SHOULD A WOMAN LEAD A GROUP IN PRAYER?
by Shawn Brasseaux
The following scenario has become increasingly common in recent years. Whether at a Christian school, a local church, a ball game, or even the recent United States presidential inauguration, a woman will lead a group in prayer. To the delight of “feminists,” many swiftly defend this as “acceptable.” However, does it meet God’s approval? Remember, the Bible is the final authority—it speaks for Almighty God. Friends, rather than speculating, offering opinions (both yours or mine), or consulting some denominational hierarchy, we will turn pages in the Holy Bible and let God’s Word speak for itself. Then, we can all say, “Amen!” (“So be it!”)
People who encourage women preachers and “prophetesses” invariably appeal to 1 Corinthians chapter 11 for support. (You will usually find such women in “Charismatic” circles.) This passage is also heavily used concerning women leading a congregation in prayer. As you can see for yourself, friend, there is a woman most definitely praying in that passage: “ Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head.  But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven.” The larger context is actually verses 1-16. While time and space do not permit us to discuss that issue in its entirety here, please refer to our “women and head coverings” study linked at the end of this article.
CARNAL CORINTHIAN CHRISTIANS
The Holy Spirit’s words through the pen of the Apostle Paul paint a most horrid picture of the Corinthian saints. Chapter 3 of 1 Corinthians, the first three verses, sums up their problems most expressly: “ And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.  I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able.  For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?”
These Corinthians were saints of the Most High God, no doubt, but oh how they were so fleshly motivated, so mischievous, so sinful! Instead of letting the Spirit of God empower and correct them, they were operating independently of His will for them and His Word to them. Pagan philosophy had so corrupted them. Their minds confused, their hearts void of faith in God’s words, they had nothing but the flesh to fall upon. Indeed, how they fell… into spiritual error, folly, disappointment, and misery!
Beloved, we must not overlook the fact that Corinth was filled with the most immature Christians in all of Scripture. Sadly, if people today want to do something in “Christian religion,” they usually grab some practice or subject unique to the Corinthian assembly. For example, if a religionist wants to speak with the gift of tongues today, all he or she does is quote from 1 Corinthians chapter 14. If a female denominationalist seeks to be a preacher or prayer leader, all she does is cite “proof texts” from 1 Corinthians chapter 11 (above verses). Friends, just because the Corinthians were doing it does not automatically mean we should do it. The Corinthians’ behaviors, you will remember, certainly did not reflect spiritual maturity. They were definitely not models of Christian living, and yet they are treated today like they were! (The Corinthians also sued one another in pagan courts, denied Christ’s resurrection, made the Lord’s Supper a drunken banquet, boasted about their fornicating brother in Christ, and fought against and fragmented themselves. Should we follow them in these practices, too? Maybe we had better not be so quick to follow them in having women preachers!)
ROLES OF THE SEXES IN LOCAL ASSEMBLIES, IN BRIEF
Four Pauline Bible Books—1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon—deal with the operation of the congregation. These “Pastoral Epistles” outline the structure and functioning of the local Christian assembly in the Dispensation of Grace. If we want to see how a local grace church should be organized and maintained, we had better go to these four Books and apply them before the congregation collapses. We must be on guard, beloved, lest Satan ruin our assembly’s testimony!
The following instructions were given to Timothy by the Holy Ghost through Paul in 1 Timothy chapter 2: “ I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.  In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array;  But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works.  Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection.  But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence.  For Adam was first formed, then Eve.  And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression.  Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.”
Did you notice how the subject shifted from men (verse 8) to women (verse 9)? Verse 8 issues specific commands to men in the assembly; the remaining verses of the chapter instruct women. Whom does the Holy Spirit through Paul think should lead prayer in the local church? Whom does the Holy Spirit believe should lead teaching in the local assembly? Notice, we are not interested in what denominations say, preachers think, church members guess, or theologians assume. We are, however, interested in what God the Holy Spirit says. He says in verse 8: “I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.” Friends, if you take exception to that, if you disagree with that, then you are not arguing with me. You are contradicting the Holy Spirit! You are rebelling against the Holy Scriptures! You are treading on dangerous spiritual ground! You are on your way to ruining your Christian life and your local assembly! Beware! Beware! Beware! Beware!
Considering what we read from the Bible, we can draw the following conclusions. If a Christian man is present in the room, the Spirit-filled woman will step aside and let him teach or pray. God the Holy Spirit will never, ever, EVER lead a woman to dominate a local church (or even a marriage). When we find female bishops and women pastors, we have actually found people who are, despite what they claim, contrary to Scripture. God’s Word says bishops are to be “the husbands of one wife” (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:6). Unless this verse is talking about a lesbian couple, then we can see that the office of a bishop is reserved for men. Scripture also says deacons are to be “the husbands of one wife” (1 Timothy 3:12). This office is also restricted to men. There may be female preachers and “deaconesses” in religion. However, in the Bible, there are only male bishops and only male deacons.
Friends, when we find a female Bible teacher who makes a conscious decision not to teach men, we know that the Holy Spirit leads her. Again, according to the verses presented in this study, the Spirit of God will never cause a woman to teach a Bible class with one man present, let alone many men. The same is true concerning group prayer. Her flesh will cause her to lead, but not God’s Spirit. Others’ flesh will encourage her to lead, but not God’s Spirit. God’s Spirit will never cause a Christian in the Dispensation of Grace to outright contradict or disobey a verse in the Pauline epistles.
Men who sit under women Bible teachers—quite frankly—are spiritual wimps. I know that is harsh, but I make no apologies in declaring it. Men are utterly negligent concerning their God-given role if they sit under women teachers and female preachers. They have miserably failed, not only other men, but also all the women in the assembly who could have benefited from a Spirit-filled man leading them. I would not doubt those men are ignorant of the Scriptures; hence, they feel women are “more qualified” to be in authority. I think it not an exaggeration to say that that woman is probably more skilled in the Scriptures than all those men combined. Still, a female teacher of men, or a female prayer leader of men, is not God’s design. Beloved, if we think we know better than the Creator, we are quite the fools! Those men had better get into the Bible, and have some “guts” to lead the group in prayer or study! If they do not, souls are in jeopardy of unspeakable damage and ruin!
At this point, I am quite sure that some of our readers are fuming. They are quite upset with me—nay, they are upset with the Bible. They have come across verses that challenge and threaten to abolish their theological system. They may have already read Scripture that condemns what they are doing in their own churches, schools, or Bible studies. Yet, they keep on their wayward course because it is better to “stay with tradition” than admit wrongdoing. We choose not to follow their route. The Word of God is right, and we uphold the King James Bible as the inerrant, infallible, inspired words of God. Let those divine words contradict whomever they will contradict. “Let God be true, but every man a liar” (Romans 3:4). We serve God not men (Galatians 1:10)!
Friend, just so you not misunderstand, I will include some additional insight for clarification. A woman praying in and of itself is not wrong. Women praying is not sinful. The Bible does not disapprove of this. A woman leading a group of women in prayer is totally acceptable. That issue is not currently under discussion here in this study. What we were concerned with here is: Should a woman lead prayer in a mixed group (a crowd of women and men)? The Bible’s answer is that a woman should not be leading a “mixed” group of men and women with regards to prayer and teaching. It is God’s arrangement in creation that the man (or husband) should lead and the woman (or wife) should follow. My friend, there is no put-down of women. Please get that crystal-clear in your mind. The attack on women is when we ignore their God-given role and make them usurp the God-given authority of the man. We are encouraging them to do something God never designed them to do!
Now, with the record made clear by the Scripture, we all say, “Amen!”
» Must Christian women wear head coverings?
» Should women serve in the ministry?
» Are Galatians 3:28 and 1 Timothy 2:11-12 contradictory?