Liturgy of the Business Hours: Cultivating Prayer in the Workplace

Calvary Chapel Prayer Line

(Photo credit: offstandard)

Did you know I’ve written most of my posts to date from my cubicle on lunch breaks? It’s true! I imagine other bloggers typing away in their little writing nooks or cozy home offices, and then I look around at the colorless cubicle maze around me, and I laugh.

Similarly, I took a workshop on Centering Prayer once that emphasized having your own prayer space, preferably with your own prayer chair. The workshop leader explained that this was important because it would condition your body to associate prayer with being in that space. Also, you could keep all your little prayer accessories there: calming music, aromatherapy candles, your journal... Yeah, I live in a studio apartment with another person and a cat. We don’t have special spaces or chairs. We count ourselves lucky when we’re not elbowing each other in the face.

When it comes to prayer, I can’t afford to wait for a special time or place. I have to work it into my everyday life, like my commute. I’ve actually found the office environment is quite conducive to prayer. At my office, as an hourly employee, I have a very regimented schedule: mid-morning break, lunch hour, mid-afternoon break. It’s practically setting me up to pray the Divine Office (no pun intended)! If you are into that, I recommend keeping Phyllis Tickle’s The Divine Hours or the fantastic Common Prayer: Pocket Edition at your desk. But if you’d prefer something a little less formal, here are a few ideas for building a habit of prayer in the workplace.

  • Create a prayer for the start of each workday to remind yourself why you’re at this job (whether it’s your life’s calling, a way to brighten people’s days a bit, or just what you do to support the people and/or activities that are really important to you). Remind yourself there are really no divisions between secular and sacred.
  • Bring your favorite devotional or other inspirational book to read on breaks. I find this really helps my perspective with those annoying customers.
  • Pick a favorite prayer, a selection from Scripture, a psalm, or a quote you love and read it throughout the day on every break. You’ll be surprised how easy it is to start memorizing it this way, and then you will have it in your mind whenever you need inspiration.
  • If your office provides a daily newspaper, read it prayerfully, with an eye to those who are suffering injustice and how you can help.
  • At lunch, bring enough food to share, and make your meal a special experience for your coworkers. Nothing more sacramental than that!
  • Take a walk around the building and pray for all those who work there. Or go outside and find some nature (even if it’s just that one tree in the parking lot) and pray in thankfulness for it.
  • If you can find a quiet, private place to meditate, go for it!

These are just a few possibilities, but basically, don’t wait until you have that perfect, comfy prayer chair or an uninterrupted hour to turn your mind and spirit to the things that matter more than paper-pushing. Seek significance every single day. Know that all your actions matter. Most of all, when you feel like a cog in the corporate machine, take time to remember that you are deeply loved.


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