Sooner or later, all of us will walk the path of sorrow and loss. J. I. Packer describes grief as “the inward desolation that follows the losing of something or someone we loved – a child, a relative, an actual or anticipated life partner, a pet, a job, one’s home,...
This past year will forever stand out as a year like no other. Our lives have been turned upside down as our livelihood, schedules, and ways of connecting with others have been completely redefined. Yet, our external circumstances aren’t the only part of our lives that have been affected. For many of us, our relationships with those inside of our homes, primarily with our spouses, have been tested, challenged, and pressed unlike ever before.
Maybe, if you’re anything like my husband and me, quarantine and the threat of illness have not been your only difficulties this year but have further complicated trials that you and your spouse were already enduring. Our own battle with draining finances, special needs, chronic illness, and increasing disability was difficult when life was “normal,” but loss of community, cancelled school, and job loss have only further intensified those trials. Not only has this year made us feel a keen sense of how little control we have, it’s added new temptations in our marriage relationship—tempting us to react in fear, lash out in stress, and turn against each other in the process.
And I’m sure we’re not alone.
If you find yourself in this place as well, let me encourage you to not lose hope. We serve a God who is Redeemer for the broken (Eph. 1:7), Healer for the wounded (Psalm 147:3), Provider for the needy (Luke 12:31), Sustainer for the weary (Psalm 55:4), and Savior for the sinner (2 Cor. 5:21). As believers, we have direct access to him in prayer (Psalm 145:18). Though we have little control over our circumstances, we have access to the One who knows and controls all things—and he beckons us to bring our requests to him (Philippians 4:6-7).
Regardless of the difficulties that you’re facing in life or the pressures mounting up against your marriage, you have your heavenly Father’s ear, and he promises to draw near and provide what you need as you draw near to him in faith (Hebrews 11:6).
Five Prayers for a Marriage Dependent on Christ
If you and your spouse are weighed down by the heaviness of life and battling discouragement:
Lord, thank you that nothing in my life is hopeless because you laid down your life for me, offering forgiveness, freedom, and eternity with you. You see my suffering and know the hidden places of my heart and marriage that need to be renewed, healed, and redeemed. Help me trust that you have purposes beyond what I can see and that nothing is impossible for you. Teach me to lay down what I think is best and submit my desires for my marriage to you. Thank you for your grace and forgiveness when I live in fear instead of faith. Open my eyes to the truth of your word, and chisel what you must to reveal more of your image within me. Amen.
If you and your spouse are turning against each other in response to your difficulties:
Lord Jesus, my heart is prone to wander, especially when times are difficult and painful, and the stresses of life seem to have no end. Search my heart, ground me in your truth, and give me clarity to see who my real enemy is. Help me take my eyes off of my husband/wife and bring my concerns, fears, and needs to you. Forgive me for blaming my spouse, fixating on how I think he/she needs to change, or ignoring the sin in my own life. Show me your truth and grow the fruit of your Spirit in me. By the strength of your Spirit, help me remember that my identity is found in you alone and not in my circumstances or in my spouse. But by your grace, align our hearts together with yours and with each other. Amen.
If you and your spouse are feeling the pain of loss and grief:
Heavenly Father, thank you that you give us permission to grieve over the trials that you have allowed into our lives. Help me to come to you like Job and the Psalmists, being honest about my heartache and trusting that you can handle my pain, questions, and wavering emotions. But help me not to get stuck there. Give me the strength and faith to grieve with hope and offer you a sacrifice of worship, trusting that you will draw near and give me the grace for what you’ve called me to. Protect our marriage as we learn to grieve alongside each other, and help us to grow together as we look to you in our sorrow. Amen.
If you and your spouse are experiencing fear as you face financial strain:
Lord, I desire to honor you in our finances, but if I’m honest, it’s easy to be anxious about what we need and fearful over what we might lose. Help us to enjoy and steward wisely what you have entrusted to us, but not put our hope in worldly wealth. Help us to communicate openly and graciously with each other about the financial challenges we face. Search my heart and show me where I am placing my hope. Show me also what it would look like to hope in you instead. By the power of your Spirit, teach both of our hearts to trust you completely. Amen.
If you and your spouse are feeling that your marriage is irreparable and the future is unclear:
Jesus, although I don’t understand why you have allowed these trials, thank you for promising that you will one day restore what is broken and redeem each loss, tear, grief, and sorrow. Jesus, I desire restoration now and I long for the restoration to come. Help me to trust you as I wait, and allow me to experience the greatest joy and blessing of coming to see and know you like never before. Though you don’t promise a perfect marriage now, please don’t allow these trials to destroy our marriage. Instead, may they change us to be more like you and to love, serve, and cherish each other, as a result. Thank you that one day I will be able to look back and see your faithfulness to carry us through these trials. In the meantime, please help us to walk stronger together, in the strength of Christ. Amen.
Brother and Sister, as much as we desire Christ-honoring marriages now, our hope is not found in perfect earthly relationships but in Christ alone. Therefore, regardless of the condition of our marriages right now, there is always hope for healing and redemption—whether it be in this life or the one to come. While we should strive, in the Lord’s strength, to honor him and love our spouses well, we must ultimately place our hope in the perfect, eternal marriage that is to come: Jesus Christ and his Bride, the Church. Until then, may we persevere in prayer for trust, unity, growth, wisdom, and hope to bear fruit within our hearts and marriages as we fix our eyes on Jesus.