Praying for your spouse can be the first step in transforming your marriage.
"Prayer changes things." We've all heard this, and many of us probably believe it, at least in theory. But can it really work in the day-to-day dealings of your marriage? Can prayer really strengthen your marriage? Can it even rescue a marriage that's crumbling?
If you're not a person who is used to praying—or more specifically, praying daily—this can seem like a daunting task. How do you begin praying for your marriage? What do you say? And how do you know that it will work?
First of all, let me tell you that you're not alone. I am a person who has a deep love for the Lord, but, I'll confess, prayer often intimidates me. Despite this, I also believe that prayer does change things. Here's why:
Prayer invites God into our life and our relationships. And God desires good for us, in all aspects of our lives. That's the Bible's promise. So when God is with us and working on behalf of us, he is only working toward what's good.
"The prayer of a person living right with God is something powerful to be reckoned with. Elijah, for instance, human just like us, prayed hard that it wouldn't rain, and it didn't—not a drop for three and a half years. Then he prayed that it would rain, and it did. The showers came and everything started growing again." (James 5:17-19, MSG)
"Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life." (Phillipians 4:6-7, MSG)
Start by praying for your spouse.
- Set your alarm 20 minutes earlier. Find a quiet place to sit and be with God.
- Talk to God, aloud, in your head, or through writing. I find that writing my prayers down helps keep me focused, and I can go back later to reread my prayer requests and see how God has answered them.
- Pray specifically about your spouse. Instead of saying, "Please bless my husband," be specific and bold in your requests to God. "If you don't know what you're doing, pray to the Father. He loves to help. You'll get his help, and won't be condescended to when you ask for it. Ask boldly, believingly, without a second thought." (James 1:5-6, MSG) If there is something about your spouse that you'd like to change, tell God. He is the only one who can produce change in our spouse, even though we keep on trying to on our own!
- Dedicate yourself to prayer. Pray daily. The more you pray, the more comfortable you'll feel, and the more you'll begin to see God's work in your marriage.
- Remember that prayer not only changes the person being prayed about, but it also changes the one praying. Pay attention to how God is working on you as you continue to pray. You may find yourself reacting differently than you once would have in a situation with your spouse. You may feel a sense of peace about your marriage. That's God at work in you, and in your marriage.
And if you encounter a day when you just don't know what to say, pray God's words back to him. "The Bible expresses all God's desires for us and all His provision for us. Praying the Scriptures back to Him, we are asking God to do what He has already said He will do." (scriptureprayers.ca)
Once you have taken the step of praying for your spouse and your marriage, the next goal is to begin praying with your spouse. Stormie Omartian, author of many books on prayer, including The Power of a Praying Wife, described it this way in an article on FocusontheFamily.com: "Every time you and your spouse pray separately for one another, great things happen in your relationship. Prayer is truly powerful. But when you pray together, that power increases tremendously, and so do the results."
Do you pray for your spouse? If so, how have you experienced change in your marriage?