I've always like the term man-hours. It sounds so solid, so real. It's not just time spent, it is time invested by a real, live person (man or woman). It only seems logical to mention the person who spent those hours turning out that product. Someone logged the time to do the work to produce the end results. He or she ought to be mentioned.
I've been flipping through a novel that describes human interactions against a backdrop of spiritual warfare. And I mean warfare, complete with angels and demons brandishing swords and such. While it's questionable whether some of the story's depictions reflect good theology, the story paints a vivid picture of a world with a spiritual realm that is activated and propelled by prayer. Events are not so much determined by human planning and action as by God's sovereign hand at work amongst the pleas of believers and the schemes of His evil opponents. The reader can see characters sink or swim based on whether they are undergirded by prayer or are forgotten.
Though the novel can lead one to think that human beings have the power to pull the strings of the future simply through praying a lot, it did remind me of the work done not through meetings and organizations and such but by prayer. The story touched on the fact that what really matters is the behind-the-scenes kind of stuff. For instance, I knew my parents covered me in prayer when I was a child, but only now do I recognize the prayer-labor involved, more man-hours than all their moral instruction combined. I knew the older woman who always engaged me in conversation at church cared for me, but could she have spent hours on her knees praying for me? It is humbling to think about such a thing; as I went through the humdrum of my daily routine, people were sweating it out before God.
Big ideas are running through my head all the time. If only this committee could be formed or that strategy be employed, such-and-such problems could be addressed, and progress in this area could be made. But what if that is not where the real labor lies? What if the lives we lead were meant to be laid at God's feet so that then they might come alive and be useful in real action. My 40, 50, 60+ hours a week may be spinning my wheels when I forget to fuel the engine with prayer.