Workday Prayers: When You Have a Divided Heart

By Mark D. Roberts

February 17, 2022

Scripture Reading: Psalm 86:11-12 (NRSV)

Teach me your way, O LORD,
+++that I may walk in your truth;
+++give me an undivided heart to revere your name.
I give thanks to you, O Lord my God, with my whole heart,
+++and I will glorify your name forever.


Sometimes we experience divided hearts in our workplaces. Perhaps your boss or your company requires you to do something that seems at odds with your faith. Or maybe you need to lay off an employee who will suffer if that happens. In times like these, we need to pray with the writer of Psalm 86, “Give me an undivided heart to revere your name.”


Psalm 86:11 reads in the NRSV: “Teach me your way, O LORD, that I may walk in your truth; give me an undivided heart to revere your name.” The Hebrew behind that last phrase is curious. It reads more literally, “Unite my heart to fear your name” (as in the ESV). Other translations do interesting things with this notion of uniting the heart. The CEB has, “Make my heart focused only on honoring your name.” The Message reads, “Put me together, one heart and mind; then, undivided, I’ll worship in joyful fear.”

No matter the translation, in verse 11 the psalm writer assumes that his heart is in need of uniting, or focusing, or being put together. I expect you can relate to this assumption. You know what it feels like to have a divided heart, to want one thing and its opposite at the same time, or to want two different things when choosing one means you can’t have the other.

Sometimes we can experience divided hearts in our work. Perhaps a good friend at work is up for a promotion. You’re rooting for your friend, even though a part of you wishes you would get that same promotion. Or maybe a person who reports to you isn’t performing adequately no matter how hard you’ve tried to help. From the accountability side of things you know this worker needs to move on. Yet you also know this person has financial struggles and losing their job would be devastating. So you feel caught in the middle. You have a divided heart.

You might also have a divided heart when it comes to matters of faith. Perhaps your boss requires you to work on Sunday mornings even though you’re committed to being regular in worship. Or perhaps your company expects you to do things which, while not illegal, are contrary to your moral convictions as a Christian. Once again, you have a divided heart.

Psalm 86 gives you words to pray when you feel you heart going in two different directions at once.


Gracious God, you know the tension I’m feeling, the way my heart feels torn. I want to be an excellent employee, to do my job in a way that respects my employer and honors you. But, right now, I’m not sure I can do both.

O Lord, I pray that you would unite my heart. Bring together the divergent parts of my soul. Show me, Lord, how I can revere your name, how I can act at work in a way that honors you.

When I’m stuck, Lord, I pray for wisdom. Help me to see a way forward that I have not seen before. Or give me the confidence to do what’s right, even if I’m afraid.

In all that I do, in all of life, including my work, may I glorify your name. Amen.

Ponder Throughout the Day

God will unite your heart by his grace and for his glory.

For Further Reflection

You may wish to read all of Psalm 86.

Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Commentary on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: God’s Grace in the Midst of Judgment (Psalm 86)

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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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