First of all, let me make it perfectly clear that the power of a praying wife is not a means of gaining control over your husband, so don't get your hopes up! In fact, it is quite the opposite. It's laying down all claim to power in and of yourself, and relying on God's power to transform you, your husband, your circumstances, and your marriage. This power is not given to wield like a weapon in order to beat back an unruly beast. It's a gentle tool of restoration appropriated through the prayers of a wife who longs to do right more than be right, and to give life more than getting even. It's a way to invite God's power into your husband's life for his greatest blessing, which is ultimately yours, too.
When my husband, Michael, and I were first married and differences arose between us, praying was definitely not my first thought. In fact, it was closer to the last resort. I tried other methods first such as arguing, pleading, ignoring, avoiding, confronting, debating, and of course the ever-popular silent treatment, all with far less than satisfying results. It took some time to realize that by praying first, these unpleasant methods of operation could be avoided.
By the time you read this book, Michael and I will have been married over a quarter of a century. This is nothing less than miraculous. It's certainly not a testimony to our greatness, but to God's faithfulness to answer prayer. I confess that even after all these years, I am still learning about this and it doesn't come easy. While I may not have as much practice doing it right as I have had doing it wrong, I can say without reservation that prayer works.
Unfortunately, I didn't learn how to really pray for my husband until I started praying for my children. As I saw profound answers to prayer for them, I decided to try being just as detailed and fervent in praying for him. But I found that praying for children is far easier. From the first moment we lay eyes on them, we want the best for their lives - unconditionally, wholeheartedly, without question. But with a husband, it's often not that simple - especially for someone who's been married a while. A husband can hurt your feelings, be inconsiderate, uncaring, abusive, irritating, or negligent. He can say or do things that pierce your heart like a sliver. And every time you start to pray for him, you find the sliver festering. It's obvious you can't give yourself to praying the way God wants you to until you are rid of it.
How Do I Pray for My Husband?
Praying for your husband is not the same as praying for a child (even though it may seem similar), because you are not your husband's mother. We have authority over our children that is given to us by the Lord. We don't have authority over our husbands. However, we have been given authority "over all the power of the enemy" (Luke 10:19) and can do great damage to the enemy's plans when we pray. Many difficult things that happen in a marriage relationship are actually part of the enemy's plan set up for its demise. But we can say, "I will not allow anything to destroy my marriage."
"I will not stand by and watch my husband be wearied, beaten down, or destroyed."
"I will not sit idle while an invisible wall goes up between us."
"I will not allow confusion, miscommunication, wrong attitudes, and bad choices to erode what we are trying to build together."
"I will not tolerate hurt and unforgiveness leading us to divorce."
How Do I Bless My Husband?
We can take a stand against any negative influences in our marriage relationship and know that God has given us authority in His name to back it up.
You have the means to establish a hedge of protection around your marriage because Jesus said, "Whatever you bind on earth will be bound in heaven, and whatever you loose on earth will be loosed in heaven" (Matthew 18:18). You have authority in the name of Jesus to stop evil and permit good. You can submit to God in prayer whatever controls your husband -- alcoholism, workaholism, laziness, depression, infirmity, abusiveness, anxiety, fear, or failure -- and pray for him to be released from it.
Wait! Before You Write Off the Marriage . . . . .
I confess right now that there was a time when I considered separation or divorce. This is an embarrassing disclosure because I don't believe either of those options is the best answer to a troubled marriage. I believe in God's position on divorce. He says it's not right and it grieves Him. The last thing I want to do is grieve God. But I know what it's like to feel the kind of despair that paralyzes good decision-making. I've experienced the degree of hopelessness that causes a person to give up on trying to do what's right. I understand the torture of loneliness that leaves you longing for anyone who will look into your soul and see you. I've felt pain so bad that the fear of dying from it propelled me to seek out the only immediately foreseeable means of survival: escape from the source of agony. I know what it's like to contemplate acts of desperation because you see no future. I've experienced such a buildup of negative emotions day after day that separation and divorce seemed like nothing more than the promise of pleasant relief.
The biggest problem I faced in our marriage was my husband's temper. The only ones who were ever the object of his anger were me and the children. He used words like weapons that left me crippled or paralyzed. I'm not saying that I was without fault -- quite the contrary. I was sure I was as much to blame as he, but I didn't know what to do about it. I pleaded with God on a regular basis to make my husband more sensitive, less angry, more pleasant, less irritable. But I only saw a few changes. Was God not listening? Or did He favor the husband over the wife, as I suspected?
After a number of years, with little change, I cried out to the Lord one day in despair, saying, "God, I can't live this way anymore. I know what You've said about divorce, but I can't live in the same house as him. Help me, Lord." I sat on the bed holding my Bible for hours as I struggled with the strongest desire to take the children and leave. I believe that because I came to God in total honesty about what I felt, He allowed me to thoroughly and clearly envision what life would be like if I left: Where I would live, how I would support myself and care for the children, who would still be my friends, and worst of all, how a heritage of divorce would affect my son and daughter. It was the most horrible and unspeakably sad picture. If I left I would find some relief but at the price of everything dear to me. I knew it wasn't God's plan for us.
As I sat there, God also impressed upon my heart that if I would deliberately lay down my life before His throne, die to the desire to leave, and give my needs to Him, He would teach me how to lay down my life in prayer for Michael. He would show me how to really intercede for him as a son of God, and in the process, He would revive my marriage and pour His blessings out on both of us. We would be better together, if we could get past this then we could never be separated and alone. He showed me that Michael was caught in a web from his past that rendered him incapable of being different from what he was at that moment, but God would use me as an instrument of His deliverance if I would consent to it. It hurt to say yes to this and I cried a lot. But when I did, I felt hopeful for the first time in years.
A Prayer for My Husband
Lord, I praise You for my husband, Your unique creation. Please guard his heart and mind, O Christ. Protect him from temptation and fill him up with the good things he needs. You’ve promised to fill his soul with what he needs and I ask You to do just that. In Jesus' name, Amen.
"For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things." ~ Psalm 107:9
Excerpted from The Power of a Praying Wife(TM), copyright 1997 by Stormie Omartian. Published by Harvest House Publishers, Eugene, Ore. Used by permission.
Stormie Omartian has authored several other books on prayer that have been best-sellers. She travels across the United States to speak on prayer.
Photo credit: ©iStock/Getty Images Plus/Carolyn Horlings
The views and opinions expressed in this podcast are those of the speakers and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of Salem Web Network and Salem Media Group.
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This article is part of our larger Prayer resource meant to inspire and encourage your prayer life when you face uncertain times. Remember, the Holy Spirit intercedes for us and God knows your heart even if you can't find the words to pray.