I’ve noticed something lately that is sad and a bit scary.
Some of my friends’ marriages are failing.
It used to be we only heard about someone’s parents’ marriage ending in divorce. But now it’s people I know. People from my high school. People I never thought would get a divorce. It’s much closer to home.
You’re seeing it too, right? And it makes me feel uneasy. Why did their marriage is falling apart? What did they miss or do wrong? What might we be missing in our own marriage? How do we keep our marriages strong?
First, it may help to remind ourselves of two reasons to work so hard on our marriages and keep them strong.
1. Image Bearers of God
Our marriage bears the image of God to the world. It is a picture of how the trinity works together in perfect harmony. Marriage is meant to be one man, one woman and the Holy Spirit working together, three in one, displaying God’s image. That is an image worth bearing and fighting for.
2. Do It For Your Kids
If the first is not reason enough to fight for our marriages, then our children should be. When we have strong marriages it gives our kids the feeling of safety and security they need to grow and thrive.
The One Thing We Need to Do
So what is the one thing you need to do for a better marriage?
I read Breakthrough Prayer by Jim Cymbala last year. He said something that I haven’t been able to get out of my mind.
“It doesn’t make biblical sense to counsel Christians who have not yet prayed about their “trouble”. Who knows what God might do to help such people if only he is given the opportunity?”
Before reading this I might easily have written this blog post to say the one thing you need to do is go for counseling before it gets so bad. But I think Mr. Cymbala makes an excellent and critical point.
Why are we asking for human wisdom before we have spent a good amount of time seeking God’s wisdom?
If we haven’t been praying, why is that? I’m sure there are many reasons: lack of belief in the power of prayer, weariness, uncertainty of what to pray or how to begin, no sense of urgency and so on.
Please also hear me in that I am not meaning to sound trite in saying that all we need is prayer in order to have a great marriage. I know some of you have prayed and things still aren’t better. But what I hope to do is remind us of why we need to pray for our marriage.
Why Pray for Our Marriages
Satan Wants To Destroy Our Marriages
We know that because God designed marriage, Satan hates it and will do everything to destroy it. If Satan is after something of God’s it must be really important because the devil doesn’t waste time on the little things. He goes for the jugular. Destroy marriages and he destroys a living picture of God on this earth.
There is Power In Prayer
Power to change my heart, power to change my spouse’s heart, power to heal and bring together. Our Father is for our marriage; Jesus is constantly interceding for them so we know when we are praying for better marriages that God is for us. Mr. Cymbala says, “Breakthrough prayer isn’t born out of an ‘I should pray today’ attitude but, instead, out of an ‘I must have God’s help’ frame of mind”.
How to Pray for Your Marriage
Ha! You thought I’d give you tips on praying together right? I’ll get there. But I think praying for your marriage begins by praying on your own. I’m reading You And Me Forever by Francis and Lisa Chan and they suggest that most of our marriage problems aren’t really marriage problems. Rather they are heart problems, or problems with our picture of God or our lack of intimacy with God that we try to fill with things like marriage.
So we need to get alone with God and talk to him about our marriage, our spouse and our own junk. We need to start with letting God work in our hearts because, of the three beings involved in our marriages (God, you, and your spouse), the only one you can change is you!
But you can pray for your spouse and your marriage. Here are a few suggestions of things to take into your prayer time:
1. Ask your spouse how you can pray for them. You may be surprised at what they tell you.
2. Ask God to show you how to pray for your spouse. Jesus knows them even more intimately than you do.
3. Ask God for a strategy for how to pray for your marriage. At the end of Romans 8 it says Jesus is always interceding for us. Why don’t you ask him what he’s asking for your marriage?
Last year one of my fasting requests was for renewed passion in our marriage. We’re coming up on 20 years and I want to keep going. So that was my request. But how do you know, at the end of a year, that your request has been answered? So I asked Jesus to show me 3 key things to pray. Here they are:
1. That I would invest time and energy in getting to know my husband better. Ask questions and listen.
2. Help us laugh together and find new things we enjoy doing together. (Winter is the worst for finding creative date night ideas!)
3. That we would see the best in each other and bring out the best.
At the end of 2019 I could see how God has been working in our lives through these three simple things! Wow, did that encourage me to keep praying!
I know this isn’t easy. After leading over 150 couples through pre-marriage sessions and teaching at countless marriage retreats I know how hard it is for couples to pray together. I have a few guesses as to why.
The Devil! He doesn’t want you praying for your marriage, and for sure not together. There is such power when you pray together.
But I also think that praying together makes some people feel incredibly vulnerable because it is an intimate act. So I want to suggest something.
Can you read a prayer out loud together? Write out a prayer together and read it. Or try something like Stormie Omartian’s A Book of Prayers for Couples.
I know, prayer is the easiest and hardest thing I could have suggested you do. It only requires your time and willingness. Are you willing to give it a shot?
I like to imagine Jesus just waiting for you to start praying about your marriage. Then when you do, he pumps his fist and shouts, “Yes, now we can really get somewhere!”
Share this Post
Bonnie is “just” a stay-at–home mom for two energetic boys and the wife of a sports and music-loving husband. She loves Jesus and is trying to live a life that reflects that. Her desire is to see others come into a deep relationship with Jesus and experience the love and life change that our heavenly Father brings. And so in her “spare” time she helps write material and teach at Southland’s Selah mom’s program. Oh, and if having coffee with friends can be considered a hobby then she is all over that!