4 Ways to Pray When Your Husband Struggles
by Janet Thompson
In the movie War Room, Miss Clara is an older mentor to Elizabeth, a wife struggling in her marriage to a husband who is on a downward moral spiral.
When Miss Clara and Elizabeth get together for their mentoring sessions, Elizabeth just wants to talk about all the things her husband Tony is doing wrong. But Miss Clara asks, “Elizabeth, how often do you pray for your husband?”
Elizabeth takes a deep breath and admits that she prays very little for him. Miss Clara then tells Elizabeth that she can’t change Tony or the circumstances he’s encountering, but she can pray for God to intervene in Tony’s life.
This was a new concept to Elizabeth and may be new to you too. Our first instinct when our husband is struggling is to try to fix the situation or maybe even chastise him for giving into or getting into the situation. Or we might try to ignore the problem hoping it will just go away on its own. Maybe we try displaying extra love and affection, but feel rebuffed when he’s preoccupied with his struggle.
And because we are one flesh with our husband, his struggles becomes our struggles and vice versa.
Some husbands don’t want to talk about the problem or be reminded of it. They want to stay in their cave of television, electronic games, sports, electronic devices, or maybe literally hide away in the garage or workshop, or stay late at work. Their isolation makes us feel rejected and hurt so we often retaliate by nagging, getting angry, or lashing out… and the problem escalates.
Women want to process by talking. Often husbands can’t even put into words what they’re feeling or how we can help them. But God knows. As wives, in our time alone with God, we can take our husband’s struggles to the feet of Jesus and let Him intervene to comfort or confront our man.
I’ve learned that sometimes God is the author of the struggle because He wants to teach our husbands some spiritual truth, and if we intervene to try to change things, our husbands are going to have to go through that struggle again. As hard as it is for us to watch, we may need to let our husband get to the other side of this problem with God’s guidance, not ours.
So how do we know when to intervene and when to back off? We pray. Prayer is always the answer and the best assistance we can give to our husbands. Even if your husband isn’t a Christian, or isn’t walking closely with the Lord, God can make a way where there seems to be no way.
It’s hard trusting God’s plan when we want what we want when we want it, and God doesn’t seem to be coming through. The true test of faith is when we have no idea what God is doing, but we trust Him anyway—faith under fire.
Trust is a vital component of any relationship, but it’s essential in your relationship with the Lord. You cannot profess to love the Lord with all your heart, mind, and soul, and not trust Him. So trust Him now with your marriage and life transitions. God sees the bigger picture. While not everything that happens is good, God can use everything that happens for good. He will—you can count on it.
Persistent prayer helps resist doubt and restores faith that God can, and will, answer you according to His Word. Cries to God are more to convince ourselves, not Him, that He’ll meet our needs—maybe not our wants. Worship, prayer, and reading God’s Word remind us of His unfailing power and love for us.
Pray as a Couple
Early in our marriage, my husband Dave and I learned the importance and blessing of praying together as a couple “in one accord.” When making decisions, we pray until both agree and have peace. The number of Christian couples who admit they don’t pray together, dismays and alarms us. When asked why they don’t pray more with their wives, husbands often say wives can be intimidating or critical. There’s no correct way to pray, so wives lighten up and praise a husband humble enough to pray with you.
Pray for God’s Will by Praying Scripture
Prayers may center on our interests, but God answers with His interests. Pray your desires, but check your motivation. An answer we don’t like is still an answer.
One way of praying that I learned when I was praying for my prodigal daughter was to pray Scripture: Pray God’s Word back to him. It kept me praying God’s will for my daughter instead of filling my prayer time with what I wanted to happen. Here’s an example of how to pray Hebrews 10:21-25.
And since we have a great High Priest who rules over God’s house, let us go right into the presence of God with sincere hearts fully trusting him. For our guilty consciences have been sprinkled with Christ’s blood to make us clean, and our bodies have been washed with pure water. Let us hold tightly without wavering to the hope we affirm, for God can be trusted to keep his promise. Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. (NLT)
So I might pray these verses like this for my husband.
Lord, you know that my husband is struggling with something that he cannot fix. You are the Lord of our home and the head of my husband and I ask you in the name of Jesus to take control over our home and let your will rule in our lives. Thank you God that I can come before you and take whatever is bothering my husband and put it at your feet, fully trusting that your will is done in his life.
Father, help my husband not to harbor under the weight of a guilty conscience, but remind him that because of his salvation, the blood of your Son Jesus Christ will make him clean again if he will only confess his troubles to you. If he has done something requiring repentance, Lord humble him to repent and ask for forgiveness so he can once again feel the spiritual cleansing that comes from your grace and mercy.
Lord help us both to hold tightly without wavering in the hope we affirm, for you God can be trusted to keep your promise to us. Help me to think of ways to motivate and encourage my husband with acts of love and ways to make his life easier. Please don’t let this struggle come between us so that we stop having times of conversation, recreation, and intimacy. Lord, help my husband to feel your love and know that whatever he is struggling with pales with the knowledge that someday we will be with you in Heaven.
Give me courage and patience, and guide my husband in the way he should go. Amen.
Read your Bible daily and ask God to show you Scriptures to pray for your husband.
Keep Your Focus on God, Not Your Husband’s Struggle
When Dave and I were dating, we took a class called Marriage Builders. Each meeting, the pastor who taught the course and later married Dave and me, would write “God” at the top of a white board. Then forming a triangle, he drew a stick figure husband in one corner and a stick figure wife in the other. Next, he drew the lines connecting the triangle with God at the pinnacle. Then he explained that when the wife and husband were looking only at each other or the problem, they were the farthest apart.
His point: every successful marriage has to have God as the head of the home. Each spouse draws closer to God and to each other as he or she works on an individual relationship with God. However, if one of them moves the focus away from God, they move back toward their respective corner, farther apart from God and each other.
Our marriages can survive struggles, but we don’t want simply to survive, we want to thrive! Thriving hinges on our willingness to find creative ways to take our focus off our husband and his struggle and put our focus on God.
Let your trials grow you closer to God and to each other.
A Few More Ways to Pray for Your Husband
Prayer can help your husband maintain joy, tranquility, maybe even peace, in the midst of the trial and maybe reap a benefit rather than a penalty.
Carry the problem to God, but don’t carry the burden on your shoulders. It’s hard not to, but God doesn’t want you doing His work.
It’s painful to watch our loved one go through hard times, but don’t think that your prayers aren’t helping. You may not see a breakthrough for a long time, but don’t lose hope. God wants more for your husband than you do, and in the end, if you continue taking everything to God in prayer, God will get the glory for the way He resolves it. Remember, that it might not be the way either of you expects, but God always honors the prayers of His people.
“You need to plead with God to do what only He can do and then you need to get out of the way and let him do it.” Miss Clara, War Room.