I’ve written so many posts here about how to pray for a marriage. I guess it would make sense for me to re-read my previous posts before writing a fresh one, as I’ve largely forgotten what I’ve previously said, and it would be good to see what overlap there might be between those ideas and these ones, and what ideas I might be able to use. However, believe it or not, I just can’t be bothered just now! At the moment I want to express thoughts, and I’ve written so many posts that a. to locate them all b. to read through them sufficiently might take me a good few minutes, if not hours, – I’m not even joking – by which time I may no longer be in my writing groove. So what I would prefer to do just now is to express the thoughts first, and then take my time and go back to re-read previous posts, and then amend this post to see which ideas from those other posts I can incorporate into this one. Which could mean that here I am writing exactly the same post as I have previously written some time before. Yes, that has happened before!
So anyway, recently I was thinking once again – yet again – about this issue of how to pray for a spouse. This might not sound complicated; perhaps to most people it is not complicated in the slightest. However, for me, it is an incredibly difficult thing. (Actually, this is the post I was thinking of writing yesterday, but thinking through all those thorny variables just seemed so overwhelming, which is one reason why I preferred to stay in my warm cosy bed – as spoken about in my previous post!)
Here are the reasons why I find this issue complicated: trying to think back from where you might find yourself in marriage.
If you’re with someone, and it does not feel as if it is working; is it because they were never the right person in the first place? Or is it that they were the right person, and somehow over time your prayers failed to keep up with the challenges of life together? And the thing is that, every couple, on getting married, they will smile with success, and they will think that somehow their prayers have been answered. But what if this person standing next to you on your wedding day is actually the wrong person, and the truth is that you simply have not prayed enough? After all, so many Christians encounter very unexciting things in their marriages, and you know that for some people, they simply made the wrong choice. And yet everyone thinks that they pray adequately. And yet many people apparently do not pray sufficiently to stop the wrong choice from happening. Am I making sense, or am I simply making everyone as confused as I am?! Anyway, to put it neatly, from the experience of people who have gone before us – just because you are standing there on your wedding day with someone, and just because you have prayed, does not mean that you are making the right choice. And the validity of your choice will be abundantly played out through the length of your marriage!
So now the question is this: knowing how real a possibility it is to pray and still end up with the wrong person, how can I be sure through my prayers before marriage, that I am making the right choice? Just because it actually does happen or come together does not make it the right choice – as so many couples have found!
This is the way I’ve finally thought about making this whole issue easier for myself; by simply identifying all the different functions that this prayer needs to cover:
1. I want to pray generally for my marriage, praying for a beautiful marriage, or at least the foundations of a beautiful marriage
2. Praying that God would give me a generally amazing spouse – one who is holy, and wise, and in pursuit of God and in pursuit of prayer, and yearning to grow every day in all that is holy and wise and good. A man who pours forth his heart before God. A man who wants to be an amazing husband, and who wants to make his wife very happy! And also a million other requests. Heap it on baby!
3. Praying that a man will give me a man who is well suited to me. The distinction between 2 and 3 is really important, for this reason: I might not know myself as well as I think I do. I might not see myself that clearly. Thankfully God can understand it all and interpret it all correctly and give me a man that is sincerely well suited to me
4. Praying that God would make it all happen in the right way
All the above prayers are the easy prayers. Uncomplicated, uncontroversial, straightforward – easy peasy lemon squeezy! But this is where it gets complicated: where you start praying about specific individuals. Oh my – headaches! Perhaps here too a little bit of clear thinking will help.
So with any specific individual, I want to pray that if he would be the right person, then yes, I want it to happen between us. Conversely if he and I would be badly suited, then let it all crumble away. Let him stay far from me Lord!
Open prayers v closed prayers
By open prayers, I mean prayers where you are asking God – is it him? Whereas closed prayers are prayers where you are asking “Please God, let it be him!”
There are some times and situations where we are so attracted to people that it makes sense to pray closed prayers. I guess in that case, if you have already made up your mind that it has to be a particular someone, that you pray that God would develop his character and your character to match well in marriage. To be honest, this is quite straightforward – you just pray until both characters are sufficiently well established and mixed for marriage. And if it does not eventually happen with this specific individual, then you move on!
Open prayers. Hmm! I’m very conscious as I write this that none of this is turning out to be as complex as I promised! This is a good thing. I wonder if there is a straightforward way of simplifying this aspect of open prayers too. Open prayers are where you have met someone and you are starting to ask God – Lord, could this man be the one?! This is where the two year thinking (that I’ve just disclaimed in my previous post!) could come in handy, as after two years then at least you could be sure that you know this person, and you could identify what it is that you admire in him. Perhaps a way of dealing with this is to pray for sequential steps. Lord, if he could be a good and excellent husband, then could xyz happen? And then after a few of these prayers have been answered positively, then you could be confident that God is in this. And then if I get to a place of thinking that yes, he could legitimately be the one – God, please develop his character and mine until he and I are both well matched!
And then while praying the open or closed prayers, then you could be simultaneously be praying that God would protect your interaction with one another, and your individual relationships with Him.
One important thing I’ve learned is to pray the generic prayers alongside the specific “is it him” prayers – just in case it is not him – thus far it has not been! But maybe that is because I did not pray hard enough for guys that could have been viable, because I did not know what I was doing.
One very important point to make though is this: that just because someone starts off right does not mean that they continue to be right. The devil is always, always working to pull us off course (of course!) Relationships require constant prayer; as spouses not only do we have to bear our very own selves up in prayer, we also have to bear one another up in prayer, constantly.
Candidly speaking, I feel as if my thinking is clearer, but I’m still a little confused. I will take some time to think about it more, to bring more insights (read those previous posts!) What I can definitely say though is this: the more you pray, even when you are sure you’ve got the right guy – the better.
Talking through – oh yeah – recently it also occurred to me that before jumping into the big outline, it can be useful to just talk through with God about someone – God this is what I’m thinking about this particular guy just now…! 🙂