Why do we tend to pray more for "spiritual activities" such as church ministries and mission trips, than we do for our "9 to 5" job? If our work is God's work, we should pray for it like it is God's work. How can we practically pray more throughout our work day? Taylor Barkley tackles this important question and challenges us to consider what difference it could make in the article below from the Institute for Faith, Work, Economics blog.
If our work is God’s work, should we not pray for it like it is God’s work?
In Paul’s letter to the Philippians, he ends the book with a series of exhortations to both specific people in the church of Philippi and to Christians throughout all ages who read his letter.
In Philippians 4:6 he makes the exhortation,
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank him for all he has done.
If we are to “pray about everything,” “everything” includes our work.
Tackling all of what “everything” means is beyond the scope of this post. However, our work certainly falls under the scope of “everything.”
And yet we often forget to pray for our “9-5 job” with the earnestness that we often pray for our more spiritually oriented jobs—e.g. mission trips.
Many evangelical organizations—churches, colleges, youth organizations, etc.—facilitate mission opportunities in different domestic and international communities. I have been on half a dozen of these types of trips and have had the joy of participating in God’s work in many different places.
A common factor in these missions is the amount of prayer that goes into the preparation for the trip, the time during the trip itself and after the trip is completed. Because the Lord is faithful to answer our prayer, the testimony given after these trips report the ways God has demonstrated His work.
It is a joyful experience to see how God works through people who show up to participate in his work.
Through these mission experiences, we as a church demonstrate our ability to pray for our work. We know we can do it and God will help. Yet we so often forget to pray for our own daily jobs and those of others in the church with the energy we bring to a mission trip.
As the apostle Paul taught in Philippians 4:6, we are to pray for “everything,” which absolutely includes our 9-5 jobs.
Imagine the impact a similar prayer habit would have on our daily time at the office, the department store, the restaurant or wherever we work.
To be clear, for the Christian, there is no such thing as a “secular job.” Christians are always involved in God’s work. The writers on this blog have made the case for this claim many times, and two of those cases can be referenced here and here.
Because our daily work falls into routine, it is extremely easy to simply forget to pray. But with God’s help and cultivated discipline we can develop spiritual habits like praying for our daily work. Begin by praying in the car or bus on the way to work or posting a sticky note on your computer monitor that says “pray.”
The more obvious times to pray at work are difficult situations where the ideas have run out or we are at our whit’s end.
But in addition to those situations, a very few of the things we can also pray for include:
- Situations you’ve handled 1,000 times before, and for creativity and inspiration to better complete those tasks.
- Colleagues on your team and the people your company or organization aims to serve.
- That your organization or company’s mission would truly be lived out, especially if it often comes up short of its goals.
- That God would help you better use the gifts and talents he has given you in your current role.
In addition to praying for your own vocation, remember to pray for those in your church and their jobs as well. Communal prayer is an important practice when praying for mission trips and should be done for our daily jobs, too.
Because we are (A) called to pray for everything and (B) our jobs are a ministry, we will be both blessed and a blessing to others when we pray for our daily work in a way similar to the way we pray for the things we do with a church mission team.
Just imagine the difference that would make.