I keep a Bible and Book of Common Prayer in my locker at the hospital where I work. I read Morning Prayer at home with my English Standard Version Bible; I have my Africa Study Bible (New Living Translation) at work for Evening Prayer. (No big commentary in sharing that; I just figured you might ask. Both versions have wonderful study features.)
I work 6 PM – 2:30 AM, so it’s easy to find quiet spots to read Evening Prayer on my break. (Yeah, purist, I know I’m pushing into Compline territory. Pray that the Lord not hold it against me!)
Along with all of the benefits that God gives me as I read the Word, the habit of having it at work makes for some uplifting connections with other Christians. People passing by (usually other hospital employees in the wee hours) will make supportive comments or ask what passages or version I’m reading. Makes me appreciate God’s encouragement to Paul in Corinth, …many people in this city belong to me. (Acts 18:10)
The connecting went to a deeper level this week. One of the Housekeeping crew happened to be cleaning the break room while I was reading and praying. She shared that she attends a women’s Bible study and that they were wrestling with how we (Christians) can presume to warn others about their sins when we are all sinners as well.
It was a great opportunity to seek God’s wisdom in the Word and also a chance for me to open my mouth in sentences beginning, Jesus tells us… I noticed that others in the break area began to eavesdrop. I lament that we lack the public speaking venues used by Paul and other missionaries, but in this case God created one in a cluttered workplace break room. It wasn’t me preaching, it was the housekeeper and I discussing a day to day challenge in the light of God’s Word while others were free to listen in.
The next day, the evening readings included 2 Thessalonians 3 :14-15, Take note of those who refuse to obey what we say in this letter. Stay away from them so they will be ashamed. Don’t think of them as enemies, but warn them as you would a brother or sister. I perked up as this was a direct application to the housekeeper’s question.
I saw her in the hallway and shared the verse. While we were talking a guy from the Maintenance Department was rushing by and stopped, gave a listen and joined us, sharing how much he valued Jesus’ teaching in Matthew 18, about seeking to regain your brother rather than immediately enlisting a crowd against someone who sins.
God also uses my Bible reading time to connect me with Sioux Falls’ diverse immigrant population, which includes folks from many parts of Africa. A number of them have been intrigued by the old white man reading the Africa Study Bible. Some immediately identify as Christians and we talk about the churches we attend; others are just fascinated by the ASB and want to know where I got it and how much it cost.
I’ve started asking God to use the prayer time to open a door to non-Christians as well. I’m enjoying the discovery of brothers and sisters in Christ all around me; if it is in God’s will, I hope that these little gatherings will draw others who haven’t heard the Good News.
I share all this not as another abysmal 5 Things Christians MUST Do To Reach Coworkers harangue, but as an encouragement to keep and open a Bible in your workplace. It might have to be in a locker or desk drawer rather than in plain sight, which is great because when it does appear, you’ll be reading it as a real part of your life rather than displaying it as a dust catching Hey look I’m a Christian totem.
Really, what else will you do on a break? Gossip?
You don’t have to do anything except read God’s Word written, which is good for you in and of itself.
But what I’m finding is that God can use the habit in ways we can’t plan or manufacture, and that is an awe inspiring experience of God’s abiding presence and the power of Christ to go out into the world by the work of the Holy Spirit. To God be the glory.