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Book Review: Women’s Uncommon Prayers
April 14, 2010

Women’s Uncommon Prayers: Our Lives Revealed, Nurtured, Celebrated
Edited by Elizabeth Rankin, Marjorie A. Burke and Ann Smith
Published 2000 by Council of Women’s Ministries/Domestic and Foreign Missionary Society of the Protestant Episcopal Church USA

The book Women’s Uncommon Prayers is very much that – a large selection of beautiful and unusual prayers that cover a spectrum of issues. While all of the authors are women, and there are prayers for specific life events that only affect women, this book offers several prayers and short liturgies that can be useful for men and women in a healing ministry.

The book is categorized into several broad areas of focus: Identity, Daily Life, Stages of Life, Spirituality, Ministry, Corporate Prayers and Seasonal Prayers that cover the church liturgical year. Within the Daily Life section, there are specific prayers for illnesses and healing, both in a general sense and for specific, and perhaps uncommon, events. One of the most moving is entitled Prayer with Outstretched Arms: The Loss of a Limb and its Healing by the Rev. Kamila Blessing, and prayers like Prayer of Someone Facing an Operation can be useful for specific healing issues facing a congregation. The Stages of Life section also offers some useful prayers and liturgies for healing, particularly prayers following a miscarriage or hysterectomy, prayers for aging, or a liturgy following the loss of a pet.

One important note about Women’s Uncommon Prayers is that while there are some full liturgies incorporated into each section, most of the selections are prayers written for one voice. Some may easily be incorporated into a spoken liturgy or expanded into a service, and many of the prayers are most helpful when they are placed within a larger liturgy. Also, some prayers read more like poetry, and cover some complicated, troubling and perhaps controversial issues. However, Women’s Uncommon Prayers does a wonderful job of lifting out specific events in our lives and offering an honest and uncommon prayer to God.

Rev. Stacy Smith is the Supervisor of Christian Formation in Wellness at the Church Health Center in Memphis, Tenn. and is an ordained minister in the Presbyterian Church (USA).

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