The 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 at work.
On that particular rainy evening, I met with fifteen business leaders to discuss our common concern: How do you live your faith on the job?
As 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?"
We decided to look.
During the next month we found plenty of devotional books, general prayer books, and faith-boosters. But aids for Christians at work? Nothing.
So 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.
We 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.
When 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.
New 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.
Many 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 are women.
In 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."
In 1973 my family and I moved to Memphis, Tennessee, where I served as President of Rhodes College for 26 years.
By 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.
One 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!
So, 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 list. Again, Prayers At Work multiplied quickly. In some months the list grew by more than 100%!
To 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.
All 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.
The author, Dr. James H. Daughdrill went to be with the Lord in May, 2014, but his prayers continue to live in the lives of others though the continuation of PAW as requested by his widow, Libby Daughdrill and the Board of Directors of PAW. All prayers have been written by Dr. Daughdrill thru 2019 for your meditations.