I think a common temptation when we are struggling in our marriages is for us to focus so much on praying for our husbands and our marriages – those things are almost all we pray about. However, I don’t think this is going to be a healthy, productive approach long term.
Scripture does admonish us to “pray without ceasing” 1 Thes. 5:17. And Jesus encourages us to pray with perseverance in the parable of the persistent widow (Luke 18:1-8). But I think it is interesting that in the “Model Prayer” Jesus gives us, He prays for each thing once. He also mentioned before His example prayer that pagans think they will be heard because of their many words and vain repetitions (He calls it, “babbling”), and that we are not to be like them, because our Father knows what we need before we ask (Matthew 6:5-16).
Of course, it is important to pray for our husbands – IF we are in a place of being filled with God’s Spirit and we have right motives.
But there is so much more to our relationship with Christ than this one issue! I have seen a lot of wives who spend almost every waking moment praying fervently for their husbands to come to Christ or praying for their marriage to be restored. And while these things are good to pray – I think there needs to be a balance.
Jesus says, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” Matthew 11:28-30
When we are praying in deep faith, full of God’s Spirit – we will experience God’s peace. We may have fervency and urgency. But we will also have God’s peace as we trust Him.
Obsession Is Different from Fervent Prayer:
What if someone you love dearly kept asking you for something he really wants over and over. What if that is the ONLY thing he ever talks about with you? What if every single time you see your child or husband, he says, “I REALLY want to go to the zoo! I want to go today! Please take me right now!”
Obviously, going to the zoo could be a wonderful thing. It could enrich everyone’s life and be a pleasurable experience and a bonding experience. But – how would you feel about that being the only conversation he ever has with you? Wouldn’t you appreciate your loved one talking with you about other things, asking how you are, enjoying supper together, and doing lots of other things together, too? There is much more to a close relationship than one person constantly asking the other for something.
Here is something that may be shocking – but I have noticed it in my own life:
If there is something I REALLY want and I constantly want to pray about it and nothing else – that may be a sign that this particular thing may be more important to me than Christ is. If I am more obsessed with God fixing my marriage than my knowing God more – this thing may be an idol.
It is possible to make healing our marriage, having a godly marriage, our husband’s salvation, feeling loved by our husbands, our happiness, romance, or anything else into an idol. Sometimes we pray constantly about something because we want it more than anything in the world and we are terrified to face the idea of not having what we want. Faith is about seeking God’s will far above our own and “dying to” our own will. That is what Jesus means about that those who want to be His disciples “take up their cross daily and follow” Him (Luke 9:23).
We can and should pray for the good things we desire. But at the same time – we need to be able to hold everything in this life very loosely and cling to Christ alone. Prayer is primarily about real relationship with Christ – it is not mostly about us asking for what we want or getting what we want. Are we able to be content in Jesus – even if we don’t get this thing that we want so much? Are we willing to trust God’s love, sovereignty, goodness, timing, and wisdom? Will we rest in Him rather than constantly battle and try to tell Him what to do as we are filled with worry and fear? Praying out of worry and fear rather than faith is not real praying because we are not really trusting God. We are trusting our praying and ourselves.
Everything that does not come from faith is sin. Romans 14:23b
Am I really looking to God and seeking His will far above my own, or are my motives only to get what I want and what I think is best? If I realize my prayers are more about obsession and worry or fueled by fear – I may want to ask someone else, a strong prayer warrior that I know – to pray for my husband and I may want to take a break for a bit in order to ask God to help me purify my motives. I may need to focus on the rest of my relationship with God for awhile.
Am I Nagging God?
I think another way we could describe “worry praying” would be “nagging.”
- “God, be sure you do this!”
- “God, don’t forget. You need to do this for me.”
- “Lord, You haven’t done this thing for me yet. Why aren’t you doing what I want you to do? It needs to be done right now!”
It is similar, I think, to when we nag our husbands. We don’t nag out of faith, do we? We nag because we DON’T believe they will take care of something, not because we DO believe the will take care of it. We ask once, usually, if we truly do believe they will take care of the issue.
We can pray persistently – every day for many years if necessary – in a way that honors God and is from faith. To do this, we must watch our motives and be sure we are really putting our faith in God and nothing we are doing and that we trust Him fully.
Praying in Faith:
God is sovereign, I can lay my husband and my marriage at His feet and He will work in those areas. I don’t have to pray every waking moment about a particular issue. If my motives are impure, selfish, fearful, or unbelieving – my prayer is not going to be very effective anyway. If I am cherishing any sin in my heart, and not walking in obedience to God by His Spirit empowering me – my prayer will also not be very effective. The question is, do I really trust God to handle this, or do I trust myself? Do I think I have to pray a certain number of times or things will not work out right? Do I think this is all about trusting something I can do, or am I fully trusting God’s sovereignty and provision?
We will have emotions. We may cry out to God with sadness, grief, and sorrow over the situations we face. We may start to feel fear – and then give that to God and determine to trust Him. But as we trust Him – His perfect love will cast out all of our fear (1 John 4:18). We will not have to be overcome with negative emotions – but can lay them before God and then rest in His peace and even in His joy in the midst of trials.
I know that for me, at the beginning of my journey, I had to stop praying for God’ to change Greg for awhile. I had been demanding for years that God change him. So, for a long time, the only things I would pray for Greg were prayers of thanksgiving for the good things about Greg and for God to bless him and accomplish His will in Greg’s life. I stopped praying for what I wanted and began to pray for God’s will.
God may have a different approach for you – so it is important to be sensitive to His voice. It is possible that it could be wise to limit your prayer time for your husband to 15 minutes per day if you tend to obsess or “worry pray” where you are really just worrying, not trusting God. Part of praying is that we lay down the weight of the burden at God’s feet and we don’t carry it ourselves. He does the heavy lifting. We can’t carry that kind of weight on our shoulders.
Prayer is the most incredible privilege we have as children of God in Christ! Prayer can and should include:
- Praise to God!!!!
- Thanksgiving for all of the blessings we have
- Confession of all known sin every day or as soon as we notice the sinful thoughts, motives, words, or actions
- Praying for ourselves to grow in Christ, to mature and deepen in our faith, for God to show us any wrong thinking, for His Spirit to regenerate our hearts and transform us by His power, for greater faith, for greater trust in Christ, claiming the promises of God’s Word, desiring obedience and greater holiness
- Praying for others – not just our husbands, but our children, our extended families, our church, our state, our nation, our government leaders, the church around the world, persecuted believers, the poor, the oppressed, the orphans/widows, for unbelievers to come to Christ, for healing for people we know who are ill, for the world, for God’s kingdom to come, etc…
We also desperately need lots of time to feast on God’s Word, to digest His truth and love, to sit as His feet, to get to know Him more, to listen to His voice, to absorb His goodness, and to allow Him to restore our souls. We can’t pray from a position of power if we are depleted. We can’t pray effectively if we are not filled with the Spirit. We MUST nurture a full and vibrant relationship with Christ. He must be the top priority. Then our prayers will be powerful and effective as He gives us the ability to live in obedience and to trust Him by faith.
My Secret Idol – My Husband’s Salvation