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  • Writer's pictureMatt Beaney

#771. ST. GENEVIÈVE (15/3/23

Christian history is full of really cool people, and one has sprung to mind since starting this series, Praying Together. St Geneviève is the patron saint of Paris, and is notable for her dedication to God through prayer and fasting. She was also incredibly daring for a 4th century woman!

Aged 15, she asked the Bishop of Paris if she could become a nun, and she devoted herself to continuous prayer and fasting. She travelled, prophesying, sharing the faith, and praying for the sick. But people thought she was a false visionary, and they wanted to drown her in a lake of fire until a bishop intervened. (I can’t imagine how terrifying that prospect must have been.)

During a great famine, she travelled by boat to Troyes and returned with several boats full of corn and gave them to the pagan king, who in turn respected her. (I have many questions about this exploit - where did the boats come from? Where did the corn come from? How did she do it by herself?!)

Here’s the bit that sprung to mind when I was considering corporate prayer. In 451, Attila the Hun’s army was on the approach to Paris. Parisians were ready to flee, but Geneviève encouraged them to stay and to pray and fast. They did so, and the army suddenly diverted to Orléans.

Excuse me, what? Corporate prayer diverted a whole army?

I don’t know why this took me by surprise, given how powerful prayer is in the Bible, but it did. Sometimes it feels like a “now” and “then” issue – it’s easier to believe the things that happen in the Bible that we accept as the word of God, than it is to believe that God is present and performing miracles today (or in the 4th century). Maybe we are weary and despondent, and a little depressed by the situations we find ourselves in, and it prevents us from believing that prayer can fundamentally change things.

We read this, in James chapter 5:

'Is anyone among you in trouble? Let them pray. Is anyone happy? Let them sing songs of praise. Is anyone among you sick? Let them call the elders of the church to pray over them and anoint them with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise them up. If they have sinned, they will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.' (James 5:13-16)

There’s no “prayer might make the sick person well”. We are hearing certainty – if we are righteous, our prayers will be powerful and effective. God has made us righteous by sending Jesus to die for our sins, and if we have accepted Jesus’ sacrifice on our behalf, we will pray powerfully, and effectively. We can divert armies, we can circumvent famine. We can be delivered from persecution. We can heal the sick, feed the hungry, help those who are in trouble. There is no limit to what can be achieved through prayer!

This passage shows that this starts with being together. St Geneviève would have lived in a community as a nun, and we know she lived among the people in Paris. She was around others, would have confessed her sin with others, and she prayed for others. And with others, she sought the power of God to change outcomes that seemed already set, until God moved. Be inspired by her today – seek out others, encourage prayer with others, and pray with the certainty that God will hear.




It might be good to begin with notices. Please share from this week’s Church News.


What has God been speaking to you about from His Word this week?


During this series, we will be using the 'Prayers of Many' course by Mike Betts.

I encourage you to buy a copy of the book from:

If you need assistance in buying a book please send an email to the church office and we will happily purchase you a copy.

Please download the course handbook from:

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