Each time I read Ephesians, my mind gets hung up on this verse about prayer.
“Pray in the Spirit at all times in every prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert and always persevere in supplication for all the saints.”-Ephesians 6:18
My prayer life has looked different in every season, and I am now beginning to understand that this is okay. I don’t have endless hours to journal as I once did; I have new wonderful people in my life to share my mornings, and prayer with. I need to be open to some new techniques.
So what does praying at all times mean for me in this stage of my life? It is clear I am not called to a cloistered life, even if there are days I wish I was. Single mined, silent, set aside time is valuable and worth pursuing, but with the right position of our hearts, prayer can be anything. A dance party, painting, basketball, raising a child, cooking, any task through which we communicate with God can be prayer. But what about my day job?
I spend 40-55 hours a week at my office job, behind my desk, running programs, or in meetings. I am still learning how to do this whole job thing, and how to transform these hours into part of my prayer. Below are seven quick takes I use to turn my job into a prayer. The first few are triggers to keep my mind on prayer, and the last few are actions to take. But know that I do not do them all every day or every week. Each of our day jobs looks different, some are working full time, some part time, others are in school, and still others work inside the home. If you, like me, want to squeeze a little more prayer into your work, I encourage you to pick one or two or develop your own hacks and get started today.
1 . Lamp
Place a lamp on your desk and each morning when you get in to the office, lift up your work and toil for someone or something in particular. Turn on your lamp to signify this prayer intention and throughout the day as you see it’s light, say a quick prayer for the intention of the day.
Turn your password into a prayer. This way each time you log in to your computer or email you can send a prayer up for another. You can do this many ways, but a good place to start is to use the persons’ initials and a one word intention. Of course, with the required capitalization, numbers, and symbols.
3. The walk in
Each day park your car (or bike) far enough away from the building so that you can say a prayer on your way in and out of the office. Sometimes I say a prayer for a specific intention, but often it is a decade of the rosary. My usual parking spot seems to be the perfect length for a decade.
I have to fight the temptation to look at my phone during the walk in, and instead use this time to focus my heart and mind on what matters most, acknowledging my dependence and my purpose as a worker in this building.
While you are at it, turn your commute into a purposeful time. Listen to something that teaches or encourages you, or forgo the noise to spend time in quiet or prayer.
Before you push send on an email, say a quick prayer for the receiver. Often I use the same one line prayer, unless something more specific comes to mind.
Lord, fill ______ with your love.
5. One line prayers
Find times throughout your day to throw up a one line prayer. Choose a line or verse that you can say for an entire day, week, or month. It helps if you choose a prayer that matches your season, or encourages growth in a new area. Here are a few options.
- Jesus, I trust in you.
- Less of me and more of you.
- Open my eyes to the bigger picture here.
- Show me how to love other people like you love them.
- Grant me patience and compassion with my coworkers.
- Help me to rise above my circumstances.
- Help me to prioritize this task list
- Thank you for the gift of my job.
- Light in me a passion for work.
- I’m choosing your ways over my own, even though I don’t really feel like it.
- Let me give to others freely, compassionately, and without judgment.
6. Kindness, be available.
Know your coworkers. Ask them about the things that matter in their life. Build time into your schedule to be available to chat about things. And choose to assume the best in others.
In Paul’s letter to Timothy he reminds us that it will not always be easy to live our vocations, but to “be persistent whether it is convenient or inconvenient; convince, reprimand, encourage through all patience and teaching…be self-possessed in all circumstances; put up with hardship; perform the work of an evangelist; fulfill your ministry.”
Try and remember, especially on the hard days, to celebrate others’ success and lead with patience and kindness.
7. For God’s glory
In everything you do, choose to do it for the glory of God. As a teenager, I remember a wise man asking me, “do you want to know the purpose of life?” I, on the edge of my seat, nodded an affirmative. The question I had been asking myself for years, I was finally going to know the answer. He said, it was simple, we, like all of God’s creation, are made for his glory. It wasn’t quite the answer I was looking for, because it was so open ended, but in time this answer has become music to my ears. It confirms that I could, and was made to, be glorifying, and that this purpose could take any form.
While in high school, I would write the letters G2G on the top of my papers or tests to remind myself that the work at my hand was for the glory of God. In my work now, there are many days when I forget what my ultimate purpose in life and work is. I let my days slip by focusing on the busyness of my tasks, and forgetting to lift it up and walk in his ways or according to my creation.
We are made as an extension of God’s love. Made to reflect the goodness of the creator and model the sacrifice of his son. If I go to work and begin each task, reminding myself that this work right in front of me is for the glory of God, then I can do anything with purpose and joy.
In whatever season, job, or days you find yourself, I would love to hear the way you incorporate prayer into your day. St. Joseph, the patron of workers, pray for us.
Enjoy the graphic images below.
“Prayer is an aspiration of the heart, it is a simple glance directed to heaven, it is a cry of gratitude and love in the midst of trail as well as joy; finally, it is something great, supernatural, which expands my soul and unites me to Jesus.”–St.Therese of Lisieux
“We must pray without ceasing, in every occurrence and employment of our lives – that prayer which is rather a habit of lifting up the heart to God as in a constant communication with Him.”–Saint Elizabeth Ann Seton
“My little children, your hearts, are small, but prayer stretches them and makes them capable of loving God. Through prayer we receive a foretaste of heaven and something of paradise comes down upon us. Prayer never leaves us without sweetness. It is honey that flows into the souls and makes all things sweet. When we pray properly, sorrows disappear like snow before the sun.” –Saint John Vianney
“Don’t imagine that, if you had a great deal of time, you would spend more of it in prayer. Get rid of that idea; it is no hindrance to prayer to spend your time well. Jacob did not cease to be a Saint because he had to attend to his flocks.” –St. Teresa of Avila
“We must meditate before, during and after everything we do. The prophet says: “I will pray, and then I will understand.” This is the way we can easily overcome the countless difficulties we have to face day after day, which, after all, are part of our work. In meditation we find the strength to bring Christ to birth in ourselves and in others.” –Saint Charles Borromeo
For more Quick Takes, head over to This Aint the Lyceum!