5 to guide him:

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.

If you are like most people, you have concerns and challenges in your work. The Bible invites you to bring these concerns and challenges to the Lord in prayer. Ask for God to give you wisdom for the work of your day. Ask to be mindful of His presence with you in your work. Ask for his guidance and favor to establish and make successful the work of your hands.

Why Prayer for Your Work Matters

As you bring your work and your prayer together, here are some final thoughts on why prayer matters:

  • Prayer reminds us that we are not alone
  • Prayer provides a place for us to bring our worries and concerns
  • Prayer reminds us that while our work matters, our work is not the final word (God is at work even when we are not … see my previous reflections on this theme here)
  • Prayer provides a moment of pause to reflect on core needs and what matters most in our work and in our life
  • Prayer helps to align our will and desire with the will and desire of God
  • Prayer helps to align the resources of heaven with the needs of this world

Enjoy the journey of praying in and for your work. God cares about you. God cares about your work. He wants to hear what’s on your heart and mind in prayer.

Whether for the first time or the thousandth time, share your heart and thoughts with God in prayer. No special words are required. Share with Him what you are thinking in your own words. Ask for his guidance and direction where you are confused. Bring your concerns and challenges to God in prayer.

Leadership Insights from the Book of James

Photo Credit: First edition King James Bible, 1611, by bookchen, Flickr

Photo Credit: First edition King James Bible, 1611, by bookchen, Flickr

The Book of James is a significant example of a church leader who longed to exert positive leadership influence at a distance. Through this early form of distance leadership in the form of a letter, James is wanting to communicate a vision for how followers of Christ are to live faithfully under God’s leadership within their diverse and global contexts. Noting his audience as the twelve tribes in the Dispersion, James communicates visionary direction, helps to align the people of God behind this vision, and seeks to motivate those who are struggling in various ways. Here are a couple themes that stand out in reading James’ letter.

Rightfully Orienting Ourselves before God

While most leadership books do not begin with a discussion of rightfully orienting ourselves before God, James’ letter does communicate this near the start of his letter. James notes, “If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God” (1:5). As leaders, we must understand the source of the visionary direction we provide for followers and our communities. Although leaders gain visionary insight from many sources, the implication of James’ teaching is that God is to be sought out for wisdom when individuals (including leaders) lack wisdom. My viewing God as a source for “every good gift and perfect gift” (1:17), includes viewing God as a source for leadership wisdom when wisdom is lacking.

There are many times I face challenging decisions in leadership—times where I feel like the answer is not immediately clear and I “lack wisdom” related to the situation I’m facing. James’ reminds us that we do not need to be alone in these moments. I can invite the Lord’s guidance as I face decisions that impact the lives of followers and the lives of organizational members I desire to serve. I can, drawing on James’ advise, “ask God” in prayer for wisdom and insight, and ask for peace and clarity in the face of anxious organizational times and unclear organizational decisions.

Rightfully Orienting Ourselves toward One Another

James not only advises people toward rightfully orienting themselves toward God, but also rightfully orienting themselves toward one another. Some examples of this in James are (a) the call to not show favoritism or partiality (2:1), (b) erring on mercy over judgment (2:13), (c) recognizing that the people we work with and lead are made in the likeness and image of God, have great worth and value because of this, and therefore we should bless rather than curse those around us (3:9-10), (d) treating those who work for us fairly and equitably (5: 4), and (e) and caring for the suffering and those in need (5:13-16; 1:27).

Leaders who rightly orient themselves before God and toward others are in a good position to lead humbly (4:6-7) before God and others and recognize that they are not in the task of leadership and management alone. I desire this in my own life and leadership, and am thankful for perspective from sources like James.

What leadership insights do you see in the Book of James?