I want to pray for you today in one of the ways I’ve been praying for years now. Sometimes my prayers have words, sometimes my prayers manifest as tears or as laughter or as longings, as actions and as anger and as gentleness, as work to do and as songs to sing and food to cook and babies to hold, as how I spend my money and my time, as friendship and solidarity. There are so many ways to pray of course but this is mine and so today, on International Women’s Day, let us pray.
Here we go, sister, let’s do this right from the start: I pray that Love will rise in you and through you. I pray for you to know Love deeply and intimately, that you will have a hunger and a thirst for the More of God. I pray that you would be satisfied by Love, that you would make your home in Love, that you would make Love your discipline, your resting place, your practice, your doctrine, your plumb line, and your identity.
I pray for you to have a finely tuned ear for the voice of the Holy Spirit. So that when you walk, you would hear that voice whispering “this is the way, walk in it” and so you would walk forward unafraid.” (Isaiah 30:21)
I pray that you would be a woman who celebrates other women. I pray for fancy champagne glasses filled with sparkling apple juice around your table and milestones to celebrate. May you push back on that old lie that women are insecure and jealous by how you love and champion other women.
I pray that you would be a voice of truth and boldness. I pray you would wrestle with your own story until you own it, body and soul, and have learned how to make it sing.
I pray for you to be a woman of possibility and hope, a woman who rises above cynicism and bitterness into a never-wearying never-backing-down resolution.
When you are distrustful of other women, I pray that you would be surprised by the sneaky goodness of God, that somehow real sisterhood sort of friendship would sneak up on you in a haphazard and organic way, without the striving and the organizing, without the Official Sanctioned Church Programs To Make Ladies Be Friends. I pray that the right women would come in your life at the right time, I pray you’ll stay open to finding them, may you always be watching for hints of your people.
I pray you would be surrounded by women who know what it is to love and to champion and to celebrate, by women who are dreamers and schemers, who live a bit outside of the Good Christian Lady Box. I pray someone clutches their pearls over you. May you be tireless and may you know what it is to rest well.
I pray for spiritual midwives in your life, women who will breathe alongside of you as you are giving birth to the new you over and over again. I pray for friends and for mentors, for authors and leaders, for preachers and policy makers, for mothers and a few saucy aunties, for the daughters of your body or of your heart, may you join hands in the rising. May you be alongside of women who invite you to go deeper, who make you more real, more honest, who know who you are without make-up or masks.
May you learn and challenge and grow. May you reclaim curiosity and wisdom and knowledge. I pray for acceptance letters and scholarships, for opportunities to do the work you love to do and I pray for equal pay when you do it!
I pray for a long life of content for a page-turning biography to enchant and inspire and maybe scandalize the generation coming up behind you.
I pray that the women of your lineage of faith will inspire you. May you know their stories in scripture and in history and in your own circles: may you be curious about other women and amplify their influence. May you find good leaders to follow, good leaders who will influence you, call you out, mentor you, coach you, teach you, challenge you, push you.
We call out the sins of violence, rape, abuse, torture, against all women. No more. May you be a woman who is safe, a woman who does not fear, a woman who builds safety and security for other women, too. We call out the economic injustices, the educational inequalities, the maternal mortality, patriarchy, movements designed to baptize inequality in sacred language, the forced prostitution, the sex trafficking, all of the countless ways that the image of God in women is abused and mistreated and broken or diminished. We call it out and name it for what it is – sin! powers! principalities! systemic evil! injustice! – and we cast it down, in the name of Jesus. I pray that you would continue casting it down with your whole life. We pray that they will be weakened in the world, cast away, broken, and dismantled forever. May we work to call these things out and to dismantle them from our world … and from our own hearts.
I pray that the places where this world has broken you, where evil has left its mark, where you have felt abandoned and broken and hurt, where you are in pain would become a wellspring of healing and wholeness for you. I pray for the desert to bloom with flowers. I pray for the dry parched earth to be filled with cleansing rain and healing waters. I pray for your healing, sister, and I pray for your wholeness. I pray for your boldness, I pray for your voice to rise. May you witness a new thing brewing. And may your very place of death become a story of unexpected resurrection.
Right from Pentecost, the Church has known that the mistreatment and dehumanization or devaluing of women was not and never would be part of God’s plan and purpose for women and so may you be moved to act for justice in both big and small ways in your life. May you find your place in the big story of redemption, rescue, and renewal that God is weaving together.
I pray for you to remember the big story of women in the world and to pay attention to their voices, to elevate and empower and affirm them as worthy and valuable just as you are worthy and valuable. I pray you would become what N.T. Wright called a parable of hope, right in your life right now.
I pray you would participate in the in-breaking of the Kingdom of God, the setting things right of our co-creation with Jesus. I pray that you would rise up to prophesy to God’s new world with your words and your life.
Hear me now: you have not been called to the people-pleasing life, to the approval seeking life, to the bow-down-and-give-up life or to the sit-down-and-shut-up life. No! You have been called to the peace-making life, the truth-telling life, the mighty in words and deeds life, the fearless life, the she-who-the-Son-sets-free-is-free-indeed life. You have been called to the spirit-filled and God-breathed life so may you live out the ways of Jesus into every corner of your womanhood, always with an eye on who is alongside of you, ahead of you, and coming up behind you.
May you know how deeply you are loved by God. May you know deep in your lungs that every breath is carrying the mark of your the breath of God from the Garden to the Ascension. May you, as Paul wrote, firmly plant your feet on love, taking in with all the followers of Jesus the extravagant dimensions of Christ’s love. That you would reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Living full lives, full in the fullness of God. (Ephesians 3:18-19 MSG).
I pray that you would go further than we have ever gone, that you would be bolder than we have ever been, to be braver, to preach the Gospel of freedom and goodness and welcome fearlessly. You will go where we cannot go and we are praising God for you, sister.
I pray that you would remember the truth of who you are. That you would know you are valuable, you are loved, you are worthy – not because of what you do or what you say or what you accomplish, not because of how men perceive you or desire you, not because you of how you look or dress, not because of your income, not because you are (or are not) a mother – but simply because you, sister, you were made in the image of God.
May you turn to Jesus as your teacher and your shepherd. Don’t outsource the work of the Holy Spirit in your life. You’re not under anyone’s umbrella, you need no mediator or go-between, you are standing boldly before the throne of grace on your own soul’s two feet before God.
May you pay attention to your anger and to your joy. Your calling is hiding somewhere at that intersection. I pray you would be a friend to the poor, to the oppressed, to the marginalized – not just an ally, not just an activist, not just a listener, but a friend.
May you seek and create beauty – that’s Kingdom work, too.
Stop waiting for permission, sister: it’s time. I pray you would rise up with your gifts and your words, your passion and your insight, your skill and your brain, your perspective and your history, full in the fullness of God.
There is real evil in this world, may you be a prophetic outpost for the Kingdom of God, living into the abundance of God in your life. The resistance will come but you will stand.
And when you find the invitations from the Holy Spirit, when you feel Jesus alongside of you whispering “Pick up your mat and walk” I pray that you jump up and run after wherever he’s headed.
I’ll pray these words from our brother Paul over you, too, from his letter to the Romans: “Take your everyday, ordinary life – your sleeping, eating, going-to-work and walking-around life – and place it before God as an offering. Embracing what God does for you is the best thing you can do for him. Don’t become so well-adjusted to your culture that you fit into it without even thinking. Instead fix your attention on God. You’ll be changed from the inside out.”
In the name of Jesus, I pray that you would have the guts to follow where Jesus is leading. I pray for freedom to reign. I pray for you to find your place in a sisterhood of grace and freedom.
May you relearn the ways you’ve missed it. May you be both the teacher and student, open to learning. May you be given opportunities to repent and to ask forgiveness, to embrace the hard blessings of forgiveness sought and received and offered.
I pray that you would cultivate joy and learn to embrace sorrow. Rather than trading shot for shot or rage for rage or despair for despair, you would step out of the cycle of death and walk straight out onto the water, eyes fixed on Jesus, making a way where there was no way.
I pray against the temptations of silence and despair and numb anger: I pray that you would run the race that is set before you, that you would flourish in your lane while cheering on every other runner alongside of you. I pray that you would look fear in the face and speak up anyway. I pray that you would look hopelessness in the face and be the voice declaring the hope of the Lord for the redemption and rescue and renewal of all things.
I pray for you when you are tired and discouraged, when you feel futile and small and ridiculous, when it is tempting to shrink back and give up, I pray for rest, I pray for renewal, I pray for faith, for fearlessness, for boldness, for new courage, for new vision, for new life to come to you in ways that surprise you and bless you.
And now rest in your God-breathed worth. Stop holding your breath, hiding your gifts, ducking your head, dulling your roar, distracting your soul, stilling your hands, quieting your voice, and satiating your hunger with the lesser things of this world.
You are set apart in your right-now life for the daily work of liberation and love. May you live your life in the cadence of the redeemed and resurrected: others first, pay attention, open heart, work well, rest radically, open doors, live prophetically, make room in your life to be inconvenienced, challenge, love well – be brave together.
It’s in the name of Jesus that we send you out to your right-now life, sister.
We’re in it together. We’re headed towards the new city and we’re crying out in the gates for Love. May your life rise.
Some excerpts of this prayer are found in my book, Jesus Feminist.