"Now I lay me down to sleep, I pray the Lord my spouse to keep?"
Now if this is your idea of prayer then your marriage may be in trouble. Prayer should be the first tool you pick up on a daily basis, not the last like this little ditty suggests.
So how do you pray for your marriage? What does it mean to truly pray for your marriage compared to the things you think you should be praying for?
It isn’t about controlling your spouse. It’s definitely not about being your spouse’s spiritual leader and it is certainly not about asking God to fix all the flaws your spouse has either.
I learned this the hard way years ago when we were first married. I wished to pray, at times, for God to strike Chris dead when his careless remarks cut deep. I prayed for God to change all of his wayward issues. I asked God to change his attitude and mind.
But here’s the thing, praying for your spouse and praying for your marriage isn’t about asking God to change him — it changes you. It defines and then refines the bonds of your marital vows because the goal isn’t happiness. The goal is to transform your marriage to reflect Jesus and his bridegroom, the church.
It may not sound appealing if you are in a struggling marriage that’s on the rocks. However, remember what I just said, praying for your marriage will refine the both of you.
So, what should you be praying for and how should you be praying? Here are three areas and prayers to help you navigate your time talking with God.
It’s Not about You
It’s not about you. It’s selfish to get married to a person because you think they will make you happy. While happiness is the result of a healthy relationship, marriage is designed to refine you. Marriage is holy work. Hard work. It’s going to cost you something you never expected, it will cost you yourself. It will cost you everything.
You marry because you want to share your life with someone. You marry because you want to build a family. You get married because you want that person to help you raise your children. You marry because that man is your person. It was meant to expose the splinters in your soul.
As selfishness rises up, God offers to sand it down. The job of marriage is to expose our dysfunction and propel us towards steady wholeness in Christ.
Marriage is about commitment, sacrifice, serving, giving, forgiving — and then doing all over again — every day. Regardless of changes in personalities, aging bodies, or the ever-waning ebb-and-flow of romantic love. The same goes for praying for your marriage.
Pray for His Will Not Your Will
The more we understand what God wants for our marriage, the easier it is to yield to his will. So, what is God’s will for marriage? Now that we talked about how God created marriage, and how it mirrors Jesus’ relationship with his bride, the church, we must understand what God wants for marriage.
He wants iron to sharpen iron. He wants you both to support each other and to pursue Him with all your hearts, minds, and strengths. He wants you to have children and raise them to know and love Christ.
He wants the love you two have for each to reflect the love he has for his people. Therefore, always come to God with a humble heart and as you pray, seek His will.
Pray for Unity
You and your spouse are two separate people. That may sometimes mean differing opinions, likes, dislikes, personalities, and the list goes on. The healthiest marriages are those in which both parties maintain separate identities and purposes. The enemy will do everything in his power to find areas of weakness and exploit them. Our job is to stand united together.
Marriage is resilient, often flourishing in the face of adversity or trial when both have learned to respect one another and to trust in and live to the glory of God. Your marriage should always be treated with honor, respect, and sacredness — as a reflection of God’s great love for his people!
Here are 31 additional ways to pray over your marriage. You can take the following one-worded prompts to pray specifically over this area of your marriage for 31 days or however you choose. For example:
Unity: Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate (Mark 10:9).
Lord, I lift up my marriage to you today. I thank you for my spouse and for this union. Open my eyes to behaviors, attitudes, habits, or outside relationships that are tearing at our united front. I pray for a hedge of protection around our union for what you joined together, let no one separate. Amen.
31 Marriage Prayer Prompts
Lord, we pray for:
Adoration: My beloved is mine and I am his (Song of Songs 2:16).
Commitment: Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken (Ecclesiastes 4:12).
Courage: Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go (Joshua. 1:9).
Discernment: And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, so that you may approve what is excellent, and so be pure and blameless for the day of Christ (Philippians 1:9-10).
Endurance: Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends (1 Corinthians 13:7-8).
Forgiveness: Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you (Ephesians 4:32).
Friendship: Two are better than one…if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10).
Fruitfulness: But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Galatians 5:22-23).
Gentleness: Walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace (Ephesians 4:1-3).
Health: Gracious words are a honeycomb, sweet to the soul and healing to the bones (Proverbs 16:24).
Hope: For I know the plans I have for you, declares the Lord, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you hope and a future (Jeremiah 29:11).
Humility: Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others (Philippians 2:3-4).
Integrity: Whoever walks in integrity walks securely, but he who makes his ways crooked will be found out (Proverbs 10:9).
Intimacy: Do not deprive one another, except perhaps by agreement for a limited time, that you may devote yourselves to prayer; but then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control (1 Corinthians 7:5).
Kindness: She opens her mouth with wisdom, and the teaching of kindness is on her tongue (Proverbs 31:26).
Love: May the Lord make your love increase and overflow for each other (1 Thessalonians 3:12).
Oneness: “They are no longer two but one flesh. What God has joined together, let no man separate” (Matthew 19:6).
Peace: Finally, brothers, rejoice. Aim for restoration, comfort one another, agree with one another, live in peace; and the God of love and peace will be with you (2 Corinthians 13:11).
Protection: The Lord is faithful. He will establish you and guard you against the evil one (2 Thessalonians 3:3).
Provision: And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:19).
Purpose: And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose (Romans 8:28).
Respect: Let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband (Ephesians 5:33).
Self-Control: For God gave us a spirit not of fear but of power and love and self-control (2 Timothy 1:7).
Servant-Hearted: As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord (Joshua 24:15).
Strength: The Lord gives strength to his people; the Lord blesses his people with peace (Psalm 29:11).
Submission: Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ (Ephesians 5:21).
Thankfulness: Pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18).
Trust: There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18).
Understanding: Husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way (1 Peter 3:7).
Wisdom: Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it (Proverbs 4:23).
20 Marriage Prayers
1. Lord, lead me in a prayer revival for my marriage. Use my spouse and me to be part of the perfecting work You’re doing in each of our hearts and lives. Give me a greater humility and love so I might care properly for my spouse. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. - Praying Circles Around Your Marriage, Mark Batterson
2. Dear Lord, relationship struggles are so hard and heartbreaking. Please help us to know who to talk to and who can practically help us make hard decisions. Please help us all remember we are worthy because You say so. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. - Lysa Terkeurst
3. Heavenly Father, relationships are one of the most important things You have given to us. And the marriage relationship is especially important, valuable and purposeful. I praise You for creating us as relational beings who can benefit from each other and build into each other. Thank You for the ability to communicate, whether through words, touch, texts or a myriad of other ways. I praise You for the desire You have placed within us to connect with others, and I ask that You increase that desire more in the days, weeks, months and years ahead. - Bruce Wilkinson
4. Oh Lord, thank You for my husband. Thank You for entrusting me with the blessing and responsibility of loving him well. There are certain aspects of our communication where we struggle and misunderstand one another. Please intervene. Give us clarity of thought and respect for each other. Help us perceive what the other person is communicating. Help us to have a gentle spirit toward each other. - Bruce Wilkinson
5. Gracious Lord, James 1:19 says, “Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry”(NIV). Help my husband and me to remember this when we communicate with each other. Help us to always lead with love, and give each other the benefit of the doubt in understanding what the other seeks to communicate. Give us a relationship that’s conducive to being open, honest and authentic with each other. Help us in our busy schedules to cultivate time to focus on communication. Give me courage to discuss those troubling areas in my life and marriage and not withdraw in silent or hidden frustration. Help me speak about these areas to my husband in love with open honesty. Grant my husband an open and receptive heart without anger or defensiveness. Please also add an element of greater spontaneity and fun into our communication. Let us flirt with each other more in what we say and how we say it, and revive in us a spirit of playfulness and cheer. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. - Bruce Wilkinson
6. Heavenly Father, thank You for giving me the gift of my husband. I trust that You intentionally paired us together. Lord, would You capture his heart in new and fresh ways? I surrender him to You. I admit I am not in control and trust You to do what You will in his life. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. - Jarrad Lopes
7. Dear God, Teach me to fight for my marriage on my knees. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
8. Dear Lord, help me tend to my marriage and protect its borders. Show me how to make it a marriage that glorifies You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
9. Father, at times being married is no fun. It can be hard work. Please grant me a renewed perspective and a fresh resolve to keep working on my marriage in a way that honors You. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. - Karen Ehman
10. Dear Lord, thank You for my spouse. We want a marriage that reflects Your kind of commitment, Lord, the kind that lasts forever. Remind us, especially in the hard times, that we made a promise to each other and to You to be committed for a lifetime. Holy Spirit, please work in me so I will be the first to forgive and the first to say I'm sorry. In Jesus' Name, Amen. - Melanie Chitwood
11. Father God, You alone are perfect. Help me to keep my eyes on You. I know that no one is an easy forever-partner. Remind me daily to curb my critical spirit. Teach me to see my husband through Your eyes. In Jesus' Name I pray, Amen.
12. Dear God, sometimes life can be SO hard and I need Your guidance to navigate my path. Lord, help me keep forgiving when I’d much rather hold a grudge, knowing You have totally forgiven me. Empower me to keep fighting for my marriage. Give me strength to show my mate some unconditional love in meaningful ways today, just like You’ve done for me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen. - Stephanie Raquel
13. Dear Lord, I rejoice that You make all things new! You can even raise a dead marriage to new life. I choose to look ahead, not behind, in my marriage. I choose not to call to mind hurt from the past. I can't wait to see what good things You bring to my marriage as I trust and obey You. In Jesus' Name, Amen. - Melanie Chitwood
14. Dear Lord, You make all things new. Will You give me new eyes to see the good things I sometimes miss? Help me not to dwell on the past but to focus on the present and future. You are making a way, Lord, and I trust You with my heart, my husband and my marriage. Help us deal with any issues that are damaging our relationship, so we can appreciate the new things You're doing. In Jesus' Name, Amen. - Melanie Chitwood
15. Give me compassion for my spouse and show me how I can be an encouragement to him as we fight this spiritual battle that we are both in. Thank you for the victories you have already given us and for all the work you are doing in our lives and in the lives of our children. - Gina Smith
16. Give me a heart that is grateful for the gift of marriage. Help me to remember that we really are better together! Help me to be intentional to value and love my spouse in the way that he needs to be valued and loved. - Gina Smith
17. Help me to be committed to loving my spouse in the way that your Word tells me to love him. - Gina Smith
18. Gracious God, today I thank You for my spouse. I ask for forgiveness for the words and thoughts that have not been affirming. I pray for healing words to come out of my mouth—words that build up and do not tear down. Please protect my marriage from the pull of the world. Help us to look to You for guidance and keep our commitment to each other without wavering. I ask that You will walk us through every trial with wisdom and grace. In Jesus’ name, I pray, Amen. - Jennifer Waddle
19. Lord, I pray now for my marriage. Thank you God for my spouse. Thank you for your love for him/her, and for our marriage. Thank you that you are a champion of marriage and you want to see our marriage last. Lord, forgive me – so often I put myself first, and push you and my spouse to the backburner. Help me prioritize our marriage. Help me fight for it when it’s hard, and to enjoy it when it’s going well. Help me encourage and support my spouse in all she/he has going on. Help me Lord! I know that without your guidance and support I would stumble and fall. Help us put you first, and strengthen our resolve to work through the hardest parts of marriage. In your name I pray, Amen. - A Prayer for Communication During Conflict
20. Dear God, we want to protect our marriage from any threat. We want to live freely and securely as a result of having chosen to live wisely. By Your Spirit, show us how to honor each other and please You. Amen. - Dr. James Dobson
Photo Credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Serhii Sobolevskyi
Heather Riggleman is a believer, wife, mom, author, social media consultant, and full-time writer. She lives in Minden, Nebraska with her kids, high school sweetheart, and three cats who are her entourage around the homestead. She is a former award-winning journalist with over 2,000 articles published. She is full of grace and grit, raw honesty, and truly believes tacos can solve just about any situation. You can find her on GodUpdates, iBelieve, Crosswalk, Hello Darling, Focus On The Family, and in Brio Magazine. Connect with her at www.HeatherRiggleman.com or on Facebook.