Bless the Unemployed

Posted on March 6th, 2012
Image © by Michael Lokner | Flickr | Used under Creative Commons license.

The economy is starting to look up, but chances are you still have people in your congregation facing the difficult circumstance of job loss and the demoralizing process of looking for a job in a tough market. Bless those in need with these relevant stories, scriptures, and prayers.

Loss of Job

Both for reasons of self-esteem and self-preservation, many, if not most, persons find it important to contribute to family well-being and community life. Some do this with responsibilities at home; others seek public employment; some are self-employed. In any of these circumstances, it is disheartening to lose a job.

Example

Brenda Forsyth enjoyed her work at Wiggins Manufacturing; but when it was time to “tighten belts” at the company, she was surprised that she was suddenly unemployed. Brenda and Jack planned on having children after she worked for a couple more years: “long enough to get a little safety in the savings account.” Her search for new employment was now a blend of anger, disappointment, sense of failure, loss of identity, and even desperation. She did not like to define herself as “out of work.”

God is our refuge and strength,
a very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear, though the earth should change,
though the mountains shake in the heart of the sea. (Psalm 46:1-2)

Prayer

It is true, Lord, that sometimes when we think we have found the key to life, the locks get changed. It hurts, O God; it hurts to be out of work. We name this before You not because we think You are absent from our concerns, but to affirm that we can come before You just as we are. And now Brenda comes: part of her dream unsettled, part of her self uncertain, part of her life uprooted. And she comes to You.

We pray for a spirit of healing, that Brenda might forgive any sense of unfairness that has shaped this day. We pray for a spirit of fullness, that Brenda might see her value in Your accepting love. We pray for a spirit at ease, that Brenda might present her best self to new employers.

Teach us the truth of reality as the place where You can meet us. Bless this hard time as a foothold for Your caring goodness, which we have seen in Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Looking for Work

Any number of reasons can trigger a job search: newness to the work force, loss of previous job, dissatisfaction with present job, relocation, and/or need for greater income. Those seeking new employment sometimes feel like pieces of meat being examined at a meat market. It is not an easy time. Pastoral support is important.

Example

Armin Fischer just graduated from college, happily and expectantly equipped with a degree in history. What to do? Teaching? Human relations? Research? Sales? Management? Government service? The first few job interviews brought forth the classic statement: “Don’t call us; we’ll call you.” Armin was disappointed and brought his apprehension to his pastor.

Therefore do not worry, saying “What will we eat?” or “What will we drink?” or “What will we wear?” For it is the Gentiles who strive for all these things; and indeed your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But strive first for the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:31-33)

Prayer

Gracious God, we have seen in Jesus Christ that the final word is a good one. We thank You. But we are not as sure about the words we hear for these days, words that sound more like no than yes, words that sound more like not now than of course, words that sound more like empty than full. Your servant Armin is ready to work but doors seem tight; doors seem locked; doors only creak.

Your promise is a presence and we claim it. Your presence is a promise and we claim it. We pray for a gift of patience that will grow to a gift of peace that will grow to a gift of place. Thank You for the final good word and for this day’s blessing, which we receive through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

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These prayers are excerpted from: Just In Time: Pastoral Prayers in Public Places by F. Belton Jr. Joyner. Read a description of this book here, and if you are a Ministry Matters Subscriber continue reading here.

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