Encouraging, Living, Reaching


WAMS 2018: Mixed Prayer Groups

WAMS 2018: Mixed Prayer Groups

One of the greatest joys in my spiritual life is when I hear a woman pray. I have had the privilege of hearing a number of women pray while in small groups and at a home Bible study my wife and I host each week.

What does the Bible say?

In Acts 1 the Lord leaves the disciples with a request to wait in Jerusalem until the coming of the Holy Spirit. So what did they do? They prayed. They also included a number of women who had been close to the Lord Jesus.

They all met together and were constantly united in prayer, along with Mary the mother of Jesus, several other women, and the brothers of Jesus. Acts 1:14

There’s no indication here that the women were not a part of this time of prayer.

Lifting their voices as one

A little later on after Peter and John had been persecuted and released they came back to the church and gave a report of what had happened.  Then as was their normal practice, they prayed.

“When they heard the report, all the believers lifted their voices together in prayer to God…”  Acts 4:24

There’s no indication here that the women were not a part of this time of prayer as it says ALL of them lifted their voices.

A critical situation

We read in Acts 12 that Peter is arrested. The church knows there is only one thing to do and that is to pray. It’s interesting that the Spirit doesn’t tell us they prayed for his release. It’s more than likely, given the fact that James was just beheaded, that they were praying for Peter to endure through the trial.

But while Peter was in prison, the church prayed very earnestly for him. (Acts 12:5)

Notice the whole church is praying. There’s no reason here to believe that the women were not a part of this prayer meeting. There’s no reference to just the men.

Praying in a 2018 context

Our assembly has adopted several formats where men and women pray together. For those who are not comfortable with this the women meet in a group by themselves.  We don’t want to force any conviction on a person and make them feel they are violating their conviction.

We have seen much blessing from this. It has resulted in spiritual growth within those women and the church as a whole. There is a greater fervency in prayer and a renewed desire to make prayer a high priority.

Hearing a woman’s heart

One of the most encouraging aspects of a mixed prayer group is that is bring balance to the prayer of the group. Men tend to pray in specific ways that, while powerful, is not a complete representation of the human heart. Women bring an entirely different perspective that focuses our minds on a more relational approach to God.

Can you imagine what it must have been like to hear the Lord’s mother Mary pray?  I firmly believe men miss out on deep prayer connections to God when they don’t pray with women.

Conclusion

Please understand that I greatly respect those who may have a different view on this and see scripture in a different light. These are the conclusions both from the Word and from experience that I hold to. I have been blessed more than measure from the spiritual women in my life and hearing them pray. I thank God for the body of Christ, both men and women!

Crawford Paul

Crawford is an elder at Rolling Meadows Bible Chapel in Ontario and has a passion for the assemblies. He and his wife Beth serve in various ways within the assembly to build up and encourage the believers. He is president of Legacy Ministries Canada, an organization focused on helping individual Christians, local churches and Christian organizations with financial, legal and governance matters. Check it out at legacycanada.org

11 Responses to WAMS 2018: Mixed Prayer Groups

  1. Wayne Guindon

    Were they all praying out loud together? referring to Acts 4:24

    • Crawford Paul

      There are a few thoughts around this. One is that they all prayed and Luke is recording one of those prayers. Verse 31 says, when THEY had prayed. Another thought is that one person prayed and the group echoed the prayer. However you choose to interpret I believe the prayers from the saints were audible.

      • Dear Crawford:
        You make an mistake that many have made down thru the ages. That is the argument of silence. If the Scripture is silent on a issue we can then assume it is okay for us to do it. This would allow us to do many things we want to do. If our desire is to please the Lord the assembly should function according the given Word.
        “Assembly Hub” is exactly what the assembly was. We now split the assembly into fragments and feel this frees us from Biblical teaching concerning assembly order. If we are going to split the assembly up, why not follow the principles given regarding gatherings formed for spiritual purposes.
        In our age we simply kick against God’s headship order. Splitting the assembly up gives many the feeling of freedom from God’s order. 1 Cor. 11 does not give us any idea that women are inferior to men, but it does tell us God has an order that is ours to obey without trying to skirt it. No doubt many women are more spiritual than many men, however this does not justify leaving God’s order. The end does not justify the means.
        Much more could be written. In closing, we cannot take blessing or enjoyment as the Lord’s approval. The Lord blessed Israel despite Moses’ disobedience in striking the rock.
        It does grieve me to see Assembly Hub stirring the pot once again. You are probably too young to remember the blood bath of the 70s and 80s when some traveled the country pushing such things that split many assemblies.

        Warmly in Christ,

        Steve Hulshizer

        • Bernadette Veenstra
          Bernadette Veenstra

          I really appreciate your tone as you address Crawford. Thanks for that.

          Personally I think there is Scriptural precedence for making something more of something God doesn’t articulate.(this in regards to the argument of silence) The first thing that comes to mind is the fall with Eve adding the “don’t touch” clause to God’s command. I think that shows we shouldn’t make extra rules where God is silent. But, that is my own personal opinion. And I think the opinion of most of the writers here at the Hub. But, I can’t speak for anyone else authoritatively. And I won’t.

          I also think that our desire is less to stir the pot, and more to provoke apologetics. If we believe x,y, and z, with what scriptural basis do we teach it? To ourselves and to the next generation? If we don’t honestly answer things from scripture, there is going to be no next generation. At least, not of the assemblies.

          And finally, about women praying. My desire and practice is neither here nor there. But, again, there is scriptural precedence for women praying together. Is it an official meeting of the church? Probably not. But, should women pray together-without a doubt! And are the spheres that women can pray with men? Obviously! Husbands and wives. Mothers with their off-spring. One on one prayer. In small groups? Like counseling situations? I would think so. Again-there is nothing in scripture that prohibits it. My general reading of scripture would be that women are to be silent in prayer. But, that verse from Acts cannot be discounted. “All lifting up voices” is definitely an audible thing. The others, I’m not 100% sure.

          One final thought…I know we’ve talked amongst the writers about what constitutes “official church meetings.” It sounds like you have some thoughts and convictions on the subject. We would really appreciate an article from you on the subject. If you’d care to write it.

  2. I have witnessed in many cases where women have not been allowed to pray in the home nor in the prayer meeting and are told they are to only praying in silence. … But even when women are together they are very uncomfortable with praying because they have never been allowed to do it, even in the home. This is very Unfortunate if women are never allowed to pray even in the home.

    We as women are told that we must pray in silence, There are many details that we would like to add when we hear the men pray. In prayer meetings there are MANY topics to cover and there are long silences and the same men get up to pray, and it seems that many men do not pray and volunteer to pray in silence, if that is what they do.

    I am very glad to hear your comments. The spiritual life of the assembly will be greatly enhanced it the women can pray, EVEN IF IT IS SMALL GROUPS OF MEN AND WOMEN TOGETHER.

    In my Bible studies with students I encourage them to pray with men and women together, and tell them that when they go home they need to teach their spouse and children to pray with them. They will have to start their own house church and if it is a woman, she will need to teach an interactive Bible study to her husband, parents, in-laws, children etc. until they find another believer in the same situation, where they can join another family. I must leave it to the Lord after this to work out the details, but they need to meet and be in the Word weekly and in the family daily. Women should not be told that they cannot teach or pray if they are the only believer in the family and their meeting MUST be in secret (for their safety)

    In the assemblies, I agree that there are limitations on where the women can use their gifts, but women should be encouraged to develop and use their gifts in ways that are according to the Scriptures, and to even enter into discussions with the men, but not imposing their views on the men (But I see that many wives definitely influence the elders, but other women are not allowed to have a voice)

    I love the Biblical principles of meeting, and love the assemblies, but traditions have been adopted that do not encourage the whole body to work together, but still be true to the Scriptures.

  3. Ron Hansen

    I believe in the times of the early New Testament church woman where culturally silent in public. Would I leave my assembly because of a “policy” change of allowing our sisters to pray during say our BOB service- initially uncomfortable but NOT leave our assembly.

  4. Emily

    John Stott once said, “To me the essence of being a radical is being willing to subject one’s inherited traditions and conventions to biblical scrutiny”. That is pot stirring at its finest.
    Thank you AsssemblyHub for having the courage and the integrity to promote healthy discussions within the Body of Christ.

  5. Scripture in no place forbids women from praying or singing out loud in co-ed groups. The 1st Corinthians 14:34 directive refers to prophesying or praying in tongues (which is shown by the subject of the entire chapter). Context is king. If you believe those gifts ended in the first century, then verse 34 has lapsed in application also. The Bible does restrict women from being elders (1 Timothy 2:12-14), but it doesn’t teach “Old World male supremacy.” A great deal of what is expected in traditional assemblies is worldly male supremacy, masquerading as Biblical conservatism.

  6. Rob Wagner

    It seems like Acts 1 wouldn’t be exactly what we would call a meeting of the local church under the direction of the elders, would it? In any case, would not any corporate activity of the local church – fellowship, worship, or prayer – be spoken of as such, even if the women participate silently (or not in a leadership role, e.g. in singing)? That is, if the Lord were to write about our Remembrance meeting, would He not write that the whole assembly was involved?

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