Work is not, primarily, a thing one does to live, but the thing one lives to do.”Dorothy Sayers
All humans work in some way or another, and although work is cursed because of the fall, it is not itself a curse. We were created not merely to escape to heaven, but to work as a primary way to rule over God’s creation and to reflect God’s image.
When it comes to our vocations, there are two things we have to determine: what realm of creation God is asking me to steward, and how this vocation points toward the realities of his Kingdom.
When we begin to engage our vocations as Kingdom citizens rather than mere employees with a human boss, work is no longer our master or our enemy.”
Embracing the truth about why we work will inevitably shape how we work. However, we struggle to attribute biblically appropriate meaning to work.
For some, work means nothing. It is just an economic transaction to keep mouths fed and bills paid with hope that some financial contribution to missions will justify the work. This disillusionment leads to rank cynicism, rampant dualism, and even detached sloth as work is reduced to merely a source of income.
For others, work means everything. It is an identity transaction that leads to workaholism, as one’s security and identity is based on the work’s activity. This delusion leads to a drivenness that isolates, exploits, and wounds both the work and fellow workers.
Ultimately, the hope for our work is the Gospel. Because of Jesus’ rule and reign, Christians are now free both to enjoy work without being enslaved to it, and to extend the instrumental value of work in anticipation that God will use us to spread his good throughout our communities and world. Only the Gospel provides us with the freedom and vision to be enlivened by our calling in a sustaining manner.
When we begin to engage our vocations as Kingdom citizens rather than mere employees with a human boss, work is no longer our master or our enemy. Instead, it becomes our glad and unique contribution to the care of God’s places, people, and possessions.
In 2015 at LMPC, we embarked on our vocational prayer project because we were convinced that the church is responsible for promoting this Kingdom view of vocation. Sadly, the church at large has generally neglected this task of vocational vision-shaping.
As Sayers again sharply points out, “How can anyone remain interested in a religion that seems to have no concern with nine-tenths of his life? The church’s approach to an intelligent carpenter is usually confined to exhorting him not to be drunk and disorderly in his leisure, and to come to church on Sundays. What the church should be telling him is this: that the very first demand that his religion makes upon him is that he should make good tables.”
We do not want anyone at LMPC to believe that their Christian faith has no connection with 90% of their life. So rather than limiting our prayer to missions, the sick, and the suffering, our desire was to learn to pray for the educator and engineer, the IT manager and artist, the doctor and builder, the financial consultant and vet, the marketer and banker, the craftsman and small business owner, and the butcher and lawyer. To our knowledge, these prayers are the first of their kind in written form.
Our hope for this unique collection of prayers is that they will embolden vocational faithfulness as we unleash the Spirit’s power in our work through prayer, and also equip the church to embrace God’s vocational vision for his people and for this world.
Perhaps these prayers will enable us to embody the sentiments of Martin Luther King, Jr.: “If it falls to your lot to be a street sweeper, sweep the streets like Michelangelo painted pictures, like Shakespeare wrote poetry, like Beethoven composed music; sweep streets so well that all the host of heaven and earth will have to pause and say, ‘Here lived a great street sweeper, who swept his job so well.’”
Read the full prayers here: Vocational Prayers