To be spiritual is to acknowledge that reality is more than the socio-material reality of our common experience. To be spiritual is also to affirm through our actions that this “moreness” is important to us. It is to commit to becoming more aware of the ground from which existence has arisen and to work toward aligning our being with its nature.
By engaging in spiritual practices during the workday, leaders and staff members acknowledge that the world of work is part of creation. By bringing faith and work together, we more deeply affirm the reality of God and the constant availability of the Holy Spirit. The re-integration of these worlds also helps us to re-imagine what is sacred. Through this action, we can come to know more deeply that people and nature are valuable because they exist, rather than because they are useful.
The spiritual awareness that comes from spiritual practices engenders individual and organizational spiritual benefits. For individuals, greater awareness leads to openness for inward transformation, consciousness of spiritual gifts, the fruits of the spirit, and faithfulness in following divine guidance. For an organization, the spiritual benefits include being confident to serve God in its own way; having a vibrant, communal sense of faith, hope, and love; and trusting that the Spirit’s guidance will feed, nourish, and care for it in a way that allows it to grow and become a servant to the world.*
Leaders of non-governmental organizations can affirm spiritual awareness by creating space for people to engage in spiritual practices before, during, or following the work day. (Governmental organizations are not allowed by law to offer opportunities for religious observance.) Below, after discussing spiritual practices generally, I describe a few of the spiritual practices that people can engage in or discuss with others at work and point to resources that reduce some of the barriers to adopting them.
There are many spiritual practices (see Paths to Prayer: Finding Your Own Way to the Presence of God). General practices include spoken prayer, reading scripture for guidance and inspiration, and spending time in nature. These open us up spiritually and cultivate our awareness of the grandeur of God, creation and the human community. They also engender within us a willingness to live lives of compassion, creativity and service.
In this post, I highlight three spiritual practices: the examen, the prayer covenant, and centering prayer. I highlight these to display some of the jewels from the Christian tradition that have passed the test of time.
The Examen is associated with Ignatian Spirituality. It is a practice of reviewing one’s day to see the hand of God in it. Through the Daily Examen one can become more aware of God’s presence and guidance in everyday life.
The Prayer Covenant is a daily practice that is rooted in scripture. It involves reciting statements that invite God to become more involved in one’s life. The Prayer Covenant starts with the individual but also involves accountability and inviting others to engage in the practice.
Centering Prayer is rooted in Christianity’s contemplative tradition. The Centering Prayer practice involves inviting God to transform oneself through letting go of thoughts as one repeats a sacred word. The practice cultivates awareness of our union with God and enables us to live more freely from that Center.
While some employers are interested in allowing staff members to engage in spiritual practices during the workday, they may also be concerned about how to encourage them without creating concerns about religious harassment and discrimination. The Talbot Center for Faith, Work, and Economics at Biola University’s website (https://www.biola.edu/talbot/about/resources/cfwe) addresses these concerns via their YouTube channel (https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCzxYPNHiktauF6xqzLqWgpQ). Their videos address a number of questions, in short convenient snippets, that pertain to concerns about religion in the workplace.
While engaging in spiritual practices in the workplace may seem daunting, each leader can take a step toward them by choosing to make a commitment to engage in a spiritual practice themselves. If setting aside a block of time feels too difficult, commit yourself to finding small ways to reconnect with God throughout the day. The Spirit, who is closer to us than our own breath, will rise to greet you.
What are your spiritual practices? Are spiritual practices integrated into the workday in your organization? If so, please describe them. If not, why not?
*N. Graham Standish. 2016. Becoming a Blessed Church: Forming a Church of Spiritual Purpose, Presence, and Power. Lanham, MD: Alban Institute/Rowen & Littlefield.