At a prayer meeting a few years ago, every guy at the table shared the same exact prayer request: asking for help at work.
One of our newer members made an observation that was both deadly accurate but also life-giving. He wasn’t a theologian and he was probably the youngest person there, but he displayed true wisdom as he began to pray that evening.
“God, it seems we’ve all shared prayer requests related to our jobs,” he began, “and we need you to help us get our priorities straight in all of the different areas of our lives.”
Most of us had wives. Some of us had kids. All of us volunteered in different ministries. Why did we limit our prayer requests to our jobs?
As I reflect on that prayer meeting, I’m reminded that some professional athletes are criticized for praying, presumably asking God to help them perform well at their jobs. But does God really care about a game?
Without diving into anyone else’s motives here, I want to ask, is it any different if I ask God to help me perform well at my work? Does God care about my new project? My important meeting? My need for a new client?
I think yes and no. God cares about our work and how we treat others at our jobs, but our work is just a piece of who we are, a part of what God sees in us. It is very possible to be praying for my job and to be completely out of touch with God’s priorities.
How should we pray for our work? Here’s one place to start:
Are you made to do something?
Then God can work through that. Olympic athlete Eric Liddell is famous for saying, “When I run, I feel his [God’s] pleasure.”
What did God make you to do?
The trick is that we were made first and foremost for God, not to do something. We worship God through song, meditation on scripture, loving our families, and working. We don’t work and then squeeze in worship when we can. We enjoy God through our work, our spouses, our gardens, and a walk in the cool of the evening.
As I shared my prayer request at that meeting, I realized I was asking God to help me worship my work because I needed it to provide for my family and to give me a sense of purpose. That’s the equivalent of an Israelite in the Old Testament asking God for strength and steady hands in order to cut down a tree and carve an idol.
I often catch myself asking God for help with my work, forgetting that I’m here first and foremost to be a worshipper of God. Worshipping God is my most important job.
I can worship God through my work, but sometimes I end up asking God to help me worship my work better.
One way or the other, we’ll end up worshipping something.