We, in this technologically connected world, have the perverse opportunity to work all the time. That can be exhausting, and the temptation may be to seek solitude when it comes time to do things like read Scripture and pray — perhaps a place outside, by a lake or in the mountains, away from the ordinary.
While there is nothing wrong with communing with God in quiet and beautiful places, such spaces do not tend to be where we live most of our everyday lives. And this thinking perpetuates our own personal divisions between the sacred and the secular.
But by embracing our ordinary lives for what they are, we can become attentive to God in the midst of the work, in the midst of the ordinary. If God cared enough to show up at wells and in bushes, on boats and in kitchens, at meals and in vineyards, then certainly, he can show up in spreadsheets, commutes, meetings, and performance reviews. Our ever-present God is with us in hard manual labor, in our classrooms or offices, and in dingy convenience stores. The creator is the author of work; so whatever and wherever your work is, the Lord can communicate to you, use you, and transform you in the midst of it.
What we consider work is that which God has called you to do for his glory, in a particular place and time, for the sake of loving those around you. So, whether you are paid for your work or not — if you are a stay-at-home parent, a retiree who volunteers, an adult who cares for an elderly parent, someone looking for employment, or a student — you can engage in spiritual practices in your everyday workplace.
How? One way is through engaging in spiritual disciplines in the context of our work itself, rather than only in quiet times of solitude away from everyday demands. For example, if you work outside the home you may want to develop a liturgy of commute during your travel to and from the workplace. As you enter into your workplace, you might orient yourself with a physical reminder that since God is always present, your workplace is holy ground. Gratitude, celebration, confession, and lament can all be practiced while you engage in work. And at the end of your workday you might use a prayer of examen to identify the ways in which God met you at work, or reflect on God’s provision through the regular practice of Sabbath.
These practices are not just more tasks to add to your to-do list but are rather to be incorporated into the fabric of your working day and week.
The ordinary is not just something we exist in but is something that God is calling us into. Engaging in spiritual practices in the midst of the ordinary can be a catalyst for experiencing God in deeply profound ways. In so doing, you will become more attentive to your work, to the people with whom you work, and to God himself, who cares deeply about all of it.