Spiritual Practices at the Workplace

“Wow, the volume of requests at work is so high today! Looks like I will need to work overtime again. Will I still be on time for Small Group today?”

“My boss just received a productivity award for a project which I have been working hard on improving. Why wasn’t I also recognised for it?”

“How will this matter improve my year-end performance review?”

I have a confession. The above were some of my regular thoughts when I first started working in my 20s. My primary concern at work was more inclined towards selfish purposes such as my performance ratings, my remuneration and other personal benefits. I was constantly thinking (and occasionally struggling) about how to excel at work. In short, I had excluded God at work. Gradually, I began feeling uneasy about my outlook about work. I struggled to reconcile my selfish preoccupations at work with my faith as I sought to walk intimately with God and to be more like Jesus.

Through the guidance of wise Christian friends, this interior turmoil in my soul eventually gave way to a reorientation that work is God’s gift for me to reflect Christ in all that I do. This reorientation led me to explore how I may seek to move from working for the applause of people to seeking the applause of God. In his book, Every Good Endeavor, Timothy Keller emphasised the true nature of who we work for when he wrote, “Work will be primarily a way to please God by doing his work in the world, for his name’s sake.” (italics mine)

The letter to the Ephesians also affirms this with the following instructions in Ephesians 6:5-8 (NRSVue), “5 Slaves, obey your earthly masters with respect and trembling, in singleness of heart, as you obey Christ, 6 not with a slavery performed merely for looks, to please people, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the soul. 7 Render service with enthusiasm, as for the Lord and not for humans, 8 knowing that whatever good we do, we will receive the same again from the Lord, whether we are enslaved or free.”

This orientation to serve God has reshaped my work ethics to do more than just getting the work done. I don’t want to just show up to work physically, but also show up to do God’s ministry at work. This orientation to serve God has also been reshaping my relationships at work as I endeavor to see the best in others and to do my best for them. 

As a result, my questions have now changed to the following:

“How do I become a more faithful Christian today at my workplace?” 

“How may I witness the love of Christ to others at my workplace today?”

Just because I left the secular workplace, it doesn’t mean the secular perspectives within me were automatically left behind or have been vaporized. My fellow co-laborers in church ministry can attest to the fact that while we can leave the secular industry, we can’t take the secular mindset out of us. This is why many church leaders regularly make time to reflect if their leadership in church has been driven by biblical principles or principles that are inconsistent with our Christian worldview. There are secular mindsets which have remained even in the church setting that I need to personally wean myself out of. 

Therefore, our reorientation about work needs to be sustained and nurtured on a regular basis. We need spiritual practices to help us thrive as Christians in our workplaces. At this point, I can almost imagine someone protesting, “But I don’t have time for more Bible study or to go for a retreat!” Because we worship an omnipresent God (all present), I am confident that we can connect with Him whether we are located in a desert monastery, a domestic monastery (our homes) or a workplace wilderness.

Here are four suggestions that you may consider trying over the course of this month. To aid your recollection of these practices, here is a mnemonic word ‘rest’ which represents the following:

  • Read Scripture
  • Examine
  • Sabbath
  • Take the journey to the cross

When practised together, they form to develop a holy rhythm for you to connect with God in the midst of your work day and to reflect God’s image with your God-given gifts and presence at work. They have been organised for you to try out within your daily, weekly and monthly schedules. 


  1. Read Scripture

The practice of reading the Bible daily was first introduced in our church campaigns such as Meeting Jesus in the Gospel (MJC) and Acts 2 Church (A2C). Now that we are in our ninth year of reading the Bible daily, we invite you to join us by using the Lent devotionals, which contain daily contributions written by various Wesleyans.

I have been reading the Bible on a daily basis with our church family since this practice of reading Scripture daily throughout the year was finally launched in 2016 with the Bible Reading Drive (BRD). In my personal experience, starting my day with Scripture helps me to create space to listen to God first and for His presence and guidance for the coming day. By starting the day with God’s Word, this is my embodied commitment to hear the words of my divine boss first, before receiving instructions from my mortal bosses.

You will only need about 15 minutes for each day’s devotion, though I encourage you to create more breathing space if time permits. Make this commitment to enter into your ‘holy office’ before God by reading Scripture before you begin work, whether at home or at a quiet spot near your workplace. If this is not possible, don’t beat yourself up over it. Consider taking some time during lunch for reading Scripture. 

Here’s the link to access our Lent devotions: https://worship.wesleymc.org/images/updates/Lent-Booklet-2024.pdf

  1. Examine (the prayer of Examen)

Just as some people make time for a brief respite by taking a coffee break or smoke break in the afternoon during work, do consider taking a 5 minute holy break for your soul with the prayer of Examen. This is a chance for you to take a holy pause from the excessive chaos that surrounds or within us.

This midday prayer of Examen gives you a chance to reconnect with God and to see your work with spiritual eyes. This also creates holy space for God to speak to you about your workplace relationships and matters, and for you to commit to respond faithfully.

In these 5 minutes, here are the 5Rs of the prayer of Examen for your self-examination:

a) Relish: Begin by practising gratitude. What are the blessings in the past 24 hours? Or what made you smile? 

b) Request: Request God to guide and speak during this holy pause.

c) Review: What are the significant moments in the past 24 hours? What was a predominant feeling and thought you held onto? Where did you sense God’s presence, His activity and His invitations? How have you responded to them?

d) Repent: Ask God for His forgiveness and healing.

e) Resolve: Look to the future by committing your upcoming 24 hours to God. Is there injustice to address? How may you bless someone practically?

Sometime back, I was wrestling with a snide remark that someone said over a meal that made me feel a little embarrassed. Despite my attempts to move on from that memory, I spent the entire next morning repeatedly recalling the person’s words playing out in my mind like a broken record. This ‘broken record’ finally came to a stop when I did the prayer of Examen. 

As I reviewed this incident before God, I was reminded of the words of Paul from Philippians 4:8 (NRSVue), “Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.”

The words “think of these things” led me to realise that I had allowed myself to dwell too long on those unkind words. I had sensed God’s invitation to bring this to Him in prayer so that I may move on from feeling bitter about it. 

Whatever is honourable… whatever is pure… think about these things” I was reminded to turn away from ‘villainising’ the person to seek the good in him with magnanimity of heart as I recalled the advice of Presupposition by St Ignatius given in his Spiritual Exercises: “every good Christian ought to be more eager to put a good interpretation on a neighbor’s statement than to condemn it. Further, if one cannot interpret it favorably, one should ask how the other means it. If that meaning is wrong, one should correct the person with love; and if this is not enough, one should search out every appropriate means through which, by understanding the statement in a good way, it may be saved.”

Whatever is true” also led me to consider if my past actions had affirmed this person’s remark. “Is there any truth to it?” It was during this reflection that God led me to recall an impulsive decision I had made more than a decade ago which had possibly left an indelible impression on my friend who made that remark. This therefore led me to ask God for His forgiveness and His light to live with more wisdom in the coming day.

Though this midday prayer of Examen was brief, it changed the way I approached the rest of my day. This practice gave me the space to bring my anger before God and consider how I may live more lovingly and faithfully. 


  1. Sabbath

The next spiritual practice for forming your witness at your workplace does not happen during your working hours. Yet it has the power to re-energise and redirect your work. It is the practice of a 24-hour Sabbath. Rev Ian Lee in his 14th January Theology of Work sermon ‘Rest from work’ offered two simple reasons why we must rest. First, rest is our God-given rhythm, commanded and modelled by God in the Creation account (Ex 20:8-11). Second, Sabbath rest is observed as our God-given resistance to the economy of Pharaoh, characterised by slavery to endless work in pursuit of wealth.

How do we do that? John Mark Comer offers four elements about Sabbath for our consideration, namely stop, rest, delight and worship.

a) Stop: It is simply to take a pause from our work for a day.

This is the key reason why my children love Sabbath. How did I know? There was one Sunday when I asked my son if he had done his revision for an exam in the coming week. He said, “Dad, it’s Sabbath. We don’t study on Sabbath.” Yes, that’s right. My wife and I allow our children to take a break from studying on Sabbath. Of course, that means they need to work extra hard to finish all their assignments and revision for exams by Saturday so that they will not need to open any book on Sunday.

This decision to let my children take a Sabbath on Sundays has also helped us as parents to learn to honour God and trust Him with their future. I love the words of John Mark Comer who drew me to this thought, “The end goal of Sabbath is not to say, ‘I practice Sabbath.’ It’s to apprentice under Jesus to become a person who is marked by an inner spirit of restfulness and who is calm, at ease in their own body, unhurried, kind, and present.”

If a full 24-hours Sabbath is too difficult, consider trying this practice with a half day or a few hours.

b) Rest: Just because we stop, it doesn’t mean we are resting. Rest for our souls need not be limited to taking a nap. Sabbath is also an act of subtraction. Perhaps it is a digital Sabbath that you need, where you allow your mind to take a break. This digital fast will involve switching off your electronic devices, or at least keeping them out of your sight (if you need to be contacted for any emergency).

We need to truly rest so that we can practice the other Sabbath elements of delight and worship.

c) Delight: Sabbath is also a day for us to savour the blessings of God. True thankfulness and joy can only happen if we give ourselves to fully delight in God’s creation, community and God Himself. Go do what brings healthy delight to you and your loved ones. It could be reading poetry, a stroll in the park with a loved one, playing frisbee or having a family meal together.

d) Worship: Sabbath is a day for us to worship God. It could involve spending some time in silence and solitude with God, or participating in church worship services. 

If you have young children in your household, perhaps you may consider John Mark Comer’s suggestion of “breaking the day into thirds – a third spent all together in delight, a third for one parent to go be alone to rest and pray while the other plays with the children, and a third where the parents swap places.”

For this month only (25–28th March):

  1. Take the Journey to the Cross

For the third year running, we will be offering Journey to the Cross for all Christians to spend some time with God at our church premises during Holy Week (25–28th March). 

Journey to the Cross is a self-guided spiritual exercise where we will walk through five prayer stations intended to take each person on the path that Jesus walked in the final week of His life on earth. The interactive prayer stations will guide each person to pause to reflect on Scripture and to respond to God in prayer. Christians who have been invited by their Wesley friends or colleagues to the Journey to the Cross in the previous two years have found themselves personally ministered to. Some of them even made repeated trips during the Holy Week so that they may intentionally slow down and spend more time with God. 

No registration is required. Please note the opening hours:

• 25 March 2024 (Holy Monday), 2pm to 9pm

• 26 March 2024 (Holy Tuesday), 9am to 9pm

• 27 March 2024 (Holy Wednesday), 9am to 9pm

• 28 March 2024 (Maundy Thursday), 9am to 2pm

As we take this journey to Holy Week this March, will you join us to connect with God so that you may go forth into our workplaces to proclaim the amazing resurrection hope of Easter?

Read also: Working From A Place of Rest

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Working From A Place of Rest

Why do we struggle to observe the Sabbath? How can we learn to offer our work to God as finished and good, and rest as we should? Rev Ian Lee shares the importance of the Sabbath to connect our work to God.

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