Work as prayer

We should not miss the chance to make our work prayer also. As long as it is honest work, regardless of whether it is manual, technical or intellectual, it can and should be part of God’s providence over us, of God’s continuing work over us.

As such, it is something that would be pleasing to God and can serve as a way to praise and adore him, thank him for the many blessings he has given us, or to serve as atonement for our sins and the sins of others as well as proof of our faith and love for him especially when we ask for favors from him.

We should never regard our work as purely human with no connection to God’s will and ways. We should never regard our work as purely temporal and earth-bound. It has eternal dimensions and potentials. In fact, it can and should be our usual way to develop and achieve holiness.

In that perspective, work is no hindrance in our continuing relationship with God and with others, no matter how hidden, mundane and secular our work may be. It need not be a break from our life of prayer and contemplation even in the midst of our very worldly activities.

We therefore have to broaden our understanding of the true character of our ordinary daily work. Our work should not be motivated or inspired by merely human and earthly values no matter how legitimate they may be.

That’s because if not motivated by love of God and carried out as an offering to God, and because of that, also as our sign and contribution to the common good of men, it would not lead us to where we should be. We can rightfully be reproached by Christ when he said: “What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul?” (Mk 8,36)

We obviously need to readjust our attitude toward our ordinary daily work. While it can involve dirt and grime, or the sophisticated technicalities of the arts and sciences, it is actually something sacred, a part of God’s design for us, and an effective vehicle for us to relate ourselves to God in an abiding way.

Indeed, it is no exaggeration to say that with our work, as long as it is done with great faith and love for God and others, we can already touch heaven. It is when our work can also truly sanctify us, can attract God’s grace to us. We should never think that our work only has temporal and worldly value.

We have to inculcate the proper understanding of our work as early as possible, especially in homes and schools, so that the general culture would be one where the sanctifying value of work is a given and everyone is working according to that spirit.

As of now, we can say that we are still light years away from that proper understanding of work. Many of us still do not see God in our work. We still do not realize that whatever art, science and technology we discover and make use of, come from God and are there to lead us to God. We have the notorious tendency to expropriate them to ourselves, without relating them to God.

We need to see the organic link between our spiritual life and our life of work, between our piety and our temporal and worldly affairs. We should overcome the usual dichotomy we have between our spiritual life and our life of work.

We only have one life, though with different aspects, each one with its distinctive character and manner of being that should be respected. We have to learn how to integrate them together, and not fragment them.