Stormie Omartian is the author of the popular book “The Power of a Praying Wife.” In it she teaches us the right way to pray for our husbands. Today is the 7th day of our 30 Days of Prayers; we have been praying for a week. Just like we, she also had her struggles and she got to a point where God had to convict her about the way she was praying. The account below is her testimony. If you would like to find out how she prayed for emotional healing and how she prayed for herself and her children, go to her website here.
My husband and I had problems in our marriage and at its worst point, I prayed for a miracle. God impressed upon my heart that I was to stop praying my favorite prayer – which was “Change him, Lord!” Instead, I was to pray God’sfavorite prayer which is “Change me, Lord.” I was to pray for Michael from a right heart. That meant each time I prayed for him I had to confess my own hardness of heart. I saw how deeply hurt and unforgiving of him I was. I don’t want to pray for him. I only want God to convict him of how cruel he has been, I thought. I had to say over and over, “God, I confess my unforgiveness toward my husband. Deliver me from all of it.”
Little by little, I began to see changes occur in both of us. When Michael became angry, instead of reacting negatively, I prayed for him. I asked God to give me insight into what was causing his rage. He did. I asked Him what I could do to make things better. He showed me. My husband’s anger became less frequent and more quickly soothed. Every day, prayer built something positive. We’re still not perfected, but we’ve come a long way. It hasn’t been easy, yet I’m convinced that God’s way is worth the effort it takes to walk in it. It’s the only way to save a marriage.
A wife’s prayers for her husband have a far greater effect on him than anyone else’s, even his mother’s. (Sorry, Mom.) A mother’s prayers for her child are certainly fervent. But when a man marries, he leaves his father and mother and becomes one with his wife (Matthew 19:5). They are a team, one unit, unified in spirit. The strength of a man and wife joined together in God’s sight is far greater than the sum of the strengths of each of the two individuals. That’s because the Holy Spirit unites them and gives added power to their prayers.
That’s also why there is so much at stake if we don’t pray. Can you imagine praying for the right side of your body and not the left? If the right side is not sustained and protected and it falls, it’s going to bring down the left side with it. The same is true of you and your husband. If you pray for yourself and not him, you will never find the blessings and fulfillment you want. What happens to him happens to you and you can’t get around it.
This oneness gives us a power that the enemy doesn’t like. That’s why he devises ways to weaken it. He gives us whatever we will fall for, whether it be low self-esteem, pride, the need to be right, miscommunication, or the bowing to our own selfish desires. He will tell you lies like, “Nothing will ever change.” “Your failures are irreparable.” “There’s no hope for reconciliation.” “You’d be happier with someone else.” He’ll tell you whatever you will believe, because he knows if he can get you to believe it, there is no future for your marriage. If you believe enough lies, your heart will eventually be hardened against God’s truth.
In every broken marriage, there is at least one person whose heart is hard against God. When a heart becomes hard, there is no vision from God’s perspective. When we’re miserable in a marriage, we feel that anything will be an improvement over what we’re experiencing. But we don’t see the whole picture. We only see the way it is, not the way God wants it to become. When we pray, however, our hearts become soft toward God and we get a vision. We see there is hope. We have faith that He will restore all that has been devoured, destroyed, and eaten away from the marriage. “I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten” (Joel 2:25). We can trust Him to take away the pain, hopelessness, hardness, and unforgiveness. We are able to envision His ability to resurrect love and life from the deadest of places.
Imagine Mary Magdalene’s joy when she went to Jesus’ tomb the third day after He had been crucified and found that He was not dead after all, but had been raised up by the power of God. The joy of seeing something hopelessly dead brought to life is the greatest joy we can know. The power that resurrected Jesus is the very same power that will resurrect the dead places of your marriage and put life back into it. “God both raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by His power” (1 Corinthians 6:14). It’s the only power that can. But it doesn’t happen without a heart for God that is willing to gut it out in prayer, grow through tough times, and wait for love to be resurrected. We have to go through the pain to get to the joy.
We each have to decide if you want your marriage to work, and if we want it badly enough to do whatever is necessary, within healthy parameters, to see it happen. We have to believe the part of your relationship that has been eaten away by pain, indifference, and selfishness can be restored. We have to trust that what has swarmed over us, such as abuse, death of a child, infidelity, poverty, loss, catastrophic illness, or accident, can be relieved of its death grip. We have to determine that everything consuming us and our spouse, such as workaholism, alcoholism, drug abuse, or depression, can be destroyed, We have to know that whatever has crept into our relationship so silently and stealthily as to not even be perceived as a threat until it is clearly present — such as making idols of our career, our dreams, our kids, or our selfish desires — can be removed. We have to trust that God is big enough to accomplish all this and more.
If you wake up one morning with a stranger in your bed and it’s your husband (or wife), if you experience a silent withdrawal from one another’s lives that severs all emotional connection, if you sense a relentless draining away of love and hope, if your relationship is in so bottomless a pit of hurt and anger that every day sends you deeper into despair, if every word spoken drives a wedge further between you until it becomes an impenetrable barrier keeping you miles apart, be assured that none of the above is God’s will for your marriage. God’s will is to break down all these barriers and lift you out of that pit. He can heal the wounds and put love back in your heart. Nothing and no one else can. But you have to rise up and say, “Lord, I pray for an end to this conflict and a breaking of the hold strife has on us. Take away the hurt and the armor we’ve put up to protect ourselves. Lift us out of the pit of unforgiveness. Speak through us so that our words reflect Your love, peace, and reconciliation. Tear down this wall between us and teach us how to walk through it. Enable us to rise up from this paralysis and move into the healing and wholeness You have for us.”
Don’t write off your marriage. Ask God to give you a new husband (or a new wife). He is able to take the one you have and make him (or her) a new creation in Christ. Husbands and wives are not destined to fight, emotionally disconnect, live in marital deadness, be miserable, or divorce. We have God’s power on our side. We don’t have to leave our marriages to chance. We can fight for them in prayer and not give up, because as long as we are praying, there is hope. With God, nothing is ever as dead as it seems. Not even your own feelings.
I learned that the best things for my marriage was for me to have women prayer partners with whom I prayed every week. I now believe this is vital for any marriage. If you can find two or more strong faith-filled people whom you thoroughly trust, and with whom you can share the longings of your heart, set up a weekly prayer time. It will change your life. This doesn’t mean you have to tell your prayer partners everything about your husband (or wife) or expose the private details of his (or her) life. The purpose is to ask God to make your heart right, show you how to be a good wife (or husband), share the burdens of your soul, and seek God’s blessing on your marriage.