idea for PRAYERS AT WORK began on a rainy Sunday night in 1966 in
Atlanta, GA. I was a seminary student at the time and serving a
church part time. Previous to that, I had been in the textile business
for eight years, five as president of a carpet manufacturing company
and its subsidiaries. I knew the tensions and concerns of people
that particular rainy evening, I met with fifteen business leaders
to discuss our common concern: How do you live your faith on the
the rain poured down outside, one person after another echoed, "It
helps when we talk about my faith and my job on Sundays, but where
do we get help Monday through Friday?"
decided to look.
the next month we found plenty of devotional books, general prayer
books, and faith-boosters. But aids for Christians at work? Nothing.
we started our own. I wrote prayers for each work day of the following
three months. Our discussions and sharing had given me plenty of
subjects for the prayers. Each prayer was printed on a 3" by 7"
card, with an hourly appointment calendar on the back. We mailed
these cards - one for each work day of the following week - timed
to arrive first thing every Friday morning.
named the program "My Vocation Is My Ministry." It caught on quickly!
People frequently gave their cards to others who in turn asked to
be put on the mailing list. Requests came for friends and associates
to be added to the list. The program grew rapidly because it filled
a deep need among men to have prayer reminders to help them in their
Christian lives at work.
I graduated from seminary and moved to another church in another
state, we started the mailings again - with the same gratifying
results! During those years, my files swelled with grateful letters
from people at work. Many of them were top executives of some of
the nation's largest corporations.
prayers were added as more and more people at work shared their
deep concerns with me. All the prayer subjects have been discussed
and prayed by people at work.
people encouraged publication of the prayers in a book. So, in 1972,
Harper and Row Publishing Company published the prayers in a book
entitled, MAN TALK, Prayers For The Man At Work. The title
seems quaint today, when almost half of the Prayers At Work subscribers
the Introduction to the book I wrote, "I express my thanks to former
associates in the textile business, friends in the Young President's
Organization (YPO), and members of the churches I served. From their
examples and their sharing I have learned that every type of work
can be a true and fulfilling ministry."
1973 my family and I moved to Memphis, Tennessee, where I served
as President of Rhodes College for 26 years.
the time of my retirement from Rhodes in 1999, things had changed.
But the deep need for prayers to express the full range of emotions
people feel at work had not changed. In fact, the need had grown!
People at work now had to deal with e-commerce, downsizing, the
global marketplace, frequent mergers, increased competition, degenerating
cultural values reflected in the media, and the rapid pace of change
- all these cause people at work to feel even more fragmented and
uncertain, with little help for them to recognize the presence of
God in their everyday life.
more important change - the internet - proved a Godsend. No longer
did the prayers for each work day have to be printed, collated,
stuffed, and mailed. They could be sent and received instantly!
with even more enthusiasm than before, I began to write new prayers,
revise old prayers that I had written, and send them to friends
each week by e-mail. Again, just as 35 years ago, people responded
with gratitude, made suggestions about prayer subjects, shared their
own experiences as Christians at work, and forwarded the prayers
to friends who, in turn, requested that they be added to the e-mailing
Again, PRAYERS AT WORK multiplied quickly. In
some months the list grew by more than 100%!
handle the growing number of people added to the e-mailing list,
and to make it convenient for people around the world, we developed
a web site. With the web site, prayersatwork.com,
we are able to handle personally the mushrooming number of requests
to add friends' names to the e-mailing list.
of this is a wonderful joy for a businessman - preacher - college
president now retired. To have a ministry in retirement that helps
others in their walk with Christ at work is a joy for which I am
deeply grateful to God.