Prayer for the workday

May 14, 2012

All of us spend most of our waking hours at work. In fact, work is a gift from God to us. It is our vocation–one of the things to which God has called us. In his letter to the Corinthians, St. Paul counsels them to devote their lives to God: “…whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Cor 10.31 ESV).

Many of us struggle with a piety that extends to our work. As an aid to developing vocational holiness, I offer the following liturgy developed by my colleague Bobby Gross.

Personal Liturgy for the Work Day

Psalm 90

Reverence

Lord, you have been our dwelling-place in all generations.
Before the mountains were brought forth, or ever you had formed the earth and the world, from everlasting to everlasting you are God.

I begin my work this day, O God, acknowledging you as Creator and Redeemer. In you I live and move and have my being. All that exists, you made, including us humans in your image. You so loved this world that you entered it—Word becoming flesh—in order to save it. And surely you will redeem “all things” in the universe, including higher education, for your glory. So all praise and honor belongs to you, Eternal God. Amen.

Humility

You turn us back to dust, and say, ‘Turn back, you mortals.’
For a thousand years in your sight are like yesterday when it is past, 
or like a watch in the night.

You sweep them away; they are like a dream, like grass that is renewed in the morning; in the morning it flourishes and is renewed; in the evening it fades and withers.

I acknowledge my mortality and my finitude, O Lord. Apart from your providential grace, I could neither live nor work; so I enter into this day’s labor with gratitude and humility.

Furthermore, I fall far short of your moral expectations for me: I am not holy. Have mercy on me this day and help me to conduct myself in a manner that pleases you.

For we are consumed by your anger; by your wrath we are overwhelmed. You have set our iniquities before you, our secret sins in the light of your countenance.

For all our days pass away under your wrath; our years come to an end* like a sigh. The days of our life are seventy years, or perhaps eighty, if we are strong; even then their span is only toil and trouble; they are soon gone, and we fly away.

Who considers the power of your anger? Your wrath is as great as the fear that is due to you.

Stewardship

 So teach us to count our days that we may gain a wise heart.

I receive this day as both opportunity and responsibility. Help me to do my work with your wisdom: using my time well, completing my tasks diligently and leading those entrusted to me with love.

Dependence

Turn, O Lord! How long? Have compassion on your servants!
Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, 
so that we may rejoice and be glad all our days. 

Make us glad for as many days as you have afflicted us, and for as many years as we have seen evil.

I want to work today in grateful response to your love, O Lord; animate me with your joy and strengthen me to respond to all hardships and difficulties by trusting in you.

Prayer

Let your work be manifest to your servants, and your glorious power to their children.

Show me what you are doing, Lord, so that my purposes may align with yours.

Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and prosper for us the work of our hands—

O Lord, these are my biggest concerns for today…

…in these matters, Sovereign and Gracious God, I look to you.

Impart your power to all my efforts, according to your will; apart from you, spiritually, I can do nothing.

Finally, may your Kingdom come in the university world, even as it is in heaven. Amen.

Action

O prosper the work of our hands!

And now I begin my work, in your name—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—and for your glory. Amen.