‘Prosper the work of my hands’

by Fletcher Lowe

“Prosper the work of our hands,” the Psalmist prays (90:17).

How often do we as Christians consider what the Psalmist asks: Connecting the use of our hands with our spiritual lives. In washing dishes, driving a car, using a computer (as I am now). In the work of the carpenter, the nurse, the surgeon, the chef, the manual laborer.

Our hands are a crucial part of our lives.  Just imagine losing the use of them, like a quadriplegic friend of mine who can no longer do even the simplest tasks with his hand!  Now don’t let me overplay this, but let’s pause a moment and reflect on that connection.

Martin Luther reflected that the handmaid on her knees scrubbing the kitchen floor was doing work that is just as sacred as the work of the priest kneeling at the altar saying Mass.  We’re back to hands, again:  Sacred hands, those of the handmaid as well as those of the priest.

The issue: How do we as Christians re-establish the connection between our daily “secular” lives and our “sacred” lives? How do we recognize that our distinctions between “sacred” work and “not-sacred” work might be artificial?

For many years as a priest I have been visiting parishioners where they work. We discuss the connection between their Sunday church lives and their Monday work lives.  Many experience an “aha!” where they make the connection they had not sensed before. They begin to realize that, as Christians, what they do in their office is just as sacred as anything else in their lives – including church. (handmaid/priest)

It does lead to a different perspective/worldview (“Thy Kingdom come”), when my job is seen in the wider context of my relationship to God. That shifted perspective puts a new light on all we do. Then we join the Psalmist, asking God to bless the world and all creation through our work: “Prosper the work of my hands, O Lord.”

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