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Tuesday, 15 November 2016

Start:Stop - prayer and religion rank high among the best stress busters

Bible reading

… while the promise of entering his rest is still open, let us take care that none of you should seem to have failed to reach it … a sabbath rest still remains for the people of God; for those who enter God’s rest also cease from their labours as God did from his. Let us therefore make every effort to enter that rest, so that no one may fall through such disobedience as theirs. (Hebrews 4. 1, 9 – 11)


There is a growing body of research which suggests that prayer and religion rank high among the best stress busters. Use of a prayer/quiet room for meditation, reflection or prayer on a regular basis can assist greatly in the management of stress. “It is now widely accepted that those organisations which have a ‘spiritually-friendly’ culture, show universally lower than average rates of absenteeism, workplace stress and staff turnover” (Source: Spiritual Care Matters NHS Scotland, 2009).

This is significant because workers in the UK took an average of 5.3 days off work in 2012, according to the 2013 CBI/Pfizer Fit for Purpose survey, with stress, anxiety and depression given as the main causes of absence. Research undertaken by Roffey Park in the past, has indicated that nearly three-quarters of workers are interested in "learning to live the spiritual side of their values" and 53% are experiencing tensions between "the spiritual side of their values and their work".

By running Start:Stop once a week we are seeking to suggest that even a little rest or short breaks on a regular basis can be a life-saver in a frantic world where our endless tasks can easily consume us 24-7. Those of you who start your day by stopping for ten minutes of quiet reflection once a week tell us that these brief moments of reflection at the beginning of the day set you up for the busyness and business of the rest of your day. We all urgently need to learn to slow down and stop … and breathe. As Isaiah 30:15 says, ‘In return and rest you shall be saved.’ When we do slow down, stop and breathe for a moment, we are practising the fourth commandment in our contemporary age.

So, here, at St Stephen Walbrook, we want to take our experience of providing Start:Stop out of this church building and into the City’s workplaces to make a difference to the way people work here in the City by offering Start:Stop and other provision to businesses locally. For example, we recently hosted ‘Women in the City,’ an event which highlighted women’s involvement in the civic, cultural, charitable and social opportunities in the City of London and argued that gender balance on boards encourages better leadership and governance. We wish to work more fully with a range of organisations in the City to celebrate and encourage greater diversity. We wish to offer the best from our heritage of wisdom and spirituality in a way which can impact businesses through cultural understanding, diversity and openness, workplace spirituality, pastoral care and stress management. The leaflet entitled plus+ that we have given you today explains what we are offering and we would be grateful if you could consider whether it is something that could be shared with your organisation.

Roffey Park’s research indicated that 70% of managers are looking for more meaning in their work. Our lives are not simply about having enough to survive; the meeting of our basic needs. God wants us to see a deeper level of meaning, significance, shape and purpose to our lives. That includes sufficient rest and return. As the letter to the Hebrews reminds us, the promise of entering God’s rest is still open - a sabbath rest still remains for the people of God – so let us therefore make every effort to enter that rest.


Lord God, we ask you to be our Pace Setter, enabling us not to rush. Make us stop and rest for quiet intervals and provide us with images of stillness which restore our serenity. Lead us in ways of efficiency, through calmness of mind; for your guidance is peace. Even though we have a great many things to accomplish each day, enable us not to fret for your presence is with us; your timelessness and all-importance will keep us in balance.

O Lord, you know how busy I must be this day. If I forget you, do not forget me.

Prepare refreshment and renewal in the midst of our activity, by anointing our heads with your oils of tranquillity. May our cup of joyous energy overflow, as harmony and effectiveness become the fruit of our hours, as we walk in the pace of our Lord and dwell in your house for ever.

O Lord, you know how busy I must be this day. If I forget you, do not forget me.

Reveal and bring meaning, purpose, shape and significance to our lives. Keep us alert to this deeper level of life and not solely focused on the meeting of our basic needs. Ensure that a focus of getting will not prevent us from seeing and receiving what you are already giving to us. Inspire us to seek meaning and shape within our lives. Help us recognise the significance and purpose that you bring.

O Lord, you know how busy I must be this day. If I forget you, do not forget me.


The Spirit of truth lead you into all truth, give you grace to confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, and strengthen you to proclaim the word and works of God; and the blessing of God almighty, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, be among you and remain with you always. Amen.


Riyad Nicolas - Paganini-Liszt Etude No. 6.

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