Tag Archives: praying for marriage

How Should You Pray for Your Spouse?

In my last post on prayer, My Biggest Problem with “Pray for Your Marriage”, one wife left this thoughtful comment:

Another problem I have when people talk about praying for one’s marriage is the advice that you shouldn’t pray for your spouse to change, you should pray for God to help YOU to change. This may be right in many cases, but if one spouse is cheating or abusing, or addicted to something, or I could go on, the other spouse SHOULD pray for the one in the wrong to change (along with taking appropriate action, like you said). I get sick and tired of the the burden of needing to change being put on the spouse who is already faithful, committed, and trying so hard.

True. I’ve written about how you’re the only person you can actually change in your marriage and how we shouldn’t focus prayer on our spouse doing all the changing. But I also believe it is very important to pray for your husband.

Now if we’re not supposed to be just praying for God to change our husband, yet we should be praying for him, what does that look like? How should you pray for your spouse?

close-up of woman praying + blog post title

Gratitude.

How about thanking God for your husband? In Ephesians 1:16, the apostle Paul says this about his friends in Christ: “I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.”

Marriage author Gary Thomas had a wonderful post recently sharing how he kept a gratitude journal about for a year and how it changed his approach to wake up each day thanking God for her. When you make gratitude a focus of prayer, your perspective of the person you’re praying for alters: You tend to see them in a better light.

Thanking God regularly for your spouse — with specifics about why — means you’ll focus on your beloved’s positive aspects, you’ll look for the blessings of being married, and you’ll find less to complain about.

If you’re in a rough patch, you might find this a tall order. But I bet you can find something, no matter how small, about your husband that you can show gratitude for. Start where you are, and let your thankfulness and positivity grow.

Wisdom.

Oh, this is where my prayers about my husband have lived for a long time. When I stopped praying, “Hey, God, could you fix my husband while I sit over here with a front-row seat for the transformation?” I replaced many of those prayers with, “Hey, God, could you give me the wisdom to understand my husband better? To communicate effectively with him? To show him Christ-like love?”

Now, this is praying for myself, but it’s also praying for my husband. Because as part of those conversations, I ask God that my husband will be open to what was happening with me — that my efforts will be received in a positive manner. I need wisdom and guidance from God, but I also want God to pave the way with my husband.

Pray for wisdom in how to love your particular husband the way he needs to feel love. Pray that your husband will be open to the love you express through Christ.

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His life.

I distinctly recall going through a small-group study of the popular book, The Power of a Praying Wife. The author, Stormie Omartian, walks participants through praying for different areas of their husbands’ lives, such as His Work, His Finances, and His Sexuality.

Since I went through the study around the second half of The Worst Years of my marriage, I’d like to revisit that study and see what it would reveal about myself, my husband, and my prayer life now. But I remember enough to believe that it was a great idea to go to God specifically with concerns about your husband’s life and ask for His divine guidance.

Think about what issues your husband faces and pray for his protection and wisdom in those areas.

His heart.

Yep, it’s perfectly fine to pray for your husband to have a change of heart. Paul said in Romans 10:1: “Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved.” That’s an apostle praying to God that people’s hearts will be changed.

What’s important about this prayer is to make sure you’re wanting God to change your husband for his sake. That is, your prayer shouldn’t be that God make your husband into the image you want him to be, but into the image of God. “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

And we must heed Christ’s words about confessing our sins and asking God to change us as well:

 Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Luke 6:41-42).

Pray for a change of heart, especially when your husband is steeped in sin, but also recognize that God will not force that change. In Revelation 3:20, we have this promise: “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” Pray for God to knock (hard) on your husband’s door, but recognize that God won’t wrench the door open — as part of his free will, your husband must open that door.

So keep praying for his heart, but also pray for those other things. And especially pray for God to show you where you can change for the better, where you can have a positive influence, where you can wisely pursue intimacy in your marriage.

Same image as above, sized for Pinterest

My Biggest Problem with “Pray for Your Marriage”

It’s October, and I’m still talking about prayer! That’s because my goal this year has been to pray more, especially for marriage.

I’ve encouraged you to be praying for your marriage and your marriage bed as well, including unity with your spouse, sexual temptation, and perspective. And I’ve been encouraged by you sharing your prayer habits and thoughts. But today I want to tackle one of the problems I see with the ongoing appeal to “pray for your marriage.”

blog post title + black-and-white image of woman praying (close-up)

Sometimes prayer is touted as the cure-all to every ill in marriage and life. You’re arguing with your husband? Pray for unity. You’re struggling with your sex drive? Pray for its awakening. You’re battling a porn habit? Pray for release. You’re two steps away from divorce? Pray for restoration of your marriage.

And all of that is great. You definitely should “pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests” (Ephesians 6:18). The problem is when we stop there and make it sound like prayer will resolve all of your issues.

But prayer is communication with God, and we have to also listen to what He says in those moments and in His Word and then apply it to our lives.

I know this from experience, because in the pit-dwelling years of my marriage, I prayed. A LOT. Everything from quiet reflection with God, to Scripture-focused prayer, to yelling and crying at Him for help. It felt like He wasn’t answering my prayer, because hadn’t He promised to deliver me? Psalm 91:14 says it this way:

“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation” (Psalm 91:14-16).

I was acknowledging His name regularly, loudly, desperately, yet my marriage slipped further and further into a black hole of despair.

Ah, the power of hindsight! It frankly makes me want to kick that younger me who expected God to fix everything while I continued to hold on to my mistaken viewpoints, my poor habits, and my selfish plans.

Let’s flip a couple of pages further in Psalms and learn more the character of God:

Blessed is the one you discipline, Lord,
  the one you teach from your law;
you grant them relief from days of trouble,
  till a pit is dug for the wicked (Psalm 94:12-13).

Wow, that doesn’t sound nearly as awesome as Superhero God swooping in to rescue me with little effort on my part — just holding on to His caped person while He flies me away from trouble. But that ignores that God wants us to be a part of the plan.

Or rather, that IS the plan. Our Lord longs to rescue us, but He won’t swoop in when He knows that we need to grow more through the experience.

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Imagine God like a father with a toddler learning to walk. If the dad grabs his daughter every time it looks like she might fall, she won’t ever take those first steps. Instead, He’s there the whole time, listening to us, teaching us, scooping us up and comforting us when we stumble, and helping us learn to walk and then to run.

Prayer is inviting God into that experience. It’s reaching out your arms, looking directly at your Father, and walking toward Him. And then, applying what you’ve learned to the life you lead.

You have to act. What actions you need to take depend on your situation. But let’s take the issues I mentioned above:

  • You’re arguing with your husband? Pray for unity. And take an in-depth look at what changes you need to make, speak candidly and calmly with your husband, and consider attending a marriage course or getting marriage counseling.
  • You’re struggling with your sex drive? Pray for its awakening. And see your doctor to determine if there are health issues involved, check out a low libido resource like the online course from Sheila Gregoire or the devotional study from Bonny Burns, and listen to our podcast for regular tips on improving sexual intimacy.
  • You’re battling a porn habit? Pray for release. And confess your struggle to your spouse and a trusted mentor in your church, install filters on your computer or get rid of devices that tempt you, and seek out ministries that can help you break free like XXX Church.
  • You’re two steps away from divorce? Pray for restoration of your marriage. And see a counselor, either with your husband or without, to figure out what you can do to actively work toward reconciliation, and tell a church leader what’s going on and invite their intervention.

Also, let me add that the times when this advice to “just pray for your marriage” make me crazy are when:

  1. A spouse is serially unfaithful. If your spouse doesn’t give a hoot about the damage they’re doing to your marriage with their infidelity, you don’t cower in your closet and simply pray. Yes, you pray mightily, but you also set boundaries and leave if they don’t change their behavior.
  2. A spouse is abusive. You can’t just pray that a spouse will stop smacking you or calling you every name in the book. Jesus Himself said that He was sent here in part “to set the oppressed free” (Luke 4:18). Get out, and if he wants to stop being abusive, he can change, win your heart back, and renew the marriage covenant.

Should you pray for your marriage? Absolutely! Just don’t stop there. Also actively work toward resolving the problems you face.

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This shift started me on the path to healing and happiness in my own marriage: I stopped expecting God to swoop down and fix it all and started applying Scripture and the insights He showed me to my daily life. I continued to pray, but I also got off my butt and put real effort toward making our marriage better. Or rather, making me better, since I was the only one I could change.

Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:12-13).

blog post title + black-and-white image of woman praying (close-up) - sized for Pinterest

Praying for Perspective in Your Marriage Bed

Blog post title + redhead woman bowing and praying

This past week, Chris Taylor of The Forgiven Wife posted this question on our Sex Chat for Christian Wives Facebook page:

Image with "What advice would you give a new wife about having a good marriage?"

My answer? “Don’t assume thoughts, feelings, and motives; ask, and listen.”

My marriage experienced some truly terrible years, and one of the reasons we came out of that fog into the sunlight is because I changed my perspective. I realized I was making assumptions about my husband that weren’t true. Things like:

  • If I said/did that, it would mean X. But it didn’t mean that for my husband, because he’s a different person.
  • If he loved me, he would X. Except that his love language is not mine, so he didn’t always express love the way I expected him to.
  • If he does something I don’t like, it’s personal. Except that his irritating habits would exist no matter who he married, so it’s not personal.
  • If he says or does something hurtful, it shows he doesn’t care. Yet a lot of times, it was about the bad day he’d had, the stress he was experiencing, or not feeling physically good.
  • If he doesn’t do the things I long for when we make love, he’s selfish. But when that happened, it was about him not knowing what would feel good for me and what I needed.

When I dropped those assumptions — when I changed my perspective of my husband and our interactions — several problems went away and I knew better how to tackle the ones that remained.

However, the light bulb didn’t just go on one day and stay lit. Rather, I prayed quite a bit for God to alter my thinking. I needed His help to clearly see who my husband really was and how our relationship needed to change.

That’s why I think it’s important to pray for perspective regarding your marriage and your marriage bed.

Too often, readers ask questions or make comments about the sex in the marriage that shows they’re making assumptions about how their spouse thinks and feels. Maybe you’re right, but maybe you’re wrong. Do you know for sure that your perspective is accurate?

I guarantee God knows what the truth is. You can ask Him.

And the reason I start with God, rather than your spouse, is because some of the issues just dissipated once I saw them more clearly. That is, things I thought were problems with my husband were really problems with how I saw him, and once my vision cleared, I didn’t need to address that issue with him because it was resolved.

But with the problems that remain, it’s still worth praying for perspective so that your conversations with your spouse will go well. Ask God to help you see your husband accurately and to respond with a longing to understand him better.

Let’s try this out with a common scenario: You believe that your husband (or wife) says no to sex because they don’t love you like you love them. But as you pray for God’s perspective, you realize that sex is the primary way you express love, but it isn’t the primary way they express love. So you now recognize the problem isn’t a matter of their love for you. Of course, the problem still remains that you’re getting rejected in the marriage bed. But now that you have a clearer diagnosis, you can tackle the underlying issue.

So then you pray for an accurate perspective as you go to your spouse to talk about your feelings on this topic. You find yourself more willing to ask questions and listen to the reasons why your beloved isn’t up for sex. Maybe they don’t even give you clear reasons, but you make a positive impression on the subject (a first step) by simply being there and listening. Instead of arguing to get your point across, you find yourself listening with a calm that could only be provided by God and a willingness to sort through the information to discover the real problem.

Does the epiphany come right then? Are the problems solved by next Tuesday?

Nope. Not in my experience. But do you know how you climb a mountain? You don’t stand at the bottom grousing about how steep the incline is. You take the first step, then the next, and the next.

But if your perspective is all wrong, your path will be off, and you’ll end up on another mountain, screaming over at your spouse standing on the one you should be on.

Pray for perspective. Start today. Take the first step. Let God work in your marriage.

“[Love] does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth” (1 Corinthians 13:6).

Do You Thank God for Your Spouse?

On Saturdays when I’ve been talking about praying more, many of my posts have focused on praying about problems you’re experiencing in your marriage and specifically your marriage bed.

But this week, I’ve been thinking about gratitude and how important it is in our prayers and our lives. Pastor James MacDonald, of Walk in the Word Ministries, words it this way: “Gratitude is the attitude that sets the altitude for living.”

Blog post title + THANK YOU written on the sand at a beach

Complainers and grumps feel like they’re at the bottom of life, whether or not that’s true. Whereas thankful people fly above their circumstances. Instead of wallowing in the dirt, they look up toward Heaven with gratefulness for what they have.

And the truth is, nearly everybody has something about their spouse for which they’re thankful. What’s your thing?

I hope it’s a lot of things. But sometimes we need to start small. This past week, I asked a simple question on Facebook and got over a hundred responses:

Facebook image with the following question: "One thing that my spouse does for me that I hate to do is _________."

Spouses responded with everything from taking care of insects in the house to scrubbing toilets to putting gas in the car to painting her toenails (well done, hubby). But one lovely comment from a reader stuck with me:

“What I love about this question is the fact that it makes the ladies think about the precious gifts they are being given. I hope each of you takes a moment to share with him today. 

Good idea! We should share those things with our husbands and wives.

Perhaps we should also share our thankfulness for our spouse with the One who created our mate, put him in our lives, and blesses us now in our marriage.

When’s the last time you went to God in prayer and said, “Thank you, Lord, for my husband and how he __________ for me”? You can fill in the blank with whatever your husband (or wife) does for you. Even something from your bedroom time, if you wish.

As Romans 11:36 says, “For from him and through him and for him are all things. To him be the glory forever! Amen.” We have free will, but the creation itself is from God. So this blessing in your life is because your Father God created your spouse, and you came together as one flesh before Him.

Take some time today, think of what your spouse does for you in your marriage, and then thank God for that benefit. Build that into your prayer repertoire so that gratitude becomes a part of who you are, both in your marriage and in your life. Learn to approach God with thankfulness in your heart for what you have.

Lift your whole marriage’s altitude with more gratitude.

Is It Okay to Yell at God about Your Marriage?

My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?
Why are you so far from saving me,
so far from my cries of anguish?
My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer,
by night, but I find no rest.”

That’s how Psalm 22 begins. And look at the start of Psalm 13:

How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever?
How long will you hide your face from me?
How long must I wrestle with my thoughts
and day after day have sorrow in my heart?
How long will my enemy triumph over me?

The original Hebrew didn’t have punctuation, so sometimes I wonder if passages like these are missing some exclamation points. The psalmist David might as well be knocking on Heaven’s door and yelling, “Helloooo! Helloooo! Is anyone there?!!!”

Some of you could go back and re-read those passages in your own voice with the subject being the sexual intimacy in your marriage. You wonder if God has forsaken you, if He’s forgotten you, if He’s hiding.

But maybe you also wonder if it’s okay to yell at God about how you feel. Perhaps you logically agree that it’s all right — after all, King David, a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 4:13), did it — but in practice you feel guilty pouring out your anger to God.

Blog post title with woman, arms raised, yelling at the sky

Here’s why it might be a good idea to just go ahead and yell when praying about your struggles:

1. Owning your feelings. A lot of women were raised with Nice Girl Syndrome, where we don’t feel like it’s proper to express anger. Disappointment or sadness, sure. But anger? Isn’t that a bad thing?

We point to scriptures that warn against anger, like James 1:19-20: “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” But a look at Scripture as a whole shows two different kinds of anger: selfish rage and intolerance of injustice. What James is talking about here is the former, anger that comes from pride (also true in Ephesians 4:31 and Colossians 3:8).

When David expresses his anger toward God, it’s about genuine hardship he’s experiencing and a desire for God to uphold his just cause. By embracing his anger, David aligns His own feelings with God’s feelings about injustice in the world.

I believe that God is also upset when marriages are failing or flailing and when sexual intimacy isn’t everything it could be in the marriage bed. It’s okay to own and express that anger to your Father who cares.

2. Connecting to the Source.

If your car breaks, you don’t ask a physician to look at it; you turn to the mechanic. Likewise, if you’ve been praying or working toward better sexual intimacy and nothing is going right, who will you turn to? Who will express your frustration to?

By going ahead and yelling at God a bit, you’re essentially recognizing that He Is the Source of answers. You can let off some steam in His presence, because He can take it and ultimately He’s the one who can truly rescue you — even if it doesn’t look like what you expect.

The remainder of Psalm 13 is this:

Look on me and answer, Lord my God.
Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death,
and my enemy will say, ‘I have overcome him,’
and my foes will rejoice when I fall.
But I trust in your unfailing love;
my heart rejoices in your salvation.
I will sing the Lord’s praise,
for he has been good to me.”

The psalmist knows that even if he doesn’t understand why it’s taking so long, God is the only one who can truly provide what he needs. He’s not looking in the wrong place, but going to the Source for answers.

If you’re not telling God how you feel and what you long for, maybe you’re ignoring Him. And I feel pretty sure He’d rather you yell and work through your emotional pain with His arms there to comfort you: “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18).

3. Opening up to His answer.

You know that God wants to bless your marriage bed, but it hasn’t happened yet. Like David, that creates conflict in your mind and your soul: Do you believe that God will improve your sexual intimacy? Or do you give up? It’s not easy to tell someone who’s struggled for a long time to remain hopeful. As Proverbs 13:12 says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” Who doesn’t to trade a sick heart for a tree of life?

But this verse and many stories from the Bible show us the importance of letting God have His way. We don’t always understand what He’s doing, but if we come before with honest hurt and open hearts, He can show us a better path to take.

Later in Psalm 22, David says: “But you, Lord, do not be far from me. You are my strength; come quickly to help me.” Although He isn’t sure what God will do for him, David reassures himself that “[God] has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.”

God indeed rescued David, though not by the schedule or method David wanted or even expected. Maybe he had to actually go through this anger with God and humble himself before God’s throne to become fully open to how God wanted to work in his life. Maybe we need to do the same.

I think it’s okay to yell at God sometimes. It’s not okay to dismiss God or to hold grudges against Him. Rather, by expressing your deep frustration, you can work through your emotions and grow in trusting your Father to help and heal you.

Have you struggled with feeling angry at God? Have you ever yelled at Him in prayer?

See also: GotAnswers.org – What does the Bible say about anger?