Prayer at the Heart of CWGs
One of the key features which TWUK encourages in workplace groups is the capacity of the group to look outwards beyond its members to the wider needs of the whole organisation and all who work within it. CWGs do not exist for themselves but for the benefits they can bring into the workplace so that all may share in the joy that Jesus brings. Yet beneath this outward facing focus, CWGs must have firm foundations. We have touched on some of these in previous weeks, including clear leadership and explicit, meaningful aims and objectives. Most importantly however, everything must be underpinned by prayer. Prayer was at the heart of Jesus’ ministry and it needs to be the bedrock of all that CWGs do.
In the midst of His extraordinarily busy ministry Jesus always found time to be with God and to be with Him in prayer. We often read of Jesus seeking lonely places to pray.
15 But the news about Jesus spread all the more widely, and crowds of people came to hear him and be healed from their diseases. 16 But he would go away to lonely places, where he prayed. (Luke 5)
Jesus knew that His actions had to be underpinned by His faith and of course that faith and trust in His Father was built up through His prayer life. Jesus reliance on prayer is threaded throughout His whole ministry from start to finish and of course He even taught His disciples how to pray. (Luke 11)
Even as He prayed in Gethsemane that He might be spared from the pain of the cross, Jesus was absolutely clear that God’s ultimate plan had to be at the heart of all He said and did:
“My Father, if it is possible, take this cup of suffering from me! Yet not what I want, but what you want.” (Matthew 26:39)
If we look at the model of prayer which Jesus used during His ministry then its implications for CWGs becomes fundamental. Nothing is going to succeed without the Lord’s hand in it and to seek God’s will in all endeavours and projects is essential – his will not ours!
If we accept that prayer is fundamental to all that CWGs do then prayer becomes something which we can regard as dynamic not passive. Prayers can come in the form of thanks and seeking guidance for the building up of the group, for new projects and undertakings which the group might attempt within the organisation. Some CWGs have a regular prayer cycle where they pray for different aspects of the organisation, its managers, different staff groups, and key meetings. Even those without faith are generally appreciative that the CWG is focusing positively through prayer on the well-being of the wider organisation.
There does however need to be a balance between prayer and actions. Traditional Christian fellowships have sometimes placed the main emphasis of their activities on prayer and Bible study. There is of course nothing wrong with those activities forming part of what CWGs do, but Jesus combined prayer with action and that is how the TWUK team see CWGs operating within the workplace. Faith and prayer are essential, but need to underpin visible actions which have a beneficial impact upon the wider organisation. In his letter, James says this:
“Show me how anyone can have faith without actions. I will show you my faith by my actions.” James 2:18
This was how the early apostles lived their lives – Lots of action, miracles and wonders, but underpinned by praise and prayer.
So one of the key products of prayer and faith within the CWG is the outward benefit that the group brings through its activities in the workplace. There is then an interdependency between prayer and actions. Both are needed for a CWG to be fully effective and perhaps a good reminder of this is to return to the words of James:
‘…as the body without the spirit is dead, also faith without actions is dead” James 2:26