I was recently asked to pray at the opening of a Board of Directors meeting for my local Chamber of Commerce. It was my first meeting as a board member, which was also the first meeting for the new president for the organization. I was the one asked to pray because the new president knows that I’m on track to be ordained later this year (making me “practically” clergy).
Honestly, I have no issues with praying publicly anytime I’m asked. But something feels different about this one. While I know that many of the people there share my faith, there are also several who don’t. So I needed a prayer for business in our community that we could all agree with. The last thing I want to do is make my beliefs alienate others.
With that first prayer, I just winged it and did what I could to bless what we were doing and that we’d be a blessing to our community. But since I’ve been in the Episcopal Church, I’ve discovered incredible beauty in many of the written prayers. I knew there had to be something good out there that I could use or adapt to fit our context.
And since I’ve been asked to open us in prayer at future board meetings as well as member luncheons, I want to ensure that I’ve got a good one to use going forward.
a prayer for business
Heavenly Father, you are glad to bless all human labor; to sanctify the work of our hands and minds. Grant that all who plan and conduct business in our community, who produce goods and services, may add to the flourishing of humanity and to the respect and dignity of every person. Amen.
This is a prayer that not only honors my Christian beliefs, but is something I feel like everyone can be on board with regardless of what they believe. It hits a few key points that we can all certainly agree with.
bless our labor
From the very beginning, God has given man work to do. Adam and Eve were to care for the Garden, and they were given the direction to be fruitful in all they do. God wants us to find purpose in our work. He also desires to bless our work so that our efforts are fruitful.
This first request in this prayer simply recognizes that God wants to bless us, and asks Him to fulfill that desire.
I believe it’s helpful to know that the Creator of the Universe doesn’t want me to be frustrated with my work. Instead, He wants it to be a source of joy and fulfillment. We should find meaning and purpose in the work we do. Before any other benefit that it provides to us (and to others), we should be able to experience the blessing that work is.
sanctify our work
Next, we ask to, “sanctify the work of our hands and minds.” To sanctify something means that we are separating it as something sacred or special. So to sanctify our work is asking that what we do not just be ordinary, but special.
This piece of the prayer is essentially asking God to make everything we do better than just ordinary. For the mechanic, the work of their hands can be special as it helps a family ensure they have reliable transportation and peace of mind. For the financial advisor, the work of their mind can provide stability and security for people thinking about their future.
This is true for all professions. Our work can (and should) mean something to people. So this part of the prayer simply asks God to do just that.
For each person doing work or conducting some kind of business, it means something to know that what we do is special.
the flourishing of humanity
The next part of this prayer asks that for everyone who works would, “add to the flourishing of humanity.”
Let’s face it. In our culture, individualism is the general focus, especially as it relates to success. But this can easily lead into greed, and accumulation of stuff for self. While recognizing that not everyone is like this, it brings to mind the picture of the used car salesman who does whatever it takes to get the sale so that they get the commission, regardless of what it means to the family hoping to buy a reliable vehicle to get to work and get the kids to school.
We often miss the reality that we’re all in this life together. So I love that this part of the prayer not only looks to all people involved not only turn out okay, but that they flourish!
This is the kind of thing that for the worker or businessperson makes our work even more meaningful. When it contributes to the flourishing of all people around us, then we all win. It’s like the car salesman who knows that the family that just bought a minivan will have the reliable transportation they need at a price that doesn’t put a strain on the family, and he still gets his commission. Everyone wins.
respect and dignity
The prayer closes out that our work would add to the respect and dignity of every person.
I don’t know about you, but I can easily recall business transactions where, as a customer, I’m just glad that I don’t have to have to deal with that person (or company) again. There are some people in businesses who are there to provide good customer service, while others think customers need to get a clue and realize how right they are. It’s easy to see how the one’s who strive for excellence in customer service can add to the dignity of people (and the others don’t).
But this not only applies to workers dealing with customers. Business owners and managers should consider how they add to the respect and dignity of their employees too. When employees can come to work and feel valued, they are more likely to live happier lives. I’ve been in jobs before where I’ve felt like a valued contributor, and I’ve been in jobs where I’ve felt beat down and broken by management.
What a fitting way to end this prayer for business in our community. We can all agree that we should be building people up, rather than tearing them down. When we build up, we help create a better community where we all win.
final thoughts on this prayer for business
As I am asked to pray at meetings and luncheons in our community, this one will be my go-to. And I’m happy to pray this prayer over and over again, because I want people to hear it and get it deep in their hearts and minds. I certainly could just pray in general at each meeting, and I’m sure that some would always appreciate those prayers. But this prayer is one that sets our focus for why we do what we do.
I’ll also add that the purpose of our local Chamber of Commerce is to promote commerce and community as the keystone to success. And this prayer for business in our community speaks right to the flourishing and blessing that we can all be and experience through our work. Can I get an amen?