Do You Need to Be a Prayer Warrior for Your Marriage?

In Christian circles, this phrase has become very popular: prayer warrior. I’m not sure who first used this phrase, but it’s a reference to the spiritual warfare Christians are fighting. Ephesians 6:10-18 says:

Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength. Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil. For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand. Stand, therefore,

with truth like a belt around your waist,
righteousness like armor on your chest,
and your feet sandaled with readiness
for the gospel of peace.
In every situation take the shield of faith,
and with it you will be able to extinguish
all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
Take the helmet of salvation,
and the sword of the Spirit,
which is God’s word.

Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert in this with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints.

The apostle Paul describes us as being in a battle against Satan for the salvation of our souls and the glory of our God. His final encouragement is for us to pray at all times. Thus, I presume, the notion of the prayer warrior, all strapped up in her spiritual armor and doing battle on her knees.

But I gotta say — I don’t feel like a prayer warrior. More like a foot soldier.

In fact, I think all the encouragement to be a prayer warrior has sometimes served to discourage me. I’m 100% sure that was not the intent, but rather a genuine desire to see God’s people devote themselves more to prayer.

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful” (Colossians 4:2).

Yet, “prayer warrior” has always felt a bit daunting to me. I think it’s because:

1. When you decide to stay praying more, it feels like a really high bar to go from not-doing-so-well to being on the front lines of spiritual battle. As if you’re the William Wallace of fearless, persistent prayer.

Let's Pray! with Movie Still from Braveheart

Can’t I just start out as one of those guys a few rows back? Like I’m totally in the battle but not quite ready to lead the charge.

2. It can come across that other people are better Christians and have better marriages because they find praying easier. And I don’t think that’s true. We should all grow in the spiritual disciplines commanded in Scripture, but I suspect we have our favorites — habits less difficult for us to form.

For instance, I’m totally fine with researching biblical passages, their context, Greek meanings of words, etc.; it’s a somewhat natural way for me to relate to God by studying His Word. But somehow, prayer is more of a challenge.

3. Sometimes there’s an underlying message that if God’s not answering your prayer, if you’re still struggling in your marriage or marriage bed, it’s because you’re not warrior-like enough about it. That if only you’d fight harder through prayer, things would work out.

It agree that we may need to pray more frequently and earnestly to break through, but God could also be answering our specific requests with “you first,” or “not yet,” or even “fuhgettaboutit.” Moreover, are we really the powerful ones in prayer that make things happen based on how well we do it?

The more I learn about prayer, the more I think that God just wants us to show up. Maybe it’s less important to reach prayer warrior status (whatever that means) and more important that you don’t go AWOL. We have to keep talking to God, keep listening for His voice, and keep believing He will intervene in our marriage and marriage bed in His perfect way and perfect timing.

But God can’t do anything through prayer if you don’t ever show up.

Now if you consider yourself a prayer warrior and that’s working well for you, great. But I’ve been working through this series on prayer with the idea that there are a lot of people like me, for whom a thriving prayer life has been a challenge at times. To myself and to them, I want to say: You don’t have to be a prayer warrior — just step out on the battlefield.

You don't have to be a prayer warrior -- just step out on the battlefield. Click To Tweet

God’s really good at fighting battles with and for us if we’ll just show up.

The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still” (Exodus 14:14).

Do not be afraid of them; the Lord your God himself will fight for you” (Deuteronomy 3:22).

And I believe God wants to fight for your marriage — to save your marriage if it’s in trouble, to protect your marriage if it’s being attacked by the enemy, to help it thrive if it’s been ho-hum. He wants to be on that battlefield with us — whether you’re a prayer warrior or a foot soldier.

Just step out and join Him in the fight.

13 thoughts on “Do You Need to Be a Prayer Warrior for Your Marriage?

  1. Apa

    As someone struggling with prayer and reading the Word, I love this post, J! It really fleshes out what on my mind. Thank you!

    Reply
  2. E

    Thanks for the reminder that it is not us who are powerful in prayer, it is always God! I really needed that reminder!

    Reply
  3. B

    J, this comment is only mildly related to this post. I need help. There are three things I need to learn to understand. I’m hoping you can recommend some books to help me with these issues from a Christian perspective.
    1. Humility. I go by the dictionary definition, which I am constantly being told is wrong. Or at least my understanding is wrong. People often accuse me of false humility. I’m not trying to be false. I think I have a wrong understanding of what humility is.
    2. Forgiveness. A lot of crap has happened in my past. I thought I’d forgiven everyone and everything, but I’ve been told that by not letting it go to “free” myself, I am not truly forgiving. I thought if you just were nice to people and didn’t remind them of bad things they’d done to you, then you’ve forgiven them by kind of letting them off the hook. I’ve been told this is wrong, but no one will explain what is right, in a way I can understand.
    3. Intimacy. Not sexual, but just regular intimacy. Like knowing your spouse intimately. I’m not sure I have a good understanding of that either.

    I feel stupid being this old and this confused, but I’m so tired of being stuck and upset. Any resources you can point me to would be appreciated. Thank you in advance!

    Reply
    1. J Post author

      These are all good questions. I need a little bit of time to gather my resources. (I have ideas; I just need to go find them and then report back.) But I’ll start quickly with something on #1: Humility. There’s a chapter in Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis titled “The Great Sin,” about pride and its opposite, humility. It made quite an impression on me because, although I haven’t read the book through for maybe twenty years, I still remembered it. In that chapter he says:

      “Do not imagine that if you meet a really humble man he will be what most people call ‘humble’ nowadays: he will not be a sort of greasy, smarmy person, who is always telling you that, of course, he is nobody. Probably all you will think about him is that he seemed a cheerful, intelligent chap who took a real interest in what you said to him. If you do dislike him it will be because you feel a little envious of anyone who seems to enjoy life so easily. He will not be thinking about humility: he will not be thinking about himself at all.”

      Rick Warren put it this way in The Purpose-Driven Life: “This is true humility: not thinking less of ourselves but thinking of ourselves less.”

      I’ll return with more resources soon. Just wanted to post your comment now.

      Reply
      1. B

        I started reading Mere Christianity this morning. Even the intro explained a LOT. We were saved in an extremely legalistic church, and never quite discipled. Found our way out of that church, but still have so much to learn. People assume my husband and I are mature Christians because we’ve been saved for 10-15 years, but we are realizing we have a lot to learn. Hoping it’s something we can do together, grow as Christians, I mean.

        Thank you for your help!

        Reply
        1. J Post author

          Wonderful! I walked into my college-aged son’s room about a week ago and caught him reading it too. It’s a great book!

          Reply
    2. E

      Hi B,

      I’m not sure will be able to explain it properly, but I feel like forgiveness HAS to come from the heart, and that you haven’t really forgiven someone while you still harbour anger (or bitterness) toward them. My ‘filter’ to ‘check’ my forgiveness of someone is related to the Lords Prayer – He forgives us as we forgive our transgressors. So I kind of check whether the way I have forgiven is the way I want to be forgiven, by God. I have found that understanding where the other person is coming from (and what issues they have that could have led to their choices- because there will be something!) plays a big part in this.

      Reply
      1. B

        Thanks for replying, E, but it’s something else about forgiveness that confuses me. The concept of forgiving someone who doesn’t want or feel they need forgiveness. Here’s an example. My sister has done and does a LOT of crummy things to me. Beyond sibling stuff. Anyone who knows us can see it. Okay, so I need to move past that. If I told her “I forgive you” she’d be like “for what? I’ve never done anything wrong!” So… I have been told forgiveness is not for the person being forgiven, but the person doing the forgiving. That by forgiving her I will be freeing myself. You might reply “well, you don’t need to tell her you’re forgiving her, you just do it”. Okay. But what’s the point? I honestly don’t get it. What exactly am I doing? Am I just saying “it’s okay you said and did horrible things to me as a child abond made me feel worthless?” And even if I do say that, even in my own heart, how does that all of a sudden make me feel like a great person? That is what I’m not understanding. And I’m not trying to be difficult, I just REALLY do not get it at all.

        Reply
        1. J Post author

          So Merriam Webster says that forgiveness is:
          1a : to give up resentment of or claim to requital
          1b : to grant relief from payment of forgive a debt
          2: to cease to feel resentment against (an offender)

          But in the New Testament Greek, two words are used for forgiveness: charizomai and aphiemi. The former is associated with the word for grace (charis) and means giving “to bestow a favor unconditionally; to show one’s self gracious, kind, benevolent; or to grant forgiveness, to pardon.” Whereas aphiemi means to “send away” and is more about sending away a debt that you are owed. You can read more here.

          I admit to being a tough cookie on this subject. I’ve heard a lot of Christians say things like, “Forgiving others sets you free” and “You have to forgive immediately.” But say someone murders my kid? Am I going to cancel the debt owed to me for that? They can’t really make up for it anyway, but if they feel remorse and serve out a just term, then of course I want to forgive. But if someone serially mistreats you, do you just have to extend grace over and over and over without end? I’m not sure even God does that. He eventually — far after we would, but eventually — writes off those who refuse to show any openness toward Him and mistreat His children again and again.

          I also make a distinction between the forgiveness that says “you don’t owe me anymore” and the one that says “we’re totally fine now.” Think about a woman who was molested by her father. She can reach the point of forgiveness that she’s not demanding something from her father anymore, that she’s moved past the abuse and healed. But can they ever be “totally fine”? She surely won’t associate with him in ways that put her heart, or say, her children, at risk. That’s being smart, as Joseph was in how he tested his brothers when they came to visit Egypt. He forgave them, but he also wanted to know if he could trust them in the future.

          I think forgiveness is less about your emotions on the subject and more about whether you’re still carrying an I.O.U. card with that person’s name on it. Certainly years of resentment and bitterness can negatively affect your heart and your life. But I also believe that justice should be paired with our mercy. All in all, I have to say (and I know I’ll get plenty of flak for this one) that I don’t believe in unconditional forgiveness, but rather extravagant forgiveness — the forgiveness that Jesus said is seventy times seven, which is usually far more than our selfish hearts are willing to give.

          Reply

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