The Prayer Cup
It sat on the edge of his desk, but their hearts centered around it.
by JIM DUNBAR
FOR SOME YEARS, I POSTED notes around my office computer monitor. The notes contained the names of family and friends whom I wanted to remember and pray for during my workday. I didn’t surround the monitor, just the right side so my eye could catch the names as I worked away. I was fairly sure coworkers would peek in when I was away to see what was so important to me. Though no one mentioned it to me, I wanted to give them a chance to participate in a way that wasn’t offensive to some. So I decided to create a prayer cup.
It wasn’t elaborate. It was more of a mug than a small teacup. I found it at a local pottery kiln. Greyish-blue in color, it was big enough to hold a full-size soda. Though I never drank a soda or coffee from it, I made sure it would hold a fistful of 3-by-3-inch card stock that I stacked next to it. On the outside, I asked the potter to inscribe the words Prayer Cup. On the inside was inscribed I’ll pray for you. I placed the cup in plain view on the corner of my desk near my in-basket.
Arriving at my desk one morning, I noticed two notes in the cup. Setting aside my satchel and getting a cup of coffee, I sat down to read the notes. Neither of them had a name signed, which was OK with me. I kind of knew who had written them but didn’t make a big deal of it. The first note asked for prayer about the person’s desire to post for a new and more challenging position. The coworker was fearful the immediate supervisor might find out and hoped I would keep the request confidential.
The second note requested prayer for an upcoming surgery. The writer of this note I knew well. She worked for me, and I knew she was very nervous about the operation. I let her know I would come to her hospital room the night before her surgery and pray especially for the outcome. That night, I took my youngest son with me, and while he stayed within earshot, he managed to hear and understand my prayer. The surgery was successful. Sadly, within six months, she was killed in a car wreck. I attended the wake and shared with her parents, who said they knew about my prayers.
Over the years, I decided to provide the petitioner with something to remember our connection. I asked a local glass blower to create red glass hearts small enough to carry in a pocket or purse. As a prayer request was deposited in the cup, the petitioner would take a heart.
Every morning, I would arrive in anticipation of who would need prayer. Some mornings the cup would be empty. Some days it was crammed so full that it took all day to voice prayers and remembrances. This was especially true when the business was sold and many were worried about how they would provide for their families. Often I was asked to attend the funeral of a friend or family member. I never failed to go and was always greeted with a warm embrace.
Eventually, my name was on the layoff list, and after hearing the announcement, I had only a day to clear out my desk and remove personal items from the office. Much like my first night on the job, my last night included a walk through a sea of workstation cubes, stopping to pray at each desk. But this night, I was amazed to see so many had small, red glass hearts taped to their monitors or sitting prominently in plain view. Grateful for the privilege of praying, I turned to leave …
“Good night, dear friends. God speed.”
JIM DUNBAR is a retired business executive and former elected member of NAMB. You can find his articles in HomeLife and Mature Living. Jim and his wife, Charlotte, currently reside in Highlands Ranch, Colorado. They have two living children, a daughter living in Colorado and a son living in Texas.
This article originally appeared in Mature Living magazine (September 2018). For more articles like this, subscribe to Mature Living.