A prayer for IWD 2021
The recent events in public conversation in Australia have got me feeling heavy. There are more women coming forward almost daily with claims of being sexually assaulted while working for the government of our country. High school girls courageously sharing their stories of abuse and non-consent. Meanwhile, the reports and testimonies arising from the exposure of Ravi Zacharias’ decades of abusing women have many in the evangelical Christian world reeling. The timing of International Women’s Day this year (Monday, 8th March) seems important. On the first Sunday of this month, I prayed this prayer at my church because it felt important to do so.
The beginning of this prayer is adapted from Luke 1:46-53. This is Mary’s prayer after she finds out she’ll give birth to Jesus, and it’s a prayer that reminds us that our Lord loves the vulnerable and fights for them, and that he brings down the proud and the oppressor.
Our souls glorify you, our spirits rejoice in you, God our Saviour! The Mighty One has done great things for us – holy is your name! Your mercy extends to those who fear you, from generation to generation. You have performed mighty deeds with your powerful arm; you have scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. You have brought down rulers from their thrones but you have lifted up the humble. You have filled the hungry with good things but have sent the rich away empty. Our souls glorify you, our spirits rejoice in you, God our Saviour!
Almighty and Most Merciful God,
We praise you because you are on the side of the vulnerable, the lonely, the abused, the humble. Forgive us for not always standing on the side of justice – for taking the easier way instead of the way that loves others before ourselves. Help us to be humble before you – remind us that our hearts are lost and our vision is warped by sin. And even as we mourn how sinful we are, renew us with your love. May we turn to you in reliance and look to you for wholeness.
Lord God, humbled before you, aware of our weaknesses and blind spots, open our eyes to the vulnerable, the lonely and the abused, and help us to stand alongside them like you do.
As we consider the Ravi Zacharias abuse scandal and the current conversation going on in Australia, we pray for the terrible culture in our churches, our politics, our schools and our society that treats women as less-than-human. Creator God, you have made women and men in your image, after your likeness. What a glorious truth that is! And what a horrifying thing when that truth is denied. We’re heartbroken by the experiences of these survivors, we’re furious that so many people experience abuse like this. Lord, you are the great Judge and Healer – and so we come to you for justice and restoration for those who have been harmed. Bring the perpetrators to justice, and help us as your church to stand for justice.
Lord Jesus, we see your interactions with women in the gospels and rejoice that our God loves all people. You engaged with women and treated them with dignity and love. You took their questions and arguments seriously. You believed them. You rebuked them without patronising them. You never belittled them. You never made fun of them for being feminine or felt the need to assert your masculinity over them. Jesus, thank you that this is what you’re like.By your Spirit, empower us as a church, as individuals, to learn to do so much better, to live towards one another like you showed us during your life on earth.
Loving God, help us also to be aware that there will be people in our churches and community who are triggered by this public conversation and are suffering because of past experiences. Give us sensitivity and kindness. Prepare us to really listen if others need to speak. Open our hearts to love and pray for one another.
Lord Jesus, we praise you because you bring down rulers from their thrones and you lift up the humble. You fill the hungry with good things and send the rich away empty. You stand on the side of the vulnerable, the lonely, the abused, the humble. Your kingdom is the opposite to what the world values, and for that we are so grateful. Fill our hearts with eagerness to see your kingdom come and for your will to be done on earth as it is in heaven.
In your name, Jesus, we pray, Amen.
Alex studies at SMBC and serves as a student minister at St John's Church in Glebe. She also works as a veterinarian. Alex loves being formed by and teaching the Bible, and is passionate about God's vision for women and men as co-labourers in the ministry of the gospel.