September 21, 2021

Pray and Work

In God we have boasted continually, and we will give thanks to your Name forever.
Psalm 44:8
There lived a man, venerated in the Roman church as a saint, named Benedict from the Italian town of Norcia (Nursia). Early in the 6th century, he founded several communities whose members divided their day into eight hours each of prayer, labor, and sleep. Their motto, in fact, was Ora et Labora—or "pray and work." One of Benedict's great contributions to the Christian religion was what became known as the Rule of Saint Benedict, which provided guidelines for religious men and women living in community.
The Benedictine motto "pray and work" has come to be understood in an interesting way—namely, that if the labor we perform is offered up to God, it can be interpreted as a form of prayer. This is a simple concept, but it is transformational if we incorporate it into our philosophy of life. How different would we feel about what we do if we were to treat it as a prayer offered up to God! It changes menial labor into something deeply meaningful. It transforms money-making schemes into ministry to our neighbors. It even gives deeper meaning to service professions such as nursing, teaching, and, yes, the clergy.

There is indeed a way to give thanks continually and to pray without ceasing. May we not just think of the time we spend with our hands clasped and our eyes closed as prayer, but also offer up all we do to the God who gives us the ability to think, work, and pray.

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances.
 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
Prayer after thinking about today's devotion:
Gracious and Holy Father, give us wisdom to perceive you, intelligence to understand you, diligence to see you, patience to wait for you, eyes to behold you, a heart to meditate on you, and a life to proclaim you.
 Benedict of Nursia

After your own thanksgivings & petitions, close with the Lord's Prayer.
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