Work As a Prayer


By Pastor Vinnie Cappetta

"Work As a Prayer"

Jesus showed us that we must be “about our Father’s business.” But, how can we be about our Father’s business while at the same time being about our employer’s business? Dietrich Bonhoeffer offers some perspective…  

Work puts human beings in the world of things. It requires achievement from them. Christians step…into the world of impersonal things…and this new encounter frees them for objectivity, for the world of [work] is only an instrument in the hands of God for the purification of Christians from all self-absorption and selfishness. The work of the world can only be accomplished where people forget themselves, where they lose themselves in a cause, reality, the task… Christians learn at work to allow the task to set the bounds for them. Thus, for them, work becomes a remedy for the lethargy and laziness of the flesh. The demands of the flesh die in the world of things. But that can only happen where Christians break through the It [of work] to the “You” of God, who commands the work and the deed and makes them serve to liberate Christians from themselves… 

In this process work does not cease to be work; but the severity and rigor of labor is sought all the more by those who know what good it does them. The continuing conflict with the It remains. But at the same time the breakthrough has been made. The unity of prayer and work, the unity of the day, is found because finding the You of God behind the It of the day’s work is what Paul means by his admonition to pray without ceasing (1 Thessalonians 5:17). The prayer of the Christian reaches, therefore, beyond the time allotted to it and extends into the midst of the work. It surrounds the whole day, and in so doing it does not hinder work; it promotes work, affirms work, gives work great significance and joyfulness. Thus every word, every deed, every piece of work of the Christian becomes a prayer….

-from Life Together, 75-76

Some questions to consider:

How have you seen God use your work to cleanse you from self-absorption and selfishness? 

How have you seen God use work as a remedy for the lethargy and laziness of your flesh (body)?

Does your work take on a different meaning when you see that God commands your work and wants to use it to liberate you from yourself?  

Do you pray before you work? While you work? How might work become more joyful if you allowed your work to become a prayer to God?