You likely prayed for your marriage. Prayed for your spouse. Prayed for God to heal the problems between you. Maybe you kept a journal where you cataloged every prayer without ceasing, or maybe you started praying when your marriage began to falter. Either way, when a marriage ends after much prayer and you are no longer together, should you continue in prayer for your ex?
If you have one of those amazing relationships with your ex where you’ve come through a divorce with a wonderful friendship and incredible respect for each other, you probably have no issues with praying for them. But many who’ve tried to have the above but are unable to create a healthy relationship despite their best efforts struggle to pray for someone they feel is continuing to hurt them. For them, the mandate to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44) is more real and more difficult than they ever imagined it could be in their life.
So, how do you pray for your ex, and should you?
As Christians, above all else we are called to love others. When it comes to an ex, that can feel impossible if the relationship is strained. But, praying for them is a way to honor God and offer a loving response to them even if they are unaware of our efforts. And in situations like these—where we feel like what we are doing isn’t working and is nearly hopeless—isn’t that where prayer works best?
The truth is that praying for someone who is against you not only blesses them, but leads you towards healing as well. It’s very difficult to be hard-hearted toward someone you are earnestly praying for. In addition, if you have children with your ex, it’s to their advantage to have a parent that’s being prayed over on their behalf.
So how do you pray for an ex that you are still struggling to get along with?
Pray the Example
God knew we would struggle with prayer at times. It’s for that very purpose that Jesus taught us to pray the Lord’s Prayer. In that prayer, before we petition God, we praise Him. Spend time praising God for the good role He has played in your situation and in your exes.
Pray the Bible
The Bible is literally full of prayers. Open to Psalms and pray for your ex by being mindful of them while reading verses from the Bible. Speak the words as if you are praying them for your ex. It’s simple, and will remove some of the frustration of how to approach praying for them.
Pray through Conversation
Prayer doesn’t have to be an eloquent event. Simply spend time talking with God about your ex. Explain your side and ask for guidance and wisdom regarding events that are going on. Pray for insight into this person you may feel that you no longer understand.
Pray through Listening
Prayer isn’t a one way conversation. There’s a time to talk, and a time to listen. After you spend time talking to God, spend time in quiet mode so that you can listen to what He is placing on your heart. Even if you are in a rush for time, taking a posture of listening by clearing your mind and allowing it to remain cleared waiting for His response is wise. Don’t pray then get back to life. Allow time to hear.
Still at a loss for words? Consider praying these things for your ex:
- Pray for their clarity of mind
- Pray for their future
- Pray for their relationship with your children
- Pray for God to heal the broken places
- Pray for their hearts
- Pray for them to grieve the loss well
- Pray that they have other positive relationships in the future
- Pray that they are surrounded by people who care for them
- Pray for their career
- Pray over specific misunderstandings between you
- Pray for patience when dealing with them
- Pray that you show respect to them
- Pray that you glorify God when you speak of them
- Pray that you get to a place of forgiveness with them
Praying for your ex may not always be easy—in fact, it may be one of the most difficult things you do. But doing so opens your heart towards them which allows the Holy Spirit to work in you. That work can lead to healing of past pain and move you towards forgiveness. Consider praying for your ex (even if you never have in the past) because as C.S. Lewis so wisely put it, prayer “doesn’t change God—it changes me.”
Laura Polk is a writer, speaker, and textile designer residing in North Carolina with her three children. Since becoming a single mom, her passion to minister to this group has led her to encourage successful single mom living through The Christian Single Mom on Facebook. She is also continuing to pursue her dream of writing fiction as Laura Frances. Check out her latest book, Wide Plank Porches, follow her journey through her blog or get a glimpse into her quirky thoughts and inspirations for design and writing on Pinterest.
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