Selected by reader, Steve Froehlich from Ithaca, NY, and Eleanor, in NC
Steve: Luther said that spirituality is “life in this world oriented to God.” Work is our everyday worship, and the world is holy ground. Prayer that connects vocation, God’s presence, and his mission is how we live all of life in this world to the glory of God and in love for our neighbor.
Eleanor: I thought it was particularly relevant in that it highlighted the value of the work that each of us does everyday and the importance of ministry to children.
Originally published, July 10, 2018, based on readings from Matthew 20 & Jeremiah 6.
Jesus called them together and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant.” — Matthew 20.25-26
Reflection: Prayer as Vocation :: Readers’ Choice
By John Tillman
In his book, Letters to Malcolm, Chiefly on Prayer, C.S. Lewis complains that he finds it ironically unhelpful to turn into a church for midday prayers.
There always seems to be someone practicing the organ or noisily going about cleaning and mopping. “Of course, blessings on her,” Lewis says. “‘Work is prayer,’ and her enacted oratio is probably worth ten times my spoken one.”
We have not held tightly to the concept of work as prayer. We see work as occupation—something that takes time we would spend elsewhere. Christians have the unique opportunity to see work as vocation—choosing to give to others on behalf of Christ.
To some, it might be a surprise that one of the primary definitions of the word “vocation” is a divine calling. One does not have to be a staff member of a church or an employee of a Christian ministry (or even a volunteer, noisily cleaning up the sanctuary and disturbing an Oxford don’s prayers) to turn grudging occupation into prayerful vocation.
One prominent example of prayerful, secular work is Fred Rogers. Despite the lack of overt religious expression on his show, Mister Rogers was an ordained minister whose specific assignment was to serve children and families through mass media. And serve them he did.
Paying tribute to Rogers’ on NBC Nightly News, reporter Bob Faw said, “The real Mister Rogers never preached…he never had to.” Following his spiritual calling in no way interfered with Rogers becoming one of the most successful and respected television professionals of all time.
For every believer, the gospel is our vocation. We learn to express it through our occupations.
Rogers’ spiritual discipline and sensitivity to the Holy Spirit made his show a vehicle for the gospel without explicit language of faith. Many of our readers work in faith-negative environments where faith is unwelcome, but that doesn’t mean each action can’t communicate a gospel-filled love to others.
In our careers we have a choice between the drudgery of meaningless tasks and the honor of serving others around us in Christ’s name. If we need a picture of what that looks like, it may be helpful to us to turn on an episode of the neighborhood.
May we make our work our prayer.
By every action may we pray for our co-workers, for our customers, for our city, and for our world.
Prayer: The Call to Prayer
Let the Name of the Lord be blessed, form this time forth for evermore.
From the rising of the sun to its going down let the Name of the Lord be praised. — Psalm 113.2-3
– Prayer from The Divine Hours: Prayers for Springtime by Phyllis Tickle.
Read More about Prayer as Relationship
Everything Fred Rogers did was a prelude to—or an outcome of—prayer….the essence of prayer is relationship, and Fred understood that.
Read More about Praying Through the Stress of Work
In his journals Jonathan Edwards reveals the way his spiritual life is burdened by stresses of his vocation.
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