The goal of this program is for women to see that they can provide hope to others because of the light of Jesus shining in them.
- Worship Songs: Living Hope (https://youtu.be/9f2FXxDVO6w), God of this City (https://youtu.be/d61LamkXfwk)
- Interactive Prayer Time
- Closing Prayer
Decorations and Visual Aids
Use various forms of light (battery operated candles, lanterns, or string lights) to create soft light in a darkened room. These will be used as metaphors for hope and hopelessness. Set up a main worship center or use centerpieces on each table, incorporating the following, which will be used during the interactive prayer time.
- Small flat rock for each person
- Stationery, envelopes, and pens
- Picture or graphic of the word HOPE
- Stamp ink and baby wipes
- Toy soldier for each person
- Scripture take–away cards
(Begin the devotion in a dimly lit room.) Sometimes our world feels dark and hopeless. Situations take over our lives that make us feel out of control or seem too difficult for us to handle. Families are separated, people are treated unfairly, people are homeless and without food, viruses cause world–wide sickness and death. It can be easy to feel as if there is no hope in the world, that there are too many tragedies to even begin to think about hope. Although it’s easy to get caught up in that feeling, it’s not the truth. We have a living hope in Jesus. Despite the darkness that surrounds us, there’s a light shining. (Stage women around the room to light candles on each table.)
In the book of Esther, we read about a nation that was in darkness because of persecution, racism and hatred. A political leader was threatening to end an entire race of people. He may have succeeded had it not been for Esther.
In the first chapter of Esther, we’re introduced to King Xerxes and his style of leadership. When Queen Vashti refused to come to his party, he had her removed from her position as queen. The King made this decision at the guidance of his other royal officials, believing that Queen Vashti’s refusal would cause other women throughout the land to follow suit.
In Chapter two we meet Esther, a beautiful Jewish woman, who was raised by her Uncle Mordecai. Years before, the Jewish people had been taken captive and exiled to Persia. The King was not aware of Esther’s background but chose and established her as his Queen.
When Esther’s uncle told her about Haman’s plan to eradicate the Jews, she stepped into action. She approached the king despite knowing that to approach him without being specifically called could mean her death. She took a risk for the sake of her people. She was their hope in the darkness. At the end of the story, the King believed Esther and had Haman killed. The Jews were saved, and Mordecai was elevated to a position of leadership. Would any of that have been possible had Esther not been willing to follow God’s leading in her life?
There was hope for an entire race because of one woman’s actions. Despite what we may think or feel, we can also offer hope to others. Because of Jesus life, death and resurrection we know that we will live eternally, that there is grace and mercy for us, that sin need not control us. When we accept Jesus as our Savior, we have that light, that hope, living in us. Although we may not be called to save an entire race of people as Esther did, we can reach out to those around us and offer hope to the hopeless. We read in 1 Peter 1:3, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.” This isn’t just a nice idea or a good thought to keep in mind, it’s real and its alive.
As we spend some time in prayer, think about ways you can offer hope to those around you. Maybe God has called you to do something outside your comfort zone like He did with Esther. Our God doesn’t fail, He is love, He is faithfulness, He is truth.
Interactive Prayer Time
Hope for Me (Stones)
Sometimes it feels like our lives are out of control. It’s hard to think about what life will be on the other side of that situation. Take a rock from the worship table and think about one situation in your life that you thought you would never get through. Thank God for bringing you through it. In the Old Testament, people built altars or placed stones of remembrance in a specific spot to remind them of what God had done for them. Spend time thanking Him for being your hope amidst the chaos and fear. Place your rock on the pile. Our God is faithful. He doesn’t let us down. Spend some time in prayer.
Hope for My Inner Circle (Cards)
We usually know a lot about the people in our inner circle. They are often the people we rely on when things get tough. When is the last time you’ve encouraged the people you’re closest to? Make a list of those close to you who need a word of encouragement. Write a card to those who don’t live near you. For the others, send them a text, email or make a phone call when you get home. Don’t forget those in your immediate family. Tell them something that you appreciate about them.
Hope for my Community (Hope Sign)
We don’t live isolated in the world. We are part of a family, a neighborhood, a city and a state. Community works best when we all work together to support and help each other. Jesus gave us a great example of community by teaching and healing those who were outcast by other members of society. Take a few minutes to pray for your community. How can you be a better neighbor? How can you help to create a better unity? How can you share the hope of Jesus to others? Think of Esther’s example of providing hope to her people. After your time spent in prayer, put your thumb on the ink pad and place your thumb print inside the letters that spell HOPE. Let this be a reminder that life is better together.
Hope for my Country (Toy Soldier)
We in the United States are fortunate. Even those in our country with the few economic resources would be considered rich compared to other countries. While others face persecution every day, we are blessed to live in a country that offers religious and political freedom. However, there are many in our country who don’t know about the hope found in Jesus. They have never met Him or experienced His love. While we pray for the leaders, troops, lawmakers, and emergency service workers who serve our country, let’s also pray for those individuals who are hopeless. Take a toy soldier home as a reminder to pray not only for our leaders, but also for those fighting battles that we know nothing about.
Whispers of Hope Cards
Christians are called to be the light of Christ in a world shrouded in darkness. Take a Scripture card home for yourself and one to share with a friend.
(Make up Scripture cards with the following verses from the NIV version.)
Jeremiah 29:11—For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.
Isaiah 40:31—But those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint.
Romans 15:13—May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.
Matthew 11:28—Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.
Psalm 119:114—You are my refuge and my shield; I have put my hope in your word.
Hebrews 10:23—Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for He who promised is faithful.
Micah 7:7—But as for me, I watch in hope for the Lord, I wait for God my Savior; my God will hear me.
Psalm 25:5—Guide me in Your truth and teach me, for You are God my Savior, and my hope is in You all day long.
1 Peter 1:3—Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In His great mercy He has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead.