This stressful work relationships prayer strategy will help you gain God’s help and guidance in dealing with relationship problems at work. According to the American Institute of Stress, people issues are the second leading cause of stress at work.
People issues can come from any person you work with. You might have issues with your boss, your co- workers, those you are managing, board members, local planning board members you interface with or customers and big account holders. Any of these people you interface with can clash with you and lead to stressful workplace relationships. Even family members of someone in the workplace can meddle in your work relationships!.
Here is a stressful work relationships prayer for you. We recommend that you have a pen and paper or take notes on a secure home computer to write down some of the thoughts and ideas that God sends your way as you pray about your stressful work strategy. Once you’ve taken notes on your conversation with God you will have a record that will help you see progress. You can also use it to make shorter more general prayers such as this, “God, I am entrusting all of the details on my prayer plan to you today.”
Also, there’s a lot of prayer territory to cover all at once, so it’s best to break it up into several sessions. Once you‘ve prayed through it once, pray over whichever part of it God brings to your mind after that.
Step One: Pray for discernment from God for signs of a relationship problem to make a stressful work relationships prayer strategy.
The purpose of this step of the prayer strategy is to identify specifically when a stressful work relationship is present, uncovering the specific person and the signs they displaying that show that you are in a stressful relationship with them.
Although this may seem like something that you already know, perhaps you have never prayerfully considered who is behind stressful work relationships.
Pray “God show me the person or groups of people who are causing stressful work relationships.” The more specific we are when we pray for help and direction, the more specific the help God can give us. If God brings more than one person to mind, pray for them one at a time, starting with the one with whom you interface the most or with whom you are having the most trouble. The act of naming this person to God in prayer can be very powerful, letting you speak honestly with God and opening your relationship up to God’s help.
Pray “God, show me the obvious signs of a relationship issue.” Tell God the obvious signs that you’re having a relationship problem with this person and how these problems make you feel. The act of telling God your observations and feelings will bring you a sense of relief as you trust yourself and your problems into God’s care.
Often work relationship problems can cause us to feel isolated, alone and powerless. Praying is a way of reminding your heart, mind and spirit that God cares and that you are not alone. Here are some of the obvious signs of a relationship issue: tone of voice, abrupt behavior, angry outbursts, ignoring you, complaints, being uncooperative, being critical, being judgmental, blaming you frequently, making unreasonable demands, lack of gratitude for the work you do, abrasive personality etc.
Pray “God show me the less obvious signs of a relationship issue.” This is a particularly crucial topic of prayer because sometimes people behave in ways that are hidden. People can be great actors, putting on a good front but secretly harboring all kinds of grudges and contrary opinions. This holds especially true in the workplace.
Here are some of the not-so-obvious signs of relationship issues to ask God about: someone giving the “cold shoulder” and ignoring you, gossiping about you to others, putting you down in conversations with others, secretly sabotaging your other relationships or your work projects, excluding you from conversations, meetings or social events, patterns of past behavior that continue to reoccur etc.
Step 2: Pray for God’s wisdom as to the causes behind the problem to make a stressful work relationships prayer strategy.
Once you have identified in prayer the person with whom you are having a stressful work relationship, ask God to show you the causes behind it.
Ask God if the problem is one sided. As you pray, God may show you that the cause is totally one-sided. The cause might arise from the values, insecurities, ambitions and prejudices of the person causing you difficulty. On the other hand, the major cause might be on your side of the equation such as being overly sensitive or overstepping your authority.
Ask God if it’s a personality clash. God might show you that the problems are being caused by a clash between you and your work associate because you are individuals who are polar opposites in personality, values, lifestyle, life outlook, faith etc.
Ask God if it’s an emotional response on either side. God might show you that personal emotions are involved with envy/jealousy being top of the list. Sometimes people or events stir up old unresolved emotional problems that get projected onto others, causing over-reactions. Sometimes people feel wronged, disrespected or insulted. Sometimes it only takes one emotional reaction or over-reaction to strain a relationship.
Ask God if the one of you is going through personal difficulties. Sometimes God shows you that the other person is going through personal difficulties that you don’t know about that is causing them to not be able to handle their jobs and work relationships like they usually do. Examples of personal difficulties can include romantic break ups, family problems, illnesses, money problems, abuse, drug addiction, death of a family member, infertility, chronic pain and mental health issues such as anxiety and depression. On the other hand, you may be the one with personal difficulties that are affecting your ability to tolerate stress and pressure.
Ask God to show you if there are any specific incidents that have happened between you and your work associate that have caused a rift. If a specific incident comes to your mind, relive the incident prayerfully, imagining God in the picture or inviting the Holy Spirit to come into the memory and heal and enlighten you.
If whatever happened isn’t on your radar screen, ask God to reveal to you the time when you first noticed the problem and ask God to give you insight into what it might be.
Ask God to show you if it’s a misunderstanding or communication problem. Sometimes relationships have problems because of assumptions and lack of clear communications. Workplaces are especially prone to these kinds of problems because communications are often done electronically through email etc. Also, the ability to communicate well varies between individuals. Ask God to give you a better understanding on how to better communicate with your work associate.
Step 3: Pray to discover the specific ways the problem relationship is affecting you, the person involved and others to make a stressful work relationships prayer plan.
Asking God to help you become aware of the effects this stressful work relationship is having will help you determine how quickly and how proactively to begin addressing it. Take stress seriously! As an example, if this issue is dramatically affecting your ability to do your job or adversely affecting your health or personal time outside of work it is probably serious enough to consider a strong action plan.
Ask God how deeply this problem relationship is affecting your health. Studies show that stress has an adverse effect on your physical and mental health. Stress may even kill you! Stress can lead to heart attacks, stroke, high blood pressure and lower your immune system. It can also lead to depression, anxiety and substance abuse.
Ask God how much this problem relationship is affecting your personal and home life. Being stressed out at work can leave you drained, irritable and unable to be there for your family or friends. Ask God to help you see what kinds of things you’re doing or not doing during your off hours because of your stressful work relationship. Also, ask a friend or a family member to honestly tell you what they’ve observed. Again, your home life and your spiritual life are your emotional core and they shouldn’t be sacrificed for a stressful work relationship.
Ask God how much this problem is affecting your productivity and your ability to do your job. Ask God to help you see how this stressful work relationship is affecting your job performance. How much time during the day are you forced to deal with this problem? Is this problem interrupting your ability to concentrate? Is it causing you to miss meetings? Are you doing time consuming work-arounds to avoid this person?
Ask God how much this problem is affecting your co-workers and the work environment. Prayerfully consider what impact this issue is having on your workplace. Are fellow workers choosing sides, gossiping or avoiding each other? Have courtesy, professionalism and cordiality suffered? Have your customers noticed? Have meetings turned into showdowns and power struggles? Has teamwork suffered?
Step 4: Pray for God’s direction in specific actions you can take to make a stressful work relationships prayer strategy.
Although you may feel that your stressful work relationship problem is too hard to solve, there are always steps you can take in the right direction. You’ll be surprised how long the list is of things that God might help you do to lessen the strain of your stressful work relationships. We have more than 25 listed here!
You can use this list in a number of ways. You can quickly skim the list and ask God to highlight one in your mind to pray about today. You can choose to consider two or three of the prayer suggestions at a time. Or you can start on the ones that you have already thought about trying.
Whatever the case, the key is to go over this prayerfully, bringing God into your situation. Writing down your prayers or the answering thoughts that come to your mind can be extremely helpful. Looking up the Bible verses and Googling other wisdom in the Bible is helpful. Here is a list of the types of things God might direct you to do.
Pray for the other person. Bringing the person’s name before God is vital if you want to solve your relationship problems. There’s no right or wrong way to do this. You can say a short prayer such as, “Lord bless ________.“ Or you can say a longer prayer as the Spirit leads. This may seem counterintuitive, but Jesus tells us, “But I tell you: love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you.” (Matthew 5:44 NIV) Jesus goes on to say that our true strength of faith is found in praying for those we don’t like, because it’s easy to love those who love you.
I have used this strategy in many cases over the years where I have a relationship problem with someone. I’ve found it works over time. The longer you pray for someone, the more God works. Here are written prayers you can pray for your boss or your coworkers.
Receive counsel from a mentor or clergy person. Ask God if there’s someone outside of your workplace you can go to for counsel. God might direct you to a trusted friend, a family member, a professional counselor or a clergy person. Make sure that the person you are talking with will keep things strictly confidential. As an added benefit, this person can pray with you and for you about this situation.
Take the issue to those in authority at work. God may direct you to speak to someone at work who has the power to intervene in this situation. This is a fairly serious step to take so make sure that you do it using the right protocol, communication mode and wording. Keep it very professional and to the point about specific behaviors.
Ask God to keep your emotions in check and take a time out if you’re tempted to escalate the problem to your boss in the heat of the moment. It’s often a good idea to write out what you want to say beforehand to keep yourself on track. The Bible tells us, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, for man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires.” (James 1:19,20 NIV)
Have a one-on-one conversation with the person involved. Ask God if you should speak to the person privately to express your concerns. Relationship experts advise using “I” statements vs. accusatory “you” statements. Here’s an example, of a “you” statement that might make someone defensive: “You are always speak over me at meetings before I get a chance to finish.” Here’s how the same communication using an “I” statement would sound : Whenever you speak over me at meetings I feel frustrated because I didn’t get a chance to finish.” By putting the conversation on these terms, the person can’t brush it off and say that the issue isn’t a problem because it’s definitely causing a problem to your personal feelings.
Jesus advises using the following procedure dealing with issues between people in the church: “If your brother sins against you, go and show him his fault, just between the two of you. If he listens to you, you have won your brother over. But if he will not listen, take one or two others along, so that ‘every matter may be established by the testimony of two or three witness.’” (Matthew 18:15,16 NIV)
Offer kind words, an apology or do an act of kindness. If you discover that the other person thinks you have done something to wrong them sometimes God might direct you to offer kind words. The Bible says, “A gentle word turns away wrath but a harsh word stirs up anger.” (Proverbs 15:1 NIV) The Bible also says, “Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; then come and offer your gift.” (Matthew 5:23,24 NIV) Notice that this verse turns the tables on us, telling us to make the effort to reconcile with someone who has something against us, not the other way around.
Structure your work habits to avoid unnecessary interface with the person. Ask God to show you ways that you can go about your business in a way that limits your contact with the other person. In the Bible, God told the wise men to travel home a different route that avoided going through Jerusalem where Herod was awaiting their return so he find out where they found baby Jesus so Herod could kill him. (See Matthew 2:12)
Use Portal praying before encountering the person. Portal praying is the name I’ve given to prayers said before you walk through a doorway. A salesman I knew told me that he stopped momentarily and said a brief prayer for God’s guidance before entering the office door of a client. Make it a habit of saying a brief prayer every time you enter the person’s office or cubicle or before you enter a conference room or work center where the person will be present.
Use arrow prayers during an encounter. Arrow prayers are quick prayers shot up to God in the middle of interfaces and conversations as the action is going on. I’ve used arrow prayers on many occasions in tense meetings and during difficult conversations. Mine are usually very short and to the point, “Lord, help me!” or “Lord, settle me down.”
Ask for prayer support from others. Knowing that others are praying for you during your stressful work relationship is a true source of strength. There are many ways to receive prayer. You might be part of a prayer group where others pray for you or you might put in a request to a prayer chain. As a word of caution, try to put your request in general terms so as not to spread ill will toward your work associate. You might simply say you need prayer on a work problem or you might say that you‘re struggling with how to deal with a relationship in your life. Here’s more information on how to ask for and receive confidential prayer
You can also ask your prayer supporters to pray for you on a certain day or at a certain time when you know you will need God’s help.
Ask for mediation. Ask God if you should seek mediation. In mediation, a neutral third party works with the people involved to try and resolve their differences. This person doesn’t judge the merits of each person’s case but rather helps them find a middle ground.
Contact the personnel employee assistance department. Ask for God’s direction as to whether or not you need the help of the personnel department or employee assistance department.
Consider a job transfer. Ask God about whether you should seek a job transfer. This is obviously a big step which needs much prayer and consideration. Bear in mind, you could trade your old stressful work situation for a new one, but at least you’ll have a fresh start and will be better prepared with a prayer plan on how to deal with stressful work situations.
Consider looking for another job. Ask God if it’s time to look for a new job. This is a huge step to take that requires wholeheartedly seeking God’s direction plus having prayer support and mentors helping you in your process of discernment.
Ask for grace and the Fruit of the Spirit. Ask God to give you the Fruit of the Spirit, which is available to all believers. The Bible tells us, “But the fruit of the Sprit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22 NIV)
Ask God to use you as a witness to them of Christlike behavior. Pray that you might be able to exhibit Christ-like behavior toward your co-worker while God is helping you work toward a solution. In one teaching, Jesus said to “turn the other cheek” when someone wronged you. (Matthew 5:39) An example of this might be if someone insults you, you simply don’t pay them back in kind. The Bible says, “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not take revenge, my friends, but leave room for God’s wrath.” (Romans 12:17-19 NIV)
Take an interest in their wellbeing. The Bible says, “If you enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink. In doing so you will heap burning coals on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 12:20, 21 NIV)
Set boundaries. Ask God what boundaries you need to set with the person causing your stressful work relationship. Jesus set boundaries all during his earthly ministry, especially when people tried to push him into doing things that he wasn’t sent to do or doing things before the right time. The Bible says, “Discretion will protect you, and understanding will guard you. Wisdom will save you from the ways of wicked men, from men whose words are perverse.” ( Proverbs 2:11,12 NIV)
Pray for daily protection using the whole armor of God. Ephesians says, “Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything to stand. Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God.” (Ephesians 6:13-17 NIV)
Ask for God’s protection. There are many promises in the Bible that God will protect you. Pray them daily for yourself. Here’s an example: “So do not fear, for I am with you; do not be dismayed, for I am your God. I will strengthen you and help you; I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10 NIV)
Ask God to show you ways to nourish your soul and balance your life. Self-care is extremely important when you’re under stress. Small things can make a big difference, such as time with friends, family and pets, doing volunteer work etc. Ways to nourish yourself spiritually include joining a sharing group, attending worship regularly and doing Christian meditation in nature. Jesus says, “I am the bread of life. He who comes to me will never go hungry, and he who believes in me will never be thirsty.” ( John 6:35 NIV)
Ask God about starting a prayer time or a prayer group at work. If your employer allows it, forming a prayer group with other colleagues before work or during lunch can be a force for positive change. Such a prayer group would be able to help you pray for each other and other members of your team. A word of warning: don’t make the focus of the group personal problems between co-workers.
If it’s not possible to form a prayer group, establish a prayer time by arriving at your workplace early to pray. One woman who arrives early turns on her computer and types out her prayers and then erases them so she will appear busy enough that others won’t disturb her.
Ask God if you should seek a legal remedy. This is reserved for the worst case scenario. In extreme cases laws may have been broken such as laws against sexual harassment or discrimination or providing handicap accommodations or hazardous working conditions. If legal proceeding do start, the Bible tells us to be open to settlement before getting to court. “What you have seen with your eyes do not bring hastily to court, for what will you do in the end if your neighbor puts you to shame?” (Proverbs 25:8 NIV)
Accused people can be excellent liars. As an example, I once supported a someone whose friend was praying through a long term problem which led to legal proceedings to divorce her abusive husband. We specifically prayed that her husband’s true nature would be revealed during the proceedings. Here’s a prayer to discern whether someone is lying about you.
Practice thanksgiving. Praising God and thanking him frequently helps you to keep your mind focused on the positives. The Bible tells us that God inhabits praise. (Psalm 22:3) When you are praising and thanking God, you are in his loving presence and not focused on your earthly problems.
Ask God for step by step guidance one day at a time. In my experience with prayer I have found that God often leads us one step at a time. Not only that, but often the next step isn’t given to you until you take the first step. If you never take the first step, nothing will change in your situation. If you do take the first step, the next step will sometimes present itself quite naturally and fluidly.
You’ll find an interesting example of this in the Bible in Acts 8:26 -38. In this account, a believer named Philip was told by an angel to go south on a particular road. He went, not knowing why he was going or where it might lead. When he got there he encountered a man from Ethiopia who eventually was baptized into Christianity right there on the road.
Cling to God’s promises. Pray and claim God’s promises for yourself, starting with this one, “No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” ( I Corinthians 10 :13 NIV)
Ask God to show you how to settle on a mutual compromise with the person you have conflicts with. The word compromise means “an agreement or a settlement of a dispute that is reached by each side making concessions.” Obviously there are some things that aren’t negotiable, such as your values, safety, health, faith etc. Pray and ask God to show you where the middle ground is between you.
The Bible tells us to do try settling things as quickly as we can before things escalate. The Bible says, “Settle matters quickly with your adversary who is taking you to court. Do it while you are still with him on the way, or he may hand you over to the judged, and the judge may hand you over to the officer, and you may be thrown in prison.” (Matthew 5:25 NIV)
Ask God to use the situation to help you grow in faith and dependence on God. A writer friend of mine says that she’s closest to God during the worst times in her life because she knows that her situation is so totally out of her control that she can’t possibly handle it without God.
The apostle Paul had an ongoing painful problem that never went away. Here’s what he said, “Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it (an unnamed problem only described as a ‘thorn in the flesh’) away from me. But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore, I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, For Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong.” (2 Corinthians 12:8-10 NIV)
My personal experiences with stressful work relationships prayer
Early on in my career I learned a number of lessons about stressful workplace relationships the hard way. Our boss was a person who was very controlling and who used intimidation instead of praise and encouragement.
This type of management style has ripple effects across the whole enterprise. This boss chose favorites and promoted people based on their unquestioning loyalty to him. One woman was elevated to the post of second in command. She was young and never challenged him and used her authority to do his bidding.
When employees feel they are unappreciated and disrespected like we did, it leads to unrest, discouragement, rumors, lack of respect, low morale and gossip. The rumor started making the rounds that the boss was having an affair with the woman who was second in command.
As a result of this unverified rumor, no one was the friend of the woman. Gossip swirled daily saying she wasn’t qualified for her position because she lacked the expected educational degree and work experience for her position.
This gossip was nearly a daily topic in the small private work space shared by myself and several other co -workers. We nit-picked everything that the boss and his second in command did. We resented it when the woman observed our work during evaluations. It almost became a them-against-us situation. Our workplace was a total mess because of stressful work relationships.
Now that I’m older and wiser, I wish I had prayed more. If I had prayed more, I might not have been so easily led by my department supervisor to form low opinions about the boss and his right-hand woman. If I had prayed about it, God could have shown me that this was something that I could easily ignore on a day to day basis because I only rarely had to interface with the boss or his second in command and I had a good relationship with my immediate supervisor. I could have thanked God for this and lived peacefully within myself and with others and gone on doing a good job for our customers.
If I had prayed more, I might not have believed the gossip and I wouldn’t have been so eager to hear the latest details. I also would have prayed for my boss, the woman who was second in command, my co-workers, our customers and myself.
Looking back, I can also thank God for the lifelines he sent me that I didn’t even know I needed. A Christian woman moved in right down the street from me and we started carpooling together to the office. She was able to help me see the situation in the light of our Christian faith. I was in a church where I received Christian nurture. I had a husband who was experienced with work situations who could support and counsel me. After two years God removed me entirely from the stressful work relationships when my husband was transferred to a different city.
I’m sharing this experience with you to show why prayer is so vital during stressful work relationships. Also, I hope it points out to you that God can be at work in ways that you may not notice right now. In your stressful work relationships, you don’t have to regret that you didn’t pray more like I do. Start now. God is listening and he’s ready to guide and help you.
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Copyright Karen Barber 2019. All rights reserved.