How can you “pray without ceasing” at work?

I [Nehemiah] took the wine and gave it to the king. I had not been sad in his presence before, so the king asked me, “Why does your face look so sad when you are not ill? This can be nothing but sadness of heart.” I was very much afraid, but I said to the king, “May the king live forever! Why should my face not look sad when the city where my ancestors are buried lies in ruins, and its gates have been destroyed by fire?” The king said to me, “What is it you want?” Then I prayed to the God of heaven, and I answered the king (Nehemiah 2:1b-5a)

Scripture commands that we “pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17, ESV). But what in the world does that look like at work? Today’s passage helps answer that question. But first, some context.

Nehemiah was a Jew in exile, working faithfully as a cupbearer to King Artaxerxes of Persia (see Nehemiah 1:11) when one day, he heard that Jerusalem, “the city where [his] ancestors [were] buried,” was in ruins (Nehemiah 2:3). 

This grieved Nehemiah so much that King Artaxerxes asked him, “Why does your face look so sad?” After Nehemiah explained the source of his grief, the king asked him, “What is it you want?” And immediately after hearing the question, Nehemiah said he “prayed to the God of heaven and…answered the king.”

This prayer couldn’t have been longer than a second, maybe two. It happened in the blink of an eye. There, in the middle of a conversation with his boss, Nehemiah prayed the simplest of prayers, acknowledging God and asking for his wisdom and help. You and I can do the same today.

Praying without ceasing doesn’t necessitate that you hole away in your office praying for hours on end. That approach is likely to get you fired! But we, like Nehemiah, can pray continually by quickly asking for the Lord’s wisdom and favor as we send an email, deliver a pitch, or interact with a customer. 

The great preacher Charles Spurgeon once said, “I rarely pray for more than 5 minutes, but I never go 5 minutes without praying.” That’s the idea here. As you work today, follow Spurgeon and Nehemiah’s examples in offering up ceaseless, split-second prayers to the Lord.


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