We're called to pray about everything. So what should prayer for a husband look like?
Last month a Boundless reader asked for a guide to praying for her future husband. She wanted practical help that would pick up where "Pray Boldly" left off.
It's proved a little harder to write this than I first thought it would. Maybe it's because I didn't start praying specific prayers for a husband until after I met Steve. Or maybe it's because I realize that though most people eventually do marry, not everyone who wants to marry will. Still, we're called to pray — about everything. So what should prayer for a husband look like?
Being, not feeling, thankful
My mom used to encourage me with Matthew 6:33 when I'd call (at least once a week) to complain about still being single. She always took me back to that verse: "But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well." She even encouraged me to give thanks for the difficult circumstances.
"Give thanks for not having anyone ask me out?" I'd say, with not just a little anger and emotion. "Yes," she'd say gently, but firmly. "Thank God for this opportunity to praise Him, to grow in your faith, to grow in your dependence on Him. Give thanks for the things you most want Him to change."
The Bible says,
Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6-7).
We're supposed to ask for a husband humbly (that's what supplication means) and with thanksgiving. I know how hard it can be to give thanks in the midst of doubt, fear, broken relationships, disappointment and more. How can you feel thankful when you're hurt, angry and frustrated?
Thankfully, we don't have to feel it. The verse just says give thanks. When I most need that verse — when I'm anxious — saying "thank you" always starts as an act of the will. And often I have to pray for the grace to do that! But obedience has the benefit of producing good fruit.
"Seek first, His kingdom," she'd say. And I'd cry, and we'd pray, and the more I did that, the more I submitted my unmet longings to Him. My pain led me to pray, and giving thanks protected me from bitterness. Spending time talking with God created the opportunity for Him to soften my heart, shaping my desires to conform to His. My heart needed to soften, primarily because my pride was keeping me from being like Him.
I don't know what changes God wants to make in you. We're all different. But there is great work to be done. None of us are perfect. We all stumble in many ways (James 3:2) and we all have areas where we need to be more like Him. If you daily submit to His process, even in the pain, He will change you.
Thy will be done
What if God answers your prayers differently than you want Him to? He is able to transform the desires of your heart to align with His, and to satisfy you, completely. We may never be able to understand this with our finite minds, but the Holy Spirit makes it possible to grasp it in our spirits, so that we may pray with Jesus, "Thy will be done."
I'm amazed that God doesn't ask us to begin there, or require us to deny that we have real requests and desires. Not only does Philippians 4:6 instruct us to "let [our] requests be made known to God," Jesus modeled that in His prayer in the garden. Paul E. Miller talks about this in his book, A Praying Life:
Read the gospels, and you'll discover a passionate, feeling man. Thank God we have a Savior who is in touch with the real world, who prays that He will not drink the cup of His Father's wrath, who cries out on a rough wooden cross, "My God, my God, why have you forsaken me" (Matthew 27:46). Jesus neither suppresses His feelings nor lets them master Him. He is real.
It was only after He prayed, "if there is any way, let this cup pass," that He prayed, "not my will, but yours be done."
The whole point of prayer is to grow in relationship with God. The more we talk and listen, the more He shapes the conversation. As we grow closer to Him, our desires shift from what we want — what we think we most need — to what He does. His desires become our desires.
As David Platt writes in his book, Radical,
[God's] gift of grace involves the gift of a new heart. New desires. New longings. For the first time, we want God. We see our need for him, and we love him. We seek after him, and we find him, and we discover that he is indeed the great reward for our salvation.... [W]e are saved to know God. So we yearn for him.
Faith despite numbers
Some 70 to 80 percent of high school seniors say marriage is extremely important. And 80 to 90 percent of Americans eventually marry. But what if the 20 percent who don't value marriage doesn't comprise the 20 percent who don't marry? What if some of the people who don't marry really wanted to? How do we reconcile what's statistically probable with what's supernaturally possible?
I talked about this before in "Plenty of Men to Go Around." Peter wasn't supposed to be able to walk on water. And when he made that fact his focus, along with the storm and treacherous waves around him, he did what you'd expect. He sank. But when he fixed his eyes on Christ, he did the unexpected.
For many women, getting married would seem just as miraculous. Praise God that He hasn't changed — He's still the same wonder-working God who walked with Peter on the water. He still does the unexpected. But we have to do our part. We have to keep our eyes on Him. In the process, He may change our attitudes, our expectations, our habits, our health — whatever needs changing. He can do anything — He's God. You can trust Him and count on Him. He is faithful.
Faithful, but not predictable. Things may not turn out how you want. In C.S. Lewis' The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, Susan asked Mr. Beaver about Aslan saying, "Is he — quite safe?" Mr. Beaver replied, "Safe? Who said anything about safe? Course he isn't safe. But he's good. He's the King, I tell you." You can know that wherever your journey with Him leads, it will be good.
Believe God is able. Trust Him. But know that believing and trusting aren't the same as setting yourself up for bitter disappointment if He doesn't answer you the way you hope He will. God is calling us to faith, like Shadrach, Mesach and Abednego, who said,
O Nebuchadnezzar, we do not need to defend ourselves before you in this matter. If we are thrown into the blazing furnace, the God we serve is able to save us from it, and he will rescue us from your hand, O king. But even if he does not, we want you to know, O king, that we will not serve your gods or worship the image of gold you have set up (Daniel 3:16-18).
The God we serve is able to bring you a husband. But even if He does not, will you be faithful?
We should always pray
When I first started writing this article, I was thinking in terms of a list of traits to ask for and specific verses to pray. But the more I wrote and prayed, the more I realized that God's leading in our prayer life is individualized. Each of us is unique and His work in us differs from person to person. That's not to say you can't pray for a godly husband who meets the requirements of the "husband verses." The "husband verses" are the passages that lay out the job description husbands are called to. They include Ephesians 5:22-28, Colossians 3:18-19 and 1 Peter 3:1-7. They're the standard for what makes a good mate. As you read them, you'll realize men aren't the only ones who need prayer. Don't just pray for your future husband, pray for yourself — the future wife. A big part of marriage prep for women is praying through the "wife verses," especially Proverbs 31 and Titus 2, with your future calling in mind. I think you should.
But I also think you should ask God to show you how to pray given your story and this particular moment in history. This morning, I was praying about this article and wondering how God might lead me to pray if I were still single. I realized that before I could pray for a husband, I'd need to pray that this generation of men would be transformed by God's power to rise up as men capable of the commitments of marriage.
Given all the bad news about men: the tough economy, the disparities in education between men and women, the lack of role models, and other fallout of the divorce epidemic, it occurred to me that even before we arrive at praying for men as suitors, we need to pray for men as our brothers in Christ. They are, many of them, limping spiritually. I believe we should be asking God to raise up a generation of godly men who are not only willing to take on the challenge and calling of being godly husbands and fathers, but able to.
Whatever season of life you're in, you need to pray because prayer is about relationship with God. Whether single and praying about your desire for a husband; or later, if you're married, praying about your desire for a baby; or praying for your (or your husband's) need for a job; or if you never do marry, praying about serving faithfully while celibate, the need to pray never ends. Jesus told His disciples they should "always pray and not give up." It's never too soon, or too late, to start.
Copyright 2010 Candice Watters. All rights reserved. International copyright secured.