Since coming clean, many people have reached out to my husband and I lately to check on us.
We’re doing much better lately, and I know it’s because of all the support and prayers coming our way. God responds when his people bind together and pray over each other.
I considered this week that sometimes when people struggle with various issues, their friends and family don’t always know how to pray for them. God deals in specifics, so I did a little brainstorming on what I think would be essential to pray over a couple struggling to stay married.
When we petition God to stop a relationship from unraveling, we can pray the couple would find:
- Unity and peace. Pray against strife and discord in the marriage. The Scripture says it’s good when God’s people dwell together in unity, for He will bestow a blessing (Psalm 133). We are to strive for full restoration, encourage one another, be of one mind, and live in peace (2 Cor 13:11). Pray there would be no division between them, but they would be united in mind and thought (1 Cor 1:10). May they refuse to stir up dissension by talking negatively about each other (Prov 6:16-19).
- Mutual respect and gratitude. Over time, irritations and hurts grow into disrespect. We’re called to believe the best about each other, but at times the bad is so prevalent that we can’t see the good. We need to focus on the positive qualities in our spouse rather than their flaws. God values us all equally; we must be kind and compassionate no matter how we are treated. May these couples keep from grumbling or complaining about each other (Jame 5:9) The Bible says it’s better to give than receive (Acts 20:35), and we are to be thankful in all things (1Thes 5:18). Pray that their hearts would turn back to each other, that they would put their spouse first (Matt 22:37-39).
- Strength and courage. Sometimes staying married means facing some really tough situations that feel impossible to overcome. Pray the couple will be strong and courageous like Joshua rather than terrified or discouraged by all the trials coming against them. (Josh 1:9) Like Paul, may they say that they have been under great pressure, far beyond their ability to endure and have despaired, but this happened so they might rely on God rather than themselves (2 Cor 1:10) May they stand firm in the faith with great courage and strength, doing everything in love (1Cor 16:13-14).
- Forgiveness and trust. When needs go unmet and our spouse lets us down, we have a hard time putting our faith in them. The Bible says we all fall in many ways (Jam 3:2) and love covers a multitude of sins (1 Pet 4:8). We have to set aside all offense, forgive each other (Mark 11:25) and be willing to risk being hurt if we want to stay married. If we love God and His word, we will have great peace and nothing will offend us (Psalm 119:165). May the couple be completely humble and gentle, patient and bearing with each other in love. (1 Pet)
- An undivided heart & proper boundaries. Hurting people will naturally look for value and comfort. Yet the dangers are very real – talking to the wrong person about our troubled marriage or developing a relationship that fills the void of what’s missing at home typically leads to infidelity. We must be smart and choose godly people to help us sort things out. Pray the couple would guard their hearts against evil influences (Prov 4:23) and choose to be satisfied by drinking from their own cistern at home (Prov 5:15). When needs go unmet, God will sustain them until restoration comes.
- Determination and hope. It’s so easy to be discouraged when marriage is hard, and sometimes giving up feels like the best solution. But there is hope – we serve a God who gives life to what is dead (Rom 4:7). God knows the way that we take; when He has tested us, we will come out as gold (Job 23:10). He is always faithful, He never leaves us, and He promises to take care of us. With God, all things are possible (Phil 4:13).
- God’s perspective of marriage. Most couples wed with hopes and dreams that don’t align with God’s design for marriage. Our sinful nature pushes us toward pride and selfishness when we’re supposed to behave like Christ. Marriage is more about holiness than happiness. We are called to be holy (1 Pet 1:16) and deny ourselves (Luke 9:23). Pray that the couple would intentionally seek God and be open to learning what God wants to teach them through this experience.
I better stop there! Now that I’m really thinking it through, I can see so many other areas to pray: proper communication skills, godly sorrow that leads to full repentance, accepting each others’ personalities and differences, uplifting and affirming each other, etc.
Love is a decision, not a feeling. If you’re stumped over how to pray for someone’s marriage, you can always fall back on 1 Corinthians 13. Pray those verses over the couple so they can truly love each other.