When it comes to praying for business, I have a dream that I’d like to share with you. No, it’s not a fast-asleep kind of dream, but a vision, a hope, perhaps even a game plan.
In the last couple of weeks I have been blogging on the topic of praying for business. I began by asking the question: Why don’t we pray for business? I was thinking especially of prayers shared in corporate worship or prayer meetings. After spending a few days trying to answer this question, I shifted to offering some practical suggestions for pastors and other church leaders who would like to pray for the marketplace and its workers, but aren’t quite sure how to do it.
Today I’ll finish up this series by sharing a dream of how we might pray for business in the context of a church worship service. This dream could have many variations. And I fully expect that some visionary churches have already done something like my dream. (I’d be most eager to hear about this, by the way.)
During my sixteen-year tenure as Senior Pastor of Irvine Presbyterian Church, we often prayed in worship services for various configurations of members. We prayed for Sunday School teachers and youth leaders, for folks going on mission trips, for public school teachers, for parents, and for elders and deacons. (I’m sure I’m missing many groups for which we prayed.) But, to my knowledge, we never intentionally prayed for people who worked in business or for the institutions that employed them (or that they owned). (Photo: The congregation of Irvine Presbyterian Church in a worship service.)
This was an unfortunate oversight. And, since I am no longer a parish pastor, I can’t rectify it. But I can share my dream with others in the hope that some might pick it up and run with it.
What I envision is simple: a time in a church worship service to offer public prayer of dedication and commitment for those who work in business. This prayer would be quite similar to what happened at Irvine Pres when we prayed for people going on a mission trip. Only, in this case, the mission field would be the workplace.
Here’s an outline of what might happen in a worship service:
1. Ideally, the pastor would preach a sermon that explained how business can be a context for God’s people to serve him and their fellow human beings. The sermon would provide a theological foundation for seeing business in a kingdom perspective as well as some practical examples. The sermon is not an essential part of this process, but it would be helpful and encouraging for many.
2. The pastor or other worship leader does a short interview of one (or two) people in the congregation who work in a business context. (I’d opt for two, with one in a major leadership role and the other an employee relatively low on the totem pole.) The interview would center around this question: How do you live out your faith in the context of your workplace? It would also include the question: How can we pray for you? (I would surely choose the people to interview in advance and help them to answer concisely and clearly.)
3. The leader asks everyone in the congregation who works in a business to stand, if they are comfortable doing so and if they would like God’s wisdom for how they can live out their faith in the context of their business environment. I would explain that “business” means, in this case, “for profit enterprises, not public or non-profit sectors.”
4. Once everyone who wished to receive prayer was standing, I would pray on behalf of the congregation (or have someone else lead in prayer). My prayer might go something like this:
Gracious God, thank you for creating the world and all that is in it. Thank you for creating us in your image, calling us to be fruitful and to be faithful stewards of your creation. Thank you for the opportunity to give us to serve you in the context of business, as we seek to fulfill our calling as human beings. Thank you for these who are standing today, for their desire to live out their faith in their workplace.
Give them wisdom, Lord, to know what it means to be your disciple at work. Help them as they face difficult decisions, sometimes wondering how to balance the priorities of business and your kingdom. Empower them in their relationships at work, so that they might treat all of their colleagues, including those they supervise and those who supervise them, with respect and love. Encourage them when they feel alone, when they struggle to serve you and be faithful in their jobs. Show these folks how they can bear witness to you at work, in both word and deed. Help them to do so in a way that is appropriate and respectful.
For those in leadership in their companies, may they know how best to implement your call to justice, for those they employ, for their customers, for their clients, and for the larger world. Help them to see how to be good stewards of all you have entrusted to them.
May this church, dear Lord, be a place of encouragement and support for these who seek to serve you at work. May we listen to them, bear their burdens, speak your truth in love, and continue to pray for them. Fill them now with your Spirit, so they might live for you in their workplaces.
We pray in the name of Jesus, Amen.
5. Then I would close this time of prayer with a song or hymn. “Take My Life and Let It Be” by Frances R. Havergal would be a good option.
Take my life, and let it be consecrated, Lord, to Thee.
Take my moments and my days; let them flow in ceaseless praise.
Take my hands, and let them move at the impulse of Thy love.
Take my feet, and let them be swift and beautiful for Thee.
Take my voice, and let me sing always, only, for my King.
Take my lips, and let them be filled with messages from Thee.
Take my silver and my gold; not a mite would I withhold.
Take my intellect, and use every power as Thou shalt choose.
Take my will, and make it Thine; it shall be no longer mine.
Take my heart, it is Thine own; it shall be Thy royal throne.
Take my love, my Lord, I pour at Thy feet its treasure store.
Take myself, and I will be ever, only, all for Thee.