A Mother’s Day prayer inspired by womanist theology

Daniel Heath pens a prayer for Mother's Day that names the abuse of women and lifts it up to God.

Mother Hen. Mosaic, Jerusalem.

I do not remember ever hearing about abuse in a sermon, Sunday school, Bible class or otherwise. Abuse is real, and I pray that the church can begin to be a known safe place or presence in the world for hard conversations, care, and counseling. Two works by Mitzi Smith, a new testament professor at Columbia Theological Seminary, have inspired me to write a prayer for abused women. The first is “‘He Never Said a Mumbalin’ Word’: A Womanist Perspective of Crucifixion, Sexual Violence and Sacralized Silence” in When Did We See You Naked? Jesus as a Victim of Sexual Abuse. The other is Womanist Sass and Talk Back: Social (In)Justice, Intersectionality, and Biblical Interpretation. I can imagine offering this prayer at a women’s shelter where most of the population has been abused and many are current, trying, and future mothers or who are the parents, grandparents, daughters, sisters, aunts, friends, classmates, coworkers, or neighbors of current, trying, and future mothers.

I invite you to assume a posture of prayer.

Mother God, we give you thanks for another day. We are grateful for a time set aside to honor motherhood. Earth’s history has been formed by mothers like Mother Mary and Mother Theresa, surrogate and foster mothers, godmothers and fairy godmothers. We even acknowledge motherhood in nature with mother hens under the care of Mother Earth. Today we ask your acute attention upon all current, trying, and future mothers gathered here, one by one and name by name. You know their stories. You know their needs. Remove all sources of sorrow, scars and fear that they may live more fully into your promises.

For all current mothers, we pray that you surround them with abundant support. We pray for attentive partners and spouses, faithful worshiping communities and prompt support services. We pray that each one would be equipped to expose the pain they carry, knowing that silent suffering is not a virtue. Help each to know that motherhood is a call and not only a result. Help us to call out abuse for them and with them for the enslavement that it is in all their forms, psychological, verbal, physical and otherwise.

For all trying mothers, we pray that each would embrace agency over their bodies. We pray against any person, situation or thought that would prevent the freedom to make decisions regarding their own bodies. We pray for mothers who have experienced miscarriages and other losses while waiting.

Finally, we pray for future mothers in our midst and everywhere. We pray your protection against violations to their bodies at parks, in churches, schools, homes, and places of work. We pray against any unhealthy notion that abuse is God’s will.

We now call out the names of abused women aloud and in our hearts whose healing we seek from you…