Workday Prayers: When Work is Unjust

By Mark D. Roberts

November 11, 2021

Scripture Reading: Psalm 81:6-7 (NRSV)

I relieved your shoulder of the burden;
+++your hands were freed from the basket.
In distress you called, and I rescued you;
+++I answered you in the secret place of thunder;
+++I tested you at the waters of Meribah.


Psalm 81 begins with a celebration of God’s strength and deliverance. Then God speaks, referring to various ways he cared for and delivered his people. Two of these are related to work: “I relieved your shoulder of the burden; your hands were freed from the basket” (81:6).


When the Israelites were victims of injustice in the workplace, they cried out to God and God rescued them.


Gracious God, thank you for being present in every moment and every place of our lives. Thank you for being there as we work. And when our work is unjust, when we are not being treated fairly, thank you for hearing our cries of distress.

O God, in your time and by your grace, you relieve our shoulder of the burden. You set us free from our own “basket of bricks,” from unjust labor and unkind bosses.

But, Lord, often you don’t always deliver us according to our timetable. Sometimes you seem painfully slow to respond. We might even wonder if you are still there for us. So, gracious God, we ask for patience and endurance. May we trust you even when our work is painful and you seem far away. Amen.

Ponder Throughout the Day

God is always there, always on your side.

For Further Reflection

You may wish to read all of Psalm 81 and Psalm 114 also.

A Note from Mark

I’d like to share some exciting news with you. This week a wonderful new book is being released: Make Work Matter – Your Guide to Meaningful Work in a Changing World, by Michaela O’Donnell. Now, you may know that Michaela is now my boss, so my enthusiasm may seem required. But I read the manuscript of her book months before she became the Executive Director of the De Pree Center. Here’s what I wrote back then:

Make Work Matter is surprising in many ways. Unlike so many other books on work, it is based, not just on the writer’s solid convictions, but also on research into the working lives of real people. Yet the book is also filled with astute theological insights that are presented as if from a good friend seeking wisdom rather than from an esteemed professor with all the answers. Michaela generously opens up her own life to us, inviting us into a shared process of discovery and vocational discernment. Make Work Matter is perfect for folks in the early stages of figuring out their work lives. But, unexpectedly, it also speaks powerfully to older readers who are wondering about God’s callings in the third third of life.

If you’re in a place of vocational transition – like so many in today’s world – this book is perfect for you. But I’d encourage you also to buy this book as a gift for friends, children, or grandchildren. I know they’ll appreciate it.

If you’d like to learn more about Make Work Matter, check out this page on our website. Here’s the Amazon link for Make Work Matter if you want to buy the book now.- Mark

Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the High Calling archive, hosted by the Theology of Work Project.
Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: Honey from the Rock

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Mark D. Roberts

Senior Strategist

Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders,...

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