The Worker's Prayer

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.
— Colossians 3:23 ESV

Nicholas Herman was a poor man who lived in turbulent times in 17th century France. He entered a French monastery where he served as a cook's aid and took the name Brother Lawrence. This obscure "nobody" was actually a giant of the faith. His thoughts on walking with God are contained in the book The Practice of the Presence of God. He said,

In the way of God, thoughts count for little, love does everything. And it is not necessary to have great things to do. I turn my little omelet in the pan for the love of God; when it is finished, if I have nothing to do, I prostrate myself on the ground and adore my God, who gave me the grace to make it, after which I arise, more content than a king. When I cannot do anything else, it is enough for me to have lifted a straw from the earth for the love of God.

The difference maker for Brother Lawrence was not the what of work. It was the Who of work that mattered. Brother Lawrence worked for God, specifically for the love of God. This is what Paul drives home to Christian slaves in the first century:

Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality. Masters, treat your bondservants justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven. Colossians 3:22-4:1 ESV

Slaves and masters sat side-by-side in the church at Colossae. God had words for both. His message was a game-changer then. It is for every employee and employer today as well.

Paul wanted them to know that Jesus changes our attitudes about who we work for ("work...as for the Lord"), about how we work ("work heartily," i.e. "with soul"), about what we are working for (your paycheck is ultimately the Lord's inheritance), and about why we work ("you are serving the Lord Christ himself" and he has your back).

As I reflected on Colossians 3:22-4:1, I wrestled with how to make it actionable. I thought, "Why not turn Paul's words into a prayer?"

Lord Christ, every square inch of my work is yours. I serve you. I get my bonus from you. You’ve got my back when things go wrong.

Paul's words speak to employer's as well.

Lord Christ, every square inch of my business is yours. I serve you. Help me treat my employees justly and fairly. Help me give them what you have given me.

 

Meditate on Paul's words and you'll see that the worker's prayer rises right out of that passage. Pray it and you'll discover a stronger motivation and a better attitude where you work today.

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Brother Lawrence's words from The Practice of the Presence of God. See also "Brother Lawrence: Practitioner of God's Presence" in Christianity Today.