Prayers for the world of work
A resource for
Preachers
Worship Leaders
and all thinking Christians
The words of St Benedict, at the head of this page, equate work with
prayer—and by implication, prayer with work. The two go together:
indeed they are inseparable.
In our worship and private devotion we pray naturally, and rightly, for
people in need: hunger, pain, distress. We also pray naturally and easily
for those who try to help them. Another group for whom it is natural
and easy to pray consists of those whose work people hardly think
about from day to day—unless we suddenly need them. I’m thinking of
police, fire and ambulance services. Workers in health care and
education are also the beneficiaries of our prayer concern. We value what they do; perhaps we feel slightly
guilty that society undervalues them in monetary terms, and praying for them is some kind of appeasement
to troubled consciences. Because we recognise that government has a representative role, we can readily
pray for those in government and politics.
But we are, in all probability, rather selective about those for whom we pray. Think about those working
for profit-making businesses in industry and commerce, and those working for the less obviously caring
public services such as the Inland Revenue. How often do we pray for them with any insight into their
circumstances, or any real thought about their needs? Many in our congregations will belong to one or
other of these groups. What about the section head at the DIY store, or the cleaner in the canteen at the
car factory? In recent years churches have tried to come to terms with the fact that a number of
committed Christians feel that their sphere of secular work is unvalued by their church community. It is
almost as if the church wished that world of work were really not there at all.
And what about those industry sectors with which we feel instinctively uncomfortable, like armaments
manufacture or gambling? Still more extreme, how do you pray for workers in the sex industry, or
organised crime, or the trade in harmful drugs, other than that they should find a way out of it? What if
they are trapped in these occupations by violence and abuse? Or by their perception that this career is
giving them a lifestyle that no other could match? And what about those who provide the markets that
these occupations satisfy? Nevertheless, do they not need our prayers? Do they not deserve our prayers?
Other examples will come to mind; different people will have different areas of discomfort.
This prayer cycle is offered as an attempt to correct these imbalances within the life of the church. Or,
rather, these prayer cycles, because in fact it offers three interlocking cycles. Each cycle is prefaced by
some brief comments. Some space is provided for your own notes or additional prayers.
The first cycle deals with roles and functions within corporate organisations
The second cycle deals with the different moods and dispositions people bring to their work.
The third cycle attempts to address the various industries and occupations in the world of work.
The intention is that in praying for the world of work users should, on any one occasion, select at least one
from each cycle. I have not found any easy way to create a monthly cycle, but it is possible that this will
emerge as the project develops.
Two final words by way of preface. First, please be selective in the sense that you are of course free to
make what use of this you can. On the other had please don’t be selective, in the sense of avoiding the
uncomfortable bits and sticking always to the areas in which you feel secure and safe. Discipleship really
isn’t like that.
And second, it follows that this offering is in no way final or definitive. Please use it, extend it (to find out
how, see this page), adapt or modify it in any way that enriches the worshipping life and enlarges the vision
of God’s people. But please don’t just ignore or filter out the uncomfortable stuff.
Lord God, who has made us all into one body in Christ, enable us to honour one another in our
work. Help us to understand the ways in which we depend upon one another. Teach us to bear
one another’s burdens and share one another’s joy. In our varied occupations enable us to
serve one another with dignity and carefulness. May we receive with gratitude the work of
other people. So continue your work of binding us together in your human family.
Laborare est orare
To work is to pray
St Benedict