WHAT??!!! Did you read that right? Surely, I’ve GOT to be kidding!
Let me start by saying:
I believe that husbands SHOULD pray with their wives. I believe it is their God-given responsibility to do so – if they are believers in Christ. I believe husbands will be accountable to God for their spiritual leadership – which I believe includes praying with their wives and children and teaching their families the Word of God as well as living out a godly example every day.
But what is a wife to do if this is not happening?
Hang with me, ladies. This gets really good.
REALITY IS VERY DIFFERENT FROM OUR EXPECTATIONS MANY TIMES
I used to be REALLY upset about the fact that we didn’t pray together. I longed for my husband to pray with me and resented every day that passed that he didn’t do it. I wanted us to be close to each other and close to God. What could be more beautiful, godly, intimate, holy, intoxicating and powerful than praying together as a couple?
Unfortunately, MOST Christian husbands and wives don’t pray together. I wish we all did. I think we all should. But reality is that a lot of husbands can’t or won’t pray with their wives for a variety of reasons.
Sometimes our husbands don’t pray with us because we intimidate them, criticize them, condemn them, judge their spirituality, act holier-than-thou, take over control of the marriage, disrespect them, rebel against their God-given leadership or react negatively when our men DO try to lead spiritually in some way.
I CAN CONTROL ME. I CAN’T CONTROL HIM. I’M FINE WITH THAT NOW!
I can ask my husband for what I want. And I do – now – but sparingly, respectfully and with a pleasant tone of voice and a smile. I ask him to pray about specific needs with me a few times a month – and he is always willing now if I ask him. (Each marriage and stage in marriage will be different – so pray and seek God’s wisdom about if you ought to approach your husband at all, or how often)
When I first started learning respect and submission, I had to follow I Peter 3:1-2 and be silent about spiritual things, including prayer – after so many years of trying to MAKE my husband do what I wanted him to do. He needed time to hear God’s voice for himself. I fully understand now that I can’t MAKE him do what I want him to do. And that is actually a very good thing. God gave us all a free will. Part of being a strong leader is a man makes his own choices and decisions.
He is not always going to do things my way. Now, I know that is a huge blessing!. His ways are often much better than my ways – it turns out!
He may not always do things God’s way – that is part of having a human, sinner as a leader.
But I can still put all my hope, faith and trust in my Lord that He in His amazing sovereignty will work things out for my best and for His glory because I love Him and am called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28-29). And I can respond in obedience to God’s Word for me regardless of my husband’s behavior. Even if my husband sins or makes mistakes, my Lord is big enough, powerful enough and “sovereign enough” to turn those evil things into something good because I trust Him.
AVOIDING BITTERNESS ABOUT A “PRAYERLESS” MARRIAGE
- Now, I have laid down my expectations. I don’t expect my husband to pray with me. I don’t demand that he pray with me. I am thankful for what he gives to me in our relationship – and I graciously (by the power of God in me) accept when he does not do things I would like.
- My goal is to be receptive to God’s Spirit, my husband’s leadership, to be a safe place for him to know that he won’t be criticized or judged and to make sure I am abiding in Christ and praying for my husband fervently and passionately myself.
- It takes MANY years for a man to become a godly leader. I must be patient for God to work in my husband and focus on what God wants to do in ME!
- I also keep in mind that scripture never says, “Husbands must initiate prayer with their wives.” I also can’t find a verse that commands husbands to pray with their wives. I think it is clearly implied! But I have to be very careful about my expectations and what I label as sin or about coming across as being spiritually superior, self-righteous or condemning and critical. Nothing will turn off a husband faster to spiritual things than catching a whiff of those prideful, self-righteous attributes.
- I have prayer sisters! I get to pray with my Christian prayer partners and watch God at work together. It is AMAZING! I would strongly recommend that wives pray about finding a godly mentor wife and prayer partner.
- I am free to grow in Christ – I do not have to “wait for my husband.” I am to work out my own salvation with fear and trembling and trust God to work in my husband. The closer I am to Christ, the MORE respectful, kind, gracious and merciful I will be to my husband – and that will influence him to draw nearer to God, too.
- I now know that I can have total access to God’s will when I am trusting in my God. My husband cannot thwart God’s plans for me. My husband cannot take me out of the sovereignty of God. God is powerful and sovereign and will accomplish His purposes in my life whether my husband prays with me or not. My faith is in my Lord alone!
- I also know that there are MANY aspects to spiritual leadership that go way beyond whether my husband is initiating prayer. And many of those things – demonstrating love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control, obeying God’s Word, being filled with the Spirit of God – are MUCH more important and vital than whether he initiates prayer or not. I believe a husband can be a strong, godly, spiritual leader as long as he is tuned into God HIMSELF. Praying together would be great. But it does not mean our husbands are spiritual failures if they don’t grab us by the hand and have a daily prayer time with us. Check out my youtube video about this if you’d like!
IT IS NOT ALWAYS A GOOD THING FOR A HUSBAND TO PRAY WITH HIS WIFE
If he prays with the wrong motive or prays for the wrong reason(s) – that is sin – it is for wives, too, of course!
Ways that him praying with you could be sin:
– to please you
– to make you feel better
– to make himself look more spiritual than he really is
– to be heard by you
– to lecture you
– to manipulate you
– if his heart is not in it, if he is not actually intimate with God, it is hypocrisy
– doing it just because you want him to will not bring you satisfaction and it will not honor God
If a husband is not praying to God on his own – he probably has no business praying to God with his wife. He needs to have his own strong relationship with Christ independently first.
I think that this particular issue is actually quite clear in Scripture – that when we pray to be seen or heard by people (if our motives are not pure) – God is NOT pleased and will NOT hear our prayers.
Matthew 6:5-6 – And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men. I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full. But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, Who is unseen. Then your Father, Who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
I don’t think this excludes praying together in small groups or as a couple or corporately. But I think that our motives for prayer matter greatly to God. If a husband only prays with his wife to placate her – but is not right in his relationship with God – it is a pretty useless activity.
It can be a blessing for a godly wife when her ungodly husband (or a husband with ungodly motives at the time) won’t pray with her:
- He would do more harm than good if he did.
- She needs to learn to depend solely on Christ, not her husband. This issue can sometimes reveal that a wife has her husband as an idol, or has his praying with her or his spirituality or his sinlessness as an idol in her heart.
I am SO glad God gave me time to learn to depend on Him alone!
OTHER CONSEQUENCES OF A HUSBAND’S SINFUL PRAYERS
Besides his prayers being fruitless, not honoring to God and not be heard by God – when a husband is not right with God and is living in his own flesh:
- he may use prayer as an opportunity to try to humiliate his wife before God
- he may use prayer to criticize his wife’s faults and flaws
- he may pridefully brag about himself before God and his wife, bringing God’s opposition against him
- he may use prayer to try to manipulate his wife into doing what he selfishly wants
- he may claim something is “God’s will” just to try to get her to go along with it when it really is not God’s will at all
- he may be cruel, critical and belittling to his wife as he “speaks to God” because he is not full of God’s Spirit
- he may be arrogant and try to make himself look better and more spiritual than his wife
Something that is much worse than having a husband who won’t pray with you is having a carnal/sinful husband who WILL pray with you in ways that dishonor God and seek to control, disrespect and manipulate you.
OUR REAL DESIRE GOES MUCH DEEPER THAN GOING THROUGH THE MOTIONS
What we as wives want – is for our husbands to be strong men of God, thriving and growing and vibrant in their walks with Him. We want them to pray in private by themselves and come from a place of spiritual strength and to be filled with God’s Spirit – and then to pray with us. Not praying to go through the motions or to look spiritual, but husbands who are genuinely living with Christ as Lord and totally submitted and yielded to Him.
This desires we have for our husbands to be close to God and to be spiritually one with us are God-given desires. And they are God’s will. So we can pray and know that God will cause these prayers to be answered in His time, in His way, by His power and for His glory – when we are praying with proper respect and reverence for God, our husband’s authority and proper motives.
And we can speed the answers along a bit by our obedience to respect our husbands and cooperate with their God-given leadership. But it may be YEARS before we see our prayers answered. There are going to be times, if we believe our husbands are far from God and acting in disobedience, that we practice I Peter 3:1-2. That is what will bring them closer to God.
I pray for God’s wisdom for each of us about approaching our husbands about praying together. There are times when I believe it is good and important for us to ask for what we desire, “Honey, I have an idea. I want us to start praying together every day. Would now be a good time?” There are also times when God will prompt us to be quiet and pray and wait. I pray for each of us to be sensitive to God’s leading and prompting!