I have written or said the following words… pray for your husbandprobably a thousand times.

And yet, I have also been known to write the following words… stop praying for your husband.

Some might say that those two concepts don’t sync up. Some might say I’m talking out of both sides of my mouth. Some might take my words out of context and misquote me. Some might be confused by my seemingly contradictory advice.

So please allow me to clarify.

Pray for your husband when…

Your marriage is wonderful.
Pray for yourself to be outwardly grateful, for your husband to be blessed, for your relationship to be a light to the watching world, and for your home to be a refuge for your children and your friends.

Your marriage is normal.
Pray for yourself to be sacrificial and tangible in your expression of love, for you husband to draw closer to God, for your love to be rekindled and for a purpose that propels the two of you, and for your unity to be strengthened.

Your marriage is struggling.
Pray for yourself to be humble, for your husband to have a softened heart, for wise counsel to surround you, and for your marriage to be protected from the enemy.

Stop praying for your husband when…

You find yourself praying things like, “please take him Home,” “please stop him from drinking,” “please make him hit me,” “please let me catch him with another woman”, “please change him!”

In other words, if all of your prayers “for” your husband are in an effort to make him someone he isn’t, to change him into your desired version of him, or to get him to stop something that you don’t like (even if it’s sin or really hurtful to you), you might not be in the best emotional place.

Please do not misunderstand me.  When I suggest discontinuing praying for your husband, I do not mean as a whole. I simply mean that there are seasons and circumstances that can damage our hearts to such an extent, our prayers might be unintentionally selfishly motivated.

If this is you – if your anger and pain are driving your prayers towards your spouse – may I suggest a couple things:

One, pray that God gently deals with you and your heart and your mind and your thoughts and your words and your actions and your behaviors, that you are completely open to working on yourself.

And two, ask someone else to pray for your husband in place of you for a time.  There have been a handful of seasons in my life when I just didn’t know what to pray anymore, when I just couldn’t bring myself to utter someone’s name in God’s presence because my pain was so all-consuming. In those stretches, I asked a friend or my mentor to pray for me in the gap.

Finally, to be clear, please don’t stop praying altogether, even if God is the One you’re most upset with. Tell him. Work it through with him.  Rant and rave and cry. Get it all out. He can take it, I promise.

Pray for one another that you may be healed and restored. James 5:16b (AMP)

If you resonated with this post, my e-book, Surviving in a Difficult Christian Marriage will help, as well as one-on-one coaching

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