When I first contacted Lisa Burgess about sharing her ministry story, I knew she had a tough situation. Since then, her ministry situation has only become more complicated. I’ve always been blessed by reading Lisa’s blog, but reading her post today reminds me of the power of God’s grace while under pressure.
The countdown had begun. In twenty minutes the doorbell would ring. Then it would be too late. I grabbed my husband and asked if we could pray together. Now.
In a moment of holy irony, I prayed with a man—right before my visitor would ask me not to.
I struggle as a woman in a conservative church. Do I stay and work for change? Or do I escape to enjoy freedom elsewhere?
Weeks earlier I had determined to stay. My friend Kay and I started a new Sunday class for teen girls. We’d study how Jesus touched the lives of women in the Bible. And see how he touches ours.
The day before our first class, Kay and I were pulled aside by a godly woman a few years our senior. She asked to see our classroom. Then holding us both by the hand, she bowed her head and prayed for us there.
The following day, early Sunday morning, a peer entered our room, again to pray, asking Jesus to transform us, including the teen girls, into his image.
We’ve had the class for six weeks now. One of our goals? Raise up a new generation of women who will pray, who will not stay silent. Talking things over with each other and with God helps us mature.
So what about with men?
Community calls for a blending of all who are made in God’s image. At our family gatherings, can’t both sons and daughters talk to the Father?
In my Sunday night small group, we’ve prayed in mixed company for years. It’s grown us closer to God. Closer to each other.
But no longer?
The visitor at my door was confirming it: Not for now.
Until the leaders completed their biblical studies on women’s roles, they were asking all women—both young and old, in large or small church gatherings—to refrain from verbalizing our prayers in front of a man.
A brother’s conscience had earlier been offended by hearing women talk to God in his presence. He believed—sincerely—that women should not “lead,” even in prayer. I hadn’t known.
So now what? What happens if it’s a sin to him if we do, but a sin to us if we don’t?
How do we create spiritual breathing room for us both to follow our consciences? To find grace in the tension? To maintain unity in honoring God?
I have yet to find the perfect answer. I repent daily of my resentment for even having to seek one.
But this I have found: Jesus seats all his followers—both male and female—at the grown-up table. I need not question my value before God just because I’m a woman. Nor be ashamed of my voice as I speak to him. Nor question the ministry he’s given me. If I let my opportunities dry up, my gifts may rot with them. I need to intentionally seek ways to use them.
So I pray.
I pray alone. And with the teen girls’ class. And with female friends who graciously enter my home specifically to pray.
And I’ll continue to pray with my husband.
I’m convinced God won’t be critical of who we’re praying with. He’s just pleased that we’re praying.
To him. The Father of all the boys. And of all the girls.
Access to him isn’t based on gender. He invites us all to talk.
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About This Week’s Blogger
Lisa Burgess writes as an ordinary southern woman seeing an extraordinarily holy God. (And she’d write more often if she didn’t feel guilty about the time.) She blogs at Lisa notes, where she seeks truth, admits failure, and enjoys company. She’s three months away from retiring as a homeschool mom and wonders what’s up next (suggestions, anyone?). You can read more about Lisa here.
About the Women in Ministry Series
The Women in Ministry Series is a collection of guest posts that aims to:
- Provide an alternative to the women in ministry debates by telling the stories of women in ministry.
- Encourage women to explore their God-given callings.
You can stay updated on the latest post each week by signing up for the weekly e-mail list. (You also get a free E-book!)
Comment Policy: Everyone is welcome to leave a comment. However, this series takes for granted that women are called by God into every facet of ministry. This is not the place to debate that point and such comments will be removed.Women have been told “no” in far too many places. This is one place that is committed to saying “yes.” For more about the comment policy or submitting your own story, read here.
Next Week’s Blogger: Pastor Elizabeth Hagan