Sometimes I catch myself thinking about my clients or staff and saying a quick prayer for them. It’s a habit I’ve fallen into over the past 35 years of managing people and running businesses.
I wonder if it makes a difference.
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The reason I can’t say definitively whether prayer works is that I haven’t seen any so-called miracles where I’ve prayed for someone and they’ve magically gotten better or their failing business was suddenly thriving.
Usually when I find myself praying for a customer or staff member, it’s because they’ve told me that they face a difficult situation in their health, family life or business.
Occasionally I’ll tell them that I’ll keep them in my prayers, but more often than not I say nothing to them.
I’ve often used prayer when faced with my business struggles over the years. I think I prayed constantly for three years when I had a business that faced serious financial distress. Ultimately, I had to sell my house and downsize to avoid personal financial ruin.
The business eventually turned around as a result of hard work and a loan from my partner. I suspect my prayers were answered as it seems to have worked out well in the end, although in a much different way than I had intended.
I admit that I’ve probably prayed for some crazy stuff, too: that a staff member would find another job because they were bugging me; that someone would come in and buy a pallet of goods so I wouldn’t look stupid for my ordering mistake.
I can’t remember that I ever prayed to win the lottery but I might have.
Before you scoff at the idea of prayer, a 2016 Angus Reid study found that in Canada, 42 per cent of people pray on a weekly basis and another 44 per cent engage in prayer at least once a month.
The reason I got to wondering if praying for customers and staff makes a difference is because I picked up a book by Larry Dossey, MD: Healing Words: The Power of Prayer and the Practice of Medicine. I read it 20 years ago and recently came across it in a pile of old books.
Dossey looks at prayer and medicine from a scientific point of view, going through studies and historical evidence to determine if prayer actually can make a difference in medicine. His conclusion is that prayer does work in helping with medical healing and that prayer, regardless of religious belief, may be effective.
While it’s difficult to determine whether prayer works for our customers and staff, research shows that praying is good for our health. Harold G. Koenig, MD, a professor of medicine at Duke University and the author of the Handbook of Religion and Health, says that his research of over 1,200 studies found that people who are religious live healthier lives and people who pray tend to get sick less often than those that don’t.
The conclusion I’ve come to is that praying for our customers and staff may or may not make a difference for them but it might help you. Prayer slows us down and connects us with a greater power and perhaps that’s enough to reduce our stress.
Dave Fuller, MBA, is an award winning business coach and a partner in the firm Pivotleader Inc. Does prayer work for you? Email firstname.lastname@example.org