Opening Prayers about Work

Worship / Produced by partner of TOW

These Opening Prayers are part of "Work in Worship," a collection of material for work-themed services compiled by David Welbourn. For more prayers, songs, readings and sermons, click on the table of contents to the right.

INTRODUCTIONS

We have gathered here this day to give thanks and praise to Almighty God for his love and gifts given to us day by day. We praise him for the gifts of creation and the work we are called to do, and we offer in thanksgiving all the work of our County.

We remember those without work; and it is our hope for them that, in God's love and in our dedication and service, they may find support and opportunity to use their skills.

So as we give our thanks and praise, we join in the prayer our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ taught us saying: Our Father...

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Human enterprise is not simply an end in itself; it is the means and the medium through which people fulfil their ultimate destiny.

We are here today to give thanks to God for all that Commerce and Industry mean to our country, our economy and our lives.

We thank God for the value that our businesses create, which can secure the public services we and our families need.

We thank God for the network of international contacts that mean that never again will Europe be devastated by war. The new Europe is being built by people in different countries working together towards common goals.

We thank God for the opportunity to contribute to the transformation of Central and Eastern Europe, to the ultimate benefit of all the citizens of Europe as a whole.

We thank God for the difference that industry can make to the quality of the air we breathe, the water we drink, our nation's transport and communications infrastructure.

We thank God for the ability to develop and apply the most advanced technology in the cause of peace, and to improve the quality of life for all.

We thank God for our colleagues: their competence, capacity, commitment and comradeship. Business is about ordinary people working together, often in very difficult circumstances, to achieve extraordinary things.

And we pray to God that we will be able to meet adequately the responsibilities and obligations of management.

This we do in the name of him who taught us that to lead is to serve, and whose service is perfect freedom, Jesus Christ our Lord.

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Let us give thanks today for the work of our (town, city, region, county etc.) and for the privilege of sharing in that work.

Let us give thanks today for the providence of God and for the gift of work.

We have gathered here this day to given thanks to Almighty God for his love and gifts given us day by day. We praise him for the gifts of creation and the work that we are called to do, and we offer in thanksgiving all the work of our (town, city, region, country etc.).

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The world is God's and if we are to be effective as the body of Christ, we need to bring together the often separate worlds of work and church, to know about that which forms so much of our everyday lives and to look afresh at that experience in the light of God's purposes. In the words of David Adam, We need to reveal that our God is in all the world and waits to be discovered there... Typing pool and workshop, office and factory are all as sacred as the church.

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A lot of people enjoy their work. Many do not. Yet without the world of work our society would collapse. All of us depend on industry, commerce and the services offered to us by national and local government, banking, insurance, medical and social welfare, education, scientific research and a host of other activities.

The majority of people spend most of their adult life in some sort of work, and we consider full employment to be one of the measures of a contented society - so that those who have no work are seen, and feel themselves, to be disadvantaged.

The odd thing is that this world that affects us all is rarely thought about or offered up in church. We may pray for hospitals and schools, but rarely for factories and hotels. We certainly make little connection between the life of work and the life of the spirit, between what we earn in the market place and what we spend on creating a just and merciful society.

This service is designed to help us re-connect the world of work to God, who is the maker of all things and judge of all people, that we may learn better how to live in it to his glory.

(From the preamble to 'The Offering of the World of Work' Rogationtide service, May 1991 at St.Martin-in-the- Fields, London)

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Our Lord Jesus Christ grew up in the village of Nazareth in Galilee. From an early age he would have watched Joseph at work and learnt from him the trade of a local builder and carpenter.

Today, we have come together to celebrate the skill of craftsmen, to give thanks and praise for the industrial and commercial life of our village, and to pray for all who work in this community.

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Human enterprise is not simply an end in itself; it is the means and medium through which people fulfil their ultimate destiny. We are here today to give thanks to God for all that commerce and industry mean to us, our town, our economy and our lives.

We thank God for the value that our businesses and our work create, which can secure the public services we and our families need.

We thank God for our colleagues; their competence, capacity, commitment and comradeship. We pray to God that we will be able to meet adequately the responsibilities and obligations of management.

This we do in the name of him who taught us that to lead is to serve, and whose service is perfect freedom.

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Human work is part of God's providence for the world. Most of the goods and services which people need are provided through our work in homes, schools, hospitals, factories, offices and shops. These daily activities which sustain life and keep the world going, which create wealth, give service and make provision for human needs, are part of God's good providence, and something for the church to celebrate.

So let us thank God for his goodness and pray for all who, by their work in manufacturing, the service industries and commerce, sustain the quality of life for our society.

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AT A ROGATION SUNDAY SERVICE

Today, the 5th Sunday after Easter, is Rogation Sunday. Traditionally Rogationtide was the time when God's blessing was asked on the newly sown crops. Rogationtide was the "before" of which Harvest Thanksgiving was the "after". As is the case with Harvest Thanksgiving, Rogation Sunday is a good time to think about human work, and the theme of this service is "Offering our Work to God" - not just agricultural work but all work, and in particular the work done by members of this congregation and people living in this community. And in this service of Holy Communion [Mass, Lord's Supper] we shall be using the bread and wine as symbols of our work offered to God for use in his service.

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AT A HARVEST OF WORK SERVICE

The worship leader explains why a "more-than-agricultural" harvest is being celebrated. S/he could make the following points: Less than 2% nationally work in agriculture [in our area it is x %]. This service enables all the work done by our congregational members to be offered to God. Tokens of our work will be brought up during the service [or placed at the front beforehand] and put beside the more traditional harvest exhibits. [Alternatively, or in addition, we have an exhibition of the work of local firms, and this symbolises our offering to God all the goods and services produced/provided in our own locality.]

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AT AN UNEMPLOYMENT SERVICE

We come together to worship God. We stand in his presence. We open ourselves to his goodness and his love. We come to confess our sins, and those of our nation, against those who are unemployed. We come to pray for all those who bear the burden of unemployment, for those who serve them, and for our nation. We pray for a new willingness to bear one another's burdens; a new determination to value one another. We come in the hope that God will show to us, and to our nation, how together we may overcome this great evil.

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As Christians we will want to discover God's attitude to work. We are told God is creative, active, working - and that we are made in his image. We human beings have, however, made problems for ourselves, and for the rest of creation, by the way we work in the world. But God has plans for us, our work and our social relationships.

SENTENCES

The earth is filled with the gifts of the Lord; wine and oil and bread, to strengthen us and cheer our heart. (Ps 104:13,15)

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord and not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. (Colossians 3:23 NIV)

Work is the creative activity of God within us, working through us in the world for the glory of him and to the benefit of all. (Ken Hawkings)

Without purposeful, rewarding, creative work, one loses one's orientation, self-confidence and self- respect; becoming a prisoner and an outcast in one's own subjective world. (Christian Schumacher - adapted)

To accept the Incarnation (the coming of Jesus) is to accept that God is at work in his world as it is, and that Christians are called to co-operate with him there. (Jack Keiser)

You yourselves know that I have worked with these hands of mine to provide everything that my companions and I needed. I have shown you in all things that by working hard in this way we must help the weak, remembering the words of the Lord Jesus himself said, 'There is more happiness in giving than in receiving'. (Acts 20: 34f)

What we have somehow to do in the present age is to combine goodness and cleverness; to learn somehow to permeate the vast impersonal world organisations with the love of God and of our neighbour. We have to learn to harness the scientific mind in the service of the merciful heart. (A.D.Lindsay)

Work is the expenditure of energy (manual and mental or both) in the service of others, which brings fulfilment to the worker, benefit to the community and glory to God. (John Stott)

At the centre of Christian redemption stands the resurrection. This is first of all the work of God and it is God who takes our work and accepts it for his own. So the work of Christ was not wasted. (Paul Ballard)

Technology and industry create the context within which we must search for meaning in life. (Margaret Kane)

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AT AN UNEMPLOYMENT SERVICE

'Everyone has the right to work, to free choice of employment, to just and favourable conditions of work and to protection against unemployment'. (UN Universal Declaration of Human Rights)

'Work is an obligation, that is to say a duty, on the part of each human being. This is true in all the many meanings of the word. People must work, both because the creator has demanded it and because of their own humanity, which requires work in order to be maintained and developed. Each person must work out of regard for others'. (Papal Encyclical 'Laborem Exercens' 1972 [c.] ) 

BIDDINGS AND OPENING PRAYERS

Almighty God,
sustainer of daily life and work,
and provider of all our needs.
Open our hearts to your creative power
so that we may know your will,
praise your name,
and share your vision for the creation of your kingdom. In the name of your Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Amen.

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Let us be silent before God. Let us open our hearts to the Spirit that blows across all the earth, and may that Spirit kindle the flame of hope throughout the world.

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We meet together to thank God for his gifts of raw material and human skill, and for the high standard of living to which he has brought us: to offer to him our work in industry and commerce, and to pray that he may guide us in the right use of all that is entrusted to us. Let us in silence remember his presence and pray that this service may be to his glory.
(After a short silence:)

O Lord God, we worship and adore you. Fill our minds with such devotion that all unworthy thoughts may be driven from us, and that through this service we may hear your voice and be obedient to your will. Amen.

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AT A HARVEST SERVICE

Lord God, the Father Almighty, maker of heaven and earth, glorious in majesty, wonderful in love, rich in mercy, we praise and we worship you as Lord of the Harvest.
You have crowned the year with your goodness: You have blessed us with your gifts.

We look around us with gratitude for our harvest display, giving thanks for the way you have provided us with all we need, and for your gifts shown here in the skill of flower-arrangers, artists and those who have worked together in your sanctuary in fellowship.

You have crowned the year with your goodness: You have blessed us with your gifts.

We are reminded, through these harvest gifts, of our human skill and inventiveness: by toil and imagination we have brought forth a harvest from the earth - of coal, oil and gas for heating and power - of crops and produce which we need for life - of minerals for healing, industry and craftsmanship.

You have crowned the year with your goodness: You have blessed us with your gifts.

We remember the natural world, with its provision for our needs: rain on the land; the sea for journeys, for food, for recreation: sunlight and warmth for growth; wind for power; water for thirst.

You have crowned the year with your goodness: You have blessed us with your gifts.

And above all this, we remember your greatest gift: the harvest of your forgiveness and love seen in Jesus Christ, who died that we might be set free from the prison of guilt and sin, and who has enabled us to live in freedom and joy. Father, we worship you with gratitude and adoration for this: your gifts, your harvest beyond words.

You have crowned the year with your goodness: You have blessed us with your gifts.

(Slightly adapted from Clifford Wilton, in YMCA 'Windows into Worship', green section p.22.)

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HARVEST

God our creator,
you have made us one with this earth,
to tend it and to bring forth fruit;
may we so respect and cherish
all that has life from you,
that we may share in the labour of all creation to give birth to your hidden glory,
through Jesus Christ. Amen.

(From 'All Desires Known' by Janet Morley [c.] )

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FOR A SERVICE WITH ENVIRONMENT AS THE THEME

Brothers and sisters in creation, we covenant this day with you and with all creation yet to be:
with every living creature and
all that contains and sustains you;
with all that is on earth and with the earth itself; with all that lives in the waters
and with the waters themselves;
with all that flies in the skies
and with the sky itself.
We establish this covenant, that all our powers will be used to prevent your destruction.
We confess that it is our kind who put you at the risk of death.

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You, Lord, were there at the beginning of all things, shaping the world, preparing it for us. We praise you for the wonder of creation
for the variety of landscapes which we use in our work and play;
for the seas that link the people of the world; that provides us with power and nourishment; for the air surrounding the earth, giving life to all things.
The earth and all of creation reminds us of your care for us all. When we too care for all of creation we give you praise.‚Äč



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