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Editor’s Note: The ethics of abortion are contentious, and many of the loudest voices belong to men. We invited five women who are CRC and RCA pastors to share their prayers for our post-Roe world.

Creator God,

You are God over all the complexities of this universe. You know the ways the stars were organized, and the infinite nature of the galaxy. You are a God who knows how our bodies were formed – tissue and bone, eye shape, and skin color.  You God, know all of the complexities, in our world, our countries, our churches, and in each of us. 

Katie Ritsema-Roelofs

Today, we pray specifically about the complexity of adoption. We thank you that for many, adoption has been a blessing and a gift. We thank you for families that have been formed, for faith that has been handed down, and for the beautiful ways you knit together communities through adoption. We, as your adopted children in Jesus Christ, give you thanks and praise. 

God, we also recognize that while adoption is a gift, it is also complex and painful for those involved. It carries with it the trauma of separation and the grief of an identity lost. Even under ideal circumstances, adoption is difficult. God, we lament that in the future many of these circumstances will be far less than ideal. 

We pray now for children who are born into brokenness: for babies exposed to substances in utero, who never received prenatal care, whose failure to thrive began in the womb. We pray for them later in life as they struggle with ongoing addiction and deficits. 

We pray for children who will spend years of their lives under less than ideal circumstances: in neglective or abusive households, in foster care with multiple broken attachments. We pray for them later in life as they struggle with healthy relationships and identity confusion.

We pray for all birthparents – for those who remember their children for years to come, and also those who do not.

We pray for families who adopt or foster. Give them your wisdom, cover them with patience, and equip them with the resources they need. We pray for those who offer support in the form of social services, adoption agencies, and mental health. Be actively working in these systems now, God to fix what is broken and prepare for the future. 

We pray for our churches, schools and other institutions. As children walk through these doors with particular needs, would you ready our hearts to receive them, God? Would you already be at work in each of us to be open to the ways they will challenge our systems, demand understanding and compassion, and move us towards showing your love in new and complex ways? Prepare our hearts to be pro-life for all adopted life, working towards communities that accept and nurture from cradle to grave.  

Amen.

Katie Ritsema-Roelofs is a Korean adoptee living in greater Washington, DC.  She is a commissioned pastor in the Christian Reformed Church of North America and serves in the denomination’s Office of Worship Ministries. She is passionate about music and worship, particularly the intersection of liturgy and life. 

God, I am afraid. 

I know there are fellow Christians celebrating this, rejoicing,
and I know that there are fellow Christians who are heart-sick over it.
And it’s so easy to assume the worst of those with whom we disagree.
Have mercy on us.  

Elizabeth Vander Haagen

I feel angry and vulnerable and like I was embarrassingly naïve.
I never thought Roe would be overturned. 
I’m shocked, and surprised by how vulnerable I feel. 
My thoughts are such a tangle –
I know you love the unborn. I believe the child we lost in miscarriage is safe with you.
And I know that you love and honor and trust women and our wisdom and our ability to make good decisions.
I know that you are lovingly present with each one of us.

I know you were with me as a tween when he groped me.
I know you were with me as a high schooler when I ran laps to raise money for a pro-life organization
I know you were with me in my twenties when I thought I was pregnant and was unmarried, guilt-ridden, and terrified.
And I know you were with me in my thirties when I miscarried.
I know you love me and are with me now. But it’s easy for me to forget. 
It’s easy for the voices of men who demean and mistrust women (and who have demeaned and mistrusted and hurt me) to drown out your voice in my head and heart. Help me remember.

Because I didn’t realize that Roe being overturned would make all this so much harder, would leave me feeling less protected and wondering what will be taken away next –please help.
Please heal what needs healing.
Please grant me (and all of us) courage and wisdom to know what to do now, and how to be with those with whom we disagree.
Lead us by your love, not by our fear or mistrust.
Grant us resolve to do whatever we can to make our homes and our churches and our communities places where everyone is safe and can flourish.  

Amen.

Elizabeth Vander Haagen co-pastors Boston Square Christian Reformed Church with her husband Jay Blankespoor.  They live in Grand Rapids, Michigan with their children Emma, Brianna, and Peter, and their dog Luna.

God of all mercies, I don’t know how to pastor my people in this.

So many see this as a black and white issue.

I know and love people who see this as a hard-won victory for the unborn.

I know and love people who do not love abortion and yet still see this decision as a terrible encroachment on women’s rights and a harbinger of things to come.

Betsy DeVries

I’m not sure it’s one hundred percent either of those things.

So what am I missing? I am confused and unsure and hesitant to say anything at all.

It feels like another one of those things on the growing list of impassable issues where the stakes are too high to listen well to each other.

If it’s not too big a miracle, would you help us to listen well and to hold each other in high regard.

Help me to listen well to people who rub me the wrong way – the fundamentalists on the right and the left. 

Help us to be your witnesses in the gray. 

You are the God who saw Hagar in the desert with a baby she did not ask for and could not care for. Instead of giving her a lecture, you asked for her story. You blessed her. And she called you the God who sees. Would you help us to be people who see. 

Help us to see life in all its terrible, gut-wrenching complications.

Help us to see life with its surprising moments of provision.

Help us truly be people who honor all life, not only the lives of the unborn but also of mothers and fathers and immigrants and the impoverished and the neglected and abused and traumatized.

When we’re forced to make decisions at life’s raw edges, would you help us to seek wisdom in community, guided by your Spirit of grace. 

Help us, God of all mercies. 

Amen.

Betsy DeVries co-pastors the Bethany Christian Reformed Church in Gallup, New Mexico with her husband Daniel,. She earned her M.Div. from Calvin Seminary and her Ph.D. from Emmanuel College at the University of Toronto where she studied homiletics. Betsy and Daniel have two children.

God, our creator we wrestle again with who has access, who has rights, who has choice.

Please Oh God, incline your ears as we ponder these questions.

Oh Lord how excellent is your name in all the earth. When RvW legislation became law it gave women control of their bodies.

You did that Lord! A woman’s body no longer dictated by others.

Vivian Campbell

But now allowing women the ability to choose their own fate is in jeopardy. A human act for the living. Creator of heaven and earth, we pray for wisdom on high to always choose life. When we have freedom to choose, with freedom comes discipline, responsibility, and wisdom, I pray we constantly choose rightly. You are a father to the fatherless and a mother to the motherless and a creator of all born and unborn life and even to those absent from the body, are present with the You. Lord help us to choose what is right in each encounter and decision to uphold your standard, and not according to mortal beings. Increase our understanding of your ways and thoughts. And help us to always choose on the side of justice. Grant your peace Lord God.

Lord let your kingdom come and your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. God with your sovereign power you guide and control the outcome.

Amen.

Vivian Campbell recently received an M.Div. from New Brunswick Theological Seminary. She serves as an Elder at DeWitt Reformed Church and board member at DeWitt’s Early Learn Program. In her community she loves advocating for the homeless, food justice, social injustice, and environmental issues.  She also enjoys cultivating, planting, and sowing in the oasis of gardens in her East Village Manhattan neighborhood.

Parent God,

We are angry.

Particularly those of us whom you have gifted the ability to form new life inside of us, we are angry that our right to end a pregnancy is no longer protected.  

Though it can be for many, we know in this world that pregnancy is not always a gift. 

Alyssa Muehmel

We know that many of us do not wantto bring a new life into the world, due to our circumstances or simply not being ready.

We know that pregnancies do not always survive to be birthed, and sometimes they put our own lives in danger.

And we know that even the most sought after and beloved children are born into a suffering world, a world that does not always provide them what they need to flourish. 

We are angry. 

We are angry that the decision not to protect abortion rights will result in suffering and death. 

We are angry that vulnerable people have been vilified for making the best choice they could in an impossible situation. 

We are angry that we have to fear what might happen to us if we find ourselves in a pregnancy which would be an excessive burden, or be a threat to our own lives.

We are especially angry that these tender and difficult decisions are being made on our behalf, by people who will never know the intricacies and the struggles of our own lives. 

We are angry because we are not free and we are not safe. 

Loving God who gathers your people like chicks under a mother hen’s wings, 

May you hold us in our rage, our sadness, our fear. 

May you strengthen those who are fighting to keep abortion safe and accessible, 

May you protect the marginalized who will be affected by lack of access to necessary medical care,

And may you empower us with your spirit to make this world a place that is safe and whole for all.

Amen.

Alyssa Muehmel is a hospital chaplain living in Ann Arbor, MI. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology from Calvin University and a Masters of Divinity from Western Theological Seminary. She enjoys reading a good book, taking naps, being outdoors, and occasionally reading a good book and taking naps outdoors. 

10 Comments

  • David Hoekema says:

    I am moved beyond words by these powerful voices raised in prayer, voices so different from those we’ve been hearing. A thousand thanks to the editors and the contributors.

  • Gloria McCanna says:

    Amen and Amen.

  • Janice Zuidema says:

    Thank you for giving us honest words when we have not known what to pray. Amen to all.

  • Marty Wondaal says:

    Indy Visit

    This past Saturday morning (7/30/22) my family and I were in downtown Indy, staying overnight for a Friday wedding in the area. We walked out of our hotel to go find breakfast, and realized we were right in front of the State Capital Building.

    Waiting for our table, we wandered towards the wide open front doors to the State House. We saw a few pro-choice protestors outside on the entry steps, and also a number of State Policemen stoically standing around. There was a vote that day to restrict access to abortion, and tensions were high.

    I walked up to a couple of cops and asked them if we were allowed to enter the Capital, as the doors were open. One cop said, “Sure, go ahead and walk in.”

    I looked at one of the cops with a sideways look and asked, “Are you SURE it’s ok if we walk into the building…”

    He got my drift and laughed. He said something about this isn’t Washington, DC.

    So, after breakfast we walked into the building. The interior of the building was grand and opulent. But what really caught our attention was the angry chanting of a host of pro-choice people that we could only hear but couldn’t see. The anger and hatred of the legion of people was manifest by the shrieking of the voices and the crudeness (the extreme crudeness) of the words. With the classical Renaissance architecture and the sound of shrieking Harpies, I felt like I was in Dante’s Inferno. The protesters were assembled on the mezzanine level of the building outside the Senate chamber. Their intention was to persuade the Senators into voting down the pro-life measures. They were not successful.

    As we strolled strolled around the first floor of the building, another State cop walked up to us. Our little family group included a toddler and a mother who is seven months pregnant. Sizing us up, he suggested that we stay away from the protesters. We took his advise.

    So, anyway, here’s my prayer,

    I am a sinner in need of your Grace every day. Please forgive me my sins.

    Forgive me when I think the fight is mine to win. It’s Yours, like everything, and You are in control.

    I ask for wisdom, courage, and humility. Over all that, help me love my fellow man and woman.

    Soften my heart, and soften their heart.

    Be the Protector for the most vulnerable among us, and withhold your judgement to us.

    Thank you for the Cross.

    Amen

    • Marie says:

      I am sorry that you came upon people yelling vulgarities in the Indiana capitol. That situation would feel threatening to most people, regardless of the circumstances.
      As an adoptive mother, I am very grateful that your children, born and unborn, have the protection and love of two caring biological parents. That’s the way the world is supposed to be.
      Not every expectant mother/father is walking your path.
      And not every pro-choice person is yelling vulgarities, many are quietly weeping – and for reasons they might not dare talk about.
      Let’s keep listening to each other. This is a complicated story, we all have fears. We won’t understand it if we don’t listen.

    • I appreciate the simplicity and humility of your prayer, Marty. Thanks for sharing.

  • Jan Hoffman says:

    Thank you for all of these, for courage to put into words deep emotions. Give us the wisdom to know when to pray these out loud in public, and when we more wisely keep them inside. With gratitude for a God who hears the unspoken as well by as the spoken.

  • Jeanne Maher says:

    Thank-you for your heartfelt prayers. Your laments, emotions and words resonate with my heart and my head.

  • Henry Lise says:

    What is written above is encouraging. Thanks for sharing!

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