I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil —
this is God's gift to man.
(Ecclesiastes 3:12-13 ESV).
The word "holiday" comes from the Old English word hāligdæg, which means "holy day." Originally, holidays were holy days.
Today we have many "secular" holidays, but we still can sanctify them in our hearts and use them as opportunities to praise and thank God.
Labor Day is a good example. This national holiday, which has been celebrated nationwide each year since 1894, grew out of the 19th-century U.S. labor movement. Labor Day "is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers," according to the U.S. Department of Labor. "It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country."
But who endows workers with strength and skill and ingenuity? For that matter, who gives them life and breath? The God of all creation is the author of all these things! So on Labor Day, we should not only honor laborers but also pray that our labors would honor the God who made us.
Here are a few "prayer pointers" to help you add a "Labor Day element" to your prayers today:
- You are the Creator God, "for whom and through whom everything exists" (Hebrews 2:10) and who made humanity in your "own image" (Genesis 1:27).
- You willed that in his earthly life, Jesus would hallow labor and be known as "the carpenter's son" (Matthew 13:55). Help us follow his perfect example and honor you in our work. May we "work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men" (Colossians 3:23).
- We acknowledge you as Jehovah-Jireh, our provider. Bless us so that we can provide for our families and be generous givers. Make it possible for us to earn a just return for our labor.
- Prosper those businesses that honor you through their labor practices. May management and labor enjoy respectful and productive relationships that benefit all.
- Remind us to honor other workers we come in contact with each day. May our interactions with those working at the checkout, making deliveries, or providing online customer service be characterized by encouragement and gratitude.
- Protect workers whose jobs involve great danger, including construction workers and electricians, as well as police and military personnel.
- Be merciful to the unemployed. Make provision for them and sustain them in your love. Open doors of opportunity for them.
- Make us mindful and appreciative of retirees, the fruits of whose many years of labor we enjoy today. Thank you for blessing our nation through the work of their hands and the creativity of minds.
- Thank you, Father, that our Lord Jesus "finished the work that you gave [him] to do" (John 17:4). By your grace, may we be faithful to the tasks you have assigned to each of us.
Happy Labor Day!