How to pray when you hate your job

Faithfulness through thorns

Each one of us was created to work, to glorify God as we cultivate blessing from the created order and contribute value to others through the labor of our minds, hearts, and hands. Yet we know that because of humanity’s rebellion and sin, the work we are called to do greets us each Monday morning with a myriad of thorns and thistles. We may deeply struggle with our work, our workplaces, and the fellow image bearers we encounter in our vocational responsibilities. Yet it is in and through our jobs that we are called to provide for our material needs, to worship God, to be spiritually formed, to incarnate and proclaim the gospel and indwell common grace for the common good.

With humble and expectant hearts we cry out to our creator and redeemer, Lord Jesus, teach us to pray. Teach us to pray for our work; to pray while we do our work and to pray for those with whom we work. 

Do you find yourself struggling with motivation to do your work well for the good of others and the glory of God?

Pray: Lord Jesus, thank you for the grace gift of work. Bring to mind that I work before an Audience of One and that the stewardship of my work matters. Help me to embrace my work with diligence. Bless the work of my hands and conform me to greater Christlikeness. Help me to see that a primary way I worship you as well as love my neighbor both near and far is through the work I do every day. (2 Pet 1:10)

Are you perplexed as to the best way to navigate a difficult decision in your workplace?

Pray: Lord Jesus, how I need your divine wisdom to guide me in the confusing and perplexing decisions I am facing in my work. Grant me in your grace supernatural wisdom, remembering the promise of your word that if I lack wisdom, I can ask you, Lord, and you will give it to me generously. (James 1:5)

Do you dislike your job? Are you dreading going to work?

Pray: Lord Jesus, I am struggling with doing my work today. It seems like I am stuck in a dead end job. The days drag by and I often feel bored and lack fulfillment. Open my eyes to see my work from your perspective as God-desiring and God-honoring worship. Help me practice your presence as I work. Encourage my heart and mind remembering Paul’s words throughout my day to rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and give thanks in all circumstances. (1 Thess 5:16–18)

Are you dealing with a difficult, boss, coworker, or employee?

Pray: Lord Jesus, you know I am having a hard time loving that person at work. Their insensitive words and actions are so wounding and hurtful. I really want to avoid them and at times I want to retaliate against them. Lord, guard my heart from bitterness and resentment. Empower me to look for ways to bless them, to overcome evil with good, and to seek their flourishing. (Rom 12:17–19)

Are you feeling anxious and discouraged in your underemployment or pursuit of new employment?

Pray: Lord Jesus, calm my anxious heart. Heavenly Father, help me to trust you as my provider and protector. You have promised that according to your divine will, when I ask it will be given to me, when I seek I will find, and when I knock the door will open. Lord, open a door for me. Give me the strength to continue to diligently seek employment opportunities and grant me favor in the eyes of others. (Matt 7:7–11)

Future hope

In this fallen world, the work we are called to do and the workplaces we inhabit will be a mixture of the good, the bad, and the ugly, but we must remember that one day, in the new heavens and new earth, our work will be filled with joy and delight in a sinless reality. The apostle Paul infuses our thorny Monday worlds with soul rapturing hope.

“For this slight momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen, but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.” (2 Cor 4:17–18)

May we cultivate the presence of Jesus in our workplaces and see the thorns and thistles of our work in light of the glory that is to come.

Editor’s note: This article originally appeared at crossway.org. The content is adapted from Work Matters by Tom Nelson and was used with permission.

Topics: Christian Life, Prayer

About the Author

Tom Nelson serves as the president of Made to Flourish and is the author of Work Matters: Connecting Sunday Worship to Monday Work, Five Smooth Stones: Discovering the Path to Wholeness of Soul, Ekklesia: Rediscovering God’s Design for the Church, and The Economics of Neighborly Love: Investing in Your Community's Compassion and Capacity.  Tom is a regular speaker and facilitator on faith, work, and economics. He is also the senior pastor of Christ Community Church in Kansas City. He has served on the Board of Regents of Trinity International University and is on the leadership team of the Oikonomia Network. He graduated with a master’s of theology degree from Dallas Theological Seminary and received his doctorate from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. Tom and his wife, Liz, have two grown children and reside in Leawood, Kansas.