I used to pray earlier in our marriage – A LOT.
Sometimes I would pray for 4 hours at a time multiple times a week. Seriously.
I thought that I could clearly see my husband’s faults and I would pray and pray that God would change him. I would beg God to let us pray together as a couple. I would pray for God to cause my husband to lead spiritually (the way I thought he should, of course!). That is CLEARLY God’s will, right?
And then when it wouldn’t happen by that night, I would be angry. Literally. No answer in 8 hours? That was unacceptable! I had prayed for God’s will – or, maybe more accurately, I demanded that God do what I wanted RIGHT NOW. I was dumbfounded.
Why on earth wasn’t I seeing answers to my prayers?
1. I CHERISHED SIN IN MY HEART – A LOT OF SIN
If I had cherished sin in my heart,
the Lord would not have listened. Psalm 66:18
- I got hung up on being resentful.
- I was awful at forgiveness.
- I had let a root of bitterness grow into a full-fledged evil tree in my life.
- I was rebellious against God’s Word – to forgive, to not be bitter, to submit to my husband, to respect my husband (even though I didn’t realize I was disrespectful and controlling)…
- I was committing idolatry (wanting MY way, wanting to be in control, wanting to feel loved, expecting my husband to be Christ to me – I put these things above Jesus in my life).
- I was overflowing with pride.
- I was VERY, VERY worried and anxious every waking moment – I did not trust my husband and I did not trust God. I only trusted myself.
- I was self-righteous – I thought I was so much more spiritually mature than my husband.
I didn’t just have a 2X4 in my eye, I had a FOREST. 🙁
I needed Jesus and His blood and forgiveness infinitely more than I had ever previously imagined! Turns out that I am a wretched sinner in total desperation for Christ! I really didn’t “get it” before!
2. I WOULDN’T FORGIVE, I CHERISHED RESENTMENT MORE THAN INTIMACY WITH CHRIST
Unforgiveness is a really big deal to God. He counts it as a major sin.
If you forgive men when they sin against you,
your heavenly Father will also forgive you.
But if you do not forgive men their sins,
your father will not forgive your sins. Matthew 6:14-15
I didn’t understand that I had to choose – Jesus or bitterness. I couldn’t have both.
3. I DID NOT HAVE PROPER RESPECT FOR GOD AND THE GOD-GIVEN AUTHORITY OF MY HUSBAND
I really believed in my heart that I knew better than my husband. And I lived as if I knew better than God, too, because I did not respect my husband’s God given spiritual authority over me and when I prayed to God about my husband.
I was disrespectful about my husband to God. I was trying to control God, too! I treated God with the same disrespect and attempts to control that I used on my husband. I was demanding and prideful to God, Himself. I thought if I prayed hard enough and long enough, God would do what I wanted Him to do – He owed me. Wrong!
As soon as God showed me my sin of disrespect and pride, I quit focusing on trying to change my husband and trying to control everyone around me and God and began focusing on all that God wanted to change in ME! It turns out, there was more than enough sin in my own life to keep me VERY busy for a long, long time – despite my long-held (quite erroneous) beliefs that I was nearly perfect, always right, and knew better than everyone else what needed to be done in any given situation.
4. I WAS EXTREMELY PRIDEFUL
God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble. James 4:6
God opposed me before. My arrogance and pride was sky high. I don’t know if pride is measurable, but, if it was, surely I was getting close to the limit of what is humanly possible.
I prayed with a spirit of judgment and criticism and condemnation against my husband. I was just like the Pharisees. I looked down on my husband instead of praying with humility and seeing the depths of my own sin clearly and seeing how much Jesus has forgiven me.
Now – I know God hears me.
And even more importantly – He allows me to hear HIM!
Many of the things I was praying for years ago were God’s will. I still pray a lot of the same things now that I used to. But now – I see prayers answered every day! Not all of them have been answered yet – and that is ok.
Now, I trust God’s timing and His sovereignty to do what is best for me, my husband and His glory, by His power and in His timing. Now – I see miracles happening and mountains being moved. Now I see the power of God unleashed and working in me and my husband! And it is AWESOME!
The difference is that now – GOD has changed me by His power working in me to be:
- PATIENT – If I have to wait until I am 80 years old and things don’t change until then, I am ok with that. I wait on God’s timing and trust His wisdom and timing are much better than my own. I used to be one of the most impatient people EVER. But I have learned that when you wait on God – there will be a lot of waiting. The waiting on His timing is important, and He has plenty for me to do and learn in the meantime. So, I wait – and I praise Him and serve Him while I wait.
- HUMBLE – I totally get that I do NOT know better than God and that I very likely do NOT know better than my husband. My own wisdom is foolishness, and God’s wisdom is wise. I do NOT know best!!!!!!!! I am open to the idea that God will use my husband to lead me even when I don’t agree and can’t understand. I don’t insist on my own way. I don’t make demands. I make respectful requests, and I understand the proper chain of authority: God>Christ>my husband>me. I don’t try to go around my husband’s authority to get what I want from God if my husband won’t give me what I desire like I used to. I know that my husband can’t keep me from God’s will if I am obeying and trusting God. And I also know that if I am rebelling against God’s commands for me as a wife, I can’t be in God’s will!
- RESPECTFUL – I understand that God put my husband in spiritual authority over me. I trust God to use my husband to lead me and guide me. I respect the position of “husband” as the leadership position in our marriage (ordained by God in Ephesians 5:22-33, I Corinthians 11:3 and Titus 2:5) and yield to his leadership willingly and cheerfully. I know that I cannot be disrespectful of God’s agent of spiritual authority over my life and receive God’s blessings on my marriage. I trust that God can and will use my husband to accomplish His will – whether my husband is close to God or not. I thank God for my husband’s authority over me to protect me and care for me and I thank my husband frequently for his leadership and authority over me. I began thanking him for being the leader and authority in our marriage WAY before he began to lead. I stepped down and waited as long as it took for him to be able to take the helm. I didn’t rush him. I didn’t take over when he didn’t move. I waited. A LOT. And I waited patiently and cheerfully with great faith in God and in my husband. One thing I did early on in this process was I read I Corinthians 11, and began covering my head out of respect for my husband’s authority over me when I pray. It’s not popular today to do this, I totally get that. But it reminds me to have the proper respectful attitude towards my husband’s authority over me and towards God – and I need that! I need all the help I can get with having a respectful attitude towards my husband and towards God. I believe God honors our obedience particularly when our motives are right. At church, I bring a scarf with me and slip it over my head during prayer.
Now – I cover my head when I pray out of a desire to obey I Corinthians 11:3-16 and to be sure I am properly respecting my husband’s authority over me as I approach God.
- STILL – I don’t try to make things happen the way I think they should anymore. I don’t insist on my way. If my husband makes a decision I disagree with, I tell him my position respectfully. I tell him my feelings. I pray about it. And I accept it and wait with great anticipation to see what God will do. I am not panicking and freaking out and trying to force things to happen the way I think they should. God has given me a calm, peaceful, still spirit. It is AMAZING!!!!! I LOVE the power of His Spirit working in me and would do ANYTHING to have Him filling me up!!!
- GRATEFUL – I thank God for everything I can think of! I thank my husband for everything I can think of, too! Every day. All day long.
- JOYFUL – I love God with my whole heart! Obeying His Word has given me the most joy I have ever experienced in my life! I didn’t have joy when I was being disobedient to God’s commands for wives. I look to Him for my strength, purpose, contentment and joy now – not my husband or my marriage.
- PEACEFUL – I truly live in God’s peace daily now. This is all His power and His Spirit at work, it’s not something I can do on my own. I trust God. I trust my husband. I trust God to work through my husband even when my husband makes mistakes. The pressure is off. I rest in the love of God and the love of my husband. I know that I am not in charge, and it is a HUGE weight off of my shoulders! I am not stressed anymore! I am not worried anymore! I am not lonely or despairing anymore. THANK YOU, LORD! I praise You for what You have done in my life! SO many miracles! I can never repay You, Jesus!
- OBEDIENT – I desire to obey God in EVERYTHING. I have a willing spirit to obey Him and please Him. And I am cooperative with my husband’s leadership. I don’t rebel against his ideas or direction. I do know that if my husband asked me to do something that went against God’s Word, I would have to respectfully stand up to him and refuse to follow him. But so far, that hasn’t been an issue.
- FULL OF PRAISE – I praise my husband. I praise God. I sing in my heart happily all day every day. Just like God inhabits the praises of His people, I believe that husbands inhabit the praises of their wives.
- SURRENDERED TO THE LORDSHIP OF CHRIST – I constantly check my heart and soul for any idols, and ask God to convict me – because I know that I can be so blind to sin. I ask God to show me anything I am putting above my love and devotion for Christ. I am ready to tear anything out that is in that holy place that belongs to Him alone. It has to go – without mercy – even good things cannot be in that place. I MUST seek Jesus first WAY above everything else. I lay down my own desires, my will, my wisdom, my purposes, my plans and my dreams and seek God’s will, His wisdom, His desires, His glory and His purposes.
WHAT INCREDIBLE CHANGES GOD HAS MADE IN ME! I AM IN TOTAL AWE!
When God changes our hearts and we take off the old sinful self and put on the new woman we are in Christ – and are full of His Spirit and power – WOW! THEN, we want to pray for God’s will, not our own.
And God purifies our motives. It’s SO easy to have double motives or impure motives.
Motives matter to God!
I must do the right thing for the right reasons to honor my Lord. When my heart and motives are pure in His sight, and His Spirit is filling my life to overflowing, He hears and I can rest assured that He will answer my prayers for His glory and to accomplish His purposes in His timing. There is no better place to be in all the world!
I pray that other women might find this freedom to live in Your peace and joy, too! I pray that You might break the shackles of resentment, un-forgiveness, pride, idolatry, rebellion and anything that offends Your holiness. I pray that we as wives might repent and seek You with our whole hearts!
I pray that we might learn to respect the leadership and authority of Jesus first and then also that we might learn to respect the God-given authority you have placed in our lives (parents – if we are still at home, teachers, bosses, pastors, the government, the police, church leaders). Let us taste and see how good You are! I pray that each precious woman who reads this might live in a spirit of humility, repentance, reverence and patience in Your presence and that they might see Your power at work in their marriages, too, for Your great glory! I pray for Your will to be done – not our own. We trust You with the outcomes – but we lay ourselves at Your feet and long only to know You and to obey You.
In Jesus’ Name,