A Simple Way to Empower Christian Women

women prayer

I don’t know how it worked in your churches and family, but it seemed to me that whoever had the most “authority” or “spiritual clout” blessed the meals during church potlucks and private hospitality.

Nobody had any ulterior motives; it just seemed reasonable, when it came to that awkward moment when somebody had to pray out loud, in front of people, to ask the pastor or the father or the husband to pray the blessing.

The head of the house (or the church or the Christian group) got to pray the dinner blessing. All men, of course, just like only men prayed out loud during the public worship service.

All of the men in my life who prayed over these communal meals certainly deserved such a recognition, so it never occurred to me to question that practice.

Then I got married to a man who hated praying extemporaneously in front of me, much less in front of any friends and family we might gather together in our little apartment. I found myself in the position of “assigning” who got to pray the meal prayer.

(Why didn’t I just say the blessing myself? I don’t know. My family often asked our guests to pray, as a courtesy, I think, as a sign that we respected their spirituality and contribution. Plus, I don’t like praying out loud either. Introvert. Sorry.)

Whenever we got together with Christian families, the wife always asked the husband to pray. In any situation where a layman could pray, men always prayed. When my family visited us, I asked my dad to pray, without hesitation, for the head of the household reason. I later thought, “It didn’t even occur to me to ask my mom, and she’s equally the head of our home and a spiritual servant deserving of recognition per The Arbitrary Rule of Who I Ask to Lead the Meal Prayer.”

I started noticing this trend, and I decided to break it. When my married friends came over, I asked the wife to bless dinner. (This also made sense, because we’ve been besties forever.)

This is an ingenious (and a little devious) way to scramble the patriarchy and introduce women’s prayerful voices to a Christian community who silences or unintentionally passes over them.

I don’t have the authority to order church leadership to allow women to pray during the worship service, but I do have authority in my own home to request who prays. I think asking godly wives, daughters, and single women to do the traditional, head-of-the-household prayer is a simple way to empower Christian women. It would work in any situation where men traditionally take the lead — co-ed Bible studies, prayer groups, or lay(wo)men ministries.

Some women have never even heard the power of their voice before.

Of course, the ideal would be for everybody to pray one prayer at once, but the church split and each denomination changed up the group dinner prayer. Might as well use a broken system for the advancement of women’s spiritual rights!

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14 thoughts on “A Simple Way to Empower Christian Women

  1. Jean

    Bailey, I feel like we are channeling the same spirit and ideas. :) Growing up, my dad always prayed. No question. I can’t remember a time when we sat down at the table where my mom prayed. Now that my husband and I are trying to implement family dinner for our son (yeah…introverts!)…we share the responsibility of blessing the meal. My hope is for our son (and any other potential children) to grow up in a home where they have many memories of me leading spiritually. We create what is normal to them.

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  2. Daniel Abbott

    Is the “ideal prayer” public?

    “When you pray, go into your closet, and when you have shut fast the door, pray to your Father in secret, and your Father, who sees in secret, will reward you openly.”
    -Matthew 6:6

    “When you pray, be not like the hypocrites: For they love to pray in public to be seen of others. I tell you the truth, they have their reward.”
    -Matthew 6:5

    “Store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, […] For where your treasure is, there your heart will be, also.”
    -Matthew 6:20-1

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  3. Rebekah

    So sad! In my fellowship we take turns from the men and women down to the wee ones. Everyone gets to pray in the service if they feel led. I’d never heard of such a culture!

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  4. Korie

    I love your comment at the end, haha. My go to is to say (or shout) “Thank you Jesus! Amen!”

    I was recently out to lunch with a friend. The server set the plate in front of me. I looked at it and said, “Thank you Lord!” Which was honestly my genuine reaction to the food in front of me. And then started to eat. She said, “Wait! We have to pray!” Whoops.

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  5. Allison Caylor

    I know this is an old post, so, sorry for the ghost comment. :) I saw the link to this post and thought I’d go back and add a thought, just as a balance or alternate perspective. If there is a truly complementarian couple/woman in your home, and you ask the wife to bless the meal, you’ve definitely put both of them, especially her, in an extremely awkward position. If it were me, I wouldn’t feel like I was violating my conscience by complying necessarily, but I would feel very uncomfortable (probably even antagonized if I knew you were doing it on purpose). So, since I know your pursuit is loving truth-seeking together, I’d like to note that this situation may have more of an astringent effect than you would want if you’re working on building a relationship. If you’re actually trying to make someone uncomfortable, and not want to come over again, well, that’s another thing.

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    • Bailey Steger

      Good point! I didn’t think to clarify this. I was definitely thinking of rocking the boat only with people comfortable doing so. I don’t mind making other people uncomfortable listening to a woman pray, but I would not want the woman herself to feel uncomfortable or to cause strife in her marriage.

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