If you grew up in the church, you have probably heard people tell you to pray for your future spouse. You’ve probably grown up with the idea that if you pray long enough and hard enough the perfect mate is just going to drop from the sky and complete your life. And you’ve probably even subconsciously convinced yourself that there is a person out there for you and that you are going to meet him very soon.
These prayers are all important and can be incredibly meaningful. I believe it can be very powerful to pray for your future spouse, declaring his Godly attributes out loud and resting in full assurance that this aspect of your life is completely in God’s control. However, we also must not be so naïve as to think that marriage is the only way to achieve intimacy (of the non-sexual kind). Nor is marriage the be-all-end-all while celibacy remains a second best option. In fact, whether or not you want to admit it, we cannot ignore the fact that in many Western countries there are still more single women in church than single men and not all of these singles are Godly (although they may claim to be religious).
Therefore, this blog is not about to pinpoint exact ways to pray for your future husband, though I would encourage you to keep praying and seeking God’s will about this aspect of your life. Rather, I’d like to give you three areas that all Christian woman are called to pray about whether in a committed relationship (or marriage) or not.
- Contentment: One of the most important keys to living a Godly life is to find contentment in the place you currently find yourself in. It is important to note that contentment doesn’t mean apathy or a sense of waiting around while doing nothing. Contentment also doesn’t mean that the situation you find yourself in is your ideal. But it does mean finding positive aspects and trusting God to reveal a deeper meaning to you than what you currently see on the surface. Contentment means being moldable and trusting that there is a purpose and reason for what you are experiencing and that you can find gratitude in that. This all may sound very lofty… almost “too” Christian; however, your contentment and your joy must come from God (not from being in a relationship, having a family, or having a stable career). We see ample evidences of this type of attitude from Scriptures. The Apostle Paul knew what it was like to go through rocky times, but he still had the boldness to proclaim that in any circumstance he could rejoice (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Philippians+4%3A12&version=ESV). We also read that the joy of the Lord should be our strength (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Nehemiah+8%3A10&version=ESV). It might not always be so easy to trust that God is going to work all things out for good (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Romans+8%3A28&version=ESV) when your heart is longing for a relationship and yet you find yourself painfully single. It might not come naturally for you to rejoice when your friends are all getting married and having babies and yet you haven’t been asked out by a reasonable man in years. However, it is still important to try to practice contentment even when your heart is screaming different directions to your brain.
What do I mean by this on a more practical level? Well, I can allow you to enter into a bit of my own personal journey. I have been in three relationships, each three years apart (18, 21, and 24). None of these relationships were with the right man and none even made it to the one year anniversary. On the one hand, I have seen almost all of my friends with boyfriends, fiances, or husbands. A discontented view would be to blame myself raising the question of what is wrong with me or why I am being overlooked. Or I could start with self-pity or justifying myself (perhaps even to the extent of putting others down: “well, I am prettier than her” or “I am smarter than her” or “I have better job prospects than her”). Additionally, I could choose to make all sorts of sacrifices and compromises (perhaps by dating a non-Christian or settling for any random guy even if we don’t have things in common and are not compatible with each other). This is what a sad view of the dating realm looks like.
On the other hand, I can choose to be content. I am deeply looking forward to the day when God will bless me with a husband and children. Until that happens, I try to enjoy every waking moment of my single life. I think of all the opportunities I have had so far because I didn’t get married at 18 or 21. For example, I have been able to travel the world, even spending a year abroad. I have been able to live in an intentional community and hang out with my friends at whim. Of course, if you find yourself married with children at a young age, I am sure that is also wonderful. I’m sure being married provides you with many great opportunities and is a lovely adventure. But if that’s not the position you currently find yourself in, simply use it as a way to work on your own self, to focus in on your own hobbies, passions and interests, and to make friends (of the non-romantic kind). Use this time to think about who you are and what you like. Don’t wait for a man to complete the picture – if you want to do something, just jump in and do it.
- Security: When the majority of people hear the word “security” they begin thinking about having a stable job, steady income, loving family, or being able to walk freely about at nighttime in a quiet residential area. These are all important areas of security, however, as Christians we can take it even further. Security also means having peace with God’s decisions over your life knowing that you are in the best care and that there is no possible way to be separated from His immense knowledge of you. The Bible tells us that God sees every sparrow and has numbered the hairs on our head (https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew+6%3A25-34). If God knows these small and seemingly insignificant details of our lives, we can be completely assured that He is very concerned with the big aspects as well including future relationships (and possibly marriage). We can have full confidence if we faithfully rest and abide in Him.
What does this look like on a practical level? Someone who is insecure may think that they are being humble, but in reality they (generally speaking) are self-absorbed. I am not saying everyone who struggles with insecurity is this way, but speaking from my own personal experience I know I am. I know that being insecure means that I spend a great deal of my day thinking about myself – how to get more people to like me, how to be more popular, how to attract more attention to myself (including from men at church). This is normal to an extent, but it becomes unhealthy when you find yourself preoccupied or even addicted with trying to improve yourself simply for the sake of others rather than for the sake of Christ.
Conversely, someone who has their security in Christ is self-assured. They don’t need constant reminders or the affirmations of others. Of course, it can still be nice to hear an encouraging word or a compliment from time to time, but they are not obsessed with constant praise. When your security is in Christ and not in yourself, other people can notice it as well. They see that you can completely be yourself – that you aren’t always changing your viewpoints because you are worried about the perceptions of others and that you have confidence to make decisions and even have healthy, honest discussions without constantly thinking of how it will affect the other person’s mindset about you.
P.S. If you struggle with Constant and Chronic Comparison Syndrome you’re not alone. Many women do. I wrote a blog addressing this issue that I hope might help: https://debdebbarak.wordpress.com/2016/04/25/confessions-of-a-chronic-comparer/
- Steadfastness in Ministry: Recently, I met with a prayer partner and shared with her about my desire to begin raising a family soon. She mentioned that as Christian women we need to prepare ourselves for both possibilities. Since then I have decided to ask myself how I can best serve God. Can I have a greater evangelistic impact as a married woman (perhaps serving with my husband in a ministry/missionary capacity, raising up future leaders through homeschooling my children, or just being a Godly witness to the world that the union of marriage should still be treasured and valued)? OR could I serve God best as a single woman (many famous missionaries have been used by God even though they remained single. I have had the privilege to meet a few and I have seen how in a way because of their personalities and their “go-getter” type of mentality, marriage and family life may have actually slowed down their witness or else added complexities on issues like safety).
What does this look like in practical terms? God can use strong family units and He can use singles to spread His Gospel message. Both are equally vital, valid, necessary, and needed. If you are married or about to get married, God may use you and your spouse to further His Kingdom in ways you could never imagine. Your responsibility now lies in being a caring and supportive wife and in being diligent about raising your children in a way that pleases the Lord. You also have the duty of praying for your spouse and children daily and for nurturing their needs. If, on the other hand, you find yourself single, you can ask God not only what He wants to teach you, but how He wants you to serve during this stage of your life. Consider whether God may be calling you to up-root and begin life in a different province, state, or country. Ask God how you can be a positive role model to other single women that it is possible to be content in every circumstance. Praise God for your singleness and the unique gifts and challenges this season of your life will bring to you. NOTE: It’s important to still respect your time as many churches think that singles have much more leisurely time to dedicate to ministry. Sometimes this leads to being overworked. It’s important that even if you don’t have the responsibility of taking care of a husband and children that you still take care of yourself, making time for your friends, and engaging in other interests outside of your ministry.
Being single can bring much joy and blessing with it, but it can also bring burden and fear. Rather than giving into temptations or allowing your emotions to cripple you, try to find contentment and security solely in Christ. Rather than looking at your unique situation as a burden, trust that God is using it not only to prepare the way for a future ministry but to enable you to minister right now. I guarantee that when you place your trust in Him and when you allow your mindset and attitude to be adjusted according to His will that you will experience a deep sense of peace that no longing for a relationship has ever fulfilled before. May God guide and direct you as you seek to journey closer to Him.