Once a month, our panel of mentors answer your practical business questions. Send us your questions!
Dear BAM Mentor,
What prayer habits have you found helpful in your business? How have you experienced prayer and hearing direction from the Lord fitting alongside ‘normal’ business practices and hearing from advisors and others?
~ Exploring Prayer
Early in our history, while I was still segmenting my life pretty well, 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. It wasn’t easy. Two of the people became car sick every time they rode the bus to my house. It eventually blended into a church prayer meeting.
One of the most significant events after that was one afternoon when one of the local people who met weekly to pray, approached me with his dissatisfaction not just of our prayer life the rest of the week, but he was questioning if we were actually trusting God for the huge challenges we were facing. Immediately, I repented and we went out to the street and began praying as we circled the block for the next two hours. It shifted our thinking and we were much more aware of the need to pray together for the employees, suppliers, customers, etc. After that afternoon he and I would meet everyday about 5pm and walk the production line together, taking that day’s problems and praying them back to the Lord. Our goal was to pray until we were no longer worried about what happened that day. The test was to see if we could look each other in the eye and not find any worry. If we were still worried we prayed again until we felt we were not taking home our problems, but were actually leaving them with the Lord. It isn’t as easy as it sounds.
I don’t want to give the impression we were always experiencing a great prayer life. Some years were really marvelous, but at others times it was honestly not very consistent.
However, there were years of meeting on the roof of the building 30 minutes before work started with a number of the employees. They enjoyed praying and it seemed they naturally fell into this pattern. Another thing I have done is to pray a few words every six minutes and that will give you ten prayers an hour, eighty or so a day.
We had the benefit of having a number of our employees become believers and so there were always groups getting together at lunch and in the evenings. In the area where they lived, they began praying for their neighbors for a number of months and the Lord blessed significantly allowing them to discover a number of older believers in the area they were not meeting previously.
If you teach the believers to listen to God then that opens up a whole arena of unexpected happenings if God does direct them to pray for specific things. One evening a manager was leaving the factory about 6:30pm and felt the Lord saying they should return to the 3rd floor and pray for the workers. She returned to that floor and since the shift was over, she just prayed for each persons’ position, desk, tools, etc. She continued until the next morning and just went right on to work. I believe it was six weeks later that there was an outreach, which the local believers planned and executed totally by themselves, and over 30 people on the line she had been led to pray for became believers in Christ.
This was also the manager who told me that if she would come in at 6am instead of 7 she could pray for the machines and processes on the production line. When she had time to do that, the evidence in her records was that there were fewer problems to report and production was up.
We have also experienced “prayer in emergency mode”. After 5 years of working for us one of the accountants was getting married and moving so I took her to dinner for an informal “exit interview”. I asked her what she thought about the company. She immediately said that was easy to answer because she was in finance and they talked about it all the time. “Talked about what?” I asked. “How I always had insufficient funds for salaries two days before they were due, but somehow they always come in.” She said the finance team watched this for five years. Then she said, “You prayed didn’t you?” Actually, this “emergency mode” was not healthy nor needed, but I hadn’t yet fully accepted the idea of business being good in itself and didn’t fully understand the process of business yet.
I was asked to speak on the topic of how do you maintain a good prayer life in a BAM operation when you are so busy with the business. So I asked the Lord that very question to see what He would say. He immediately asked which part of prayer I was talking about, the part where I talk or the part where I listen? I realized the question implies the part where we have time to talk to God. He then reminded me about designs of machines which we got seven patents on and asked when did I receive those designs from Him! This is the part where we listen and He talks (or gives designs). It turned out that those designs usually came to me in the morning before I opened my eyes, but as I was waking up. I guess if we can hear then, there isn’t any excuse for not having enough time.
Once a potential shareholder of the company was discouraged because we didn’t have months worth of orders already in hand. I explained we usually only had three weeks of orders at any one time. He asked, “What do you do when they run out?” “We pray” I said. “And how long you have to wait before new orders come in?” he replied. I checked with our manager and she said the most we had to wait in over twenty years was three days, after we had prayed. The team had learned to notice when there was less than a week to the end of an order cycle and began praying so there were rarely times without orders.
by Bill J.
More Responses on this topic:
Prayer in a business context can be divided into three types. First, there is personal prayer for strength and guidance from God in matters relating to the Business. Second, there is corporate prayer by those who work in the business, a group of colleagues who are committed to praying for the business and all its stakeholders. Third is engaging individuals or groups outside the business who are well-wishers, family or friends and are committed to praying for the business and/or the people who work in it. I want to share some thoughts and personal experiences for all three:
I believe that the entrepreneur’s dependence on God is no different from that of a missionary working in a hostile environment. The world of business is fraught with dangers, temptations and opposition. We live and work in a fallen world that embraces values which are contrary to those of God’s Kingdom. Besides the constant onslaught of the enemy, there are ups and downs in any business over a period of time. To hang in there during hardship requires nothing short of total dependence on God. […Read more]
Whatever we attempt for God has to be in accordance with His will and be blessed by Him if we are to see genuine success (in the heavenly definition of success). This is true for every venture, whether operated under the auspices of a local church, a Christian organisation or an overtly commercial business venture. In fact, because of the pressures and expectations that the world brings to bear on business ventures, it is all the more important to ensure close communion and communication with God. Whatever this may mean in practical terms, it has to include prayer.
The most obvious biblical instruction about how we should pray is Jesus’ introduction to His model prayer – that which most people refer to as the Lord’s Prayer – as recorded in Matthew 6. What these instructions boil down to is: keep it sincere, keep it personal (you and God) and keep it short and to the point. How this operates in practice will vary according to local circumstances. Our own experience was developed over a short time but then served the business well for many years – but not without some hiccups along the way, it may be added. […Read more]
Bill has been on a learning curve doing BAM in Asia for 27 years.