Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you. —1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
When it comes to praying more extensively for my husband, Greg, I have always had great intentions.
I've intended to schedule longer prayer times in which I could faithfully seek the Lord on Greg's behalf rather than simply pray when he's going through a crisis or a challenge. I respect the 30- (or 31-) days-of-prayer-for-your-husband programs and any of the other prayer challenges that are readily available to wives. However, the chaos of my life and the fast pace at which I live tend to influence the reality that my prayers usually end up covering whoever or whatever is experiencing a crisis that day. That would typically be one of the kids, a broken appliance or most recently, the hail damage on my car. Sometimes it's Greg — just not as often as it's the desires that are on my heart.
At the beginning of a new school year, I've been praying about what the Lord might be asking me to remove from my life (frequent coffee purchases) — and what He might be asking me to add into my life. And I've been hearing Him say, "Pray for your husband."
So, no more excuses in this area of my life. I've decided to embark on the adventure of praying consistently and intentionally for my husband.
And then I began to contemplate, What are the benefits of praying for my husband? Really, why should I pray for him? As I researched and reflected on my own marriage, I discovered several reasons why praying for Greg is a worthwhile venture. This is what I came to realize:
Prayer reflects the intimate relationship I have with my husband. I am the only one on this earth who knows Greg at his core. I can look across the room and tell when he has something on his mind; I can detect when he is stressed; I know his weaknesses and where the Enemy would like to go after him. I can pray about his challenges and for the Lord to protect him, shield him, expand his wisdom and develop his convictions.
Prayer builds intimacy and oneness in my marriage. Because oneness is the "superpower" of marriage, the Enemy loves to cause disunity between a husband and wife. As Greg's wife, I get to stand against the Enemy by pursuing Greg through prayer. It also helps to build my relationship with the Lord at the same time it strengthens my relationship with Greg.
Prayer sends a strong message that Greg is a priority in my life. As a mother of four kids, ranging in age from 9 to 22, my to-do list can run rampant some days. I am currently planning a wedding, sending one to college, one to high school and one to third grade. We have soccer practice, basketball games, doctors' appointments, haircuts — you get my drift. I know you have your list as well. But, when Greg knows that I see him and I am praying for him, it sends a strong message that I value him and he is a priority in my life.
Prayer softens my heart and adjusts my view of my husband. I often find myself praying for Greg by requesting that God change him. But when I go before the Lord in humble prayer, my heart softens and I find my strong, prideful opinion soften as well. I begin to see beyond the negative conclusions about Greg that I often jump to.
Prayer helps my husband. The Holy Spirit works in miraculous ways, so although I can't fully explain how, I know that God is faithful and He helps when I pray for Greg to have wisdom, conviction or insight. Wives were created to be helpmates — what better way to be a helper than to pray for my husband?
Prayer builds Greg up. I sometimes struggle with a tendency to notice what my husband is not doing rather than acknowledging what he is doing. Praying for him is a way that I can personally affirm him. Between the Lord and me, I get to build Greg up with my words instead of tearing him down.
Ladies, our husbands will face challenges, attacks, doubts, fears, stresses and temptations in life. Because we have the privilege of praying for them and all that comes their way, I am committing to praying more extensively for my husband on a daily basis. In light of Proverbs 14:1, I want to build my house rather than tear it down. Really, I cannot imagine a better use of my time!
James, the brother of Jesus, writes: "Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working" (James 5:16). I know the Lord calls us to pray for one another, so maybe He is calling us as wives to extend our prayer time for the most significant person in our lives — our husband. Will you be joining me in this commitment to prayer?Erin Smalley serves as the program manager of marriage ministries at Focus on the Family and is the co-author of several books including The Wholehearted Wife.