A classic from our ‘Ask a BAM Mentor‘ Archive
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
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.
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”.
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.
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.
Half hearted commitment is probably not a good thing, so that it is better to start small, with one or two who show a real interest, rather than actively recruiting to build a bigger group. The group is then likely to grow organically over time as more people hear about it and feel God would have them join. It is difficult to recommend an ideal group size, but for what it is worth, our own group numbered eleven, though not everyone was able to attend every meeting. We found this worked very well.
Two Levels of Committed Prayer
We believe sincere, consistent and comprehensive prayer is vital in any Christian venture. In our own case we found that prayer at two levels proved to be ideal. It served as a regular reminder to those employed in the business what we were really about and to bring a healthy, godly perspective into difficult issues. We also benefitted powerfully from a broader Christian perception that involved those who were able to approach issues from a more objective point of view.
by David Skews
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]
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. […Read more]
David Skews is a businessperson called to mission. In 1989, he established EDP Health Safety & Environment Consultants Ltd performing the role of CEO as he led EDP through sustained growth for over 25 years in both the UK and Asia. In 2004 he fully engaged in business as mission, as well as continuing to lead his business. Since then, David has focused his efforts into training entrepreneurs in Asia and Africa, and speaking internationally on business for good. He has also helped lead a mission agency through the process of embracing missional business. Today, he acts as a non-exec director for six successful BAM businesses and is part of the Advisory Board for BAM Global. David is transitioning out of his business in 2015 and into new BAM fields! David is married to Lesley and is based in the UK.
David serves as a regular mentor for the Ask a BAM Mentor column.
This article was first published on The BAM Review blog in November 2015 as part of our 2015 ‘Prayer in the Business‘ series.