One of the characteristics that distinguish a Biblical business from its competitors is the degree to which the executives of Biblical businesses embed prayer into the fabric of the business.
This is an uncomfortable thought to many Christian business people, who have been lead to believe that prayer has no place in the business world. That idea may simplify their positions and absolve them, at least in their minds, of responsibility. However, there is no support for it in Scripture, nor in the practices of successful contemporary Biblical businesses. Both of those sources overwhelming support the case for an active, intentional and disciplined approach to prayer in business.
You may recall this passage in Philippians 4:6:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. (NIV)
There is no limitation to that passage, no exception made for businesses. On the contrary, our businesses present us with a continuous, daily stream of things we could be ‘anxious” about, of decisions and risks that carry significant consequences and rewards.
Should we hire this person or that one? Should we quote this price, or a higher one? Should we invest in this relationship? Should we pursue this customer? Should we give this person additional responsibilities? Should we extend terms to this customer?
The list of decisions and risks never ends. And that is exactly as it should be. In The Good Book on Business, I make the case that God established business as the primary venue for him to build faith, develop character and bless mankind, among other things. That continuous stream of decisions, relationships, and investments that come with owning or running a business is designed by God, intended by him to drive us to him.
He wants to bless our businesses and draw us closer to him. And the way he does that is to allow a continuous stream of decisions, challenges, and opportunities in our businesses to prompt us to turn to him. And prayer, then, is the mechanism he uses to interact with us and become more involved in our businesses and our lives.
So, the question for a business person who wants to have a blessed business and lead a fulfilled life is not “Should I bring prayer into the business?” The answer to that is, “Of course. How could you have Christian business without prayer?”
Rather, the question should be, “How do I embed prayer into the fabric of my business?”
Here are some proven ideas from the practices of other Christian businesses.
- Establish disciplines and practices to pray for the business.
It should begin with you. Begin, like so many Christian professionals and executives do, with a daily time of prayer in which you lift up that day’s challenges, interactions and opportunities. Then, add in other key people in your organization. Find others in your company who share your Christian faith, and invite them to pray with you, regularly and methodically, as you pray for the business.
For years my customer service manager and I would meet together at 7:45 on Monday morning, to lift up the week’s concerns and opportunities together to the Lord.
Other business people organize a weekly time of prayer and invite folks in the organization to join with them.
When big or important decisions are pending, think about organizing a prayer session specifically for those issues – a special time to seek the Lord’s involvement in the big decisions you must make.
Consider organizing a prayer team. That is a group of committed prayer warriors who regularly intercede on behalf of the business. I have a team of six people who each pray for the business on one day a week. So, one prays on Monday, another on Tuesday, etc. Every Saturday morning I send an email describing the previous week’s progress and the issues facing us in the upcoming week.
Consider, also, having a paid relationship with someone who will intercede to God on behalf of your business. For years, I had such a relationship. At first, it was an individual who was gifted as a prayer warrior, and later, I contracted with an organization whose business was to intercede for its clients on a weekly basis.
- Make prayer an element of your relationships with your employees, customers, and vendors.
Imagine what would happen if you would ask, every time you talked with one of your employees, if there was anything for which you could pray on behalf of that person.
That’s exactly what one of my clients, the CEO of a 100 employee manufacturing company, does to start every day. He walks the floor, and talks with as many employees as he can, and always asks them if he can pray for them in any way. Now, people often come into his office and ask him to pray for issues in their lives.
Another client CEO keeps index cards on each of his employees, compiles notes of discussions he has had with them, and items for which to pray. He views, and prays for, a certain number of those folks every day, noting his prayers on the card. Over a period of a couple of weeks, every employee is prayed for by the head of that business.
- Seek, in your prayers, to advance from petition to conversation.
In The Good Book on Business, I point out that God established business as the place where he will interact with us and work with us. He wants to use your business as the venue in which he grows you closer to him.
When we are new and immature in our faith, we often see God as sort of a supernatural vending machine. We put in our prayers and get specific things back. Later, as we grow in our faith, we begin to see that prayer is two-way communication in which God communicates with us. Not only does he provide answers to our prayers (sometimes answers which we don’t’ like), but he also communicates his agenda to us.
This ability to hear God and to recognize his communication through a variety of means is a higher order spiritual skill. It takes time and work to develop your prayer to the level of two-way communication, but it is worth it, not only for you for the benefit of the business.
Prayer, in a Biblical business, is the mechanism that invites God into the business and makes him the general partner. It requires a bit of faith and risk to begin, and a heavy dose of commitment and discipline to continue. It is both commanded by the scriptures and evidenced as a best practice by Christian business worldwide. I don’t think you can approach the potential for your business and your life without it.