How Do I Integrate My Christian Faith With Day-To-Day Christian Business Practices?
Part 1 – Pray More & Pray More Intentionally
This is a question that lurks in the deeper reaches of almost every Christian business person’s mind. The answer isn’t simple, and it varies from time to time and place to place. In an effort to shed some light on it, I’m going to do a short series of posts on it. This is the first.
The Christian life is a journey and we focus one step at a time. It’s like walking through a forest at night, with just a small flashlight to light your way. You can’t see more than a few feet ahead, and the light illuminates only the next few steps.
That analogy provides us with a perspective on the question. The answer to the question today may be different than it will be just a bit down the road. Because our circumstances vary, the opportunities and relationships that we have today will be different than what we encounter further down the path. So, the specific answers to that question in some part, depend on the details of the situation in which you find yourself. What’s important is that you keep asking the question. Today’s answer is just today’s answer, and not necessarily a lifetime prescription.
Knowledge, Principles, Practices
Having said that, there is a body of knowledge about some principles and practices that extend beyond the specific details of our current situation. These are principles and practices that apply regardless of the circumstances.
The first of those is this: Pray more and pray more intentionally. In other words, intentionally add depth and breadth to your prayer practices.
First, let’s establish a couple of Biblical principles upon which this practice is based.
1. We are commanded to pray for everything.
Philippians 4:6 Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Does “everything” include our careers and businesses, the multitude of decisions we must make, the relationships that occupy us, and the never-ending list of tasks to be accomplished? Of course. “Everything” means just that.
There is a horribly debilitating idea that is, unfortunately, quite commonly held; that God doesn’t want us to pray for our careers and businesses. This mistaken mindset reserves our prayers for our families and sanctioned “church work.” It is OK to pray for a missionary your church supports, for example, but a bit gauche to pray for that big sale on which you are working. You can pray that you find a new youth pastor, but not that you find a new administrative assistant.
Those ideas must be some of Satan’s greatest lies. By getting Christian business people to believe them, he has successfully removed a major sphere of activity from being God-influenced. He must chuckle to himself everything he sees someone who could be praying about a business issue and doesn’t.
Prayer is how we invite God into aspects of our lives, and the marketplace is one of those major pieces. If Christian people are to be a light in a dark world, the marketplace represents a huge slice of that darkness crying out for the moderating and illuminating presence of Christians unafraid to ask for God’s intervention.
2. Prayer brings peace.
Notice, in the passage quoted above, the impact of our prayers. “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.”
When we look at our lives, there are a few areas that bring more anxiety, more worry, and more dread than the marketplace. In the ebb and flow of countless business decisions, with consequences impacting hordes of others, our activity in the marketplace calls out for peace like no other. The source of that peace is not success, but our relationship with God through prayer.
3. Prayer promotes a closer relationship with God.
As we bring Him our hopes, our opportunities, our challenges, and our decisions, we naturally grow closer to Him. We hear from Him and we see Him operate in our lives.
Our work in the marketplace is a perfect venue for this constant interaction with God. Every day presents a swirling stream of decisions clamoring for our attention.
As Richard Swensen said in the book Margin, “we must now deal with more things per person than at any other time in history.” More things per person mean a never-ending set of concerns and requests to bring to God. It is as if God created our turbulent times just for the purpose of bringing us closer to him through prayer.
“Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you.” John 16:23
4. Prayer is a powerful way to bring glory to God without sermonizing or turning people off.
When you tell someone you will pray for them, or better yet offer to pray with them, you acknowledge a personal God’s involvement in your life in a way that is non-obtrusive and non-threatening. It doesn’t offend anyone, nor force your beliefs on anyone else. Prayer in the marketplace, then, is one of the most powerful evangelistic devices.
If you were to commit to “praying for everything” in the marketplace – what would that look like?
We are all at different places in our journey to bring God into our marketplace live. So, it is difficult to prescribe a set of practices that are the final definition of pray in the marketplace. Having said that, we can paint a picture of what the ideal situation would be.
If you were to fully implement this practice, you’d:
- Invest in an annual personal retreat in which you methodically prayed over every aspect of your business, and career for the year.
- Pray before every planning session, personal or business, to invite the Holy Spirit into the planning process.
- Pray before and after every major event to invite Him to do His will through this event.
- Pray before and after every encounter with people – employees, co-workers, customers, and vendors.
- Seek opportunities to pray for and with people.
- Pray methodically for all the people with whom you interact.
- Pray for business and career success, profitability, excellence, and ever-growing impact.
The specific itineration of each of these practices will vary from person to person and situation to situation. One of the members of my CBIG groups, for example, prays for each of the employees in his company. He keeps index cars for each, notes some personal things about them, and records his prayers for them. He prays through those cards every Friday.
You may have some unique expressions of what it means to pray in the marketplace. Feel free to add them to the comments section of this post!