Prayers in Church on Mother’s Day

As a motherless daughter, I have some strong feelings about one of the celebrations that comes again this Sunday. I have not been quiet about it either and people have been less than kind about this particular opinion. People in my own family have been more unkind than people in the pews, if you can believe it.

I still don’t believe that Mother’s Day needs to be celebrated in worship. I do think that worship should include the full breadth of our experience and mothering can be part of that awareness of the way God is moving in this time and place but I’m more likely to include a nod to mothering in the pastoral prayer and maybe include a hymn.

It’s been a long time since I tried to figure out how to include this observance in the context of worship. So I thought I’d try again just for fun and because I’ve never preached on this passage from Acts but I’m fixated on that bit in verse 41.

Prayer for Coming Alive 
Inspired by Acts 9:36-43

Standing in a room full of grief
among women who have loved and lost
so many of them gathered together in one place
because only they knew what it felt like
to grieve in this way. 

Standing there among these women
Peter encouraged Tabitha to get up.
She opened her eyes and took his hand
and in that moment, it says, he showed
her how to be alive.

O God, take our hands
because there are still parts 
inside of us that feel hardened
maybe even dead and your resurrected spirit
is needed. Help us, O God, to come alive
in your love and grace today. Amen.

The temptation on this day seems to be to do a lot. Fill the space with words, flowers and rituals and there are times where mothering is like that. It’s a flurry of activity but those that do mother usually come to church for a sense of calm. They come to find some quiet reflection and I’d be tempted to include more silence as a gentle nod to everyone’s need for more self care.

I know, too, that silence makes people uncomfortable and squirmy. So maybe it’s enough just to make it a moment of confession with extended silence that leads into a sung assurance. I love a sung assurance.

Prayer of Confession
Inspired by Acts 9:36-43 and John 10:22-30

O God, it always feels like 
we are in such a hurry. We ask for things 
on demand and without delay. We need it now
and don't want to wait but we wait for you.
We wonder if you're really here
and if this is what it would feel 
like if we shared in your life,
your life in our life, 
our life in your life
so that we do not know
your beginning or our end.

O God, we don't stop
in our rushing about to notice you
in our lives. We pay attention 
only to ourselves without seeing
your grace lifting us up
into the fullness of this life. 
Forgive us and help us to slow down.

Joanna Harader shared a nearly complete liturgy on her blog and its as lovely as I imagine her new book will be. Do click over for some additional prayer inspiration.

I don’t have words myself for all that happened this week in the United States but I really appreciate this Anti-Mother’s Day Prayer from KatyandtheWord. I’m not sure how it would be used in worship but it caught my breath.

That’s all I’ve got for this day where mothering is not overtly mentioned. It feels good to be writing prayers again. I’m not sure if there is still need for my pandemic prayers at this point but I’m still praying for you, dear pastor. I’m praying for you so much.

4 thoughts on “Prayers in Church on Mother’s Day

  1. These are beautiful prayers. I will find a way to use them. I also steer away from Mother’s Day for so many reasons, women who long to have biological children and cannot, women who are alienated from their children or have lost their children, people with dangerous mothers, with uninterested mothers … and so on. Pastoral prayer is plenty. I have preached on Tabitha every chance I’ve gotten because churches are full of women who present themselves as people who can do everything and then start dying from it. But, I can’t remember the passage falling on mother’s day …. so I will turn to your prayers.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. Thank you for this. Mother’s day always feels like a minefield for worship leaders because it comes loaded with emotions and in many cases deep griefs. And to add to that this year, pondering and praying about how to preach in a context where the decision about whether to even be a mother is being denied US women in many places.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. YES. I find myself without words for what SCOTUS may have done but there is so much space we need to make for each other. Bless you, dear pastor.


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