I’m blessed to be called “Nana” by four delightful grandchildren so far, two of whom are girls. Aviella is four years-old, an enthusiastic force to be reckoned with. Her cousin Helaina is one-and-a-half and more cautious, but equally sweet.
They both already know about Jesus. Even as a toddler, Lainey loves to bow her head and “pray” at mealtimes. Avi makes up worship songs, complete with hand motions and twirls. God has his hand on their lives. He has given each of them unique gifts and talents. He has particular purposes in mind for each of them, just as he does for my equally precious grandsons.
I pray regularly for all my grandchildren, but I find myself praying for the girls in particular because of the prejudice and exclusion they will likely face as females. For this reason, I especially ask God for six things for my girls:
1. I pray they find positive female role models in ministry.
I graduated from a Bible college in a denomination which supposedly ordained women. Yet I never knew of any female pastor in that denomination. For most of my life, I was trained to sit contentedly under the teaching and preaching of men, to not rock the boat.
I pray that as my granddaughters grow up, more and more women will find their place in the five-fold ministry of the church. I pray that there will be powerful, positive female role models for them to admire and aspire to become. I pray that my granddaughters will watch brave women rock the boat, and know they can too. And I pray that I will be one of those women for my granddaughters.
2. I pray for men in their lives who will fight for them.
At a recent church family camp, my friend Priscilla was speaking about crossing the Jordan to take our inheritance (Joshua 1:12-15). In an unplanned moment, Priscilla addressed the men in the group and said, “Men, it’s always been relatively easy for you to receive your (spiritual) inheritance. I’ve had some men in my life who’ve fought for me and made it possible for me to walk in my inheritance. Would you be willing to cross the river and fight for the women, so we can receive our inheritance along with you?”
The men who are willing to fight so that women can receive the same privileges they have enjoyed—these are the champions I pray will come alongside my granddaughters. And I pray my grandsons are among them.
3. I pray they will find and use their voices, and that nothing would silence them.
I pray all my grandchildren will be spared from abuse. I know how sexual, verbal, mental, and spiritual abuse can rob a girl, in particular, of her ability to speak for herself. I know how these things shame, damage, and silence us. How they plant negative messages deep in the soul. I also know that God can restore a woman’s voice and her self-confidence. Nonetheless, my prayer is for the prevention of abuse in the first place.
Many factors rob women and girls of the confidence to speak for themselves, such as lack of encouragement and support to pursue their gifts and subtle and not-so-subtle church messages about gender roles and women leaders. Even so, I pray my granddaughters would develop strong voices and hold their heads high in confidence.
4. I pray they don’t grow weary or embittered due to obstacles they may face.
There’s a danger in fighting oppression and inequality of any kind. We can become tired of the same old conversation. We can grow weary of the walls we encounter. We can become bitter toward others and toward God, forgetting the main thing: the beauty of the gospel.
While we work toward positive change in the area of biblical gender equality, and while the Holy Spirit brings increasing revelation to the body of Christ about injustice, I pray my granddaughters’ hearts remain free of offense. I pray they will continually look to Jesus as their example of perseverance and grace in the face of injustice and opposition.
5. I pray the Holy Spirit reveals truth in Scripture concerning their freedom in Christ.
Along with a love for the Word of God, I pray my grandchildren will see God’s great plan for the complete liberty of every kind of image-bearer. No more race/class/gender barriers in Christ (Gal. 3:28). No more walls. No more exclusion. I pray the Holy Spirit’s revelation brings my granddaughters into total freedom to pursue any and everything to which Jesus calls them.
6. I pray that God will make a way, open doors, and create a platform for them.
Whether they are called to teach, preach, or minister in other capacities, my prayer for my granddaughters is “that our God will make you worthy of his calling, and by his power fulfill your every desire to do good and your work produced by faith” (I Thes. 1:11, CSB).
I pray many of these things for my grandsons as well, but my granddaughters will face more challenges in fulfilling God’s calling on their lives. More roadblocks. More rules, spoken and unspoken. More limitations imposed by the very church God calls them to build and sustain.
So I pray my granddaughters will rise up as strong women of God—able to speak for themselves and for others and able to find (and become) role models. I pray they will have courage to endure hardship for the gospel without bitterness, and clarity in what God’s Word declares about the freedom of all believers. I pray they will one day be accepted as full-fledged, equal members of the church. I pray God will make room for them to use their gifts and fulfill their callings. I pray my granddaughters will accomplish much more than their Nana ever did.