Prayer For My Sisters in Christ
Prayer with Sisters in Christ
April 13, 2018
Because I grew up as the only girl in a family of boys, my notion of what it meant to have a sister was, shall we say, limited. To be honest, many of my experiences of sisters involved watching them fight over even the most ordinary matters; so I was generally grateful that I was sisterless.
In high school, I was on the debate and speech teams. The former routinely placed me in a mostly male environment with which I was quite comfortable, given my family experience.
Still I had very little experience of being around other women. Then I went to college, where I lived in an all-women dormitory for four years.
Even with the challenges of sharing closets and kitchens, it was nowhere near as bad as what I had anticipated.
Despite the good friendships I had with women, I still had no experience of what it meant to have a sister. Or at least I thought I didn’t.
Recently, I asked several women friends to pray for another woman who was in a very difficult situation. Their generosity moved me. Not only were these prayer warriors committed to spiritual sustenance, but they also wanted to provide a tangible witness of their support: quickly they proposed to send her a care package.As one of the women put it, “We want her to know that she has sisters in Christ who are praying for her.” Keep in mind that they did not know this woman’s identity, nor she theirs.
When I picked up the care package, it contained various comfort items and several hundred dollars in gift cards, a welcome surprise for the recipient, who was touched by both their spiritual and material generosity.
My friends’ response gave me a retrospect through which to understand my spiritual life. While I’m blessed to have male friends, I realized that it is through my shared prayer life with many women friends that I’ve come to have a sense of what it is to have a sister and to be a sister to a woman.
And while every soul has an essentially feminine response to God, my experience suggests that there’s something uniquely feminine, even maternal, about the way in which women pray.
In 2004, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith published the document On the Collaboration of Men and Women in the World, in which Cardinal Ratzinger (the future Pope Benedict XVI) wrote that one aspect of the vocation of women is to model what it means to be the bride of Christ. After all, the Church is the bride, and Christ is the Bridegroom; so everyone in the Church, whether male or female, is invited to be the bride. Obviously, this presents a challenge for men, who all have vocations as fathers, including spiritual fathers, and some as husbands. Despite these fundamentally masculine roles, as members of the Church they are called to a feminine response to God. Such has been the longstanding tradition of the Catholic Church to refer to the soul in feminine terms and to describe union with God in terms of a mystical marriage.
Mary’s Focus on God
The first chapter of Luke’s Gospel introduces us to the Mother of God, in large part by contrasting her behavior with that of Zechariah.
We see Zechariah greeted by the archangel Gabriel, who tells him that the prayer of him and his wife, Elizabeth, has been granted: they will have a son.
Even though Zechariah and his wife had indeed prayed to be blessed with a child, Elizabeth was now beyond childbearing years, and so at first he refused to believe that their prayer had been answered. He asked the angel how it could be possible.
Dr. de Solenni will be speaking at the Avila Summit. Click image to learn more.Many (if not all) of us look for signs that our prayers have been answered. And all too often, we refuse the obvious signs, even a messenger from God, as Zechariah did.
Luke then recounts how the same archangel appeared to Mary. Now, presumably she had not been asking God the Father to become the mother of His Son. In fact, Mary’s Canticle (Luke 1:46–55) generally confirms this.
Zechariah, she is told something that exceeds her imagination. In Zechariah’s case, though, he couldn’t imagine that his longstanding petition had been answered.
Mary questions the angel in the same way, “How can this be?” Upon hearing his response, she gives her consent.
In her yes to Gabriel, Mary allows herself to be taken into something greater than herself. The incredulous person might see in her a woman who would buy anything — sand in the Sahara Desert, the Brooklyn Bridge, that one secret food that will take off all the belly fat, and so on.
But as we see salvation history unfold, Mary’s example becomes our model. Would that we could say yes to the unimaginable things that God asks of us at times, not to mention the merely mundane. This woman stands in stark contrast to the man Zechariah, with whom most of us probably identify more readily than with Mary.
As Monica Migliorino Miller writes, “Woman confirms the goodness of creation. The freedom of man is manifested in Mary as she stands in for liberated mankind precisely as a woman.”
Almost as if to underscore this great drama, Gabriel gave Mary almost the same message he gave to Zechariah. He tells her that her cousin Elizabeth is pregnant. Mary responds not by resting and simply wrapping her head around what has just happened, but by going to visit her expectant cousin. She has embraced what has happened and acts because of it.I’ve long relished this passage. It illustrates a beautiful synergy between the contemplative life and the active life, between prayer and the things that fill our busy lives.
To bring this back to the witness of my friends and many other women in my life, I see that when women pray, there’s a certain strength.
Maybe it’s not a strength that the world recognizes, but it’s a strength that we all experience and draw upon. I find it uniquely feminine in light of the response of the Mother of God to God Himself.
In our busy lives we try to stay focused on God and keeping His presence in the middle of our activity, just as Mary did.
Hearts Anchored in Christ
Scripture offers us many examples of holy women. I’ll focus briefly on two, who were also biological sisters — Martha and Mary — to develop further my thoughts on women as sisters in Christ. We know that with their brother Lazarus, they were close friends of Jesus.
When Jesus wanted to relax with friends, He went to them. They were so close that Martha even chided Jesus about her brother’s death, going so far as to say that Lazarus would not have died had Jesus been there (John 11:21).
(Only someone who’s almost family could lay on a guilt trip that!)
And yet Martha manifests her faith in Jesus, her conviction that He is the Messiah, the Son of God.
Perhaps we forget this deep faith when we read Luke 10:38–42, in which Jesus has come to their home and Martha gets upset that Mary is sitting at His feet, listening to Him, rather than helping her with the preparations, a predicament experienced in most households. When Jesus admonishes Martha, we see the apparent contrast between her activity and Mary’s contemplation.
But another aspect of the passage can be highlighted. Martha says to Jesus: “Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Tell her then to help me.” Jesus responds to her, “Martha, Martha, you are anxious and troubled about many things; one thing is needful. Mary has chosen the good portion, which shall not be taken away from her.”
Go back and read that carefully again. At any point do you see Jesus telling her to not be active? He’s telling her to not be anxious. The better part that Mary has chosen is the peace that comes from being united with God.
After the death of Jesus, when Mary meets the risen Christ (whom she first mistakes for a gardener), instead of resting with Him, she is sent by Him to tell the disciples that she has seen Him and that He is going to the Father (John 20:1–18). Because of this mandate that she fulfilled, St. Thomas Aquinas called her the apostle to the apostles.In both episodes, something about Mary stayed the same: she was focused on the Lord. Whether sitting at His feet or witnessing His Resurrection, she was not anxious or troubled. Her heart was anchored in Him.
When Mary first discovers the empty tomb, she runs to tell Simon Peter, who comes back with her and another disciple. They, too, see the open tomb. They are in the same place where Mary stays and eventually encounters the risen Lord. For whatever, reason, Jesus chose not to appear to them, but to Mary. And He chose her to spread the word to them.
In both Mary the Mother of God and Mary Magdalene, we see an openness to receive a truth greater than themselves, greater than anything that anyone has ever imagined.
And we see this also in Martha, who tells Jesus that she sees He is the Messiah, the Son of God. In all three women, we see how their belief and conviction shape their activity.
In contrast with the apostles, who are closest to Jesus and overcome with fear at times, Scripture never indicates fear on the part of these women.
To my mind, there’s no doubt that we see in the Gospels and in the Christian tradition the lived example of the gift of self, even in the fearful apostles, men with whom most of us would have probably identified more than with the women I’ve put forth.
The Spiritual Symbolism of the Body
While all women and men are called to the gift of self, I wonder how much the gift of self is shaped by our sexually differentiated bodies? Throughout conception, pregnancy, childbirth, and her children’s early years, a woman’s body gives of itself in a most concrete manner. From the very beginning of the child’s existence, his mother sustains and nourishes him literally by giving (even if unwillingly) through her maternal body.
Insofar as every woman’s body reflects this reality, whether she has become a biological mother or not, I see our bodies as formative of our psyches and our souls. After all, every soul comes to know through the sexually differentiated body with which it is united to create a specific human person. Each human soul needs its human body until parted by death.
Until that point, that soul is informed through a specific body. It makes sense to me, therefore, that the female nature of my body would inform my soul in a specifically female way even though I’ve never been pregnant, much less given birth. And I would argue similarly that all women and men are influenced by their respective sexually differentiated bodies.St. John Paul II wrote, “Perhaps more than men, women acknowledge the person, because they see persons with their hearts.” Could this not refer to the way in which a woman’s body disposes her to see and interact with human life in its very beginning?
Don’t get me wrong. I’m not trying to make generalizations about the sexes to suggest that all women are wonderful examples of humanity and men . . . well, not so much. Rather, I’m trying to get at a fundamental (and, I hope, complementary) way of looking at sexual differentiation, to the point that it affects even our spiritual lives.
Recall that earlier in this chapter, I cited Ratzinger, who stated that it was the vocation of women to witness what it means to be the bride, specifically the Bride of Christ.
Being a Sister in Christ
For myself, I see that most clearly in my experience of prayer with other women. Whether I am offering prayer or am the recipient of prayer, there is a unique feminine response.
Again, this is not to say that men don’t respond quickly and effectively with prayer. The witness of countless saints, canonized or not, manifests that they can and do.
Yet perhaps their response might be called feminine insofar as they model the Mother of God and many other holy women.
In my women friends, I see and learn from the example of Mary at Cana upon discovering that the wedding party has run wine. She doesn’t go to her Son and say, “I think it’s time to go home and get away from this noise.
” No, she goes to Him and points out the problem to Him: “They have no wine,” as if she expects Him to do something about it.
When He asks why it’s His concern, she merely turns to the servers and says, “Do whatever he tells you” (John 2:1–10). Problem solved.
In the three women I’ve put forth for our brief reflection here, we see this perfect blend of the contemplative and the practical. They remain in the presence of God while also tending to the realities of the world.
On a most practical level, that’s what I’ve learned from the prayer lives of so many women I know. A quick text message can launch a spiritual avalanche of prayer.And although I know men who respond in kind, I’d say that we women are gifted insofar as it might be easier for us to connect immediately with human need, since we are gifted with bodies that are disposed to the most vulnerable of human needs.
I see among women a more ready expression not only of the need for prayers but also of the response of prayers, prayers that don’t disregard our basic human needs. This was what I saw in my friends who responded with prayers and a substantial care package.
And I realized that I’ve learned from them how to be the sister in Christ that I grew up seeing in my mother: someone who spends countless hours praying through her ordinary work while also making sure that the person for whom she’s praying also has other basic human needs taken care of.
Blessed Pope Paul VI closed the Second Vatican Council saying, “Women imbued with a spirit of the Gospel can do so much to aid humanity in not falling.
” To my mind, these are the women we can all become when we pray as sisters in Christ, modeling our prayer after that of Mary, the Mother of God, bridging the gap between humanity and God as we unite our contemplative efforts to our very ordinary and practical day-to-day activities.
Editor’s note: This article is an excerpt from When Women Pray, which is available from Sophia Institute Press. Dr. de Solenni will be among several speakers at the 2018 Avila Summit, which you can learn more about on their site.
10 Prayers for Sisters in Christ and in Life
Everyone is in need of some help. These prayers for sisters in Christ and in life will encourage you to pray for the needs of others in hopes that they look to the Lord and live by his providence for us.
Lord, what the enemy means for evil against our church body, we believe You can use for good. Remind our hearts of this.
When we are being attacked and crushed from all sides, remind us of Your faithfulness to use everything for Your good and Your glory. May we not fear but trust in Your provision for our church family.
May we not only be readers of Your Word but believers and doers. Increase our faith, Lord.
Gracious and Provident God, bless us with Your grace as we pray into our future together. As Sisters and Brothers of one another and of our Savior, we acknowledge our vulnerability even as we renew our trust in You.
We are confident that You will give us the courage to move forward with hope and trust in You. We ask this in the name of Jesus, our brother, knowing we are held always in the unity of your Creative Spirit
who is with us now and forever. Amen.
Heavenly Father, how we worship and praise You for Your loving kindness and goodness to each one of us – we could not draw another breath unless You gave us the power. You are indeed an awesome God and we stand in awe of You.
Lord, thank You that I am a part of the body of Christ and thank You for the many godly sisters in Christ that I have had the privilege to meet and get to know in my life.
Lord so many have come and gone and yet so many have left an indelible mark upon my life – and I just want to say thank You for all the dear sisters in Christ that have crossed my path – those that encouraged and those that prayed for me, when I was lost in sin.Thank You for those that supported me and those that taught and trained me in the scripture to know more about You.. for those that corrected me and for those that have blessed me in so many ways.
Lord I know that although I have a lost touch with many of these dear sisters in Christ, that have had such a wonderful influence in my life..
and although some have been taken to heaven already, I ask Your blessing on each and every one that is living today, wherever they may be – and pray that You would bring into each of their lives other godly women who would encourage and support them..
and who would pray for them and encourage them. Thank You that one-day we will all stand before Your throne of grace and heavenly sing songs of great rejoicing together.
Thank You Lord for the many wonderful sisters in Christ that You have graciously placed in my life and I pray that You would give me the opportunity to similarly play the part of a ‘sister in Christ’ to others that You see fit to bring into my life – and I will give You all the praise and all the glory, in Jesus name I pray,
Heavenly Lord, I come to You today to lift up my dear sister, whose health is failing badly and who needs Your touch of healing on her life. Lord we know that You are the Giver of life You know exactly what is the problem from which my sister is suffering – and we pray that in a wonderful way You would touch her and heal her as only You can.
Father we know that You still have power to heal and sometimes to choose to heal a person and at other times Your will is to be an ever-present Help in the midst of our distresses and we ask Lord that whatever Your reason for my sister’s deteriorating health that You would give her the sufficient grace that You have promised to all Your children – so that you demonstrate not only to them but to those that have to do with them an amazing grace that only You can provide.
Nevertheless Father I pray that You will see fit to heal my sister and to raise her to full health and strength – but may Your perfect will be done in her life.. and we will give you all the praise and all the glory, for You alone are worthy to recover our worship and praise, in Jesus name I pray,
God, help our church body to walk in a manner worthy of the calling You have given us. Help us in all our interactions with one another to have humble and gentle hearts. Grant us patience for one another, bearing with one another in love. Grant the Body of Christ unity. May we walk humbly with You, God, allowing You to show us our wrongs.
Lord, You have told us in Your Word that You hear our prayers. We are crying out to You, we are humbling ourselves before You and seeking Your face. We come together as a church body to seek You. We repent and turn from our wicked ways, thank You for hearing us. Thank you for Your forgiveness and healing.
Thank You Lord for my sister and for the wonderful times that we have shared together – thank You that You placed us in families and for the privilege of having a sister mine. Thank You for all that my sister has taught me and the encouragement she has been to me when I have been in time of hardship and distress
Lord I pray that You would be very close to her and direct and protect her in all she does. Lead and guide her into all truth and draw her ever closer to Yourself in Jesus name I pray.
Lord I pray that day by day she would draw closer to You and surrender herself to the leading of Your Spirit. May she grow in grace and in a knowledge of Jesus until we all come to spiritual maturity.Give her the desire and grace to study Your word and to draw ever closer to You in daily prayer.
Bind her thoughts to Your thoughts and her will to Your will so that she may grow in the wisdom and truth that comes only from You.
May she excel in the fruit of the Spirit and grow in humility and gentleness and use her in a mighty way to demonstrate the love and grace of the Lord Jesus in all she says and does, in Jesus name I pray,
Lord, You have given us what seems an impossible task with this passage. You have asked us to deny ourselves, take up our cross and follow You. Even when our spirits are willing, the flesh is weak. You know our hearts, Father.
Help us, with Your Holy Spirit, to examine our hearts and hear from You. The longer we walk with You, the more we look You. We desire to become more and more You, less selfish and more selfless, willing to deny ourselves in any and all situations.
You have told us that when we lose our life for Your sake, we will save it. Save us from ourselves, God.
As we lift up these words for our churches, let us come before God with humility and a willingness to obey. Let us put others first and serve our brothers and sisters in Christ. May we seek God first, putting aside our own desires. May we become intercessors for our brothers and sisters in Christ. May we pray more and criticize less. May we be encouragers and uplifters.
Father God, You desire peace and unity and encouragement for our body of believers. Help us, Lord, to pursue what makes for peace and for building one another up. To pursue the things You will lead to peace and unity.
Give us discerning hearts to know Your will and give us the courage to be obedient. Lord, we know that without You and Your Holy Spirit indwelling each of us, we cannot do any of these things.
But, with You and for Your glory, grant our body peace and unity.
Heavenly Father, I thank You for my sister, whom I love so dearly and yet Lord she does not know You and does not show any interest in knowing You and Lord it grieves my heart that my beautiful sister is so indifferent to the good news of the gospel of Christ – Lord I pray that You would seek her out and convict her of her need of Jesus and draw her into Your arms of love I pray.
Lord I know that she herself has to make the choice to trust in the Lord Jesus as her Saviour and that You respect the choices that we make and never force Your love on anyone who does not want it – but Lord I feel that she has been blinded to the truth and I ask that in a wonderful way You would open her eyes to her need of Jesus so that she might be saved.
Father I know that it is not Your will that anyone should perish but that all should come to faith in the Lord Jesus as Saviour and I pray that whatever it takes You will get her attention onto Jesus and bring her to her knees before Your throne of grace – Lord I want my sister in heaven with the rest of the family and pray that in Your grace and love You would work in her life and bring her into Your family – in Jesus name I pray, Amen.Check out this great Joyce Meyer sermon as she discusses how millions can find hope and restoration through Jesus Christ.
About the Author of this Blog Post
Crystal Ayres has served as our editor-in-chief for the last five years. She is a proud veteran, wife and mother. The goal of ConnectUs is to publish compelling content that addresses some of the biggest issues the world faces. If you would to reach out to contact Crystal, then go here to send her a message.