Last week my blogging focused on the question: Why don’t we pray for business? I was especially concerned with the absence of marketplace related prayer in the context of corporate Christian gatherings for worship and prayer. When we get together for these purposes, we Christians often pray for government and political leaders, for and pastors, for soldiers and missionaries, perhaps even for teachers and police officers. But rarely, if ever, do we pray for businesses and their employees. I have offered several reasons why this happens in last week’s blogging.
But, in increasing numbers, Christians are beginning to think about business in a new light. We are seeing the potential of the marketplace to be a context for and even a vehicle of God’s work in the world, God’s business, if you will. Thus, those of us who lead people in worship and prayer are beginning to want to pray for business in our worship services and prayer meetings. Yet we struggle with knowing how to pray. What should we do?
In this blog series I want to offer a few practical suggestions for one who wants to start leading people in prayer for business. In my comments, I will speak specifically about pastors, since I am a pastor and I have served in a parish for twenty-three years. But what I’m suggesting here would also be relevant to lay worship leaders.
Where do we start?
If pastors want to pray for the marketplace and its workers, where should they start? One starting place would be the Bible. We need to return to Scripture for a fresh understanding of God’s creation, of the call to man and woman to be fruitful and multiply, of the breadth of divine calling, of the ministry of all of God’s people, and of the concern of God for every facet of life The more we grasp the scope of God’s business in the world, the more we will begin to discover how to pray for human business.
Another starting point if one wishes to pray for business is such an obvious one that it scarcely needs mentioning. But, as you might expect, I’ll bring it up anyway. Let me approach this starting point with an analogous example. One of the classic “pray-for “scenarios in a worship service involves missionaries (or, better, mission partners). In churches throughout the world, mission partners take two or three minutes in a service to share with the congregation a snapshot of their ministry. Then, as if following a divine scripts, the pastor asks: “And how can we pray for you?”
Now there’s a fine starting point if you want to pray for business: Ask! Ask business people the same question asked of mission partners: “And how can we pray for you?” Suppose a pastor knew of a church member who owned a business and sought to honor God in that business. Almost every church has at least one such person. Many churches have several. Suppose further that the pastor took two or three minutes in a worship service to allow this business owner to explain how she integrated her faith in her business. What more natural way to conclude this mini-interview than with the standard question: “And how can we pray for you?” Of course I recognize that what this second starting point assumes may be a bit too radical for some churches and pastors. We may not be quite ready to begin thinking about our business leaders and workers as missionaries. So, is there a less threatening way to begin?
You betcha, to borrow a phrase from my Midwestern friends. In tomorrow’s post I’ll suggest another way pastors can learn how to pray for business and for the business lives of their church members