Our goal is to provide the BAM Community with the best content and resources available. As we wrap up a great year we will be highlighting various articles and resources which have stood out above the rest. Below is the “Most Popular Post” for the fall of 2015.
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We asked BAM practitioners what prayer habits, practices or experiences they have found helpful in their business life. We identified some recurring themes that BAMers shared with us: 7 prayer habits for effective business as mission!
Prayer does make us more effective in business as mission because of that vital connection and co-working with the Lord. But while the title of this blog is a play on words from a famous business book by Stephen Covey, it is worth noting that many of the BAM practitioners who shared with us often did not feel very effective in prayer. Some related that they just don’t consider their prayer life particularly victorious, but are grateful for God’s grace. Others said they felt guilty about prayer, or not particularly good at it, or just found it awkward praying in another language. Some have experienced years where prayer has been wonderful, but at other times struggled to be consistent. Just as in any other walk of life, prayer in the business context takes perseverance and commitment and we don’t always get it right. However, the following experiences and habits have helped different people around the world integrate prayer into their BAM companies:
Weave prayer throughout company life
Prayer is something to be ‘threaded’ through the fabric of the business, not compartmentalised or sidelined. BAM practitioners shared many more ways they do this in the habits listed below, however the principle of having prayer integrated in multiple ways stood out:
There are many ways that prayer has woven into the business seamlessly. We have monthly prayer and company culture meetings with key management. We offer pray before and after meetings. We submit our plans to the Lord daily and as decisions come up. We have an employee we hire for 20 hours a week to pray and we have managers who meet every morning to pray. – Al, USA and international
We try and avoid only “book end prayer” – at the beginning and end of an activity – or “pear shape prayers” – praying only when things have gone wrong or “pear shaped”. We seek to integrate prayer as a natural part of our activity, whenever we are interacting with staff, clients, stockholders, supporters etc. – Liam, Australia
The practice of praying regularly served to focus everyone’s mind on what we were about and when we prayed, there was no distinction between what may in some circles be considered “sacred” Christian concerns and more “secular” business matters. In difficult times, prayer helped us to refocus our thinking to recognise that God is always in control of every situation, whether good or bad. – David, UK and Asia
We regularly pray for different things in the business: prayers of gratitude for progress, prayer for challenges or changes that happen along the way, prayer for the leadership team and staff, prayer for clients, prayer for suppliers and vendors, prayer for business friends and the wider community. – Julian, Indonesia
Commit to pray regularly with a core team
Having a regular time for prayer with a particular group of people has been helpful for many BAM practitioners, keeping them on track with prayer over long seasons of business life:
Every week for the past 11 years, an employee and I have prayed together for our company, our leadership and our individual needs. We have seen conversions, kingdom outcomes. healings, etc. in a very large company ($3.2 billion turnover) moving into alignment with God’s purposes. – Mike, USA and international BAM mentor
Early in our history the Lord spoke to four of our leaders within 48 hours. He said to each of us that we had to begin meeting to pray. We had allowed the security problem here in our location to become an excuse to not get together. We began that week and continued every week for over 15 years. However, it wasn’t always easy. – Bill, Asia
Right from the earliest days those of us in the company who are followers of Christ gathered together regularly to pray. During such times we bonded together as one family, we encouraged one another, forgave each other our shortcomings and learned from insights that we shared with each other as we listened to God. To this day our management team meets every Tuesday for 30 minutes exclusively to pray. – Joseph, India and USA
My business partner and I try to meet together weekly to pray for the business. We pray for one another, for our staff, and any pressing work related issues. – Steven, Thailand
We have a small prayer meeting among the Christians in management once a week. We’ve kept this quiet, but found it very encouraging. The quiet comes from a fear that the Christians will be seen as an “inner circle” with special favors from the boss and I want to avoid that. I try to treat all the employees fairly. – Robert, Turkey and international BAM mentor
Because most of the directors over time were Christians we found it useful to meet with other Christian staff members to pray about the business in general and particular issues that arose from time to time. We found the ideal time for us to meet was early each Monday morning, before the start of the normal working day. Although we made no secret that we were meeting for prayer, this timing reduced (though didn’t entirely eliminate) any accusations of being a “holy huddle” or a “Christian clique”. – David, UK and Asia
Pray with and for your employees and clients
However, BAM practitioners do not limit themselves to pray only with Christian managers and staff, but regularly pray with and for other employees and even customers. For many this is a tangible way to share the gospel and demonstrate God’s Kingdom is at hand:
When I started my first BAM company I made a habit of having prayers before meals every day. That grew very naturally and I found my Christian and Muslim employees all appreciated it. I always had one of my national Christian employees say the prayer. The one time I forgot a Muslim asked me why and said we should pray. The prayers were always in Jesus’ name and I think they made an impression on the employees’ hearts as well as in the spiritual realm. – Robert, Turkey and international BAM mentor
I have noticed something. When I share problems as prayer points with my staff they take it seriously and ask for follow up on the subject. What happened? How is that going? I think I need to let them in on my spiritual team too, when they are believers. However, even when they aren’t, they get to hear about what God does. We started sharing personal prayer needs a little too as I realized we need this to build our faith when the answer comes. It took me a while to be able to share points of problem, weakness, and even uncertainty, I wasn’t sure if a boss should do that. I feel like I am supposed to have all the answers. But I am starting to realize the need to share whenever possible because it affirms that God leads the work and He supplies. I loved it last week when I worried out loud about something and one of my workers, a new believer, piped up, “Well aren’t we going to pray about that?” – Julia, Mongolia
At our office in India we have daily devotion right before the start of the work day. While it is not mandatory for anyone to attend, we find that both Christians and non-Christians come to listen to God’s word and for a time of prayer for His mercies throughout the workday. Some of our colleagues placed their faith in Christ when they found their prayers answered in supernatural ways. Others were strengthened in their faith or found comfort and peace amidst the stress and turmoil of life. I can’t think of a single instance when someone complained against this practice. – Joseph, India
Prayer is a part of our one-on-one interactions with people we employ, but this is very much on a case by case basis, and usually focuses on significant life issues people are facing at home, and is discrete because of the context. We have seen incidents where God has really touched individuals at a deep level during these times. We have also seen incredible breakthroughs in lives by encouraging staff to attend a week-long healing and deliverance week run by friends. – David, Asia
We have a weekly team breakfast which informally functions as a prayer meeting. We have a mix of Christian and non-Christian staff, so we have structured it as more of a time of sharing. But we always have one of our believing staff pray for the things the others have shared. – Steven, Thailand
Something we do on a regular basis is that we pray for the trips and courses that we have running. We pray for our customers by name, asking God if He has something special that we should communicate to them or focus on that particular trip. We also pray for healing whenever someone has an illness or injury. Many times we are able to pray for that person there and then, it doesn’t matter if the person in question believes in Jesus or not. – Anne, Europe
We pray with employees when personal issues come up for them, and as I become aware of them. It’s been significant to be willing to interrupt life to stop and minister to someone in the office – or a supplier or customer – who is hurting. – André, USA and Asia
Check back to The BAM Review blog regularly for more on ‘Prayer in the Business‘ this month.
Jo Plummer is the Co-Chair of the BAM Global Think Tank and co-editor the Lausanne Occasional Paper on Business as Mission. She has been developing resources for BAM since 2001 and currently serves as Editor of the Business as Mission website.