Prayer in the Workplace

How would you react if your boss approached you and said, “Would you mind if I prayed over you for a moment?”  What would you think about an employer who told you “We’ve set aside space and a time during the work week for strictly voluntary worship?”  What if your employer permitted its meeting rooms to be used for religious study and prayer meetings by its employees during lunch hours and break times?

Would you wonder about the motives of an employer who hired a ministry team to attend to spiritual needs or other issues affecting performance of its employees during work hours?  If you learned that the business owner, while walking through the workplace, said a prayer for each and every employee in the building, what would you think, or do?  What if your employer allowed or encouraged you to feel comfortable with keeping your religious reference book, whether it be a Bible, the Torah, a Quran, or other reference in plain sight on the shelf above your desk?

What if this employer was a church office?  What if it was a church affiliated non-profit organization?  What if it was a charitable organization?  Or, what if it was an ordinary machine shop, an accounting firm, a food service distributor, or even a discount retail store?

What if your place of work employed Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Jews, Christians, Ba’Hai, Atheists, and others?  And what if these opportunities were offered freely to all employees, regardless of their beliefs?  What if each employee could accept or decline each opportunity offered without fear of ostracism or retribution?

Would you wonder if your employer was violating the law?  Would you be concerned that your employer might be putting itself at risk for a lawsuit?  Would you feel threatened?  Would you feel uncomfortable?  Would you feel pressured?  Putting all concerns aside, would you avail yourself of these opportunities?  Would you participate?  Would you yourself, as an employer, offer them to your employees?

The businesses to which I refer actually exist.  These businesses are successful, appreciated by their employees, and apparently cheerful and pleasant places to work.  Their employees are dedicated to the organizations and their leadership.  They are celebrated as “best places to work.”  To my knowledge, these businesses have not been sued, nor have they been cited for violating any laws regarding discrimination on the basis of religion or beliefs.  These businesses are considered values-focused, community friendly, environmentally responsible, and philanthropic.  And, these businesses exist in North America.

Could these businesses exist in any free society?  Probably.  Could they exist in an autocratic or theocratic society?  Possibly, but at great risk in certain societies with particular belief systems.

What kind of an employer would even consider offering these opportunities?  Maybe they are organizations that want to be better than their competition.  Maybe they want to be more productive, more successful, and viewed as businesses of character and integrity.  Maybe they view capitalism as need-based rather than greed-based.  Maybe making money is not their ultimate purpose but a reward for successfully achieving their purpose of fulfilling individual or collective needs.  Maybe they want to be more than just a business.

These businesses are people centered, servant led and purpose driven organizations.  They are more than just a paycheck to their employees.  They are a positive influence on their clients, customers, vendors, employees and their communities.  They are more than businesses, they are ministries, and are about the business of building God’s Kingdom here on earth.  Take a lesson from them.  Take a risk.  Become one of them.  Make your organization “more than a business.”

Peace my friends…