Pray and work

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"Ora et labora" redirects here. For album by Croatian singer Marko Perković Thompson, see Ora et labora (album).
Relief with the motto (in gold) Ora et labora

In Christian mysticism, the phrase pray and work (or "pray and labor", in Latin ora et labora) refers to the monastic practice of working and praying, generally associated with its use in the Rule of St. Benedict.[1]

Benedict viewed prayer and work as partners, and believed in combining contemplation with action.[2] The phrase expresses the need to balance prayer and work in monastic settings and has been used in many religious communities from the Middle Ages onwards.

Some orders (such as the Cistercians) applied the concept directly to farm work and became an element in the movement towards land reclamation from rot and agricultural development in Western Europe. Other orders such as the Humiliati applied the concept to the production of woolen cloth using wheels in the period prior to the industrial revolution.


In 1818, Dalhousie University was established, adopting the motto of Ora et Labora in 1870.[3]

In 1862, near the town of present-day Pigeon, Michigan, German Christians led by Emil Baur founded the short-lived Christian community of Ora Labora. Designed along the lines of socialist, communal living, the town had failed by the early 1870s.

In 1874, Wesley College, Colombo, a high school in Sri Lanka, was founded by Methodist missionaries. It has been using "Ora Et Labora" as the motto since its inception.

In 1929, the religious Zionist organisation Bnei Akiva was founded with the motto of torah v'avodah, meaning "Torah and work".

In 1936, the Methodist Boys Secondary School, Sentul, a school in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, was founded by the late Rev. Preston L Peach. Its motto has always been "Ora Et Labora".

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Anselm Grün, Linda M. Maloney (2006). Benedict of Nursia 2006 ISBN 0-8146-2910-5 page 30
  2. ^ Lonni Collins Pratt, Daniel Homan (2001). Benedict's Way: An Ancient Monk's Insights for a Balanced Life ISBN 0-8294-1787-7 page 47
  3. ^ Waite, P. (1997). Lives of Dalhousie University: 1925–1980, The Old College Transformed. McGill-Queen's Press. ISBN 0-7735-1644-1. page 98.


  • Ora et labora: prayer and action as cooperation with God by Robert Field, University of the South, 1993