Thursday, December 16, 2010

Praying at meetings

I don't go to meetings every day at work. But I almost always have at least a few meetings each week.

Therefore, the start of a meeting is a familiar scene. It takes a few minutes for everyone to gather. Those who are already present engage in relatively superficial conversation. Finally, the leader of the meeting decides that it is time to begin and everyone hones in their focus. That's where I get thrown off.

Many times, it's at this time that I expect everyone at the meeting to bow their head and start to pray, "In the name of the Father and of the ..." But it never happens.

In college, I was involved in Catholic campus ministry, as well as the pro-life group. In those groups, we'd always start our meetings with a prayer. Similarly, if I go to a meeting now at my parish, the first formal thing that we'll do is say a prayer. Even at my home, usually the only time that I am around a table with others is at a meal and we'd always start that gathering with a prayer too.

What would happen if someone did try to start an ordinary business meeting with a prayer? Would others be "offended"? Would he who was praying be ignored? Would he be mocked? Would he be fired? Even if all who were present liked the idea of praying, would there be outcries of "unprofessionalism"?

Perhaps considering "meeting prayers" and how they might be done prudently requires more thought. In the meantime, how can I as an individual surround my meeting experience with prayer? Perhaps I can say my own prayer to myself when the meeting begins. "Lord, may this meeting bring You glory."

Perhaps I can pray for others at the meeting. In many meetings, I have sufficient idle time to think of such intentions.

But at other meetings, I need to be fully engaged. Perhaps at these, I can offer my own participation in the meeting as a prayer.

At any meetings, perhaps I might pray that my interaction with others at the meeting, whether receiving their perspective or standing up for my own, might be done with love. May my time at meeting, like all of my time at work, be blessed, and may it help me to grow in holiness.

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