52 Workday Prayers: Psalm 18 - When You’re Feeling Burned Out
You, LORD, keep my lamp burning;
my God turns my darkness into light.
With your help I can advance against a troop;
with my God I can scale a wall.
We all face times in our work when we feel overwhelmed, when we’re struggling with burn out. The writer of Psalm 18, identified as David in the preface to the psalm, knew that experience all too well: “The cords of death entangled me; the torrents of destruction overwhelmed me” (18:4). So what did David do? “In my distress I called to the LORD; I cried to my God for help” (18:6). And what did God do? God heard David’s cry (18:6) rescued him (18:19).
You might not be facing literal death, but you surely know how it feels to be dragged down by discouragement or defeat. You know exhaustion and hopelessness. Perhaps you wonder if you’re getting burned out in your work. Maybe you’re feeling these things right now. Or maybe you have a colleague who is in the middle of a rough patch. The following prayer might express your own heart before God today, or may enable you to intercede for someone you care about. Either way, let this prayer based on Psalm 18 help you to pour out your heart to God.
O Lord, there are times when I feel burned out. I’ve used up all the oil in my lamp, so to speak. My energy wanes. My passion dissipates. I wonder if I can go on.
Lord, I know that sometimes my exhaustion is a reminder that I haven’t been resting. You created me with a need for regular Sabbath. Sometimes I forget this or choose to ignore it. No wonder I get overly tired. Forgive me for failing to rest. Help me to make Sabbath a priority.
But there are times, Lord, when the demands of life are simply overwhelming. Work requires so much of me and then my children are sick or my parents are ailing or the washing machine floods my house or . . . . You know demands I face, Lord. And you know how so many times I have called out to you in desperation.
Today I want to acknowledge your grace to me. Lord, when I have nothing left, you keep my lamp burning. Your presence in my life turns my darkness into light. You give me the strength to do what seems almost impossible. I can attack my problems with confidence. It feels like I could walk right up a wall.
So, dear God, without denying the times of doubt and despair, I want to acknowledge all the ways you have met me, comforting me, strengthening me, reassuring me, protecting me, empowering me to do my work with vigor. Thank you, Lord. May it all be to your glory! Amen.
Ponder Throughout the Day
With God’s help, you can “scale the walls” set before you today.
For Further Reflection
Read all of Psalm 18, paying attention to what the Spirit of God is stirring up in your heart, especially in relationship to your work. Talk with God about what you are thinking and feeling.
You might also reflect on the following passage from Philippians:
Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your gentleness be known to everyone. The Lord is near. Do not worry about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Finally, beloved, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is pleasing, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence and if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. Keep on doing the things that you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, and the God of peace will be with you. . . .
I know what it is to have little, and I know what it is to have plenty. In any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of being well-fed and of going hungry, of having plenty and of being in need. I can do all things through him who strengthens me. - Philippians 4:4-9, 12-13
This prayer is part of a collection: 52 Workday Prayers: Learn from the Psalms How to Pray through Your Work. To purchase this devotional and small group guide, visit the De Pree Center store.