“Look to the Lord and his strength; seek his face always” (1 Chronicles 16:11)
Today is the National Day of Prayer, a day designated by Congress in 1952 to urge Americans “to turn to God in prayer and meditation.” From the nation’s capital to local churches and workplaces around the U.S., people will be gathering together today to pray for our nation, its leaders, and for themselves—for repentance and righteousness. If you’d like to find a local event, check out the National Day of Prayer Taskforce website.
Many of us are so busy it seems hard to find time to pray as we desire—and as we ought. Martin Luther said, “I have so much to do that I shall spend the first three hours in prayer.” The truth is, we can pray throughout the day, even about the small things like crafting emails, washing dishes, and completing expense reports.
I pray that some of the following excerpts from former IFWE blogs on prayer would inspire and encourage your own prayer life, both in and out of the workplace.
On Prayer and Humility
Caroline Cross writes that prayer helps us develop the right posture toward God and others:
Prayer is the way we treat God as God. Is this not essential to our work?
In acknowledging that he is Lord, the One in ultimate control, we experience the freedom to be human. There is a blessed humility resulting from prayer that will inevitably percolate through our interactions with co-workers, supervisors, and subordinates.
Right posture before God leads to right posture before others.
On Prayer and Leadership
Glenn Brooke says that you can’t be a good leader without being a person of prayer. He provides practical ways that busy leaders and others can work prayer into the normal routine of their days:
Experiment with ways to pray for individuals while you’re doing work that does not require your full attention.
For example, our yard has four sections to mow. I decide before starting which four people I’m going to pray for as I mow, one for each section. Same with shoveling snow out of the driveway.
Sometimes I decide on a different approach – ‘Lord, I will pray for whomever you bring to mind while I’m mowing.”’
For more ideas, check out Greg Ayers’ article, “Practical Tips for Praying at Work.”
On Prayer and Our Nation
When it comes to praying for nations, historian Daniel Dreisbach writes that the Bible instructs that we not only pray for our leaders (1 Tim. 2:1-3) but also respect and obey them (Rom. 13:1-7, Matt. 22:21). He also exhorts us to pray for ourselves, that we would be wise in how we exercise, or steward, our citizenship:
The Bible…not only directs Christians to obey, honor, and pray for civil magistrates but also counsels a self-governing people—who are both the governed and the source of political authority—to pray that they will exercise their civic responsibilities and conduct public business in a righteous manner. Christians should also be a prophetic voice for righteous government, advocating policies consistent with biblical standards and selecting virtuous and effective rulers.
On the Necessity of Prayer
Art Lindsley, quoting J.C. Ryle in an article about the power of prayer, warns against the dangers of neglecting prayer:
Bibles read without prayer, sermons heard without prayer, marriages contracted without prayer, journeys undertaken without prayer, residences chosen without prayer, friendships formed without prayer, the daily act of prayer itself hurried over or gone through without heart—these are the kinds of downward steps by which many a Christian descends to a condition of spiritual palsy or reaches the point where God allows him to have a tremendous fall.
On Prayer and Desire
Lindsley also urges believers to pray, not because they have to but because they want to:
Believers stress the importance of prayer in all kinds of circumstances. This is not merely a duty, though, but ought to be a matter of desire. When believers throughout the ages have experienced an encounter with God, they find it not only unforgettable but something that increases their desire to pray.
A Prayer for Renewal
And finally, Greg Ayers shares “The Disciple’s Prayer,” from The Valley of Vision, a collection of Puritan prayers and devotions. It’s a prayer for renewal amid trying circumstances, “wasted hours,” and “unspent opportunities”:
O MY SAVIOUR,
I am so slow to learn, so prone to forget, so weak to climb;
I am in the foothills when I should be on the heights; I am pained by my graceless heart, my prayerless days, my poverty of love, my sloth in the heavenly race, my sullied conscience, my wasted hours, my unspent opportunities.
I am blind while light shines around me: take the scales from my eyes, grind to dust the evil heart of unbelief.
Make it my chiefest joy to study thee, meditate on thee, gaze on thee, sit like Mary at thy feet, lean like John on thy breast, appeal like Peter to thy love, count like Paul all things dung.
Give me increase and progress in grace so that there may be more decision in my character, more vigour in my purposes, more elevation in my life, more fervour in my devotion, more constancy in my zeal.
As I have a position in the world, keep me from making the world my position; May I never seek in the creature what can only be found in the Creator; Let not faith cease from seeking thee until it vanishes into sight.
Ride forth in me, thou King of kings and Lord of lords, that I may live victoriously, and in victory attain my end.
On this National Day of Prayer and every day, may we seek the Lord and his strength, not relying on our own self-sufficiency, that he might receive all the glory, praise, and honor he is due.