CHRISTIAN LIFE IN LONDON | February 2024 EDITION
Prayer Prompt May 2023 Women ... precious in God's sight
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February 2024 Prayer Prompt
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Published May 2023


Provided by CCNL

As CCNL invites you to join in the Week of Prayer for London May 15-19th (praylondon.ca), please consider also using some of these prompts and insights to add to your prayers throughout the month.

In the beginning, “God created human beings in his own image. In the image of God he created them; male and female he created them.” From that day to this, we wrestle with the complexities of gender definition, authority, differences, similarities, cultural expectations, challenges, giftedness, and interrelationships. Whew. While it has become ever so popular for some to stereotype gender differences over the years, we are not actually “Women from Venus or Men from Mars”, but rather more like hundreds of thousands of stars in the sky, each unique and different. What we do know is that we were all created personally by our Creator in His image for good reason. Equal in His sight. All people loved by Him completely. Psalm 139 says: “You made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit me together in my mother’s womb. Thank you for making me so wonderfully complex! Your workmanship is marvelous—how well I know it. You watched me as I was being formed in utter seclusion, as I was woven together in the dark of the womb. You saw me before I was born. Every day of my life was recorded in your book. Every moment was laid out before a single day had passed. How precious are your thoughts about me, O God. They cannot be numbered! I can’t even count them; they outnumber the grains of sand! And when I wake up, you are still with me!”

51.1% of the population in London identify as women and 48.9 % as men. Just over 100 years ago, women in Canada fought for the right to even be recognized as persons under the law and to be able to vote. In Ontario, 45 years ago, the Pay Equity Act was created to address inequities in wages for women doing the very same jobs as men. The goal of equity then and now, all works in progress, is to change systemic and structural barriers that get in the way of people's ability to thrive. Males and females differ physically for sure, may vary in gender roles, expectations about behaviours, abilities, opportunities and hopes…wide-ranging throughout history, in various cultures, in differing religions or in families… and for a variety of reasons. Women’s status in society has changed…and is changing. The good news is that many women could say that some days it actually feels like five giant steps forward. Then sadly other days, four steps backwards…. "This again – really?" is a frequent comment. It feels tiresome to still bump up against gender roadblocks and inequities in too many areas.

Let’s join together to pray for women this month, here in London and around the world Neuroscientists tell us women often display collaborative, participative, transformational leadership styles. Because of this, it seemed right to approach some godly female leaders in our community and ask for their input regarding what we could be praying for. Twenty wonderful women responded, ages ranging from 27- 77, single and married, from diverse Christian traditions, cultural backgrounds and professions, with a wide variety of experiences…all graciously contributed thoughtful, profound prayers for women. We are very thankful for their honesty, their vulnerability, and their example in our community. The Spirit of God somehow wove common threads together into a beautiful tapestry for our May prayer prompt.

We acknowledge this prompt is longer than usual or than we expected, but so many good things were mentioned, we would be negligent to not capture these movings of God among us. Below is a summary to start with … we deeply hope you will make the time over the weeks ahead to read the rest, ponder the details for awhile, listening to these thoughtful insights that were contributed:
  • We pray for girls & women around the world.
  • God, thank you for the various gifts, skills and wisdom women bring to our city of London
  • As Mother’s Day is this month, we pray for women who are mothers, or act as mothers.
  • We pray for our next generations - daughters, granddaughters, great granddaughters.
  • We pray for our Indigenous sisters.
  • We pray for women who are grieving.
  • We pray God that women would see that their worth, their value is in Jesus.
  • Bless women who are both gifted to lead and who step into the arena, Lord.
  • Far too many women have experienced abuse – protect women God.
  • Give women of all ages fresh joy in and opportunity for authentic friendships.
  • Finally God, we pray passionately that women will experience your peace.

We pray for women around the world. Recently, journalists report that in many war zones globally - Sudan, Myanmar, Ukraine, Afghanistan and many more, women are still being “weaponized” as they have been throughout history - brutally raped, shamed and killed to demoralize the enemy – women young and old dehumanized once again. Every 10 minutes around the world, one woman or girl is murdered by a family member or intimate partner. One woman dies every two minutes during pregnancy or childbirth. Most of those deaths are entirely preventable. Right here in London, too many women are in crisis still, those who face abuse, those who live below the poverty line, and those who are victims of human trafficking. Just a sad snapshot of the woundedness and fear some women are carrying. Demeaning, vicious, crude comments are made to women in the public arena, online, on our streets, even in our playgrounds. We must commit to doing better and seek to reverse these horrific trends, standing up for the lives and rights of women/girls everywhere, speaking out when we see this abuse, insult or oppression happening.

God, thank you for the gifts of creative vitality, expertise, determination, and spiritual leadership that many women bring to our city – in large and small ways every day. We pray these gifts continue to be nurtured…may their significant contributions be recognized often, be deeply appreciated in relationships, in families, in neighbourhoods, in workplaces, in politics, and particularly in churches. Even when taken for granted at times, you our Father in heaven, sees and rewards these labours. Since many women are relational, serving by mentoring and teaching in the dailies, or offering less visible ministries of caring and hospitality, these actions easily pass under the radar of church leaders. May we respect the role of all women, just as you God honored them in scripture. Jesus was remarkably counter-cultural - think of his deep friendship with Mary and Martha… or his acknowledgement of the women who faithfully supported the ministry in Luke 8: “The Twelve were with him. There were also some women in their company who had been healed of various evil afflictions and illnesses: Mary, the one called Magdalene, from whom seven demons had gone out; Joanna, wife of Chuza, Herod’s manager; and Susanna—along with many others who used their considerable means to provide for the company.” Jesus saw them – welcomed them. They came first to the tomb. Women unfortunately still express that they too feel invisible, unseen…only as someone’s daughter, wife, or mother, secondary to male Christ followers.

In May as we celebrate Mother’s Day, we are privileged to pray for women who are mothers or act like mothers. We thank you Lord God for our own moms as we reflect back on what they did for us to the best of their ability. We pray that you will help all mothers...future mamas, new mamas, old mamas, weary mamas, proud mamas, frustrated mamas.... to exhibit the love, the inner beauty, and the obedient spirit of Jesus' mother, Mary...keeping their hearts open to your will in their daily lives. It was certainly not easy for Mary, knowing what was to come. Hard for all moms to let their children grow up and pursue their purpose in life, to sometimes fall down, to figure life out. Painful to watch our children suffer anytime for whatever reasons - we cannot begin to imagine Mary’s angst and grief. We entreat moms to turn to you and persevere despite the circumstances, and to give a personal amen, a yes, to your will God.

Lord, we pray too for added blessings and protection of often overlooked, overwhelmed women - single moms, weary moms, or grandmas raising grandkids, or precious foster mothers - all who desperately need such tender loving care from the Body of Christ. May we notice them, seeking to provide safe haven, listening ears, tangible support…for those times when raising children is just plain scary and exhausting. We pray for much daily wisdom and strength for all moms throughout the stages and ages… growing from infants to young children to teenagers and even on to adult children – moms would still say, “Each day is a sacrifice of love and a new adventure in giving your heart away”.

Oh God, we pray for our daughters, our granddaughters, our great granddaughters - the next generations of women that could change this increasingly complex world for the good of all. Help us stop convincing young girls that they should aspire to be privileged Disney princesses or social media stars when they grow up but rather know that they are well-loved cherished daughters of the Most High King of heaven - gifted beyond measure by you. It is not about seeking after glitter, crowns, handsome princes to rescue them, pretty dresses nor affirmations of the crowd…but about integrity, compassion, boldness, courage, wisdom, godliness. In the Bible, women like Ruth, Deborah, Hannah, the nameless Samaritan woman, Lydia, Rahab, Tamar, Elizabeth, Anna demonstrated their faith. Godly women in the past century…women like Corrie Ten Boom, Harriet Tubman, Helen Roseveare, Elisabeth Elliott, Mother Teresa, Gladys Aylward…or today‘s heroines like Beth Moore, Rachel Held Evans, Nancy Ortberg, Anne Lamott, Danielle Strickland…maybe your gramma or a precious mentor…brave women who stood up and boldly lived out their faith. Let us share the stories of all these heroines of the faith with our children. Author Sarah Bessey calls these women our ‘matron’ saints, our church ‘mamas’, our Kingdom ‘midwifes’. A beautiful description. God, help all women to seek to be these kind of people - faithful examples for the next generation and the one after that - as role models, mentors, encouragers and storytellers. Women supporting women, rather than judging, condemning and comparing. We pause to praise you Holy Spirit for those women who made a difference in our own lives. May women, younger and older and in-between, be both willing to seek out mentors and/or to be mentors – so much to learn from one another.

One of our Indigenous sisters shared this prayer: Creator God, there is more to be done. Our women are the conscience of our nations, of our communities and we know only too well that our people are living in communities with waters they cannot drink. Often in poverty with poor housing. Our young people are still not graduating as they should. Things are changing but it's painfully slow. Our women still find their way into human trafficking. And you ask us to think about what we should be doing. We need to speak of you God more often. We need to inspire our young people – you have given them so many gifts to offer that we need to nurture. Protect them God.

Don’t forget to pray for women who are grieving. For the loss of what was and what might have been. For those who would like to but are unable to conceive. For those experiencing sickness that limits their hopes and overshadows their days and nights with pain and anxiety. Bring comfort to women who have experienced the loss of loved ones through illness, divorce, accidents, unresolved conflict, suicide…and there is a gaping empty hole in their hearts. Comfort them God in these dark shadow times. Wrap your arms around them - bring people into their lives who understand to walk with them.

We pray God that women would see that their worth, their value is in Jesus, not in how they look, nor in what they accomplish, nor in who they are related to, nor in what others think of them. We live in a society obsessed with outer appearance. Sad to hear of even adolescent girls getting Botox fillers and lip enhancements to try to meet the “standards of perfection”. Social media has made body shaming a “Roman Coliseum” savage sport of destroying the souls of women. May we praise our daughters and wives not for being “so cute” or “pretty” but more for their kindness, intelligence, compassion, creativity, inner beauty, resourcefulness, courage, strength. Our prayer for girls as they become women is that they will not let others around them define who they are - that they will get their definition from you their Creator and become who you God say they are. Thank you for author Larry Crabb’s work for many years in Christian counselling about the need to have both our security and significance in you. “Significance is defined as a sense of purpose or adequacy, while security is a sense of unflappable acceptance.”

Bless women who are both gifted to lead and who step into the arena, Lord. Leading can be a very lonely spot for men and women – but women just have far fewer peers and models for now. Tyndale Seminary in Toronto reports that in 2021, 58% of their students are female – that same trend is happening across the country.

Almost all the women who contributed to this prayer prompt mentioned this reality. While in most professions, women are now considered equals at the table, there lingers a subtle undercurrent within many Christian environments. Women leaders speak of being shut out even when they believe God has gifted them with leadership skills – shepherding, teaching, strategic planning, stewardship management, preaching, counseling… yet in some church settings, there is still some lingering debate if women should be allowed to usher! Men can indeed volunteer in the nursery, organize potlucks, cook meals for others as well as women can. Women can read spreadsheets, do maintenance repairs and make complex strategic decisions. And lest you think this prompt is criticizing men, a number of women also harshly judge other women who step up to serve in traditional male leadership roles. Thankfully, more men, women and especially young people are empowering, amazing supporters of women’s giftedness. Thank you, God, for those families who practice the model of encouragement in Proverbs 31: “May her children stand and bless her. And her husband praises her”.

It can also be confusing how and when to use the leadership gifts you have given. One woman shared this personal insight: “I have bouts of different emotions on this - frustration, sadness (even grief), anger... I remember even as a public school-age kid wondering why my aunt was allowed to - even honoured for - preaching at a church in the Chad as a missionary, but was not allowed to do so in our home church. To be so gifted, but prevented from expressing gifts......sigh.” Another one likened it to walking on an incline on a treadmill – if you turn the notch up even one point, it is incrementally harder as a woman juggling not just being an effective faithful leader and honorable Christ follower, plus also expected to be an amazing wife, mother, daughter or gramma. Often even harder to be a single woman in these positions. Being a trailblazer in new “female roles” or the only woman, sometimes a token woman (but oh so necessary voice) at a boardroom table is really not a very easy space and adds extra weight of responsibility, patience and astuteness. This stress is not imagined – the latest Barna research indicates that the risk of burnout in church ministry is higher for women than it is for men of the same age. Women leaders can sadly be maligned, diminished more harshly on-line and in person. Leadership is difficult enough without having to overcome gender obstacles. Women are sorting out constantly what they have taken on as “important and necessary” and allow themselves more grace to be enough for what you God are calling them to each day, fully acknowledging that some of these are stressors of their own making and high expectations they put on themselves as they lead.

Far too many women have experienced abuse Lord… in their past and maybe still in their present. It is alarming and discouraging - heart-breaking - to become aware of how many women, young and old, have experienced sexual, physical or emotional abuse in their families, or by people that should have been trustworthy, or in their workplace, and very sadly within the church. These abuses are often kept hidden for years because of fear, shame, blame or guilt. Lurking around the edges of freedom that inhibits the work of your Spirit. Too often, when people do come forward, they have not been believed or may been given more harmful counsel and blame. We know you weep with them too God – wrap your arms of love around them, guard their souls and speak words of comfort, love, healing and courage into their hearts. We need to recognize too that partner violence is growing in our city and across the country as angry actions are fueled by increased drug usage, by economic pressures, by mental health, by broken spirits, by stresses of life. Again Whenever, wherever any of us see troubling behaviours and actions, give us courage to speak up, to help find resources, to care and not condemn, to step in and up with grace and wisdom.

As women mature into adulthood, they still long for authentic friendships as kids become independent. Surprising how often this was mentioned. Women acknowledge that they treasure family and/or a close friend from childhood or a colleague at work, but there is much joy to be found in ‘outside’ reflections and discernments about our lives, our shared interests, our diverse opinions from people that we don’t have to live with everyday! Juggling work and/or volunteer commitments; acting as caregivers for aging parents, for partners, and/or for grandchildren; addressing one’s own changing health needs; maintaining homes and daily demands… the luxury of time with “besties” as Millennials fondly call them has not always been possible. They long for the true community of sisterhood, desiring trustworthy companions in the journey, needing the “iron sharpens iron” insights from other women. COVID amplified that gap as many had to work hard just to negotiate the dailies for three years and keep our bubbles safe. But working at home, loss of connections at children’s school events, sport teams or church gatherings didn’t happen. Commonalities got lost, distances grew, old friends moved away, expectations changed… and loneliness has grown. It all now takes intentional work and much grace to rebuild strong connections. The joy of making a new friend should never get old – remember how five year olds come home from school, announcing with great delight… “I made a new friend today.” May we experience that in our churches, in our neighbourhoods, in our workplaces – open to the surprise and adventure of who we may meet. Find kindred spirits. Become part of adventurous women who desire to live life on purpose grounded in the love of God and talk about real things together, to weep and to laugh with one another, to learn and to serve together - whose collective lives act as an invitation to join in, to love God more, to pray with and stand up for things that matter. For friendships with people who you don’t know yet, women from other cultures and experiences, women older and younger. Pray that women will take the chance of growing these kinds of powerful relationships. And treasure great healthy friendships with men too!

Finally God, we pray passionately that women will experience your peace. One of the major challenges many, many women express is this growing, nagging anxiety and insecurity for a variety of reasons – anxiety that limits them and holds them captive in so many ways. We pray for you to pour out your peace on women around us. Jesus said to the woman who anointed his feet in Luke 7: “He ignored them (the guests talking behind his back) and said to the woman, “Your faith has saved you. Go in peace.” And in Luke 8 to the woman who touched the hem of his robe and was healed: “Jesus said, “Someone deliberately touched me, for I felt healing power go out from me.” When the woman realized that she could not stay hidden, she began to tremble and fell to her knees in front of him. The whole crowd heard her explain why she had touched him and that she had been immediately healed. “Daughter” he said to her, “your faith has made you well. Go in peace.” He desires these same things to the women in our community today- we pray for the peace of God to fill their very souls that will spill out into their lives among us. May we also be peacemakers and peace-bringers!

God does not leave any of us where we are but continues His good work in us because of His great love – all works in progress – people desiring to use the gifts and skills and experiences we have been given for His Kingdom’s sake. AMEN.