Prayers during a Pandemic: For Essential Workers

Our family is taking time daily to pray about the current global health crisis. Our prayers will likely reference the Christian tradition, but we’ve written with an ecumenical and agnostic audience in mind.

If you’d like us to pray for you, let us know. If you’d like us to write a prayer for you or for a concern you have and share it here, just ask. You don’t have to share your name if you don’t want to, and we won’t share it or any other identifying details about you here or elsewhere.

Today, we are focusing our prayer on people who fulfill essential duties in our society and who we have asked not to leave their work, even at risk to themselves.

Today we remember those whose employment we deem essential and who we’ve asked to risk their own health to continue to work. We pray for those who provide our food, water, sanitation, and healthcare, including those who manufacture, inspect, transport, and make available the goods and services we need to survive.

We pray for those we don’t know, and we pray for those we do know, including [all those who work in agriculture and food distribution, those who work in healthcare, those who work in public safety, those who work in sanitation, and those who work in needed manufacturing, including ourselves]. We pray for all those their families, friends, and neighbors who support them. We pray that the dignity and necessity of their work will always be recognized and honored. We pray for a collective recognition of the value of labor and respect for those whose work keeps us fed, safe, sheltered, and healthy.

We pray for those whose work tires them, for those whose bodies collapse at the end of the day and for those for whom even rest is exhausting. We pray for those who are both necessary and undervalued. Our hope for them is dignity, self-worth, and justice. Our prayer for all of us is solidarity.

We are grateful for every one who labors for the common good and for all hearts that remember them.

File:Painting of factory workers by Toni Anton Wolter.jpg

Painting of Factory Workers by Toni Anton Wolter, from the public domain. This painting reminds me of one of my favorite memories of childhood: the day each year when Buck Iron, the foundry where my father worked swing shift for much of my childhood, opened its doors. The blackness of the interior–everything metal, everything dark–underscored the seriousness of the work. I was delighted to touch the controls of the crane that lifted scrap metal, but it was also clear that this day was special: the one day of the year when the doors were open and the outside light came in. Other days, men died, and I knew my own father had scars–on his forearm, on his inner thing–from work. Though he showered at work, his clothes were often so dirty that us kids were assigned the task of beating them, away from the backdoor so we didn’t track the dirt back inside, before they could be put in the washing machine. In this painting, I see men working together, proud of their effort, but risking their lives.

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