Prayers for times of recesssion

Earlier this week the Church of England published two new prayers: one to comfort those who lost their jobs in the financial crisis; and one for those who have seen colleagues laid off and are troubled by feelings of stress and even guilt about still being employed.

The one for laid off workers, called “The Prayer on Being Made Redundant,” according to the Church, “helps to put into words the anxieties of those who are losing – or who have already lost – their job in the wave of recent redundancies.” I include the full text below, but want to highlight these words: “Hear me as I cry out in confusion, help me to think clearly, and calm my soul.”

The most potent line of the prayer is this: “As life carries on, may I know your presence with me each and every day. And as I look to the future, help me to look for fresh opportunities, for new directions.”

That’s a moving and meaningful line for all of us, laid off or not. Rather than being complacent, I hope I am consistently looking for the new ways God would use me. How can I respond to God’s direction to make the difference in the world that God desires?

The second prayer, titled “The Prayer for Those Remaining in the Workplace” addresses feelings of guilt and fears of increased workload that often come with layoffs. As you’ll see below, it begins with the heartfelt concern many of us feel, “Life has changed: Colleagues have gone – redundant, out of work. Suddenly, what seemed so secure is now so very fragile.”

At another point, this prayer asks, “Who will be next? How will I cope with the increased pressure of work?”

John Packer, Bishop of Ripon and Leeds and chairman of the Church of England’s stewardship committee, said in a statement that the prayers emphasize the church is there for people in times of crisis.

“This is a pastoral initiative,” he said. “We need to be on the lookout to support those facing redundancy. Neighbourliness is so important in crisis situations, whether it’s offering people new prayers to God or by simply being there with a listening ear.”

It’s not just in Great Britain that those fearing for their livelihood are turning to prayer.

Employees and executives waited in the cold on the first working day of 2009 to enter a Tokyo, Japan, shrine dedicated to commerce on Monday, praying to the god Ebisu-Sama to keep their businesses afloat in a new year with a grim economic outlook.

Many of us just celebrated Epiphany – a time reminding us that God is present and loving in times of crisis, times of celebration and times in between. I’m thankful that the Church of England has given us words to name that presence. I hope you find the prayers meaningful.

PRAYER ON BEING MADE REDUNDANT

“Redundant” – the word says it all – “useless, unnecessary, without purpose, surplus to requirements.”

Thank you, Heavenly Father, that in the middle of the sadness, the anger, the uncertainty, the pain, I can talk to you.

Hear me as I cry out in confusion, help me to think clearly, and calm my soul.

As life carries on, may I know your presence with me each and every day.

And as I look to the future, help me to look for fresh opportunities, for new directions.

Guide me by your Spirit, and show me your path, through Jesus, the way, the truth and the life.
Amen.

PRAYER FOR THOSE REMAINING IN THE WORKPLACE

Life has changed: Colleagues have gone – redundant, out of work. Suddenly, what seemed so secure is now so very fragile.

It’s hard to know what I feel: sadness, certainly, guilt, almost, at still having a job to go to, and fear of the future.

Who will be next? How will I cope with the increased pressure of work?

Lord Jesus, in the midst of this uncertainty, help me to keep going: to work to the best of my ability, taking each day at a time, and taking time each day to walk with you.

For you are the way, the truth and the life.
Amen.

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