It was my first year of law school, and I was single. I wanted to be married, but it didn’t matter. I was spending 12 hours a day in class or in the library, so there wasn’t any real chance of my getting to know anyone.
One night I was sitting alone in my studio apartment when I felt the sense that I needed to pray for my future spouse. I prayed that if she wasn’t following God’s will for her life, that He would give her the grace to understand His unconditional love for her. I wrote the prayer in my journal, closed the book, and didn’t think about it again for five years.
I had been married for a couple of months when I came across my old journal and began flipping through it. I looked, and there was my old prayer — the one I had offered for my wife, Raquel, before I ever knew she existed.
“Raquel,” I said, “what were you doing in April of 2002?”
“Oh my goodness, you don’t even want to know,” she said. As it turns out, at that time in her college years, she wasn’t following Jesus, and some of her choices reflected it.
“Let me read you something,” I said, and then I shared the prayer from my journal. It was a poignant reminder that God had been working on our marriage long before we had ever met.
Praying for Someone You Can’t See
When I talk to single men and women who desire to be married, they want concrete, practical advice on how to move the ball forward, how to make progress in their search for a good person to marry. There’s a lot of good advice out there, but one of the best pieces of advice I can offer is that you should consider praying for your future spouse.
When you pray for your spouse, you’re being a good husband or wife before you ever meet. You will not only be a blessing to your spouse, you may also be doing some of the spiritual groundwork that’s necessary to help the two of you get ready to meet each other. Most importantly, as you lift your future mate to God, it gives the Holy Spirit space to mold your heart in a way that will complement your spouse’s needs.
Last August, Boundless writer Amy Kessler suggested praying for your future spouse, and some readers questioned the wisdom of it. It seemed like the concern was that it would cause single people to focus their spiritual energies on a nonexistent person, rather than God. I get that, but I think praying for your spouse is similar to the situation faced by my friends who tried to adopt a child from Ethiopia for years.
For a number of reasons, nothing was happening with the adoption — they had done all they could do, and all that was left was for them to wait on a situation over which they had very little control. In the meantime, they prayed for their daughter with the certainty that God knew the desire of their hearts and that He would not only provide for it, but He would care for their child in the meantime. They ended up adopting a beautiful little girl after a four-year wait, but even if the adoption hadn’t worked out, I don’t think God would have been annoyed at them for praying in faith for a child they didn’t yet know.
Sure, there’s a very real possibility you might never get married, just like there was a very real possibility that my friends would never adopt a little girl from Ethiopia. So what? When I was single with no prospects for marriage, I just worked off the assumption that God had given me the desire to be married, and He would provide the woman to fulfill that desire. I could have been wrong about that, but in making the decision to pray in faith for a woman whom I could not see, I not only blessed the one who would become my wife, I found a practical way to entrust one of my deepest desires to God.