I happen to be a real big fan of prayer. Fortunately, I grew up learning to do it, maybe not even realizing what a phenomenal impact it had on my life. In spite of my belief in it, I have tried to objectively investigate over the years the effectiveness of prayer on the part of job seekers. Now, I don’t ask every candidate that I’ve ever interviewed if they pray. I’ve got enough of a challenge in trying to listen to them and help them find a job. But when you consider that I’ve interviewed more than 26,000 candidates since 1973 and been successful at placing more than 10,000 of them, you can imagine that I often get into some pretty serious conversations with candidates about some of the things they do to cope with the emotional anxiety of finding a job.
I’ve written before about the fact that looking for a job, next to death of a spouse, death of a child, death of a parent, coupled with divorce is one of the most emotionally challenging things we do. I’ve observed thousands of different ways that people cope with the emotional strain that is caused by the job search.
Maybe it’s because I look for it and am very sensitive to it, but I’ve come to the conclusion, after listening to so many people, that prayer has a significantly positive and uplifting impact on the emotional challenge of finding a job. I am absolutely convinced that it does.
What’s even more interesting is that I have been able to find that there is one certain manner of prayer that seems to be most effective. This will blow your mind, but based on what I’ve listened to from my candidates, it is a fact. There are some people that pray for outcomes. Actually pray that they find a job. But what seems to be most effective is to pray for acceptance of whatever happens in the job search process.
People who pray for outcomes that may not come about don’t get the interview or the job they prayed for, and can have a tendency to become disappointed that “God did not give them what they wanted.” This makes prayer a very difficult, quid pro quo with God. Then, when the outcome isn’t experienced, there’s bound to be disappointment, and maybe disappointment in God.
The people that seem to get the most out of prayer are those people who pray for acceptance of whatever happens. They pray something along the line of, “Dear Lord, grant me thy peace and thy mercy, thy will be done.” They pray to do their best in every job search endeavor. They pray for guidance and help in writing the best resume they can, they pray to get as many interviews as they possibly can and they pray, especially, to perform well on those interviews and pray to perform well for each interview to the next step. They don’t pray so much for a positive outcome of each event as much as they pray that they do the best they can in the process of finding a job and accepting the result for just what it is, whether they get the job or not. If they don’t get the job, they pray for more enlightenment or to learn from their mistakes or to do better the next chance they get.
St. Ignatious of Loyola prayed for what he called “holy indifference”. It is detachment… remaining indifferent to the results…accepting rejection…refusal…and being ignored…accepting being lied to…being forgotten…and all of the other things that wind up happening in a job search.
My wife, Chrissy, calls it ”holy acceptance”. It is accepting what you may not like and can’t control …not getting what you want, but wanting what you get. It is the serenity prayer: “God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, Courage to change the things I can, And wisdom to know the difference.” Or the prayer of St. Theresa: “May you trust God that you are exactly where you are meant to be!”
One of my teachers, Jim Rhone, used to say, “Don’t pray that life will get easier, pray that you will get better.” This is a perfect prayer for a job search.
Well, I’m sure you get the point. Now, I’m not trying to go from teaching to preaching. I’m not trying to sell you that prayer in a job search or anything else like it is going to revolutionize your endeavor. But I am here to testify that I’ve seen prayer make a phenomenal difference in people’s job search.