By Carmen Joy Imes

A Prayer for Academic and Professional Conferences

Academic and professional conferences come with their own set of spiritual challenges. I offer this prayer as a way of preparing our hearts and minds to engage this part of our work with integrity and wisdom.

Lord of every sphere of thought and human endeavor,

Thank you for the gift of being here — for the resources you have provided to make it possible for me to attend this conference and the opportunities I will have here to learn, to network, and to contribute.

I commit this day to you. Grant me energy to make the most of this moment and clarity of thought to learn what will help me carry out my calling with skill.

Help me to choose wisely between the myriads of options available to me — papers, seminars, conversations, exhibits, work, play, rest. May I discern what is best and let go of what is not.

Help me to be attentive to the work of your Spirit and obedient to your promptings. Grant me courage to reach out and to speak up as well as commitment to listen well and love well.

Help me to stay grounded today — worshipping only you and believing only what you say is true about me. Banish the twin lies: that I am most important or that I am nothing.

As I interact with others, help me to appreciate their strengths and see clearly where they have erred. As I ponder their proposals, let me never mistake eloquence for accuracy or monotony for irrelevance. Let my disagreements be marked by charity and my approval never fueled by flattery or posturing.

Grant me sober judgement, sound reasoning, and clarity of expression. Let me love the truth more than I love what I have thought or said or written. May I respond to reasonable criticism with humility and to unreasonable criticism with steady confidence. Grant me discernment to know which is required.

Help me to be a friend to others today — celebrating their accomplishments and mourning their setbacks. May our conversations be seasoned with grace.

Above all, may I bring you glory today as I bear your name in the academy and among all those whose talents and energies make this conference possible.

In the name of Jesus, my teacher,


About the Author

Carmen Joy Imes (PhD, Wheaton) is associate professor of Old Testament in the Talbot School of Theology at Biola University. A graduate of Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, she is the author of Bearing YHWH's Name at Sinai, Bearing God's Name: Why Sinai Still Matters, Being God's Image: Why Creation Still Matters, and the editor of Praying the Psalms with Augustine and Friends.

Imes has written for a variety of websites, including Christianity Today, The Well, and the Politics of Scripture blog. She is a fellow of Every Voice, a member of the Evangelical Theological Society, the Institute for Biblical Research, and the Society of Biblical Literature. Imes and her husband, Daniel, have followed God's call around the globe together for over 25 years.

Read Carmen's article on being God's image as a woman in the academy and the church.

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