I’ve previously written a post about how to pray for a spouse. This post here builds on that previous post. This new post has been informed by the recent thoughts I have had about how to resolve the marital tension between unconditional love and consideration of my own needs. I honestly think that the unconditional love versus self-concern post is the most important post I have written on this blog and I am so grateful for this understanding which I believe is from God. In this post here I also hope to go into deeper practicalities of prayers to actually pray.
In thinking about how to pray for a spouse, I believe the subject naturally divides into two parts.
1. Firstly, how to actually pray
2. Secondly, how to behave/act towards guys who could potentially be marriage partners for me
In a way, I have to think about both of these together, as the way I will pray will affect the way I will behave, and the way I behave towards any particular guy might create repercussions which would give me new or interesting things to pray about!
How to actually pray:
This is the way I intend to pray about these issues.
1. Against demonic attacks – using the word “demonic” to refer to anything that originates from the kingdom of darkness, whether it is the devil himself or his demons who are actually responsible
Because of my commitment to Christ and His cause and because I genuinely do want to get an excellent husband and marriage, I feel that the devil puts obstacles in the way of my marriage. If you are not a Christian then this might sound quite strange. Even for many Christians this probably still sounds strange! However I say a lot of strange things! Recently on my other Bible-centred blog I have been writing some thoughts about raising the dead – a subject which is thoroughly Biblical but thoroughly ignored by perhaps 85 percent of Christians and Christian churches… So anyway, yes, I believe that the devil is a real person, and he deliberately employs various means to frustrate Christians in their faith. So I believe that the devil puts spiritual obstacles in the way of my marriage to weaken my faith in God and to frustrate me to the point where I resort to actions which disobey God, like abandoning my own faith altogether.
So the first element of my prayer would be to pray against these various attacks, to destroy their power.
This is controversial even among Christians as many Christians believe that it is not possible for the devil to successfully attack Christians. However, many times I have seen Christians undergo things which I cannot believe were in line with the desires of God. After reading a book by a man called Dutch Sheets, “Intercessory Prayer”,* I now believe that while yes, God has given us Christians victorious power over the devil, it is our responsibility to enforce that victory via our prayers, otherwise the devil will try to illegally steal what belongs to us.
Remember that the devil is a thief and a liar – he does not play by the rules or the laws of God, but only recognises the brute force applied by prayer where he is physically forced, metaphorically speaking, back into his hole. However, as long as we remain on earth and not in Heaven, the devil will keep coming back to place fresh obstacles in our path. We will only conclusively see the end of him when we get to Heaven. (If however you choose another alternative for eternity over Heaven with Jesus, then you never will see the end of the devil, but will get to enjoy the “benefit” of his presence forever! Happy thoughts?)
So where I have time available to pray for my marriage, I dedicate a certain amount of it to prayer against the obstacles or obstructions spiritually placed by the devil.
Because I believe that different prayer requests require different amounts of spiritual power to resolve them, I prefer to pray a certain amount of prayer daily against these spiritual obstacles. Because the devil keeps coming back, I have to keep praying against fresh obstacles. It is a little like painting the Forth Bridge, or weeding the garden, or washing your clothes – you don’t just do it once, then sit back forever – you have to keep doing it.
2. Prayer for the actual guy
Once I am satisfied that I have prayed adequately against spiritual attacks, then I can proceed to pray for the guy/marriage itself. (If it is an ongoing thing then how can I ever think that I have prayed adequately? Because it is an issue of rates – doing a certain amount per day – once I think that I have done enough for that day, then I can move on to the next prayer).
At present I am dividing this into three main segments, which can themselves be further subdivided:
2.1 Prayer for the characteristics of my husband
Here I can release myself to pray for the specific characteristics that I want in my husband. I might pray the same prayers every time, or I might vary any specific instance of prayer to reflect any thoughts that are currently reigning in my mind/heart. This is where I remember all my elaborate criteria, and present them all before God; a man after God’s heart, a man who prays, a man who saturates himself with the word of God etc etc….etc….etc…..ad-infinitum…etc!
2.2 Prayer for how the relationship might start
Here I have been praying for how it would all start off: that he and I would both know that a relationship between us is good and right, and that he and I would both want it, that there would be no awkwardness; for openness, trust, honesty, everything beautiful; also that he and I would support one another in prayer, for a mutual commitment to unconditional love in a way that remains appropriate to the current stage of our friendship/relationship.
I guess I could also start praying that he would just come straight out and actually just ask me out, so that there would be no awkward “beating around the bush”. I hate awkwardness, and perhaps precisely for this reason, for many years it seemed to follow me around. Thankfully I am a lot more confident these days, and I can mostly just totally ignore it. Still however, I would not go out of my way to encounter it!
Ah, I almost forgot – also for complete purity to reign in our interactions with one another; wanting to serve God and one another God’s way, rather than to cater to our own desires, or even legitimate needs. I think you know what I am talking about!
2.3 Prayer that God would just bring him!
Please God, just bring him, and make it happen. Please God, please?!
So these are the prayers I have been praying.
Now regarding the way I actually interact with potential husband candidates, before any relationship actually starts, oh dear, this has been a little complicated for me to actually think through and to express here. The main point is that I act towards each of these guys in a way that is friendly, but not romantically inviting. This is so that I can leave the question of whom I will marry in God’s hands, rather than take the matter into my own hands. So when something does happen, I can be more confident that it is actually from God, rather than that I have inadvertently encouraged the wrong guy.
On the other hand, I guess there is nothing wrong with being attracted to someone, and letting that gently come across in the way I interact with him – like everyone else does, and has done for the entirety of human existence. But then my question is: “What if I am wrong?” I have been wrong before. I guess then that I have to keep my actions within the bounds of wisdom, holiness, purity and consideration for the guy concerned, so that if I am wrong, my actions with any particular guy will not negatively affect a future relationship that will truly be endorsed by God…
A possible topic for a future blog post – at what point does friendliness turn into flirtation? …That is, is it possible to be so friendly that altogether the mass of friendly actions becomes flirtation, even though each individual action considered by itself might be totally innocent…?
*I don’t know much about Dutch Sheets, and I have not read any other of his books. I believe that this book is considered controversial by many Christians, naturally, but highly recommended by me. I say “naturally” as, in my experience, if anything is in the least bit actually Biblical, then you can almost guarantee that at least 50% of supposedly “Bible – believing” Christians will find it highly controversial – as if they have not realised that the Bible itself is deeply radical, and says lots of apparently outrageous and “controversial” things…
The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.
Rose Petals image from http://www.publicdomainpictures.net