Sometimes I catch myself thinking about my clients or staff and saying a quick prayer for them. It’s a habit I have fallen into over the past 35 years managing people and running businesses. Sometimes I wonder if it makes a difference. The reason I can’t say definitively whether prayer works is that I haven’t seen any so-called “miracles” where I have prayed for someone and they have 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 have told me that they are facing a difficult situation in their health, family life or business challenges. Occasionally I will tell them that I will keep them in my prayers, but more often than not I say nothing to them. I have often used prayer in facing my own business struggles over the years. I think I prayed constantly for 3 years when I had a business that was facing serious financial distress. Ultimately, I had to sell my house and down-size 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 have probably prayed for some crazy stuff too; that a staff member that 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 though, a 2016 Angus Reid study http://angusreid.org/prayer-in-canada/ found that in Canada, 42 percent of people pray on a weekly basis and another 44% 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 Larry Dossey, M.D.’s book Healing Words – The power of prayer and the practice of medicine. I had read it 20 years ago and came across it in a pile of old books I was going through. 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 is difficult to determine whether prayer works for our customers and staff, there is research that shows that praying is good for our own health. Harold Koenig M.D., a professor of medicine at Duke University and the author of the Handbook on Religion and Health, says that his research of over 1200 studies found that people who are religious live healthier lives and people that pray tend to get sick less often than those that don’t.
The conclusion I have come to is that praying for 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 is enough to reduce our stress.
Dave Fuller, MBA is a Certified Professional Business Coach and the author of the book Profit Yourself Healthy. Does Prayer work for you? Email email@example.com