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A Case Study

drawing of fulton street prayer meeting

The Fulton Street Prayer Meetings
and the Revival of 1857/58:
The Workplace Connection

A powerful revival occurred in 1857 and 1858. Sometimes known as the
“Businessmen’s Revival” by its contemporaries, a distinctive aspect of the revival was the extraordinary popularity of noon prayer meetings organized and led by business people. These meetings built on the pattern established by the Fulton Street Prayer Meetings.

There are important lessons that can be drawn from this success of this movement and the manner in which the prayer meetings were organized.

This is an updated version of an earlier article.

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New Small Group Curriculum

Transforming Work book cover

Introducing Our New Small Group Guide

The Transforming Work: Spiritual Renewal in Our Work Lives study guide can help you think about the serious work issues you face and how your own faith or spirituality might help. It is designed for people who take their work seriously and would like their faith or spirituality to be an important resource that informs and supports them in their daily work. The guide can be used in small groups and for individual study.

The guide contains 12 sessions, each directed at a practical work issue. Each session includes an opportunity for prayer, a passage of scripture that might offer a new point of view on a serious work issue, commentary and questions designed to encourage reflection and discussion, and suggestions for the coming workweek. The appendix includes advice for new groups and new group leaders.

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Work-Related Burnout

Photo of man facing burnout

Elijah in the Wilderness

After a prolonged struggle with King Ahab and the priests of Baal, the great prophet Elijah was completely exhausted. He journeyed by himself into the desert and asked God to take his life; he then lay down under a broom tree and fell asleep, awaiting death. Elijah’s friends and allies were gone, he had failed to save Israel, and he was too tired to go on.

But an angel sent by God awoke Elijah and gave him food and drink. After more rest, the angel brought Elijah to Mount Horeb to meet God in a cave.

After experiencing a great wind, a powerful earthquake, and a fire, Elijah encountered sheer silence within which he heard the voice of God sending him back out to fulfill his calling. And so Elijah, refreshed, returned with power to the world and did indeed fulfill his calling from God. (Adapted from 1 Kings 19)

From our vantage point, it is easy to see Elijah as an extreme case of work-related burnout. He was exhausted, he was without friends, and he felt like a failure. Burnout is a big problem; if we have not experienced it ourselves, we probably will at some point in the future and in any case we probably know somebody who is confronting burnout right now. But there are things that we can do.

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Leisure and the Sabbath

Hammock in the Garden

The Gift of Rest and Renewal.

Most of us know that we could benefit from periodically taking time off from our work and responsibilities, and enjoying a time of rest and renewal. But that does not make it easy to do.

The Biblical idea of the Sabbath, of taking one day of rest each week, can be a great gift to us – a day of rest and refreshment, a day when we can recharge and replenish, a day that might even lead us into the rhythm of a richer, fuller life.

We should see it as a gift, not as a set of rules and obligations.

If we can take some time off each week, and really let go of our work and our obligations, we will find that the Sabbath is a great gift to us, and that it can help us move towards a richer, fuller, less stressful life.(Time 9:11)
Listen:
iTunes / Stitcher / Google Play or

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We Need More Silence!

Photo man praying in silenceWriting in the Harvard Business Review Online (The Busier You Are, the More You Need Silence), Justin Talbot-Zorn and Leigh Marz lay out the arguments for why busy people need more quiet time.

According to the authors, research shows that “taking the time for silence restores the nervous system, helps sustain energy, and conditions our minds to be more adaptive and responsive to the complex environments in which so many of us live, work and lead.” They provide selected references from both neuroscience and psychology.

They make a number of concrete recommendations involving ways to build more quiet time into our busy lives. These range from five minutes of meditation and reflection during the work day to longer quiet periods such as an afternoon spent in nature or a weekend meditation retreat.

In this article, Talbot-Zorn and Marz focus exclusively on the secular benefits of intentional silence, not the religious and spiritual. This is understandable given that they are writing for a general business audience; I might do the same.

But I think this exclusively secular approach leaves out an important aspect of intentional silence — the spiritual experience it sometimes evokes. . .

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Carrying Too Much Stress?

Photo of stressed woman

Maybe your body can help.

There’s a lot of talk about spiritual practices, especially prayer and meditation, that can help us deal with stress.

But there’s another approach that might help — connecting with our bodies.

In a recent Harvard Business Review article, Leah Weiss of the Stanford Graduate School of Business and Hope Lab, recommends some things to help us become anchored in our bodies, as a way of dealing with work related stress. She recommends things like paying attention to a single intentional breath, noting our physical response to stressful situations, and magnifying small, physical pleasures — like the first sip of coffee.

There’s more and the article can be found here.

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The Examen: A Practice for Becoming Spiritually Alert

Photo of man looking out window.There are spiritual practices that might help us become alert to the spiritual aspects of our daily lives; one especially powerful one is called the Examen.

The Examen was developed by Ignatius of Loyola about 500 years ago. He developed as a way of knowing when we seem to be moving towards God, and when we seem to be moving away from God. The practice involves looking at our recent life (perhaps the most recent day or half day) in considerable detail, and being alert to spiritual clues. Join us as we discuss how this practice might be helpful to us today.
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Spirituality and the State of Flow

flowMost if us are familiar with the expression being in the zone, and in fact most have probably experienced it at some point. Psychologists usually refer to it as being in a state of flow. It is usually thought of as involving a higher level of alertness, concentration, and maybe skill. Most also remember it as a very positive experience.

The state of flow is not often thought of as spiritual but there is a possible relationship that is worth exploring, and in any case the concept has a lot to say about human flourishing and growth.

We discuss flow and its causes, benefits, and connection with our faith and spirituality in a new article and on the podcast episode linked below.
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Workplace Stress: Can a Spiritual Practice Known as the Prayer Mantra Help?

photo of back of praying women's headWorkplace stress is a common problem with important consequences for both our health and our effectiveness. A spiritual practice known as the prayer mantra can help us calm down, place our problems in a more realistic perspective, and act with greater strength, insight, and resilience. It can also help us stay on track at other times. (Time: 6:52)
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Flow and Spirituality

Flow 2 1As we think about healthy, productive, and fulfilling work, Mihaly Csikszentmihali’s concept of flow comes to mind.  Flow (sometimes referred to as “being in the zone”) is not often thought of as spiritual but there is a potential relationship that is worth exploring, and in any case the concept has a lot to say about human flourishing and growth.

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