Prayer at Work: Passion and Desperation (or Discipline)

Sep 30, 2010, Written by Sue Miley

Prayer Takes DisciplineI hate discipline.  I think I have an innate system of rebellion that automatically kicks in with rules, correction, and discipline.  I want to do things because I believe in them.  I want to passionately embrace, not begrudgingly comply.  This is how I feel about spiritual disciplines.

Followers of Jesus know we are supposed to practice spiritual disciplines.  But I feel better knowing that my undying faith places in me a need to practice things like prayer, reading the bible, and fasting.  (Actually, I hate fasting.)

Like when you are walking into a meeting and you call out a flash prayer to God because you know it will be a train wreck without Him, not because it is part of the meeting agenda checklist.

Or you happen to be thinking about a particular bible verse and you are anxiously flipping through your bible trying to find this particular wisdom that you know God means specifically for you at this moment, rather than have you spent 15 minutes reading your bible today.

See the difference?  For some, it is discipline; for others desperation!

Prayer: Desperation or Discipline?

It either happens because you are driven to a desperate need for Jesus because you have messed up life on your own or because you started practicing spiritual disciplines and they became second nature.  (I have experienced both!)

And, even though I prefer the exhilaration of desperation, sometimes discipline is less painful.  Ironic huh?

So, how do we bring the practice of spiritual disciplines passionately, desperately, and proactively into our business and work lives?

I think for some of us it’s new to even think that God cares about our business.  We are passionate and desperate on Sunday and then check our faith at the business door on Monday morning, picking it back up on Friday afternoon.

Are business and faith fully integrated into your life?  If you aren’t desperate right now, spiritual disciplines may be the starting gate.

In Richard Foster’s Celebration of Discipline (affiliate link) he introduces the spiritual disciplines of meditation, prayer, fasting, study, simplicity, solitude, submission, service, confession, worship, guidance, and celebration.  This is a lot of discipline!

All of these can be translated to our work life because they are spiritual disciplines for a life dedicated to following Jesus.

Today, let’s just look at the spiritual discipline of prayer!  (I can only be disciplined about one thing at a time.)

Is it Okay to Pray About Business?

Most of us are in the habit of praying.  Some of us feel more comfortable praying for others.  Do you feel like it is okay to pray for your business? Or do you feel self-centered and petty?

In Philippians 4:6-7 (New International Version), Paul says,

6Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

He says “But in everything, by prayer and petition….present your requests to God”.  In my interpretation that would include business.

What Does Prayer in Our Work Life Look Like?

Here are a couple of ideas of how it would look to incorporate the spiritual discipline of prayer into your work life:

Suggestion #1: Pray through your physical location.

Go to work early one day a week and walk around to all of the offices and desks and pray as you go.  Pray that the Holy Spirit will lead each person this week.  Pray that each person would glorify Him in their work and attitudes.  Lift up the specific needs of your employees to God.  Basically, release the entire building, and the people and work that would occupy it during the week, over to the Holy Spirit for His guidance and direction.

Suggestion #2:  Pray for Godly character and leadership.

Make a list of Godly characters you wish to show in your leadership and work this week.  Pray that the Holy Spirit will bear fruit in you.  Pray that God would use you as a vessel to work through.  Ask God how you can be a more Godly leader and ask Him for His guidance.

Suggestion #3:  Keep a prayer journal of specific requests.

Keep a prayer journal for your business.  List 4 or 5 specific prayer requests for your business.  Look up scriptures that may pertain to them and write those down.  Pray daily about these requests.  I like to actually keep a journal of my daily prayers.  As you see God working in these areas, give thanks, give credit, and humbly praise Him for working in your life.

Suggestion #4 Give God the Things Outside of Your Control.

Lift up concerns outside of your control to God in prayer.  Yes, there are many things outside of your control!  Keep them on a prayer list and ask other Christians you trust to pray for these issues with you.

Suggestion #5 Pray for the Armor of God because sometimes work is a battlefield.

Make praying through Ephesians 6:10-18 a regular habit before dealing with difficult situations or decisions.  Pray through the passage imagining yourself putting on each piece of armor.  If you are the passionate and desperate type you will like this one!

Prayer is Personal

Everyone prays differently.  It is your relationship with God, so you need to talk to Him in the way you are most comfortable.  Soon these disciplines will become just a part of your day.  You won’t have to think about it.

My Case Study: Praying In Desperation

As a Christian counselor sometimes things can get pretty tough in a session.  You can imagine how desperately you would want to help someone who is pouring their heart out to you about a personal crisis.  At times the weight of it seems unbearable.  There you are feeling like a bright light is pointed down on you demanding the solution to this person’s life problems.  If it were only so easy.  I have had this experience on multiple occasions.  I felt it was all up to me to fix it.  In desperation, I would start praying to God for answers and help.

As if answering my prayers on the spot, I would remember, it’s not about me.  I am not the savior here.  On more than one occasion I have stopped and asked the client if we could just pray right in the moment.

The Holy Spirit Guides Our Time

We redirected both of our needs to the true Savior.  I would pray that the Holy Spirit would come and guide our time together.  I would ask for healing, peace, direction, and, most importantly, that God would get me out of the way, and work through me.

The change is always almost immediate.  Both myself and the client feel the Holy Spirit take over.

Now, probably to protect myself from those feelings of desperation, I try to pray before client sessions even start and then turn it back over to God by praying with the client before we finish.

Just Do It!

I have a unique business in that it is faith-based.  This obviously isn’t appropriate for most business settings.  It is just an example of how we can use the spiritual disciplines to move us to the relationship and dependency God desires.

The most important thing is to know that God wants to be a part of your business. Incorporate prayer in the way it works for you, but remember we are supposed to lift up “everything” to Him!

My favorites are Suggestions #1 and #3.  Please share with us in the comment section whether you are “passion and desperation” or “discipline” and the ways that you incorporate prayer into your business.

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Sue Miley

Sue Miley MBA, MA, LPC helps small business owners build successful businesses on a foundation of Christian values. After 20 years in business, and 10 years as a Christian counselor, Sue uses a combination of faith, business and psychology to help clients in business and in life.

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