This chapter also reveals one of the truths about prayer that God is still teaching me: prayer is about God's transformation of my life, as much as (if not more so than) it is about answering my requests. Stomie specifically draws attention to some of the changes and challenges God worked in her own heart as she began to pray.
Softening of Heart
Prayer doesn't necessarily work the way we want it to. God doesn't just answer our requests in the exact manner we expect. "My heart had to be ... softened before He [God] even started working on my husband." This is many times the way God works. He begins with our own lives before he seems to be working in the lives of those for whom we are praying (though many times He uses the transformation in us to work on those around us).
"One of the greatest gifts you can give your husband is your own wholeness." This is an incredible statement about our ministry to our husband. God wants to bring healing and health to our own lives. This wholeness echoes continuously of God's faithfulness and love, testifying to those around us.
Prayer is about being with God, and being transformed by our time with God. It is about dying to self and that is painful. "But this kind of pain always leads to life." It is a submission of our time - choosing to spend time in prayer instead of all the other things we could be doing. It is a submission of our will - praying for God's will to be done, not demanding prayer be answered on our terms. It is a submission of our perspective - yielding in the knowledge that God has a bigger view, and being willing to see others through His grace not our own criticism. It is a submission of our very lives - taking up our cross and following Him in the glory and mundane of daily living.
God wants to teach us to love the way that He loves. He wants to pour his love in our hearts to the point of over flowing, that his love pours out of us to others. "Prayer is the ultimate love language... Talking to God about your husband is an act of love. Prayer gives rise to love, love begets more prayer, which in turn gives rise to more love."
Pray for God to give you His perspective, His heart for your husband, to see your husband the way that God sees him. "This will free you to see your man's potential for greatness." But also be aware that when you pray in submission to God, he will reveal things in you that resistant to His order of things. He wants to show us his ways and his play, but it means seeing more of the things in our life that need to change.
"Do not be rash with your mouth..." (Eccl 5:2). One of the most important lessons we as wives need to learn is when to speak and when to wait. "Sometimes anything we say will only hinder the flow of what God wants to do...." We need to pray for a guard over our mouths, to learn to wait for God's timing to bring up concerns and issues we may have with our husbands or our families. In our urgency to address things, we sometimes create conflict with poor timing and / or poorly chosen words.
"Ask the Lord to show you how to make you home a safe haven for your family -- a place where creativity flows and communication is ongoing. Ask God to help you keep the house clean, the laundry done, the kitchen in order, the pantry and refrigerator full, and the beds made." We are not walking alone. Even in the daily tasks of life, God wants us to walk in his spirit, by his strength.
But more than the appearance of your house or the perfection of the daily chores, the attitude and atmosphere of a home (created by our attitude) that makes it a welcome place to be. God wants to show us how to minister to our husbands and families through our homes.
"What am I doing to keep myself attractive to my husband?" This is a hard question. Most women feel their physical flaws too keenly and become discouraged with things they cannot change. But Stormie doesn't focus long on the physical, she is more concerned about our hearts. Do I spend time with God? "The more time you spend with the Lord, the more radiant you will become."
Expectations and hope in God alone
Disappointment and hurt often occur when our expectations are not met. Some of our expectations in marriage are justified, and should be met in a loving relationship but too often, we have unreasonable expectations (and some times we don't even know it) and we are hurt when our husbands fail.
No one can meet all our needs and expectations. This comes back to the submission of our lives to God. He loves us, and only He can meet all our needs. "Take you needs to God in prayer and look to HIM for your answers."
"My soul, wait silently for God alone, for my expectation is from him." (Ps 62:5)
"However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband." (Eph 5:33) Disrespect or even just a lack of respect for our husbands, can be one of the most damaging attitudes in a wife. Even when our husbands fall short of our expectations, we are still required to respect them. For some women, this comes easier than others, but God wants to give us his perspective of our husbands, revealing them through His grace, showing us their potential and all the He wants to do in their lives. If you struggle with respect, ask God to change your outlook and teach you to respect your husband the way He has commanded.
God want to reveal Himself in and through our marriage; this is accomplished in unity - with each other, and especially, with God. Prayer is the most powerful tool to bring unity in a marriage, even if you aren't praying together.
Let us pray
At the conclusion of each chapter, Stomie has written out some of the prayers she has prayed for her husband. They are beautifully woven with scripture, and can provide a starting place for praying through issues we have never considered before. I love some portions of this prayer from pages 44-46, and would like to share some of it with you.
- Make me my husband's helpmate, companion, champion, friend and support.
- Teach me how to pray for my husband and make my prayers a true language of love.
- Show me what unconditional love really is and how to communicate it in a way he can clearly perceive.
- Bring unity between us so that we can be in agreement about everything (Amos 3:3)
- Help me to understand his dreams and see things from his perspective. Reveal to me what he wants and needs and show me potential problems before their arise.
Hallee the Homemaker is hosting a study of this book, sharing her own testimony every Saturday. Discussions about the questions from the study guide will take place over at her forum, Hallee's Daily Brew. She posts the questions on her forum, so you don't have to own the guide for yourself.
Next up, Chapter 2: His Work. We will look at how to pray for the work of our husband's hands -- for fulfillment, diligence, balance and God-centered perspective.