I wish I could take credit for what I’m about to tell you. It is the best marriage advice I know to give. It is simple and profound and, if you do it, will improve your marriage in ways nothing else can. This advice is so elementary that you’ll be tempted to dismiss this article altogether. Here it is…
Pray for your spouse every day.
I am embarrassed to admit that I was married for ten years before I stumbled into this advice. For as long as I’ve been part of the church and following Jesus, it seems I should have known to do this. Actually, I knew I should pray for Donya every day, but up to that point I hadn’t made it a priority. Then, in 2013 I saw an article called “Ten Ways to Pray for Your Wife” that prompted me to take daily prayer for her seriously. It’s the best thing I’ve done for our marriage, and I’ve shared this with every married guy I’ve been in small group with for the past seven years.
Here are three reasons why.
When you pray for your spouse every day, you’re spending time with God every day.
There is nothing better for your life than to be with the Father. A thousand things compete for our attention every day, exerting their influence on our hearts and minds, shaping us as husbands and wives. Time with the Father shapes us into the image of the Son, preparing us for our greatest responsibility as husbands and wives, reflecting Jesus to our spouse (Ephesians 5:22-33).
Praying for your spouse every day can be part of an intentional rhythm of being with God through Scripture reading and contemplation. Your spouse needs you to be with God, to hear his voice and be shaped by it.
When you pray for your spouse every day, you will begin to see them as God does.
Marriage has its ebbs and flows. Spouses see the best and worst of each other. When you primarily view your husband or wife through your daily experiences with them, it can be easy to let frustration or contempt set in.
As weird as it sounds, in a Christian marriage, your spouse is also your brother or sister. Like your other brothers and sisters in Christ, they need your grace. If you find it easier to give grace to others than to your spouse, praying for them can help.
Something will happen in your heart when you pray for the person you’re married to. You’ll be reminded of their humanity. You’ll be reminded of their need for God. You’ll be reminded that experiencing God’s grace is the best thing for them.
Asking God to lavish his grace on your spouse will motivate you to join in with him. You’ll grow as an agent of grace, learning to look for opportunities to shape your husband or wife through grace.
When you pray for your spouse every day, God will work in your marriage.
Some TV preachers advertise God like a Sham-Wow infomercial. They promise that for an amazingly small price, God will make all your dreams come true and life will have never been better.
I’m not trying to sell you that deal. Sometimes life stinks. Marriage is hard. People sin. Wounds hurt. I’m not promising that if you pray for your spouse every day things will be instantly better and always improving. That’s not what the Bible teaches about life, prayer, or God.
Jesus did teach, however, that we should ask God for good things, and that God will give us good things!
“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!”
There is mystery here, for sure. Prayer is not a token to a cosmic vending machine. Prayer is a conversation with our Father. He uses it to shape us and to work in our lives.
Your spouse is worth praying for.
When will you start?
In week 2 of the Good Grief message series, I talked about the essential elements of lament:
- Turn to God
- Tell him how you feel
- Ask him for help
- Declare your trust in him
As I’ve been processing and trusting in God in this season, I wrote this prayer of lament about the loss of fruitfulness as a church. In it, I express with honesty how I feel and not necessarily what is true. We can be encouraged that God meets us in our honesty.
You sent us on a mission and now you have distracted us. You have sequestered us and made us wait. Just before the harvest, the storm has taken our crops. You have given us work to do and taken away our tools.
Help us, O God. Open the doors to your truth that we can’t personally walk through. Show us how to love people without being with them, to be your hands and feet while staying at home. And heal us, Lord. Kill this invisible enemy.
I know you have not forsaken us, O Lord. The cross of Jesus was dark, Jesus died and the disciples were scattered. But up from the grave he arose. You turned the darkness to light, the death to life, the dread to hope.
PRAY FOR OPEN DOORS
Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word… — Colossians 4:2–3a (ESV)
Open doors can’t be taken for granted. Many missionaries work in countries that are difficult to access or in areas that are resistant to the gospel. But open doors include more than just access to nations and people groups. Individuals’ hearts also need to be open and receptive to God’s truth.
- That God will open doors of ministry, blessing partnerships and friendships.
- That those who serve will be led by the Holy Spirit and recognize open-door opportunities.
- That God will lead his people past barriers to hearts ready to receive his Word.
PRAY FOR BOLDNESS
[Pray] also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel… — Ephesians 6:19 (ESV)
Missionaries are regular people who fear pain and rejection as much as anyone else. When faced with opposition, they need God’s strength to help them stand firm.
- That the Holy Spirit will provide missionaries with words that communicate effectively in other cultures and languages.
- That they will have boldness to overcome the fear of embarrassment or failure.
- Against evil forces that would seek to hinder the spread of the gospel.
PRAY THAT GOD’S WORD WILL SPREAD
Finally, brothers, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may speed ahead and be honored, as happened among you… — 2 Thessalonians 3:1 (ESV)
Obstacles must be removed to allow God’s Word to spread rapidly and freely, and missionaries need the strength to continue on in the face of opposition or difficulties. Just as Aaron and Hur supported Moses’ arms in the battle against the Amalekites (Exodus 17:12), you can strengthen the arms of missionaries by supporting them through your prayers.
- For strength and stamina as missionaries encounter antagonistic spiritual forces (Ephesians 6:10–18).
- That people will resist Satan’s plans to obstruct the spread of the gospel (James 4:7).
- That God’s Word will indeed spread rapidly and be honored wherever it goes.
PRAY FOR PROTECTION
[Pray] that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men. For not all have faith. — 2 Thessalonians 3:2 (ESV)
In some countries, missionaries may be exposed to the possibility of danger and personal harm. Opposition to the gospel may include hatred and violence.
- That God will keep missionaries safe.
- That God will change the hearts of those who are resistant to his Word.
*This excerpt from https://www.wycliffe.org/prayer/how-to-pray-for-missionaries
The church, our church, is a collection of backgrounds, loves, family histories, races, and passions, but all of these not only intersect at Christ but intertwine and tie us to one family, one faith, one story. Our prayer is that these songs become threads in the ties that hold us together and give us a common language, a corporate response, and a reminder that none of us walk this life alone.
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5. You Saved Me