A constant prayer, all day long
“How can I keep connected with God throughout a busy workday?”
By Fr. Timothy Hayes
Human beings tend to divide our lives between work and other activities. We separate choices about actions from our connection with God, as if we are doing one thing when we are about the “busy workday” and quite another when we are conscious of our relationship with God.
Faith becomes something that we do, so we think we have to “do” something different to keep connected with God.
A mother in a large family decided, once her children were all in school, to “go back to work.” She wanted to contribute to the financial needs of the family in a new way. She became a secretary.
She thoroughly enjoyed the work, because she put to use skills that she had not used very often at home. She organized the office, assisting younger coworkers who did not have the same sense of order, and quickly received more responsibilities.
Later at home she shared with her family what went on at work. However, she did say much about the “work activities.” Instead, she shared what her new friends were telling her about their lives.
It became clear that the woman did not see what she was doing at the office merely as “a busy workday.” Instead, she saw her real work as not to accomplish the activities she was being given a salary to perform but rather to help others to see things differently, just by sharing her love and concern about their lives.
She was living her faith and her connection with God through her relationships with her neighbors, those who worked with her in the office. She brought that home to her family, inviting them to join her in praying for the needs of her coworkers.
Keeping connected with God means staying “plugged in” to a connection that is always there. Our real work in this world, no matter what our job description may be, is to be in relationships that are real.
When you go to work and it looks like it will be a busy day, look around and see who else may be burdened. Find something simple that you can do to help. A smile, an offer of encouragement, an uplifting word may be all it takes to help the other to engage with a positive attitude.
Faith teaches us that we can love God and stay connected to him through more consciously seeing God or Jesus in the neighbor whom we love.
For people of faith, the workday actually begins with whatever happens on the way to work. Our expectations can influence how we enter into the day. We can invite God to be with us as we prepare for work. We can be sure to greet the persons we meet on the way to the place of work. We can wonder what lessons God will teach us through the neighbors we expect to encounter.
Even if our current way of working is from home, we can still create space within our own hearts for the people who will be involved in the work that we do, whether we see them in person or not.
Chiara Lubich often pointed out that through our connection with God, we are privileged to be Jesus for others, even as we seek to find Jesus in them.
“If in performing any action it was not us living, but it was Christ living in us, through love, our day would become a constant prayer.”
She also suggested that another way is “to offer to God during the day one action after another by saying short expressions of love, like: ‘for you, for you Jesus.’ Thus, all our actions were transformed into sacred actions.”
Even the moment of feeling burdened when the environment becomes difficult can serve to enhance our relationship with God and with those around us. A heavy sigh was one of the ways Jesus expressed exasperation at the small vision of certain people he encountered.
Our groaning can be a sign to us that we realize that the world can be better than it is. These can be moments to choose the cross that comes our way as a way of showing our love for God.
Encounters with our neighbors are the stuff of life, whether at work or at play. Attending to the reality of what we are experiencing by choosing to see it in a broad perspective is the skill that we need to develop to keep ourselves aware of our connection with God.
In this way, we can “pray without ceasing” (1 Thess 5:17). This prayer is our relationship with God, found in our daily encounters with our neighbor.
Fr. Timothy Hayes, a pastor of the diocese of Columbus, Ohio, offers answers on faith questions together with a group of priests who are committed to the spirituality of unity
Please send your questions to email@example.com
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