Tennessee Day of Special Prayers for Widows
On May 2, 2005, at the request of Widows Harvest Ministries, the Tennessee State House of Representatives (with the Senate concurring) passed a joint resolution to recognize May 15 of each year as a “Day of Special Prayers for Widows, and ask that all Tennesseans pause to remember and empathize with the plight of our bereaved sisters.”
(Cick here to download a printable copy of this resolution, or to read State Senator Steve Cohen’s (Shelby County) request to the Attorney General of the State of Tennessee as to the Constitutionality of this Joint Resolution, and their opinion click here.)
There have also been attempts since then to have the United States Congress pass a similar resolution, recognizing this as a national day of prayer for widows, but all efforts aimed at even getting a Congressional or Senatorial representative to be willing to take this on have repeatedly failed.
It is the recommendation of Widows Harvest Ministries that individuals, or organized groups, especially through local churches, take time at noon on this day to have a time of prayer for widows, not only in their own boundaries of influence, but even throughout the world.
Tragically, the plight and care of widows is one of the most clearly prescribed areas of ministry throughout the entirety of Scripture and yet remains the least attended to by the church today both here and throughout the world.
A strong warning can be found in Exodus 22:22-24 with regard to the treatment of both the widows and the fatherless:
22) "Do not take advantage of the widow or the fatherless. 23) If you do and they cry out to me, I will certainly hear their cry. 24) My anger will be aroused, and I will kill you with the sword; your wives will become widows and your children fatherless.”
In the New Testament, I Timothy 5:3 we are exhorted to “Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need. In verse 8, which is being written to include widows in this same context states that “Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever. In other words if there is are any widows in a family, including widowed mothers, grandmothers, aunts and even sisters, not to care for them, in God’s eyes, is a denial of our faith in him and places us in the category of unbelievers.
In James 1:27, James tells us “to visit the widow and the fatherless in their distress” is so significant to God that he considers it to be “pure and undefiled religion.” The word for “religion” used here actually means worship. So, in effect, caring for widows is a worship issue with God of such importance that for us not to care for them would not only imply that our worship of God is impure and defiled, but it would even call into question whether other forms of worship even have any validity with God at all in it’s absence.
The 2 things that Jesus takes from us when we accept the Gospel (a proposal of marriage, if you will) is our eternal condition of widowhood and fatherlessness. To pass by the widow, then, would be the same as saying to Jesus we have forgotten what you have done on our behalf. If we were not told in I Timothy 5:8 that not caring for ones family, including widows, was considered by God as the very denial of our faith, it might, otherwise, be difficult to accept this interpretation.
In terms of the consequences for us as God’s people, when the care of widows falls into neglect, there is a frightening record of this with Israel in Zechariah 7. Israel, because of her defiled and impure worship, through the neglect of the widows and the fatherless, finds that their own house becomes one of desolation. Israel becomes like one who is bereft of her husband.
By contrast, in Acts 6, attention is brought to the Apostles that the Greek (minority) widows are not being fed (which is obviously causing them much distress), which is right out of the last part of Isaiah 1:17 where it says “to plead the case of the widows.” Though not commonly understood in this way, this is a crucially pivotal moment for the early church. The Apostles immediate response to this plea is more than ample evidence for this fact. They respond to this plea by not only appointing 7 men of mature faith, who they first lay hands on and pray over before sending them out to meet these widows immediate food needs, but they also bestow authority on them for insuring the continued care of these widows. Thus, fulfilling James 1:27 mandate for “pure and undefiled worship.”
The outcome, unlike Israel’s neglect of the widows, causing their condition to become like that of the widow, just the opposite occurs. Verse 7 states “So the word of God spread. The number of disciples in Jerusalem increased rapidly, and a large number of priests became obedient to the faith.”
Through our prayers for the plight of widows, may God use it to lead us to the care of those widows who are in distress, so that the church, Christ’s bride, might truly be the pure and undefiled bride that God desires her to be:
II Corinthians 11:2 “I am jealous for you with a godly jealousy. I promised you to one husband, to Christ, so that I might present you as a pure virgin to him.”
Both the recognition of the plight of widows as well as the church’s intentional response to their plight, Widows Harvest believes, must begin with prayer
If you are led to join with us in prayer, at noon on May 15 (wherever you are), please post it on our wall on our Widows Harvest Facebook page or send us an email letting us know. You can also help by letting others know about this opportunity especially churches. Make a request to your pastor that an announcement be made to the congregation that would encourage them to pray for widows on this day and time. All of these efforts will not only be a great source of encouragement to the widows in your congregations but by letting us know this is taking place we can also make this known to other widows in order for them to be encouraged as well.
If you live in the Chattanooga area and would like to come and join us for prayer at noon on this day, St Elmo Ave. Baptist Church (where our widows meet weekly for prayer), will be hosting a prayer service at the church that day. WMBW, 88.9, the local Moody Broadcasting Station will also be broadcasting from this same Church all day long beginning at 7 a.m. This is in conjunction with their “Count Down To 40” celebrating 40 years on the air. If you are in their broadcast range please remember to tune in that day as they will be talking about the Tennessee day of prayer as well as the plight of widows in general (especially in the early morning drive time hours). For more information you can visit their web site: http://www.moodyradiosoutheast.fm.
I also want to thank Fairway Outdoor Advertising for donating 8 billboards in the Chattanooga area, beginning May 1 through May 15 promoting the Tennessee Day of Prayer for Widows.
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