The rabble with them began to crave other food, and again the Israelites started wailing and said, ‘If only we had meat to eat! We remember the fish we ate in Egypt at no cost – also the cucumbers, melons, leeks, onions and garlic.’
A friend of mine, in his first week in a senior position with a large multinational and eager to impress, sent an email at 9 o’clock on a Friday evening. On Monday morning he was informed by his boss that, although he was free to work at that time, by sending an email he was implying that others should also be working – ‘It’s not how we do things round here.’ It’s so often the little things that signal whether you ‘belong’ in a culture or are an outsider.
It has been said that, whilst it took a matter of days to get the Israelites out of Egypt, it took forty years to get Egypt out of the Israelites! Their ways of thinking, behaving and relating owed more to their years of slavery in Egypt than to the miracles they had witnessed in the wilderness. For us, the time we spend at work can have more impact on how we relate to God than our Bible reading and church gatherings.
In most workplaces, image and individualism are valued. Appearance and visibility count. We track the number of visits to our website and the ‘likes’ recorded. Marketing consultants help craft the most compelling image. Office politics encourages us to develop our personal ‘brand’. Yet effective prayer is often unseen: ‘When you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen’ (Matthew 6:6). In fact, there is nothing more shattering to our carefully constructed self-image than the presence of God and the searching of the Holy Spirit.
Our individualistic culture is one where independence and self-reliance are valued, and personal interests take precedence over the needs of the group. This can manifest itself in the workplace though an absence of teamwork, inter-departmental rivalry, or a blame culture. In contrast, the model of prayer given by Jesus in Matthew 6:9-13 contains the words ‘our’, ‘us’ and ‘we’ nine times in five short verses. To pray is counter-cultural – it acknowledges our dependence on God and our inter-dependence with each other.
On 20 October, we launch our seventh prayer pathway, ‘A Culture of Prayer’, focusing on how to pray in a way that impacts our workplace culture. As on other journeys, you will receive a short prompt to pray every morning. There is additional material on the LICC website and a journey wall to share your journey with others. Join this challenging prayer journey!