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!
Read Part 1 for the first three prayer habits that BAM practitioners shared with us. Here are the final four:
Write it down
Some practitioners have found value and encouragement in writing down what to pray for and keeping track of answers to prayer.
Part of the culture in my organization is to write down the seven most important prayer points in a journal and pray for one item daily. For instance every Monday our prayer focus is on integrity, that God will help us pursue our goals ethically and grow in character. This way, we track answers to prayer as they happen and it’s a great joy to look back from time to time and see how God has answered prayer in very remarkable ways. – Henry, South Africa
I keep a running record of the number of days we waited for orders after supplies ran out and we prayed. In over 25 years, the most we waited was 3 days – once we prayed! This has been a practical way of building faith in our team. – Bill, Asia
One great idea I saw recently which I would love to do is to develop our values into a liturgy and to pray our values on a regular basis. – David, Asia
Use Bible scriptures in prayer
Regularly reading and praying out God’s word is a powerful way to be strengthened in the truth. Practitioners shared that they use Bible verses in various ways to keep them focused on the right things.
Whenever my team gets together for a meeting or when we have to make a major decision, we pray this verse because it reminds us of our imperfect humanity, but also that our focus on something higher. It keeps us in line with our multiple bottom lines: “Many are the plans in a person’s heart, but it is the LORD’s purpose that prevails” – Proverbs 19:21 – Brian, USA and Kenya
When an issue arises, our natural instincts are likely to rise to the fore. Therefore it is helpful to read biblical passages that relate to the issue and come to God with a submissive attitude, open to His ways. Our prayers should then be directed at bringing people and circumstances into alignment with God’s will. Search the scriptures for relevant references and allow God’s Spirit to apply them to the hearts of all those who are praying and then frame prayers accordingly. – David, UK and Asia
Business is hard. It is easy to get overwhelmed. For most of my business career I’ve had a small card posted on the wall right in front of my computer. It had Philippians 4:6-7 written on it: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests before God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” I have made many daily “requests before God.” It is essential to keep these verses in mind while in business. – Garry, USA and international BAM mentor
Pray for guidance and in difficult circumstances
Many of the BAM practitioners reported that prayer has consistently been the decisive factor when serious business problems have arisen and when guidance is needed for major decisions.
Early in our business we had to import a 5-axis milling machine into India. Upon its arrival in country the machine was held up in Customs at Bombay Airport with its delicate components exposed to the elements. Knowing the machine would likely be ruined by the humid climate, we felt under pressure by demands to ‘oil the wheels’ of Bombay Customs with the payment of a bribe. One night, as things were coming to a head and the way forward did not seem obvious, my wife encouraged, ‘Why don’t you ask the Lord what you should do?’ Opening the Bible to my daily reading for that day, I was quite sure that I had my answer when I read the words of Job 15 verse 34; ‘For the company of the godless will be barren, and fire will consume the tents of those who love bribes.’ So the company stood firm on their core value of not paying bribes and waited for 3 months before the machine was released. We have not paid bribes in our 25 year plus history and God has opened many doors for us to take a stand against corruption. – Duncan, India
As the CEO, I do try to be sensitive to what God might be saying to us as a business. I recently sat on a wooden seat in a park early in the morning to bring some customer issues to God, and found that a previous occupant of the seat had carved their initials there – these happened to be exactly the same 3 initials as our customer! I sensed God was saying that this was a relationship he had ordained and all would be okay. – David, Asia
The biggest drama was always to get the shipments from Brazil that supplied the bookstore chain out of customs. We had to pay in advance 25% of the value of the books in taxes, and the bureaucracy was maddening. Somebody said that customs and passport controls are Satan’s fortresses, and I’m inclined to believe that! Our team of four – my wife and I and the two local business partners – used to fast, one day each of us, as long as it took to get the books out. It was with more joy than weariness that we unloaded the container when it finally came out of the harbour. – Hans, Brazil and Angola
One afternoon one of our local staff, who already met weekly to pray, approached me with his dissatisfaction of our prayer life the rest of the week, 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! – Bill, Asia
One incident was when one of my colleagues took away important company information and a few relationships as he went and joined a competitor. I remember feeling crushed by the betrayal of trust. I became bitter and guarded in my relationships with others in the company. After a couple of weeks I was on a long flight and read the biography of Adoniram Judson. I realized that he was betrayed multiple times but each time he went on with his work with joy and resolve having been strengthened by his disciplined prayer life. One of his famous quotes is, “Our prayers run along one road and God’s answers by another, and by and by they meet.” As I took this matter to God in prayer I felt the burden roll off my back. – Joseph, India
God often answers us at the last minute. I had to pay out $35,000 in salaries every two weeks in my small company. My employees mortgages and food bills depended on it. One time I had $50 in the bank for next week’s payroll within no income in sight. I prayed, “Lord, now would be a very good time for you to show up.” Two days later a million dollar contact landed on my desk. These last minute answers increase our faith, although it can be a little trying! – Garry, USA and international BAM mentor
Ask for prayer support from outside the company
A habit that was often mentioned was engaging prayer partners from outside the business to provide vital prayer support to the company.
Sometimes it is possible to enlist people outside a business to pray for it and when that happens, it is an unspeakable joy for those who work in that business. We decided to engage a couple of praying friends to intercede for our business and for those who work in it on a weekly basis. While I did not seek advice on business matters from them, I shared prayer requests and praise reports with the intercessors so that they could join me in praying for these items. If there is a possibility to do so, I recommend any Christian businessperson to seek intercessors for the business. It can have a significant impact on the business and on the lives of those who work in it. – Joseph, India
I communicate with supporting individuals and churches about once in four months or so with significant prayer needs, and I know these are prayed for. – David, Asia
We ask others to pray for the business through our prayer letters. There is a small circle to whom I write when there are special needs or issues. I’ve done this better during times of heavy stress or attack and I’ve always been pleased how well people respond. – Robert, Turkey and international BAM mentor
We were fortunate in having a group of people who had no direct involvement with the business but who had a real interest in its prosperity. This group regularly met together with the directors of the business specifically to worship together and pray about business concerns. This was usually an evening gathering on a monthly basis and we found a close bond and fellowship developed amongst the group. It was often the case that difficult decisions and circumstances were brought to this group for prayer and to seek God’s perspective as we prayed and listened. It goes without saying that issues were treated in strictest confidence by all members. Such was the bond that developed between the members that we continue to this day to meet together for prayer and fellowship long after the business was sold on, though the meetings are not so frequent. We were fortunate in that this group came together in an informal way, but it proved to be so beneficial. We would urge any business that is seeking to serve God in the commercial world to seek out those who are genuinely interested in its success. – David, UK 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.