Can you remember a time in your marriage when you wondered if you had made a major mistake in your choice of a partner, or you wondered if you had grossly overestimated your love story and, even worse, the character of your husband? Think back to a time when you felt that your husband’s performance fell far short of your expectations, or when, somewhere along the way, your beautiful love story took a detour and you weren’t sure you even liked your husband any longer.
You may be reading this with a heavy heart. Your spirit is crushed. Those once-soft glances are now frightened, empty stares. Perhaps privately, you are praying for either a painless parting (which doesn’t exist) or a marriage miracle.
If you are looking for a painless parting, you should look elsewhere. But if you are in need of marriage "mercies," or even if you are in a "sweet place" in your marriage, please read on.
It is true, men battle for their souls every day. The pressures they face are phenomenal. Secular success is equated with how high they climb the corporate ladder and how handsomely they are compensated for those efforts. Their struggles filter into family life, often without them even realizing it. Without vigilant prayer, clear communication, and a time of accountability with others, it’s easy to see how the daily battle of a man’s soul can quickly escalate, infiltrating the marriage and family. Prayer is vital, one young husband learned, as he faced his greatest career challenge.
Do you have an accountability group or prayer partner you meet with on a regular basis? This is a wonderful way to keep accountable in praying for your husband. Remember though, share only those prayer needs or situations that your husband would be comfortable in sharing. And have an understanding that whatever is shared in confidence remains in confidence!
The Difference Prayer Makes
"It was during my time as a new insurance agent with a nationally -recognized company that I dealt with one of the greatest career challenges in my life. I knew my wife was praying for me. Her prayer, however, was not that I have great success, nor was it that I overcome the challenges I faced. It was only after being informed I would no longer be an agent for their company that I learned what Alesa’s specific prayer for me had been. Only after, I began truly seeking the face of God, as a result of what the world would surely see as a failure. During this ‘gut-check time’ when I was forced to see what kind of man I was, and looking at all I had worked for and lost, I realized I hadn’t really lost anything at all.
"Looking back," he continued, "I saw I had never really given God a chance. I was trying to do it all myself. My wife’s prayer through the painful ordeal was not that I climb the corporate ladder, rather that I would grow closer to God. For I was not created to grab onto the next brass ring but to worship my God and King. Seems simple enough, yet when you think of the verse, ‘Seek ye first the kingdom of God, and all these things will be added unto you,’ it brings to light that we are to worship Him first, and all these things will be added. And I believe that means all things.
"I’m so thankful," he concluded, "that I am married to a true woman of God. Alesa’s prayer was a selfless prayer of great discernment. She knew what was best for not only me but for our family as well. Today I work for a small, but successful insurance agency. The owner is a Christian, and we have the privilege of integrating God into every phase of the business. Because of my wife’s commitment to prayer, I am a man blessed. I am a man who, most definitely, has grown closer to God."
When Your Heart Grows Faint
As you read this, you may not even be sure how to pray for your husband. Perhaps you are stumbling through the dark night of your relationship. You may feel angry, fearful, and emotionally exhausted because your husband is not living up to his end of the bargain. You may even feel spiritually inept. I have felt, at one time or another, all of the above. But I have learned that uncertainty, sorrow, anger, and exhaustion do little to improve a situation.
If you’re not already doing so, begin praying with your husband. There is nothing more precious than entwining your hearts and souls in prayer. God will bless you, your husband, and your marriage!
Prayer, on the other hand, will improve any situation, no matter how desperate. Growing in our prayer commitment for our husband and concentrating on our faithfulness make us more keenly aware of God’s desire to shower His faithful with blessings. If you have ever wondered if God hears your prayers and petitions, keep a prayer journal. His responses to your prayers and petitions will astound you. He is faithful!
But there are times when discouragement and desperation grip our hearts. At such times, before we can pray for our husbands, we first need to pray a heartfelt prayer for ourselves:
"Hear my cry, O God;Give heed to my prayer. From the end of the earth I call to You when my heart is faint; Lead me to the rock that is higher than I." ~ Psalm 61:1–2
When we pray, we, like David, can know that God does hear our cries.
"He brought me up out of the pit of destruction, out of the miry clay, And He set my feet upon a rock making my footsteps firm. He put a new song in my mouth, a song of praise to our God." ~ Psalm 40:2–3
Many times during our family’s most chaotic season of kids, careers, and multiple commitments, it was those Scripture verses and others that lifted my feet out of the "miry clay." Only then was God able to show me that my husband was, in fact, His favored son. Seeing our husband as His favored son equips us with the faithfulness and persistence we need to become and remain a praying wife in all circumstances—not just when he remembers to pick up his dirty laundry, or sends us flowers, or takes the kids to the park on Saturday so we can shop, or remembers to buy tickets to our favorite symphony performance the day they go on sale.
Prayer Is Our Responsibility
Author and speaker Evelyn Christenson understands that it is often easier to pray about our mates than it is to pray for them. "Praying for spouses," she advised a group of women, "has nothing to do with rights, how we are treated, or what the other person may be doing. It is our responsibility, no matter the circumstances."
We need to be in the spirit of prayer at all times, so that prayer becomes part of our relationship with the Lord rather than a ritual. We pray for our husband because we love him and want to lift all that he is and does to the throne of God.
Like a number of the men interviewed, my own husband did battle with his soul when faced with financial success in a relatively short time. Because his character had always been as steady as the seasons, his struggle blindsided me. At first I wasn’t even sure how to pray. I believed the ultimate success of my prayers hinged on my feelings for him. And, quite honestly, I wasn’t in the mood to pray for the man who had crushed my spirit. But an extraordinary thing happened when I began seeing him—and praying for him—as a favored son of God.
It is a good thing I began to do so, for Bob was fighting for his soul and losing ground. Taking his eyes off God for even a brief time caused him to question the truths in which he had been so firmly rooted. I wasn’t capable of fixing him—not that he wanted my kind of "help." Finger pointing and hand wringing, I have learned, are not the most effective agents for change. Prayer is. When I began to pray, and traded fear for faith, I drew solace and strength from Romans 8:28, which says, "And we know that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose."
For further insight and instruction into becoming a more effective praying wife, read Stormie Omartian’s The Power of a Praying Wife (Eugene, Ore.Harvest House, 1997)
Through this time, I learned to love Bob enough to listen when he asks me to pray for him as well as when he doesn’t ask. Sometimes when our husbands experience times of spiritual battle, they may not even recognize that they are in a battle. At such times, we need to listen closely to their silence and pray. (Listening may mean less sleep on a night when you are already bleary eyed.) While we may expect to hear a clear and unmistakable cry for help, they may be too spiritually battered and bruised to manage anything more than a whimper.
Running to the Lord
I find great solace in knowing that even though my flesh and heart will sometimes fail Bob in times of trouble, God’s perfect strength and heart will not. Now when I beseech the Lord on behalf of my beloved, I no longer crawl to Him with hand outstretched holding an empty cup. I run to Him with a bucket!
Anne, a beautiful Bible study leader, provides a wonderful example of "running to God with a bucket." If ever there is a husband blanketed in prayer, it is her husband, Steve. Anne suggested that we women take a favorite psalm—I use Psalm 1—and substitute the applicable names or pronouns with the words, "His favored son, [name]." For example:
"How blessed is His favored son, Bob, who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers! But Bob’s delight is in the law of the LORD, and in His law Bob meditates day and night. His favored son, Bob, will be like a tree firmly planted by streams of water, which yields its fruit in its season and its leaf does not wither; and in whatever God’s favored son, Bob, does, he prospers."
Will you accept the honor of praying for your husband, the Father’s favored son? Will you listen to his battle cries—the whimpering, whispering pleas of your spiritually wounded husband?
You can give your husband no more precious gift than the gift of praying for him. Won’t you join me in running to the Lord in prayer?
Prayer is the most powerful love language in the world. There is no more precious gift you can give your husband.
Read Part I in this series: Becoming a Godly Wife: Master the Monster of Jealousy
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Judy Carden lives in Winter Haven, Florida, with her husband, Bob. They have three children who are in various stages of undergraduate and graduate studies. Judy is delighted to be a wife, mother, daughter, sister, and friend. As the president and founder of Inspiration Etc., her mission is to encourage lives of purpose, passion, and excellence. "Crash" (as she is known on the slopes) and her husband are avid snow skiers, and also share a love for many other activities. As a writer and speaker, Judy continues to share her secrets for transforming the mundane marriage into a magical, vibrant image of God's plan for the contemporary covenant marriage.
Taken from What Husbands Need: Reaching His Heart and Reclaiming His Passion © 2006 by Judy Carden. Published by Kregel Publications, Grand Rapids, MI. Used by permission of the publisher. All rights reserved.