There are a couple of things that I recently read on praying for change in a spouse, that ministered to my heart. I believe they could give hope to anyone who is standing in the gap, praying for their spouse.
The first comes from something that Nancy Leigh DeMoss wrote in her devotional book, The Quiet Place: Daily Devotional Readings. It’s based on the scripture in Luke 18:1. We’re told, “And he told them a parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart.”
Praying for a Change
Within this devotional reading she wrote:
“A woman I had not seen for many years came up to me at a wedding and said, ‘You saved my marriage!’ She reminded me that she had once shared with me a concern in relation to her. ‘It’s not your responsibility to change your husband; that’s God’s responsibility. Tell your husband what’s on your heart, then back off and let God do the rest.’
“For sixteen long years she prayed and waited, seeing little evidence that God was hearing or answering her. Though her husband professed to be a Christian, there was no fruit indicating that he had a genuine relationship with the Lord.
“Then ‘unexplainably,’ she said —after all those years —the Spirit turned on the light and brought about a dramatic change in her husband. It was as though he had come out of a coma. All of a sudden, he couldn’t get enough of the Word. He started keeping a notepad with him to record what he was getting out of his Bible reading. He even talked of selling his business to devote more time to ministry.
“‘In the past,’ the woman said, ‘I could hardly get him out of bed for breakfast. Now he’s going to a men’s prayer meeting at 6:30 every morning!’ There is no human explanation for what happened to change this husband, except for a faithful God and persevering wife who decided to pray rather than prod and provoke.”
Sometimes It Seems to Take “Too Long”
Spouses who read this could gulp when they see that this spouse waited “sixteen long years.” And I can well understand why. We expect change to come quicker than that. Many years ago a woman stood up in our church and was telling of her prodigal son. He had not made a move towards God in over 20 years. I remember being horrified when I heard her plea for her son. At that time we had a son who had recently strayed in his relationship with Christ. I thought to myself, “if I had to wait over 20 years, I don’t think I could take it.” I cried for this woman (and prayed).
Little did I know that we would eventually have two sons, who would stray. It would be 24 years and 20 years and counting, that they would live out of fellowship with Christ. It has been so very daily, and so very difficult emotionally —more difficult than I could ever say.
But when I read of a testimony, such as is given above, I feel a glimmer of more hope. Plus, I’m so glad that someone else’s pain has been lessened. I’m praying it will happen soon for those of you who are praying for change in your spouse and/or a prodigal.
While in the Waiting Room…
On that same note, however, what do you do while you are waiting? You keep your eyes on the Lord and do the best you can trying not to focus on what isn’t happening right now, but rather what the Lord shows you to do, while you’re in this waiting room time of your life.
I found another article, posted on the Internet, written by Jill Savage. She wrote a blog in 2012 that her husband was making “a U-turn” in walking back towards their marriage. But even so, during this time, she confessed to something she has learned to do while she is in a waiting room time in her marriage.
Loneliness While Praying for a Change
In the article, Sleeping Single in a King-sized Bed, Jill explains on her web site:
“I’m still sleeping single in a king-sized bed and honestly evenings and nights are the hardest for me. This is when loneliness kicks in. It’s when feelings of rejection threaten to overtake me and tears of pain seem to come without warning.
“However, this is also when I draw closest to God. I talk to Him as a friend and He talks to me through His word. I try to read my Bible each night when I crawl in bed (Psalm 61, 62, 63, 139 and Galatians 5 are favorites). His word changes my perspective. It replaces lies with truth. That truth brings me hope in the midst of what sometimes feels hopeless. It squashes fear that feels so tangible. It brings me peace… a peace that passes all understanding… truly a peace that makes no sense.
“And as I crawl under the sheets, the last thing I usually whisper before I sleep is, ‘Hold me Jesus. I need to feel your arms around me.’ And He does. And I do.”
Continuing on Praying for a Change
Here’s something else I encourage you to read concerning a wife who prayed for a spiritual change in her marriage. And the best part is that God did answer prayer and her husband responded positively to the tugging of the Holy Spirit.
It shows that sometimes we need to talk to our spouse, but other times it’s best to talk privately to God alone when your words to your spouse will fall short.
This is actually written by her husband, Jerrad Lopes, who at one time was a pastor who strayed from his faith. His wife committed it to prayer. Here is a portion of what Jerrad wrote (that was previously posted on the Internet in an article titled, “Ladies Your Men Need You to Do This”):
This past summer was one of the hardest summers of our marriage. I had stepped down from a pastor role at a church, and ultimately left a career that I had spent 15 years of my life pursuing. Instead of clinging to my wife, I distanced myself and wrestled alone in my pain. Leila and I fought more in 5 months than we had in 6 years. We were disconnected, and at the heart, didn’t believe the best of each other. It was during one of our intense arguments that Leila said something to me that put a dagger through my heart.
Privately Seeking Change Through Prayer
She didn’t belittle me or fling hurtful words out of her emotion. Instead, with a soft voice and tears in her eyes, she said:
“Jerrad, I’ve set my alarm to go off every morning at 2am. I wake up, quietly go into the living room and beg God to draw you back to Himself.”
If I’m honest, I would have rather she cussed me out; I could have handled that much better. But the truth is, I had no idea. I had no idea of the sacrifice that my wife was making to protect our marriage and family. While I was selfishly pursuing my own desires and pulling away from my family to deal with pain, she was in the living room pleading to God on my behalf. I was humbled. Again.
Wives, if there is one thing that you cannot afford to skip out on, it is praying for your marriage, your husband, and your kids. Let me get a little more practical here.
At the core of Leila’s heart was to see a change in me. She saw that I was hurting, and instead of processing my emotions like a mature man, I was acting like a child. In her frustration, she could have constantly pointed out my short-comings and “nagged” at me until she saw my behavior change. But she wasn’t seeking changed behavior, she was seeking a changed heart.
We can all change our behavior temporarily. We can fool others, and even ourselves that we are doing better, simply by changing our behavior. But Jesus never set out to change behavior, he set out to change hearts.
God Can Change Hearts
This is what is so profound about what Leila did. By waking up every night and begging God to change my heart, she was humbly admitting that she was completely out of control. She recognized that she does not possess the power to change hearts, so she went before the One who can.
Ladies, if you have a husband that is hurting, and as a result, hurting others, fight for much more than changed behavior. Pray for a changed heart. To not pray is to silently declare that you have more power over a situation than Jesus does. I don’t care how strong you are as a woman; you cannot change hearts. Humble yourself and go to the one who can. You can’t afford not to.
Abiding While Waiting for Change
Sometimes, we pray and wait. Sometimes we pray and see God work sooner or later (even though it’s not in the timing we would originally want). The devotional page written by Nancy DeMoss shows testimony to that. Thank God that we DO see God at work.
But sometimes we pray, wait, and abide, trying not to “grow weary in doing good” (Galatians 6:9), looking to God for the help we can (as Jill Savage testifies). The other alternative is roll up in a little ball and be consumed by the hurt you feel. Clearly, that isn’t healthy for anyone… understandable, given the situation, but not healthy in any way.
I hope as you pray for a change in your spouse, your marriage, and other prodigals who are in your life, you will be able to “trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding; in all your ways submit to him, and he will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
Hoping With You
I hope that this blog (and web site) brings hope in some way, as God leads. With my whole heart I encourage you to lean upon the Lord because:
“He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak. Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall; but those who hope in the LORD will renew their strength. They will soar on wings like eagles; they will run and not grow weary, they will walk and not be faint” (Isaiah 40:29-31).
May you feel His strength… and may your hope never die. I pray God continually infuses hope into your heart that you will experience better days —ones that will bring a smile to your heart.
Cindy Wright of Marriage Missions International wrote this blog.
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Filed under: Spiritual Matters