When Roger and I were first married, I took a shooting-gallery approach to praying for him. I would go down a list of requests, praying over several areas of his life. I wanted to make sure I was doing everything I could to be the kind of wife God wanted me to be, as well as the kind of wife Roger needed me to be. I worked hard to be faithful in my prayers for Roger. I would pray for every area of his life from parenting to work. I would pray almost every day in every way that I could think of. And then I started to slip.
It felt like I was praying the same things over and over again without seeing any results. My prayer life had become stagnant, boring, and eventually close to nonexistent. Not long after that point, we received a call from my brother in law Randy. Roger’s mom was in the hospital. After some phone calls between California and Florida, Roger decided he would fly to the East Coast in a few days.
I knew that Roger was overwhelmed at work, was feeling guilty for being the only kid who still didn’t live on the same coast as his mom, and was worried about her recovery. On top of that, he had been feeling run-down physically. I was very concerned for my husband.
Instantly it became so much easier to pray because I knew what Roger needed — strength. I prayed that he would stay strong physically — he already wasn’t feeling well. I prayed that he would stay strong emotionally — it is so hard to deal with aging parents, especially when one is sick. I prayed that he would stay strong spiritually — I knew that in his exhaustion it would be easy to skip Bible study and being in the Word. I also knew that it was going to be hard for us to talk and for me to encourage him. I was traveling and speaking, and with a three-hour time difference, there were going to be a lot of challenges for us to stay connected.
As I spoke with Roger every day, sometimes for just a few minutes, I could hear how exhausted and overwhelmed he was. Roger loves his mom and hated to see her so weak. On top of his concern for her, he was also worried about our own kids and me.
I knew I needed to step up my prayers for my husband. I started looking for Scriptures about strength that I could email to Roger, and for the first time I really thought about using those Scriptures as prayers.
When I found Psalm 46:1, “God is our refuge and strength, an ever-present help in trouble,” I prayed, Father, I pray that Roger would seek you as his refuge and strength. I pray that he would have knowledge of your presence and your help. And I kept praying. I prayed as I was on a plane to my speaking engagement in Oregon. I prayed as I was driving and when I went to sleep at night. I prayed as I made my coffee in the morning. I prayed because I knew God’s promises and I wanted them for Roger.
In the past, I had prayed almost wistfully, with a lot of disclaimers: “If it be your will,” and “I only want what you want, God.” And those things are true. But what I realized I was doing was praying meekly so as not to put too many demands on God. Isn’t that how most girls are raised, to not be too demanding?
This time it was different. I was praying Scripture, so I didn’t have to wonder if it was God’s will. I was praying the promises that God had set out in his Word. Praying Scripture over my husband gave me a new freedom in my petitions to God.
I have now incorporated Scripture into almost every part of my prayer life. When I’m faced with an issue, whether it’s as mundane as praying for safety when we travel or as deep as wrestling with temptation, I’ll find a Scripture that speaks to the issue and pray that verse.
I have found this invaluable in praying for Roger. When a need arises, I can find a verse that speaks to that need and pray for him.
It’s hard for me to put into words how praying Scripture has changed me, my husband, and our family. I used to approach prayer as a checklist, something that had to be done in order for me to carry my “Good Girl Christian” card. Now prayer feels about as natural as breathing. Praying Scripture has caused three huge changes in my relationship with God and how I pray to him.
I Pray Boldly
Once I started praying God’s own words back to him, I experienced a new way of interacting with my Creator. I was praying with a boldness I had never experienced before. I was unapologetic about how I was praying because I knew those prayers were from God himself.
I Pray Continually
Just as I still have dates with my husband (hey, that’s one of the great benefits of being married: always having someone to take to the movies on a Friday night), I still need to have dates — time and intention set aside — with God. Because it was only one verse I was praying (Ps. 46:1), it was easy to keep focused on it. I put an index card in my rental car with the verse written out on it. Highlighted the verse in my Bible and put a Post-it on my bathroom mirror. These were constant reminders to go to prayer on Roger’s behalf. This was the first time in my life that I got a glimpse of what the instruction to “pray continually” (1 Thess. 5:17) really looked like.
I Pray Expectantly
Because I was praying with a new boldness and passion, I waited expectantly for God’s response. I stopped giving that silent shrug to heaven, feeling helpless about what was going on in Roger’s life. While I didn’t know how or when God was going to answer that Psalm 46 prayer, I knew it would be answered.
Also, it’s a lot more fun to pray when you are praying God’s Word. I don’t feel like I’m going down a never-ending to-do list to make sure that Roger is covered. Instead I’m waiting to see what miracles God is working in my husband’s life on a daily basis.
Waiting Expectantly When God Is Taking Too Long
I have a problem with waiting. I hate the feeling of getting nothing accomplished while I’m waiting. Two minutes doesn’t seem like a lot of time to really get anything done, but it just feels like a waste of time.
That’s why, when I’m told I need to wait on God, my instincts kick in and I rebel. I don’t want to wait. I want things to change — and now. Waiting seems so passive, and being passive makes me crazy.
Recently, Roger and I had the privilege of worshiping at River Oak Grace Church in Oakdale, California. We listened to Pastor Paul Weissenborn talk about the “waiting verse,”
Yet those who wait for the Lord
Will gain new strength;
They will mount up with wings like eagles,
They will run and not get tired,
They will walk and not become weary. (NASB)
He gave some insight into the verse that I had never heard before. He said the word wait used in this verse is the Hebrew word qavah. The literal meaning of the word is “to bind together like a cord.” Pastor Paul explained that waiting as described in this verse is not a passive activity. Rather,
In this whole praying for our husbands thing, we have to learn to wait well.
Those are the reasons I now love praying God’s Word back to him. It’s a different way to pray for sure, but one that has the potential to change your life and your husband’s.
Adapted from Praying God’s Word for Your Husband by Kathi Lipp
Copyright © 2012 by Kathy Lipp. Used by permission. All rights to this material are reserved. Material is not to be reproduced, scanned, copied, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without written permission from Baker Publishing Group.[schemaapprating]