I spoke Wednesday at Christian Business Fellowship on the role of prayer in business. The presentation arose from a discussion among business leaders. Many lived in the divided world of choice A , others wrestled with the amount of overlap in choice B. I said the answer was C. Prayer is not part of your business – prayer IS your business. Here’s why:
God’s Work: Prayer
Imagine going to work today and never saying a word to any employee, customer or vendor. And imagine they say nothing to you. How are you going to get any work done? God is the owner of your business and the only way you can operate your business is by talking and listening to Him. That is prayer.
If you believe “the earth is the Lord’s, and everything in it, the world, and all who live in it” (Ps. 24:1), then you and your business belong to God. God’s business is His kingdom. Your business is to operate within his kingdom so His kingdom will come, and His will be done in your business as it is in His.
He gives you your business as a means of advancing His kingdom as you interact with employees, customers, vendors and the community. You are to be His vassal operating as His vessel to advance His purposes.
The only way you can operate your business within His kingdom is through prayer. Your job is to “pray continually” (1 Thess. 5:17). Print the image below and post in your monitor, desk or board at work.
God’s Word: Our Employee Guide
We orient new employees with policy manuals and employment guides. Often we have someone sign indicating they read and understand. How many actually read the full guide? We make the same mistake. God gave us our operating manual but we forget to read it. The Bible. Don’t just read it, but pray it. Understand it.
Work matters. The opening pages of the Bible demonstrate we were created for work. It is good. Then instead of trusting our boss, we thought we knew better and sin entered the world. Work became difficult. But it still matters.
Work matters so much that MOST of the stories told by Jesus involve work. Why? Jesus used business stories to point to a deeper truth about His kingdom. If we understand the Hebrew concept of work this is easier to understand.
Our English Bibles simply use the word work. But in Hebrew the word for work is “Avodah” which means “work, worship or service”. Your work is best understood as a means of service that brings glory to God.
As a practical application hold a voluntary Bible study at work. Post artwork and Bible verses around the office.
God’s Will: Listen & Obey
Do you know anyone who is an incessant talker? Doesn’t it drive you crazy? I remember when my son was three years old. All he did was talk. My poor wife was trying to dutifully listen but fell asleep. Half an hour later she woke up horrified. But our son was still talking. He didn’t even notice.
If we are honest, many of us treat prayer this way. We talk, talk, talk at God and wonder why He is not answering. Honestly take a breath, stop talking, and listen! We should spend as much time listening as talking. Our posture should be, “Speak Lord for your servant is listening.” 1 Sam. 3:10.
Listening precedes action, but we must act. Jesus told a story of two sons in Matthew 21:28-31. A father asked both sons to go work. One said yes but did not go, the other said no but did go. Which listened to the Father? The one who went. If you want direction for your business, listen to your Father and then obey.
Build in times of silence. Go away at least once a year for a day to be silent before God and seek direction for your business. Build in a time of silence for your employees – Christians can use the time to pray, others can relax or meditate.
God’s Way – His Mission, Vision & Core Values
I believe God’s mission for your business is “to glorify God through work”. His vision is “Advancing God’s Kingdom through business”. And his core values are found in His expectation of you. “He has told you, O man, what is good;
and what does the Lord require of you but to do justice, and to love kindness, and to walk humbly with your God?” Mic. 6:8.
Humility requires faithful obedience. We must walk by faith and not fear as we listen and lean into the promises of God. Prayer makes this possible. Prayer humbles us as we cry out, “Not to us, O Lord, but to Your name be the glory, because of Your love and faithfulness.” Ps. 115:1
Loving kindness, or mercy, helps us treat employees, customers, vendors and our community with dignity. We see others as created in the image of God. We want them to see the difference Christ can make in their life because of the difference He is making in ours. Do they see that? Is our light shining in such as way as to bring glory to our King?
Justice – key to God’s Kingdom
Do justice. To understand why justice is the foundation of God’s throne and the scepter of His rule, we need to understand God’s view of justice. One of the words for justice is “Tzedek”. It means to right what is wrong and restore what is broken. In business this means acting justly. Our yes should be yes no matter the cost. We should treat people fairly even if it is to our advantage to exploit loopholes.
The other aspect of justice we must understand is generosity. God is generous. His love is so vast he sent Jesus to die for us. This generous justice is who God is. He ask the same of us. As I studied Hebrew, I had a true lightbulb “ah” moment. I realized the word for justice was “tzedek” and the word for generosity was “tzedekah”. Generosity is literally rooted in justice.
The application is simple. Every business operating under God’s kingdom should be generous toward the advancement of that Kingdom. Matthew 25 makes this clear. God has given you your business to steward well while He is away. You are to multiply the resources given to you. The faithful servant uses those resources to support “the least of these”. Mt. 25:40.
There are many great kingdom ministries to support. Invest wisely. Get to know the ministry and go deep instead of wide. Gospel Justice Initiative/Administer Justice welcomes the opportunity to be considered for support. Each week we bring the hope of the gospel and the help of a lawyer into some of the most challenging circumstances someone can face. We see people come to faith in Christ or have their faith restored as they are freed from legal burdens so they can flourish. Learn more about our unique support model on our website or contact me – firstname.lastname@example.org.
Whether our ministry or another, model your Savior and be generous. “Good will come to those who are generous and lend freely, who conduct their affairs with justice.” Ps. 112:5.