Work and Prayer

The Angelus (1857-1859) by Jean-François Millet.

The Angelus (1857-1859) by Jean-François Millet. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)


When the holy Abba Anthony lived in the desert he was beset by accidie, and attacked by many sinful thoughts. He said to God, ‘Lord, I want to be saved but these thoughts do not leave me alone; what shall I do in my affliction?  How can I be saved?’ A short while afterwards, when he got up to go out, Anthony saw a man like himself sitting at his work, getting up from his work to pray, then sitting down and plaiting a rope, then getting up again to pray.   It was an angel of the Lord sent to correct and reassure him.  He heard the angel saying to him, ‘Do this and you will be saved.’ At these words, Anthony was filled with joy and courage.  He did this, and he was saved.

—–Sayings of the Desert Fathers


What would life look like for you and me if we truly dedicated ourselves to work and prayer? At first glance it looks a little bit dreary, but with further thought it may begin to make a lot of sense. Most of us spend a great deal of time and money trying to figure out how to entertain ourselves. Another great goal is becoming a successful and productive person. If we truly dedicated our lives to work and prayer, I think both of those issues would be resolved. We would find ourselves very successful and productive, and with prayer very much at peace and rested. For a few days , let’s just try this work/prayer pattern and see what happens.


Lord let me see my work as prayer. This day I dedicate myself to be a person of prayerful work, that is, one who does my very best at every task that comes my way. Help me to truly see my work as sent from you as a way of loving me. In this I will find productivity and peace. It is only through this trust  that I can come to see the fullness of your grace.

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Filed under Advent, Advent Devotional, Antony of Egypt, Christian Living, Desert Fathers, Monasticism

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