3 Prayers That Will Change Your Marriage
- Jennifer Slattery JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud.com
- 2016 18 Nov
Less than five years into our marriage, and my husband and I were certain our relationship was over. We’d gone from passionately in love to passionate fights to dead cold silence. Eventually, we started tossing the D-word around. Though the thought of getting a divorce turned my stomach, I hadn’t a clue how to undo the mess we’d become.
One night, completely defeated, I sat in a dark, quiet living room and cried out to God: “I can’t do this anymore. You’re going to have to do this for me.” God answered that plea by leading me to say three prayers that drastically changed my marriage.
Lord, change me.
This is a painful, humble, yet powerful prayer that quickly aligns us with our Father’s heart, placing us and our marriage in the best position for transformation. We’re naturally inclined to view everything through a self-centered lens, and to assume that our spouse is the problem. This results in a “me-versus-him” mentally that drives us further from our spouse, distorts our perception, and causes us to be reactive rather than proactive. But when God began to transform my marriage, the first thing He did was zero in my focus on myself. He showed me my job was to change my behavior and to let Him deal with my husband.
According to Robert Conn, Reality Church Family Pastor and Re/Engage Marriage Conference leader, this is important for two reasons: “In short, you can’t change your spouse’s heart. Only God can do that. Further, as long as you focus on their faults, you’ll ignore your own. As long as you are thinking your spouse is the enemy, you’ll have a malnourished view of marriage. The truth is we have a real enemy [Satan] out to destroy our marriage and our spouse is not it.”
Show me my spouse’s heart.
When God began healing and restoring my marriage, He showed me many of my hurts were due to misinterpretations and false assumptions. When he’d come home and head straight for the den and his remote control, my first thought was, “He doesn’t want to spend time with me.” Similarly, if he pulled away during conflict, I’d think, “This issue isn’t important to him,” or, “He doesn’t love me.”
But then, prompted by God’s Spirit, I began to ask that He help me see my spouse through His eyes. Everything became clearer. Where I’d once seen apathy, fatigue came into view. Where I’d assumed lack of love, God enabled me to see hurt. In essence, God allowed me to see what was in my husband’s heart rather than the pain that was in mine—pain that was distorting my perceptions and creating greater barriers between the two of us.
Give me Your love for my spouse.
You may have heard it said: Love is a choice, not an emotion. Our emotions are fickle, and let’s face it; there are days when we feel rather unloving toward our spouse. When that happens, we need God to love them through us, because His love is unconditional, faithful, unending, and pure. According to Steve Hicks, Discipleship and Administrative Pastor of Lifespring Church in Bellevue, Nebraska, this helps us initiate “that first gesture of humility that breaks the ice and moves [us] toward oneness. If there’s a conflict, God’s type of love looks at the situation through your mate’s perspective.” This type of love is quick to forgive and also quick to ask for forgiveness.
Human love looks much different than God’s. We are all selfish, wounded, prideful people, and these inherent weaknesses hinder marital intimacy. Hicks stresses, “The only way to make any relationship work is to imitate God and love as He loves.” (Ephesians 5:1).
“God’s love is sacrificial and other-focused,” Hicks says. “Naturally, man’s love starts with what he likes, needs, or wants. For instance, he may ask his wife if she’d like to go to the football game with him. However, [God’s type of love attempts] to meet the needs of another. So, true love might say, ‘Hey honey, though the game is on, I know you’ve been wanting to go shopping. Do you want to make it a date?’”
Even the best of marriages are filled with tension, conflict, change, and uncertainties. Staying in love is hard—much too hard to try to build and repair our relationship on our own. If we want to stay united with our spouse and develop the kind of intimacy God desires and we need, we must be intentional with our prayers, asking God to change us, help us see clearly see our spouse’s heart, and to love our partner as Christ does. When we do that, we’ll be in a much better position to not only withstand relational tension, but actually grow closer to one another through them.
Jennifer Slattery lives in the midwest with her husband and their teenage daughter. She writes for Christ to the World Ministries, Internet Cafe Devotions, and maintains a devotional blog at JenniferSlatteryLivesOutLoud. Her work has appeared in numerous publications and compilation projects.
Photo courtesy: Thinkstockphotos.com
Publication date: November 18, 2016