“The workplace presents most people with the greatest opportunity for spiritual growth. It is not only where we experience soul-sapping struggles, but it is also where the fruit of God’s Spirit gets unfolded within us. This critical spiritual growth does not take place only or even mainly in retreats and church services, but in the rough and tumble of enterprise.”1 So writes Richard J. Goossen and R. Paul Stevens in their book, Entrepreneurial Leadership. I am finding I am agreeing with this statement more and more. The workplace, with its demands, deadlines, personalities, can be a place that provides the necessary catalysts for us to grow spiritually. I don’t care if you are an artist, a student, a nurse, a teacher, an entrepreneur, or a home-life professional. We all face times of trials and difficulties in our vocations. Sometimes even going through the same routine day after day nurtures within the soul perseverance and gratitude.
While my own workplace can be challenging, it is no more so than most others and I am grateful for the job that I have. It has its structures so that one can have some expectation of what one will be doing from day to day and week to week, but there’s enough flexibility and variability to keep things interesting. Even so, I have lately begun to pray a specific prayer on a regular, almost daily, basis as it has become for me a personal liturgy for my own workplace. It is from Jean-Pierre de Caussade’s book, The Sacrament of the Present Moment, which was originally published with the title, Self-Abandonment to Divine Providence.
O my God! When will it please thee to grant me the favour of living always in that union of my will with thy heavenly will? Where saying nothing all is said and all is done by leaving all to thee; where we achieve much by surrendering ever more to thy will and yet are relieved of all toil since we place everything in thy care and are concerned only to trust wholly in thee. Blessed state, which, even in the absence of any conscious faith, offers the soul an inward and entirely spiritual disposition. So that, by the habitual inclination of my heart, I may constantly repeat: ‘Thy will be done!’ Yes, my God, yes to whatever may please thee. May all thy holy wishes be fulfilled. I renounce mine which are blind, perverse and corrupted by that despicable ego, the mortal enemy of thy grace, thy perfect love, thy glory and my sanctification. 2
As you read the Prayer for the Blessed State of Self-Abandonment, I hope you received a sense of how it applies to the workplace. But first let me provide a word of explanation. This prayer is not saying that we should simply sit around and do nothing. That sentiment was captured by the movement known as quietism, which was a movement that was alive and well in de Caussade’s day. However, that is not de Caussade’s position. Rather, as I read the prayer, I find it to mean that we do not need to force our own agenda, but can rather focus on living daily in the presence of God, leaving our false selves and self-serving agendas to God, who will vindicate us, protect us, and provide for us even as we go about our daily lives in dependence on Him.
Prayers of surrender have become important for me over the past few years, starting when I was overseas. I even have a particular “method” that I like to use to surrender events to God. I visualize a situation that is of concern to me by using an image or two that capture the essence of a problem and then imagine myself surrendering the images to God. It is as though the image moves from my mind, down my neck and arms and past my hands. I can not only feel the tension leave my body, but it is as though the very thought that has been distracting me from God’s presence has been purged from my mind and body as well. While I use this approach to help calm my thoughts as I come before God’s Word, and not as a tool to try and manipulate God into doing what I want, I find that when I go through this process God often works things out for me better than if I had tried to force my way into getting what I wanted. All we need do is follow His calling and He will take care of the rest. To “trust wholly” in God is the one thing needed that Jesus speaks of.
Similarly, this prayer conveys, in a more worded form, what my surrender prayers seem to achieve: namely, that we are “relieved of toil” when we surrender our will to God. Yet, we are able to “achieve much” precisely because, when we surrender our own desires and wishes to God, we are also freed to act from a more secure and discerning “disposition”. Our desires for certain outcomes may not be bad, but in trying to force a particular outcome we may be wearing ourselves out and preventing the very outcome we desire. Rather, I encourage you to pray this prayer on a routine basis and surrender the outcomes of workplace events to God. May this prayer be of some assistance as you live out God’s particular calling in your vocation, whatever it may be. _________________________________________________________________
1 Richard J. Goossen and R. Paul Stevens, Entrepreneurial Leadership: Finding Your Calling, Making A Difference (Downers Grove, IL: IVP Books, 2013), 55, ebook.
2 Jean-Pierre de Caussade, The Sacrament of the Present Moment (New York, NY: HarperOne, 1989), vi.