Leading while female—whether in business, politics, the home, local communities, or the church—can be incredibly life-giving and spiritually fulfilling, yet lonely and difficult. “We Pray with Her” means supporting all the hers, both established and just starting up the ladder, who are leading the charge in today’s culture. It is a commitment to let them know that they are not alone, and that we are praying with along with them.
In a world of glass ceilings, harassment, and “boy’s clubs,” women often encounter obstacles when they seek to forge ahead in their work to leave a positive mark through their labor, personal efforts, and causes. Women business leaders, political candidates, clergy, and trailblazers of all kinds need the support and encouragement of their fellow women. We are not intended to walk through life alone, and by raising each other up in prayer we will in-turn be inspired in our own efforts, grow in our faith, be understanding of shortfalls, and celebrate successes along with our fellow women.
This inspiring devotional is a collection of 100 entries written by the women of WePrayWithHer, a grassroots movement turned online collective of women faith leaders, explores themes such as call, vocation, persistence, resistance, and struggle. Whether you’re a woman leader looking for personal inspiration, in a supportive role to a leader, an aspiring leader, or a woman who wants to support her sisters in Christ, you’ll find a home within these pages.
Join the movement with your prayers, by mentoring, and through daily acts of solidarity with the women in your life and community. In these readings you’ll be emboldened to support one another as we strive to live the life to which God has called us.
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About the Author
More than 70 United Methodist clergy women under the age of 40, led by a five-person editorial team, contributed prayers and devotions to We Pray With Her. These women serve all over the country from upstate New York to the West Coast to Atlanta to rural North Dakota. They also serve a variety of ministerial roles In the local church, chaplaincy, academia, and more with Elders and Deacons Orders and others in-process.
Read an Excerpt
Call is that deep sense of knowing that God is beckoning you in a way of being, a kind of work, and a new way of making a difference in the world.
When we talk about calling, we affirm the idea that there are things in our lives and work that speak into the deep places of our souls. These calls are the places where our gifts take root and blossom within the soil of deep purpose. For some, calling is perennial, blooming over and over again in the springs of our lives. For others, calls are more akin to annuals or biannuals and are replanted over different seasons.
We often shortchange ourselves, and others, when we talk about calling as being only for those serving in ministry. While that is the lens and the context for many of our writers, God calls everyone: those who lead companies, communities, nonprofits, families, and churches. Calls, too, are about both the things that earn us money and the things that bring us joy — and they aren't always the same thing.
Cultivating our calls is rarely straightforward or simple. Even when we are filled with assurance, we may hit bumps along the way. The devotions and prayers that follow remind us we aren't alone when we find ourselves a little unsure or disheartened. Women called to lead, whether in homes, churches, business, or politics, take this path together.
We are not alone, for the land has been tilled, and God meets us along the way, watering the seeds planted deep in our souls. God is with us, pursuing us and encouraging us during every season.
* * *
Don't be intimidated by successful makers; be inspired by them.
— Jen Hatmaker
Sometimes we hear the still small voice inside calling us to create, and we shush it, ignore it, or intentionally push it away. The voice whispers to us to make a piece of art, bring a vision to reality, write the story that's longing to get out, or try something new in our work.
With the still, small voice, God is trying to do a new thing in and through us, but we push it away thinking, This has already been done before or Someone else could do this so much better than I could.
We may consider ourselves too amateur, too inexperienced, too uneducated, or too poorly connected to bring our creations into the world. We may wonder why anyone would look at, use, or be inspired by things coming out of our imaginations. We may be afraid that our attempts will fail, that we will be laughed at or ignored, that someone else could have done it better.
We are each created in the image of a creative God, a God with such wild imagination that our lives are full of sunsets and narwhals and brussels sprouts and twenty-eight thousand species of orchids and mountains and rivers and ornery house cats. Part of growing in God's likeness is letting that still, small voice out of its cage and doing its bidding. Part of our role as human beings, made in God's image, is to create, whether we are amateurs or professionals, first-time creators or polished experts. Instead of looking around and saying, "No, I'm not really good enough to create this," we offer our unique gifts to God and the world around us. Instead of being intimidated by those who have found worldly success in whatever realm we are called to enter, God beckons us to let our imaginations lead where they may and bring our creations to life.
Do not be intimidated by those who have come before you or those who will come after you, dear sister. Don't let fear stop you. Don't sell yourself short because you're not a "professional" or an "expert." Take courage from the God who created you and me and all we can see — everything useful or beautiful or strange — and let that voice speak until your extraordinary creations have been born. You never know who you will inspire with your courage, whose voice will speak louder because of yours.
Prayer: O God, help me never silence my own inner voice because I am afraid or intimidated by others. Give me the courage to create whatever you have put into my heart, for your glory. Amen.
Rev. Elizabeth Ingram Schindler
* * *
"Ah, Lord God," I said, "I don't know how to speak because I'm only a child." The Lord responded,
"Don't say, 'I'm only a child.' Where I send you, you must go; what I tell you, you must say.
Don't be afraid of them, because I'm with you to rescue you," declares the Lord.
— Jeremiah 1:6-8
Following God's call is never an easy thing. Following God with our whole lives often means being uncomfortable or challenged. In the midst of challenges, it can be easy to feel unprepared and unequipped to go where God is sending us and to do what God is asking of us. Jeremiah felt this when God called him to be a prophet. He immediately responded by saying that he was too young and not a good speaker.
I wish I could say that my response to God's call to be a pastor was different than Jeremiah's, more like Mary of Nazareth's agreeing to bear the Christ child than the argument we see from so many of the other prophets. I was seventeen and couldn't stand in front of others and talk without my voice and hands shaking from being so nervous. I felt unprepared and unequipped. There was no way I could be a pastor speaking in front of others, teaching, and being a leader!
But even when God calls us to something we don't think we can do or makes us afraid, God promises to be with us, just like with Jeremiah. God doesn't abandon us but rather journeys with us through the unknown, and through the learning and the growing we must do. When we take seriously the call God has placed upon lives, when we go where God sends us, and when we open ourselves up to the presence of God with us and within us, we can experience a peace that only comes from God. A peace that washes over us and fills us with joy and lets us know that we are a part of God's work in the world.
Prayer: "Ah, Lord God," sometimes I don't want to do what you have called me to do. Sometimes I'm afraid, I doubt my abilities, or I just don't want to do it because it will be hard work. Keep calling out to me, keep pushing me, and open my heart to listening and doing your work in the world. Thank you for promising to be with me even when I doubt or worry. Amen.
Rev. Jessica Lauer Baldyga
* * *
"Be still, and know that I am God! I am exalted among the nations, I am exalted in the earth." The LORD of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge.
— Psalm 46:10-11 NRSV
I am an independent, go-getter who tends to move at full speed. Perhaps you are too. That is what it takes to be a woman in leadership. Better than average is not enough. Exceptional may still fall short. When it comes to leading people who do not want a woman (especially a young woman, especially a single one) leading them, there may be nothing I can do right. When I found myself in that hopelessly frustrating place of rejection, I gave up. I gave up trying to rely only on my expertise and my people skills. I gave up trying to be above reproach. I gave up trying to meet other people's expectations. Instead, I sought to lead from a place of stillness and knowledge that God is God.
Paired with prayer and discernment, learning to "be still and know" that he is God has shown me how to recognize the presence of I Am within me. The psalmist's words take me to a place of humility where I recognize that my call is always to live and lead in such a way that God is exalted.
When the powers that be reject my leadership, I am still called to lead. When the people I lead are angry that I ask them to change, I am just getting started. When the old guard ignores my authority, I am willing to take them on. When I am coming from a place of stillness, grounded in the faith that I Am dwells within me, I am powerful and persistent. I Am does not back down in the face of adversity, nor will I. And when leading boldly wears me down, I am not alone — and neither are you. "The Lord of hosts is with us; the God of Jacob is our refuge."
Prayer: God, you have called me to lead, but I call upon you to lead through me. When there is turmoil within or around me, be still with me. When I am too beaten down to go on, be my refuge. When there is more work to be done, return to the fray with me as I seek to show the world I Am within me. Amen.
Rev. Karen Hernandez
A Prayer for Discernment
God of hope, shine light in my life.
I am seeking and searching, and I am looking for guidance.
I pray that you will give me ears to hear, eyes to see, and a heart open to possibilities.
Let me hear your truth in the voices of the wise people in my life.
Let me know your truth in my own wisdom.
Keep me from rushing at easy answers, God.
Help me have patience to wait, to watch, to sit long enough to listen and let the answers unfold before me.
Help me trust my own knowing when the answer makes itself known.
Be with me in the waiting and watching, God. Be with me.
Rev. Anjie Peek Woodworth
A Prayer Before an Important Meeting
Creator God, be with everyone who will gather for this meeting. Lead us and guide us. Help us hear the wisdom of one another. In the midst of it all, help me stay centered in you. It is in you that I find my strength and my worth. Be with me as I go into this meeting. Give me wisdom and courage, patience and ears to hear, and guide my words and actions. I root myself in your love, first and always. May it be so. Amen.
Rev. Anjie Peek Woodworth
O how careful ought we to be, lest through our by-laws of church government and church discipline, we bring into disrepute even the word of life.
— Jarena Lee
I have always known I wanted to be a mom. I don't even know when I first realized it, but I have always known it deep in my bones. I have three kids who are a constant source of joy and busyness and humility. I am also an ordained minister and a seminary professor. I know that these are all my call, my vocation. I know this because I am passionately alive when I am fulfilling my calls to motherhood, ministry, and teaching.
I didn't meet an ordained woman until the summer before seminary. I still don't know how I thought I could even be a pastor, except I know the Spirit must have called it forth in my imagination. But here's the thing: I have been told I shouldn't preach because I am a woman. I have been told that since I am a mother, that is my only call and I am betraying my children and my God by working at all.
It is sometimes impossible to hear God's gentle and consistent Spirit over the constant din of other people telling us what we should be doing with our time and energy. The hardest voices to ignore are the voices from within the church.
Jarena Lee, an African American preacher in the 1800s, faced many people within the church telling her that what she knew to be from God was wrong. She questioned the call herself and asked God about it repeatedly, but in the end, it was clear and became clear to others too. She became the first woman authorized by the African Methodist Episcopal Church to preach.
Women who are called to both motherhood and work outside the home will be questioned, sometimes combatively. We will face people who don't understand or respect the call we know is from God.
The church should not be part of the problem. The church should help us discern our call and support us when it inevitably becomes difficult to juggle more than one call faithfully.
Jarena Lee knew that betraying a call from God, even when the church was the one telling her to, would bring "into disrepute even the word of life." May she help us follow in her footsteps.
Prayer: God who knows my gifts and limitations better than I do, lead me to live a life that honors your word of life. Clear away the doubts that come from listening to people who don't understand your call for me. Amen.
Rev. Dr. Emily A. Peck-McClain
* * *
The doorframe shook at the sound of their shouting, and the house was filled with smoke. I said, "Mourn for me; I'm ruined! I'm a [person] with unclean lips, and I live among a people with unclean lips. Yet I've seen the king, the Lord of heavenly forces!"
— Isaiah 6:4-5
As women, often the hardest thing for us isn't hearing our call — it's believing it. How can I possibly be called? I'm not smart enough, strong enough, or good enough, we think. It is comforting to know that even the Hebrew prophet Isaiah had those thoughts. Just as God was asking Isaiah to be God's spokesperson to Israel, Isaiah was protesting, "But I'm a person of unclean lips! Surely you can find someone better to do this job." But God doesn't choose someone else. God sends Isaiah.
Likewise, we often hear a call to do important work in our world, but we feel inadequate. If I just had a few more skills, we think. If I just knew a bit more, had a bit more experience, or had more time to prepare, then I would be ready. Even once we've followed a call, we can still feel like we don't measure up. These feelings affect everyone. Psychologists call this "Imposter Syndrome," the feeling that at any time someone will discover that we're a fake and don't really deserve to be where we are.
We describe this feeling in another way as "waiting for the other shoe to drop," waiting for something bad to happen, waiting for someone to find us out. But as writer Anne Lamott once quipped, "I think God only has one shoe." The God of love isn't going to deceive us.
What's important is that Isaiah doesn't listen to that gut reaction that says he's not good enough. Isaiah listens to God's voice instead. When God asks who will go to the people, Isaiah says, "I'm here; send me." God didn't make a mistake in calling Isaiah. God needed exactly what Isaiah had to offer — good, bad, or otherwise.
The God who created us needs exactly what we have to offer, too. God doesn't make mistakes when calling us, even if we sometimes feel unworthy. God has called you, not in spite of who you are, but because of who you are.
Prayer: Loving God, you create us and are the first to speak our names. You call us to important work in your world. Help us to listen to your voice, especially when other voices tell us we're unworthy. Help us to continue to answer your call. In the name of Jesus we pray. Amen.
Rev. Monica D. Beacham
* * *
[Martha] had a sister named Mary, who sat at the Lord's feet and listened to his message. By contrast, Martha was preoccupied with getting everything ready for their meal. So Martha came to him and said, "Lord, don't you care that my sister has left me to prepare the table all by myself? Tell her to help me."
— Luke 10:39-40
I've struggled with this scene from Luke, where Jesus is at Martha's home for dinner. I'm uncomfortable with the way Mary and Martha are seemingly pitted against each other, and how Jesus dismisses Martha's service in favor of Mary's sitting and listening to him. It seems to me that both roles are valuable. And if Martha had stopped working, no one would have eaten dinner that night.
I recently read a thoughtful essay on this familiar passage that blew it open in a whole new way. Mary A. Hanson wrote, "I do not think that there is even evidence that Mary is in the house that day. ... Mary is not there. She is gone! [Martha's] stress is due to worry about her sister being ... on the road with Jesus in ministry." My first response was shock. I quickly turned back to the scripture to double check — Mary was present at this meal, right?
But in fact, rereading the passage anew through the lens offered by Hanson, I could see a whole new possibility. Martha welcomes Jesus to dinner because she is the one who is still at home. But the language used to describe Mary suggests someone who is a disciple of a teacher taking the characteristic posture of sitting at the teacher's feet. She's a disciple, not just in this fixed setting, but as a life path. The part Mary has chosen is the part of discipleship. Martha hasn't chosen that path, at least not yet. By answering the call to follow Jesus, Mary accepts a perilous path for a woman in the first century. Martha isn't ready, however, and that's OK. But Jesus won't allow Martha to hinder Mary's bold journey of faith by making her conform to the social norms of the day. Mary doesn't have to fit the status quo to follow Jesus.
God is continually calling us, asking us for a bold response, seeking our risk-taking discipleship. It's always easier to remain in our predetermined, comfortable, status-quo safe places than to hit the road with Jesus; but only in following him can we truly find the better part. May we be bold answering the call, again and again.
Prayer: Holy God, help me choose the better part and boldly answer your call. Amen.
Rev. Dr. Elizabeth Quick
A Prayer for an Important Interview
May I trust you, O God, the source of all I am, all I have, and all I have done.
May I trust the gift within me that comes from you.
May I believe you have called me to reflect your light the way a diamond reflects the sun.
May I believe I am part of your ongoing creating.
May I know whatever happens, your love is my origin.
May I know whatever form my life's work takes, love is my purpose.
May I speak and listen, learn and hope, wait and move.
May I live with this awareness deep in my bones, my brain, my heart.
Excerpted from "We Prayer With Her"
Copyright © 2018 Abingdon Press.
Excerpted by permission of Abingdon Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Devotions Prayers 1-45
A Prayer for Discernment 9
A Prayer Before an Important Meeting 9
A Prayer for an Important Interview 16
A Prayer for Dropping a Baby Off at Day Care for the First Time 17
A Prayer of Gratitude for When a Pregnancy Test Is Positive 24
A Prayer for When Someone Asks, Again, Why You Don't Have Children 24
A Prayer at the Time of Adoption 29
A Prayer for When the Caregiver Needs Care 37
A Prayer When Returning from Vacation 37
Devotions Prayers 47
A Prayer for Transformation Through Struggle 53
A Prayer for the Unplanned End of Breastfeeding 58
A Prayer in the Midst of Technical Difficulties 63
A Prayer for Infertility 68
A Prayer in the Middle of a Miscarriage 68
A Prayer for Helplessness 73
A Prayer for Loneliness 73
A Prayer for Starting Over 78
A Prayer for When Bedtime with Children Is Stressful 83
A Prayer for When You Just Can't 83
A Prayer for the Illness of a Parent 88
A Prayer Before Surgery 88
A Prayer for One Day 93
Devotions Prayers 99
A Prayer for a Difficult Meeting 107
A Prayer for the Courage to Speak Out Against Misconduct 107
A Prayer When Experiencing a Panic Attack 114
A Prayer at the Time of Burnout 114
A Prayer When a Partner Is Not Able to Be Supportive 120
A Prayer for Daily Busyness 120
A Prayer for Fertility Treatment 127
A Prayer at the Time of Premature Birth 127
A Prayer Before Asking for a Raise 134
A Prayer in the Midst of a Job Change 134
A Prayer for Wisdom When Considering Leaving a Spouse 141
A Prayer for the Day of Your Divorce Hearing 141
A Prayer for Waiting in a Time of Medical Uncertainty 146
Devotions Prayers 147
A Prayer for Boldness 155
A Prayer in Times of Chaos 162
A Prayer for the Gift of Life 162
A Prayer of Blessing to Be Who You Are 169
A Prayer for a Social Justice March 176
A Prayer at a Time of Violence 183
Devotions Prayers 193-238
A Prayer for Surviving 200
A Prayer When Overwhelmed 207
A Prayer for Postpartum Mental Illness 214
A Prayer in the Midst of Waiting 221
A Prayer of Praise and Thanksgiving 221
A Prayer for Beginning the Day Over 234