It's no secret that for the past few years most of us were dying to get a glimpse of Ciara's prayer. In the wake of the disastrous dating scene, we desperately needed answers, sis. It was evident that God had done it for her, delivered her from Future unto Russell, and we wanted in on the secret. So when Summer Walker released her album and blessed us with Ciara's prayer, it quickly stirred up a frenzy. I went on Instagram and within the hour, at least 20 women I followed had posted it on their Instagram Stories. Let's not even talk about the running commentary ranging from, "I will recite this prayer daily" to "I am going to have it tattooed on me."
While this is commendable that we finally realize that our love lives need Jesus, I felt we were missing the point. That same evening during my quiet prayer time God said to me, "What you need is Russell's prayer in order to see the whole picture." You see we are so accustomed to thinking that women are the only ones that give God their requests for a partner, specifications and all. We forget that just as God is protective of his Queens, he is just as loving and protective over his Kings. God loves his daughters, but if at any point God felt Ciara was not ready to receive Russell, then she was going to have to wait and the opposite scenario would be true.
Both Ciara and Russell had to have a conducive environment within themselves individually and around them in order to envision, manifest and nurture this relationship we now admire. Once I got this, God was like, "I'm not done yet, just so you know the power to deliver what Ciara asked for wasn't vested in what she said. It wasn't her choice of words, her diction, that got the spirit moving." Well, OK so what was it? Stay with me, sis. The following analysis will tell you what you need to know.
Instead of worrying about what Ciara said, our focus should be on what she did to prepare herself for what she had asked for.
Many of us have been where Ciara was, right at the end of ourselves, in pain and in dire need of a breakthrough. It's not enough to decide we want better, we have to do the prep work in order to receive better. Proverbs 18:22 says, "He who finds a wife finds a good thing and obtains favor from the Lord." Please note what is found is a wife, not a girlfriend that can one day be a wife, not a woman who is ready to settle -- a wife! That means you are whole, healed, and secure prior to being found.
Earlier on in March this year, Russell was on Ciara's Level Up Radio on Apple talking about he long had a crush on her way before they met. Russell has been vocal on how he once told someone after watching Ciara's video that he would one day end up with her, yet it was a while before they eventually met at a basketball game in 2015 and started dating shortly after.
They both had preparatory work to do and they were each other's answered prayer.
I feel there is a great misconception that Ciara's prayer (or the woman's prayer) is sent out and God then drags Russell to come along your way. As a matter of principle, at some point, we have had our own version of this prayer. What differentiates Ciara's prayer is that her actions complemented her prayer. She did not recite the prayer and wait for Russell under another man. She did not recite the prayer and check in with God every second business day if any of the eligible men in her peripheral were "the one." What are you doing while you wait?
Are you waiting like we do for online orders? We place an order today and as soon as confirmation comes through, we start tracking. Are you waiting by the door throwing tantrums at the delivery guy for not having that specific package you desperately want? Some of us are missing the work God is doing in other areas of our lives because we become transfixed on that one void in our life.
You are currently living in the realm of an answered prayer from your past. Have you thanked him for that which you already have?
You finally fixed your credit, you finally paid off that student loan, you finally paid off that car note, you finally graduated, you are finally healing, debt-free, you finally got past the childhood trauma, you finally traveled abroad. All of that pales in comparison to your need for companionship?
Ciara's prayer speaks volumes of gratitude. She speaks on being thankful that God hears her pleas, thankful that he hasn't judged her harshly. She is grateful for her son, acknowledging that he is a gift from God. She surrenders her pain but trusts that even the pain holds a valuable lesson for her.
However, what is most profound to me about this prayer is the apparent rapport between God and Ciara.
She attests to the character of God and speaks of his attributes. I don't need to know Ciara personally to confirm this, her words display it. She starts off by saying, "I don't fully understand everything right now, but I know you have great plans for me."
Why yes Cici, for in John 13:7 Jesus says, "You do not realize now what I am doing, but later you will understand." Jeremiah 29:11 (a personal favorite of mine) says, "But the plans I have for you are to prosper you and not to fail you, to give you a future (pun intended) and a hope."
The very act of committing her pain to God tells me she is aware that he is her foundation and her source, but for everything, not just a source for the relationship she is hoping for. Some of us don't realize God has been paying our bills, uplifting our careers, opening doors, and setting our pathways straight. You cannot suddenly relinquish control in one area without allowing access to everything else. Being knowledgeable on the character of God is what distinguishes Ciara's prayer. She knew the abilities of the one she was calling upon.
Ciara knew not only was he able but he was willing to help her navigate through this pain into the relationship she needed.
Please note she didn't ask God to take the pain away, she didn't want to miss the lesson. She didn't ask for God to bring a partner that would heal her or complete her. Furthermore, when it came down to the man she wanted, she wasn't vague about it. Again, she referenced what God himself says about love, what God says about her. It doesn't matter how many times you recite this prayer word for word verbatim, it doesn't matter how desperate you are if you do not yet have a personal relationship with the one you are praying to. Do you know him, do you know what he says about love but most importantly what he says about you?
Ciara really ought to have made a disclaimer that goes like this and is in fine print too, "Here is the prayer but results are sold separately."
Also worth noting she was honest in her surrender to God. She says, "I need you to restore my faith in love, give me strength." Her faith in love had been shaken but she knew God could revive it. In the end, having submitted her pain, confusion, and requests, she ends by stating that she is ready.
All she was asking God to dress her man in, she would have to reciprocate. She would have to compliment the type of man she was asking for. God also wants to shelter his sons. Are you ready for what you are pleading for?
Some of us are not ready but we keep barking for Russell. You don't only become ready by declaring you're ready. Some of us haven't grasped the lessons we need to from our past relationships, some of us don't see what we already have, some of us don't know the God Ciara is speaking to here--the one who heals, the one who is able, the one who restores and the one who delivers.
But the worst is, we won't receive Russell if we idolize relationships. We are pursuing the hashtag baecation more than we are pursuing God. Shanice Lawrence worded this beautifully in her tweet, she said, "Make sure you want God more than you want a man OR ELSE that man will be your god. Desiring the blessing more than the relationship with God is how idols are created." I could not agree more.
So to reiterate, the power of Ciara's prayer lies not in her words, the power lies in the one she was praying to, the relationship they have, and the knowledge she had on who God is. Find out for yourself who he is. Psalm 34:8 says, "Taste and see that the Lord is good, blessed is the one who takes refuge in him."
I will stay on the lookout for Russell's prayer but while we wait, wait in gratitude, wait in prayer, go to the source and let him fine-tune you for what is to come.
Featured image by Rich Fury/Getty Images
Winnie is a Vancouver-based writer who loves exploring her city, traveling and all things sneaker-related. Although her background is in law and administration, she is on a mission to share the power of faith.
How Content Creators Hey Fran Hey And Shameless Maya Embraced The Pivot
This article is in partnership with Meta Elevate.
If you’ve been on the internet at all within the past decade, chances are the names Hey Fran Hey and Shameless Maya (aka Maya Washington) have come across your screen. These content creators have touched every platform on the web, spreading joy to help women everywhere live their best lives. From Fran’s healing natural remedies to Maya’s words of wisdom, both of these content creators have built a loyal following by sharing honest, useful, and vulnerable content. But in search of a life that lends to more creativity, freedom, and space, these digital mavens have moved from their bustling big cities (New York City and Los Angeles respectively) to more remote locations, taking their popular digital brands with them.
Content Creators Hey Fran Hey and Maya Washington Talk "Embracing The Pivot"www.youtube.com
In partnership with Meta Elevate — an online learning platform that provides Black, Hispanic, and Latinx-owned businesses access to 1:1 mentoring, digital skills training, and community — xoNecole teamed up with Franscheska Medina and Maya Washington on IG live recently for a candid conversation about how they’ve embraced the pivot by changing their surroundings to ultimately bring out the best in themselves and their work. Fran, a New York City native, moved from the Big Apple to Portland, Oregon a year ago. Feeling overstimulated by the hustle and bustle of city life, Fran headed to the Pacific Northwest in search of a more easeful life.
Her cross-country move is the backdrop for her new campaign with Meta Elevate— a perfectly-timed commercial that shows how you can level up from wherever you land with the support of free resources like Meta Elevate. Similarly, Maya packed up her life in Los Angeles and moved to Sweden, where she now resides with her husband and adorable daughter. Maya’s life is much more rural and farm-like than it had been in California, but she is thriving in this peaceful new setting while finding her groove as a new mom.
While Maya is steadily building and growing her digital brand as a self-proclaimed “mom coming out of early retirement,” Fran is redefining her own professional grind. “It’s been a year since I moved from New York City to Portland, Oregon,” says Fran. “I think the season I’m in is figuring out how to stay successful while also slowing down.” A slower-paced life has unlocked so many creative possibilities and opportunities for these ladies, and our conversation with them is a well-needed reminder that your success is not tied to your location…especially with the internet at your fingertips. Tapping into a community like Meta Elevate can help Black, Hispanic, and Latinx entrepreneurs and content creators stay connected to like minds and educated on new digital skills and tools that can help scale their businesses.
During a beautiful moment in the conversation, Fran gives Maya her flowers for being an innovator in the digital space. Back when “influencing” was in its infancy and creators were just trying to find their way, Fran says Maya was way ahead of her time. “I give Maya credit for being one of the pioneers in the digital space,” Fran said. “Maya is a one-person machine, and I always tell her she really changed the game on what ads, campaigns, and videos, in general, should look like.”
When asked what advice she’d give content creators, Maya says the key is having faith even when you don’t see the results just yet. “It’s so easy to look at what is, despite you pouring your heart into this thing that may not be giving you the returns that you thought,” she says. “Still operate from a place of love and authenticity. Have faith and do the work. A lot of people are positive thinkers, but that’s the thinking part. You also have to put your faith into work and do the work.”
Fran ultimately encourages content creators and budding entrepreneurs to take full advantage of Meta Elevate’s vast offerings to educate themselves on how to build and grow their businesses online. “It took me ten years to get to the point where I’m making ads at this level,” she says. “I didn’t have those resources in 2010. I love the partnership with Meta Elevate because they’re providing these resources for free. I just think of the people that wouldn’t be able to afford that education and information otherwise. So to amplify a company like this just feels right.”
Watch the full conversation with the link above, and join the Meta Elevate community to connect with fellow businesses and creatives that are #OnTheRiseTogether.
Featured image courtesy of Shameless Maya and Hey Fran Hey
What We Can All Learn About Boss Moves From Nicole Lynn And Jalen Hurts's $225 Million Win
It's no surprise that a Black woman is the phenomenal agent behind getting Jalen Hurt a record-breaking $225 million Philadelphia Eagles contract. I mean, Nicole Lynn has been a force to be reckoned with for quite some time, and y'all know we, as Black women, have that special mojo (along with the tenacity, smarts, and hard work) to get ish done.
Yep, I said it. Toot. Toot.
When the news broke about Hurt becoming the highest-paid player in NFL history (another feat for a Black king that we should be shouting about from the mountaintops for centuries to come), it was refreshing to see Lynn actually get her flowers as a professional who paid her dues and boldly achieved excellence.
Let's take a look at a few lessons we can all learn about business, career advancement, and legacy from Lynn's journey to success:
1. Being strategic about the career path you choose is essential.
Lynn studied business management, earned a law degree, and worked on Wall Street before becoming the first woman to represent PlayersRep, an NFL agency. (By the way, that company was acquired by Lil' Wayne's Young Money APAA Sport's Agency. Yes, Young Moolah, baby.) She went on to thrive as one of the youngest sports agents in the game.
Her education and background working in the tough and high-stress world of financial services (in one of the most competitive and powerful markets in the world) surely prepped her for her current success in sports, and she was super-deliberate about that.
"Every educational and career decision I made has been extremely calculated with the same endgame in mind," Lynn told xoNecole in a 2019 interview. "I realize it can be rare for someone to almost always have known what they wanted to do in life, but that was the case for me."
2. When possible, allow adversity and challenges to fuel your drive to succeed.
According to her website, Lynn attributes her success to the mindset shift she experienced that was sparked by her time facing adversity as a child. "I knew I wanted to escape that life, and I had to work hard to do it. So I have always done just that. I owe every bit of success I've achieved to my extremely dedicated work ethic and my unwavering faith in God."
Many ambitious and successful Black women who are pioneers in their fields have shared their stories of overcoming adversity within both their personal and professional journeys, especially when they have to fight against sexism and racism in order to break glass ceilings.
"I know that I have worked extremely hard to get here and that I am just as capable as my male counterparts. For this reason, I went into this industry knowing that I didn't want to just exist," she told xoNecole. "I made it a goal of mine to break stereotypes and make history. When my client's name was called at the 2019 NFL Draft, two people's dreams came true. I am very grateful for the opportunity to be recognized as the first and I look forward to continuing to shift the perception of women in this industry."
3. Take time to learn from others in your network and industry—even if they don't look like you—in order to reach new career heights.
"I was preparing to be a financial adviser and then learned through our financial advisers that represented athletes," she told Sports Illustrated. When she ventured into working in sports full-time, legendary agent Ken Sarnoff was reportedly her mentor. In a male-dominated industry where super-agents represent 90% of NFL players, networking and learning from others, whether they look like you or not.
Sadly, equity has not been achieved for women in many industries, and while women have found comradery, sponsorship, and advocacy from other women, many who have moved up the ranks are mentored by men.
(I'm no millionaire superagent, but several of my most prolific and life-changing mentors who poured into me and actually advocated for me in ways that led to true advancement and career development were men, a bittersweet fact of life for ambitious women professionals.)
The main point of this: Connect with professionals not just because they are from the same culture or neighborhood or just because they identify as the same gender as you. Find ways to work with people who you can relate to, and who you can learn from. And in return, serve by offering your own talents and perspective to ensure growth and prosperity in what you do.
4. Adopt a holistic approach in doing the work you do so that you're truly a leader.
Lynn has been touted as a successful agent who goes beyond just brokering deals and gets into the holistic needs of her clients. “I'd say the job of an agent is to negotiate a contract for a player, get them on a team,” Lynn told Sports Illustrated. “That is it. That is what we are paid to do. I'm passionate about teaching financial literacy, teaching ‘adulting’ skills, and really getting these guys across the finish line, and in and out of a career in the NFL into the rest of their lives.”
The fact that she reportedly sees things beyond just the dollar signs when it comes to her clients says a lot about her vision and integrity. It's also something that can be advantageous when you're trying to build a legacy with what you do for a living versus just chasing checks. Caring about the people you work with and for, and taking a stance of service ensures that you'll not only build lasting relationships that go beyond the superficial but that you'll be remembered as someone who is a true leader.
Having vision and taking on the holistic approach in all that you do (whether it's related to projects, goals, or professional relationships) ensures you can see the big picture, add real value that stands the test of time, and be strategic.
Lynn's record-breaking success serves as a reminder we all need that hard work, intelligence, and vision are vital to be among the greats in one's industry and to reach our highest professional potential.
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Featured image by Marcus Ingram / Stringer/Getty Images