Women Praying and Prophesying in the Church

Women Praying and Prophesying in the Church

Many people today believe that women can pray and prophesy in the churches. Does the Bible actually say that women can do this? Let’s look at 1 Corinthians 11 which teaches about headcoverings. We are told that the head of the woman is the man and that “every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head.” Is this referring to a woman’s activity in a church service? Does this mean that women can pray and prophesy in the church?

I can’t see anything in this chapter that states that this can happen during a church service. The entire book of 1 Corinthians is written to a very messed up church but the Apostle Paul isn’t giving instructions throughout the entire letter about how the church service should run. No, he is given instructions mostly on how those who call themselves believers in Jesus Christ ought to behave themselves.

At the end of Chapter 9, he’s encouraging believers to be temperate in all things and discipline their bodies. In chapter 10, he warns them against idolatry, fornication, lusting after evil things, murmuring, and that whatever they do, they do all for the glory of God. Then he goes onto chapter 11 about headcoverings, women being the glory of man, and long hair being their covering. In the verse I mentioned earlier about the woman praying or prophesying, it makes no mention of this happening in a church gathering.

In chapter 12, we are taught about spiritual gifts and in chapter 13, we are taught about charity which is godly love for others. In chapter 14, we are taught about prophesying and how it is used to “speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.” Here Paul is clearly speaking about being in a church service and how much more edifying prophesying is than speaking in tongues. “Let all things be done unto edifying…For God is not the author of confusion, but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.”

Right before this verse he wrote, “For ye may all prophesy one by one, that all may learn, and all may be comforted.” So yes, in this chapter he is specifically speaking about the church service and prophesying. What is the very next verse after the one about God not being the author of confusion and this one about all being able to prophesy one by one?

“Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law. And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church.” God is very clear here that women are not to pray or prophesy in the churches. Paul would not have written in one chapter that women can pray and prophesy in a church service and then a few chapters later clearly instruct women to keep silent in the churches and that it is a shame for women to speak in the church. Men are called to pray and prophesy in the churches since they are the God-ordained leaders as the “husbands of one wife.”

All women who are speaking, teaching, prophesying, and praying in the churches are in rebellion to God’s clearly stated role for them. And in case women and the leaders of the churches didn’t quite understand what Paul was writing, he wrote it again just to make sure everyone understood.

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.
1 Timothy 2:12, 13

26 thoughts on “Women Praying and Prophesying in the Church

  1. Hi Lori. Thanks for sharing the Words of Paul with us. We know his words were spoken and inspired by the Holy Spirit! It’s God’s infallible truth for us. I’m always reminded that the truth shall set us free. I’m disappointed that in our church the women and men were praying publicly during Wednesday night prayer service. What are your thoughts about this? It used to be we would pair off with another woman or our husband to pray, and the men would go together and pray in the Pastor’s office.

  2. If the body of believers is together and there are men and women present, it’s clear that only the men should be the ones praying, Holly. Your instinct about this is correct. Most churches today don’t seem to want to obey this. It would offend the women too much.

  3. What about in a weeknight home group where we discuss the sermon and the pray. What are your thoughts about women sharing and praying in that setting? I would tend to see it as a smaller church service. I have been convicted of not speaking or praying but it is uncomfortable as all there other women are. I see how much they take over and influence the conversation. I feel awkward and wonder if they are judging me as i try not to participate or pray. My husband isn’t as convicted as I am. What if he wants me to participate or pray?

  4. Let’s not deal with the “what if?” Faith, since he hasn’t asked you to do this, thankfully. Your convictions are right. In situations like this one, I believe it’s best for the men to speak and pray and if a wife has a question, she can ask her husband at home. These home groups function as small churches since they are bodies of believers gathered together. In fact, there are many believers who are going back to this type of church.

  5. Of course, it’s not, Helena, and this is why God has to make specific commands about women being silent in the churches and commanding them to have a meek and quiet spirits. It’s in none of our fleshly natures which selfishly do and live as they please but for those of us who love the Lord and want to please Him, we obey what He has commanded; for He has promised that we will reap what we sow.

    “For he that soweth to his flesh shall of the flesh reap corruption; but he that soweth to the Spirit shall of the Spirit reap life everlasting.” (Galatians 6:8)

    Which one do you want to reap? Corruption or everlasting life?

    “…but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15)

  6. Thank you for this reminder. I grew up with in a church setting that allowed women to pray and prophesy and I never thought anything of it. Now, the same denomination is allowing women preachers and deacons. So sad! I cannot understand how one can read Scriptures and not see the TRUTH in it.

  7. Scripture allows women to pray silently in church, which is better in Gods eyes as we are upholding the gospel.

  8. Hi Lori,

    Most of the arguments for women speaking and praying in church seem to come from Acts 2 (at least RHE…):

    Your sons and daughters will prophesy, 
    Your young men will see visions, 
    Your old men will dream dreams.
     Even on my servants, both men and women, 
    I will pour out my Spirit in those days, 
    And they will prophesy (Acts 2:17-18)

    What you would say to those who use this verse? Thanks!

  9. Lori, It is a “slippery slope” indeed when we start disregarding the clear teachings of God’s word. So….what is your admonition on The 4th commandment (not suggestion) COMMANDMENT?
    Matthew 5: 18 says “Till heaven and earth pass (has not happened yet) Not one jot or one tittle shall pass from the law till all be fulfilled. ??

  10. Yes, and Christ fulfilled every single jot and tittle for us, thankfully. I encourage you to study Galatians. The entire book is written by Paul to let us know that we are no longer under the Law and have been freed from it!

  11. But Matthew 5:18 says “Till Heaven and earth pass away” What does that mean? & verse 19? And what does 1John 2:4 that says “He that says he loves me and keeps not my commandments is a lier and the truth is not in him” mean? Revelation 14:12 mean? Explaining who will go to heaven. “Here are the patients of the saints, here are they that keep the commandments of God and have the faith of Jesus”?
    And what do we do with Matt.
    And what do we do with Matthew 5:19?

  12. “My commandments” are NOT the Law and it’s clear all through Romans through Revelation. His commandments are to love the Lord thy God with all of thy heart, soul, and strength, and to love others as yourself. If we do this we will be kind, loving, generous, etc. It has nothing to do with the OT Law. PLEASE, carefully study Galatians and read this post:


    I will not discuss this with you anymore since it is unprofitable and no one is going to put me back under the Law since Christ died to free me from it. Blessings!

  13. Hi Ann may I chime in? We are not under the law of Moses if that is what you are referring to. To walk in Love fulfills the law. Now what you must understand is that matthew, mark, Luke and John were written under the old covenant, this is why Jesus made that statement. Now does mean that “christians” can do whatever they want, no ma’am it does not. Just because we are free from the law does not give saints liberty to walk around in blatant sin. God does not change at all. Ann have you been baptized in the name of Jesus for the remission of your sins according to Acts 2:38?Read the bible from Genesis to revelation and God will give you the answers you seek.

  14. ok. So I just got back from home group and on the way home my husband asked my why I don’t participate in the group discussion anymore. I told him I didn’t want to be teaching men and that I thought men should also be the ones to pray and lead the discussion and that usually the women tend to do more of the talking and praying. He said but you have so much wisdom to share and would add a lot to the discussion. I again said as i study the scriptures i believe it says women should learn in silence and ask their husbands when the get home. I told him if he wanted me to start to participate again i would. He said what ever i feel. I know he was upset and probably thinks I’m too legalistic. He doesn’t see things like i do he’s more like if the pastors are ok with then he is. Not sure what to do. I know he thinks i should participate but wouldn’t tell me to. thats just his personality.

  15. thanks for his post- very interesting. i don’t have a husband to ask, is it ok if i ask another woman at church if i have questions? or the pastor- who is a man?

  16. Dear Lori,

    I am a little confused about a particular verse. Perhaps you can help me understand it better. My problem is as follows:
    In I Timothy 2:12 we read
    “I (Paul) do not permit a woman to teach or to have authority over a man; she must be silent.”

    The wording is so clear and cannot possibly be misunderstood: Paul is saying a woman cannot teach a man.
    Likewise, verses 13 and 14 of 1 Timothy 2 are very clear and easy to understand as well as to his reasons why women cannot teach for we read in these verses:
    “For Adam was formed first, then Eve.

    The fact that Adam was formed first and the woman second, is the reason for Paul that he does not allow women to teach men.

    And Adam was not the one deceived; it was the woman who was deceived and became a sinner.”

    Moreover, from this verse Paul makes it clear that the fact that Eve was deceived is another reason why women cannot teach men.

    All three verses are very clear and easy to understand.
    My problem is related to I Timothy 2:15 where we read
    “But women will be saved through childbearing – if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.”

    Here Paul is saying that we are saved through childbearing. I find that very confusing because I know that at other places Paul teaches us that we are saved through Christ as we know from Romans 3:23-24. So am I saved through my child bearing or am I saved through Christ?

    I look forward to hearing from you.

    Loes Tam

  17. This means that childbearing is God’s role for women. This is where they will learn more about Christ and being a servant than anywhere else. They will learn about suffering and sacrifice. It’s God’s perfect will for women.

  18. Thanks, Lori for your response to my question. Your answer makes sense but I would like to know how you came to that understanding since it is not clear from the text itself which as you will remember states’ “But women will be SAVED through child bearing – if they continue in faith, love and holiness with propriety.”

  19. We must take the WHOLE of Scripture. We know, without a doubt, that one is saved by believing in Jesus Christ and His finished work on the cross. That’s it. But our works prove what we believe. If we continue living in sin after we say that we believe, it’s doubtful that we are saved. God has commanded women to be keepers at home and raise children. This is His will for them so through their belief in Him, they should desire to want to obey Him.

  20. Hi Lori,

    Phillip we know was a deacon in the church and he had 4 daughters who prophesied. Where were they prophesying? Paul prohibits a women from praying or prophesying with their head uncovered. Where are these women praying or prophesying?

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