One benefit of being in Christian community is having other people pray for you when you’re in the midst of a struggle. There is both comfort and power in praying for one another.There is both comfort and power in praying for one another. #marriage Click To Tweet
But when my husband and I struggled in our marriage, I don’t recall asking others for prayer. Our problems seemed too personal, too private, and too risky to share with others. What if people looked at us differently after learning how close we were to divorce? What if they responded not simply by praying but offering ongoing advice? What if they shared our problems with others — that is, gossiped about us?
Good relationships require vulnerability and trust. I talk a lot about that in marriage and specifically the marriage bed, but you also need those traits in friendship. And they should be present in a loving church.
Of course, should be doesn’t equal is. Some church communities provide a safe and supportive environment, but some of you have been burned, so to speak. I ache for you, and I pray that you don’t blame God or the Church at large for the failings of some of His people.
But Christians should intentionally create an atmosphere in which individuals and couples can present their concerns to fellow believers and know that they will be covered with prayer, support, and compassion.
To get the support you need, however, let’s think practically about how you can ask others to pray for your marriage and even the sexual intimacy in your marriage. How much should you reveal? And to whom? How can you effectively request the kind of prayer you need?
Determine who to speak to.
Easier said than done, right? But generally speaking, you have two good options:
- A person or couple who knows you and your spouse well, and will therefore be invested in maintaining your privacy, following through with prayer, and going to God on behalf of not only you individually but your marriage.
- A ministry leader, including a pastor, whose calling is to care for the individuals and relationships in the church. Oftentimes, people in such positions have established policies about how to handle information shared in confidence and a sense of accountability to pray for parishioners.
Be clear about what you’re asking.
Dumping all of your marriage concerns, especially if they involve sexual intimacy, on someone can overwhelm them. What does someone do with that information? They want to help, but what role should they fill?
Make your parameters clear: “For the time being, I’m just asking for you to pray about our situation.” If you’re pursuing other avenues of improving your marriage, tell the person what those are, so they don’t feel like they have to be your marriage’s personal champion. For instance, “we’re seeing a marriage counselor, but I could really use additional prayer” or “I’ve been reading up on the issues in our marriage bed, and I’m still figuring out which path for healing to pursue. Could you help by praying for our marriage’s direction?”
It’s a good idea to let supporters specialize according to their spiritual giftedness (see 1 Corinthians 12:4-11, 1 Peter 4:10). Some people have deep compassion and a heart for prayer; others have excellent practical advice for your marriage; and yet others have a calling and training to deal with serious marriage problems. Be clear that you’re not burdening a single individual to fulfill all of these roles. You just want this person or couple to be your prayer ally.
Don’t reveal more information than you should.
Explain what’s happening on a need-to-know basis. What specifics do these advocates need to have when going before God? You don’t want to a friend or church leader to know details that make them highly uncomfortable or that make them see you or your spouse in an unnecessarily bad light. There’s a reason why TMI has become a well-known acronym; don’t make your prayer advocate want to use it about you.
This is especially important regarding struggles in the marriage bed. No one needs or wants to know your specific sexual activities, the size or nature of anyone’s body parts, or what you two have privately said to one another in your bedroom. At least no one that you recruit to pray for you. If you need help with such issues, take them to a qualified individual, whether that’s a physician, a pastor, or hey, a Christian sex blogger. Dump them on people ready and able to address those problems, but give your prayer pal just enough to pray with some specificity for your marriage.
Keep your advocate(s) updated.
Has God answered one of your prayer requests? Tell the person or people who are praying for you! Let their next prayer be thanking God for His presence and goodness. Have your prayer needs changed? Tell your allies what you and your spouse need now, so they can adjust their prayer requests. Do you feel like things are just getting worse? Tell them so they can add hope and perseverance to the list.
Prayer for your marriage will likely to be a long-term undertaking. Stay in contact and let those praying for you know when and how the prayers should be modified to stay current. In doing so, you’re also showing your gratitude for that prayer.
Finally, let me share a personal story showing why it’s important not just to confess your struggles but to ask specific people for prayer.
Years back, when my husband and I were going through the Crap Fest part of our marriage, I shared what was going on with a friend in our church. I didn’t tell her what I needed or wanted, but rather vomited my concerns and feelings right at her feet. About a week later, I was standing in our church gym after worship, where people milled about and children — including mine — played. An elder walked right up to me and said he’d heard that our marriage wasn’t doing well.
As you might imagine, I felt blindsided. Not only did my friend break my confidence and tell someone, without any warning, but this church leader chose a public area in which to confront me. I was disheartened, angry, and ashamed.
I wriggled out of the conversation as quickly as possible, grabbed my children, and left. It took longer for me to pursue further help within my church, because this one incident had left me feeling betrayed.
For a long time, I’ve placed all the blame for that inappropriate encounter on my friend and the church leader. But I think I was at fault too. I didn’t go to the right people for the right things. I could have availed myself of some resources to help our marriage and let the church leaders know, at an appropriate time and place, what was going on. But all I really needed from my friend was her support and prayer. And I think if I’d asked for that, she’d have obliged.
What advice do you have for asking others to pray for your marriage?
11 thoughts on “Asking Others to Pray for Your Marriage”
We came extremely close to divorce this past year, and I’m convinced that prayer caused God to divinely intervene to prevent it. I had already convinced myself that it was over and just told my wife this. She begged me to go see one of my best friends who was a strong Christian and talk it over first and I agreed.
I told him everything we had been through, and he prayed for me. He continued to pray for me throughout the whole ordeal. I told my other best friend shortly thereafter, and he did as well. I also informed one of the pastors in the church that we were going through marriage issues, but I didn’t specify the nature of the problems to him as I had with my close friends. These were the only people I told, because I’m an extremely private person and I didn’t want rumors flying around church.
Meanwhile my wife had a close group of about 5-6 friends that she asked for prayer from, but only had one friend that she trusted to tell everything to. I also know that my wife went to God in prayer as she never had before in her life.
We kept it confidential to only those we could deeply trust, and I think that’s the way to go. I wish we felt more comfortable telling everyone but I wasn’t about to have everyone talking about me for the next ten years. Even with keeping the people we told to a minimum, I thought I would have to leave the church as a result of our issues.
But God changed my heart. Prayer works in a mighty way guys. I was as done as done could be, and yet God spoke to me as clearly as I’m writing to you now. That’s the power of prayer.
Wow, thank you for sharing this. May God continue to heal and bless your marriage!
We definitely have a long way to go and it’s a process we are both working through. I keep praying for my heart to heal.
Hmmm…. I have mixed feelings on this one. I have serious trust issues, especially with women. I think that’s why I share too much on your blog. I crave the fellowship and need the prayers, but I don’t trust people I know personally. That’s awful, I know. But I’ve been burned too many times.
Our old church was incredibly catty and judgmental. The women especially. They gossiped a lot! I’d even skip out on women’s Sunday school many times because the gossip was too hard to even listen to. A lot of it was expressed as “concerns” – ever see the VeggieTales Rumor Weed cartoon?
Our next church was huge! So many people that you didn’t really have to worry about anyone getting wrapped up in your business. But all of their small groups were closed. There was a huge waiting list, and those in groups stuck mainly in their groups and seemingly didn’t like newcomers. The preaching was great (and sound), but the opportunity for friendship was not there. Especially for an introverted man and his insecure wife. ?
Sadly, I haven’t even been able to find a Bible study around here. They are either all full, or there are women there I cannot trust. Certainly not well enough to open up about my personal life. Many women I know will turn and use that info against you in a heartbeat. Even “church ladies.” There’s also the whole problem of listening to how awesome this ones marriage is, or how much that ones husband loves her, or look at what he bought her, or how excited she is that he’s taking her on a date, or how much sex he wants – for a higher drive wife, it’s hard to sit there and smile and say “good for you!” I do honestly feel happy for those women, but I also feel like “what is so wrong with me?” Sometimes it’s easier to avoid it. It’s why I’m not on Facebook.
There’s also the fact that I have no desire to make my husband look bad, or for that matter – openly admit all of my own flaws. People use that stuff as weaponry.
I certainly don’t trust any of the women in my family. Sad, but true.
And I don’t have many true friends. I have “friends”, but none that I feel would actually care. They might care as far as the juicy gossip, but not actually care about the well being of our marriage.
That’s probably why I read and comment here so much. Too much! (Sorry about that). But it has been helpful having people to talk to, even if I’ll never know them this side of Heaven.
I totally understand what you’re saying. But I also have a question for you: Do you think there might be another woman at one of those churches or Bible studies who feels like you do? Who wants a close friend to support her and pray for her? Maybe you could pray that God will show you that person, that you will have the right words to reach out, and that you can create the trust bond needed.
That’s a great point! As I was reading your comment I was thinking “great…but how am I supposed to know who she is?” And then I read “Maybe you could pray that God will show you that person…”
Good idea! Thanks, J!
This has been my favorite blog that you’ve written on your Saturday prayer series!
My husband and I have had our share of struggles and for many years we kept them secret and tried our best to just hang on. But there came a point when we couldn’t do that anymore. When I took the first step and “came clean” about how bad things were, I could not believe how free I felt. That was when healing began for us. We were sent to a marriage intensive by our church where he’s an associate pastor and it changed our lives and our marriage, we even had a surprise baby (both of us in our 40s!) about a year after the intensive ?
Now I am very open about all the struggles and stuff we’ve been through (and continue to go through) and I am amazed at how many women have confided in me about their marriages. Not feeling alone helps more so much I think. The devil likes us to think we’re the only ones who are struggling when the truth is everyone struggles at some point in their marriage.
Thanks for this post, so much truth in it!
I’m glad you said all that, because once I found the same to be true: Once I opened up, perhaps a few bristled, but many more women seemed relieved and began sharing their struggles too. I’m thrilled that you and your husband found support and healing! God is good.
Another very good post, J.
A hard lesson I had to learn a few years back was that no couple is exempt from trials, including the most severe ones. Not that I thought they were, but it was a rude awakening nonetheless. And I definitely fell into the trap of over-sharing; there was a men’s fellowship I attended for a while, kind of a cafe style, which was good, but veering into a subtly but strongly politicized, conservative Christianity — not so good, especially for a guy with my background, and definitely not good for our marriage. During one conversation, the unofficial leader of the group even questioned, in a roundabout kind of way, if my wife of seventeen years (at that time) was even saved. And my family, none of whom believe in God, and never met the man, encouraged me to keep going to him! Weird, I know, but like I said, I shared too much, and so I can definitely understand the fine line about the need to talk it out and who to trust.
God is so good, though, he brought us back on one accord, against all odds. We’re still not entirely trial free, of course, but it’s way better than it was before our crisis. And it isn’t as though the things I shared were untrue, though perhaps they were exaggerated in my mind. It’s just that the guy had no business knowing all that. (He even said so at one point, so I have to give him that, too.)
I think perhaps prayer plus wisdom of who to go to is the key here. We need to be able to talk things out, men too, not just women. But you’re right, TMI has become part of today’s lingo for a reason.
About a year and a half ago, God made me realize that I needed help. I texted a friend of mine (we weren’t besties, but I knew her to be very godly) and asked her point.blank. Will you do a Bible study with me, I need accountability in my life. Thankfully, God moved in her heart as well, and we had one together for little over a year. Through that, I was able to find healing through some deep bitterness and pain that I’d been holding on to.
I do agree with being extremely selective about who you share these types of prayer requests with. I too have been burned and betrayed, but that doesn’t mean I should close up tighter than Fort Knox, I just know that I will make better choices in the future.
I cannot let Satan keep me bound in fear and hiding. That is a perfect soil for bitterness, resentment, anger, and hatred.
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