With Friends Like That . . .
It has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him. PHILIPPIANS 1:29, NIV
As Bob Lepine, my cohost on FamilyLife Today, was leaving for work one morning, he put his arm around his wife and prayed, “Lord, I ask that You would stretch Mary Ann today, that You would challenge her spiritually and cause her to grow in the image of Christ.” And when he “amen”-ed his way to a close, Mary Ann looked back at him and said, “Would you mind just praying that I’d have a nice day and that the kids would behave?”
Even though I can certainly sympathize with Mary Ann, I also recognize how important it is to pray for my wife to grow spiritually—even if it requires asking for a little “stretching” to occur. The key is to know her and to be tuned in to her truest, deepest needs. There are clearly times when you should pray that your wife has a good day filled with all the things that give her joy—or for your husband to be blessed with success and a sense of God’s favor on his work. But there are also times when it’s appropriate to pray that the Lord will deepen your wife’s faith or expand her view of God. There are times to pray that the only way your husband will taste the thrill of victory is when he allows Jesus Christ to work in and through him to conquer a particular challenge in his life.
Prayer is so much more than a wish list at a candy store. Communicating and relating to God on behalf of each other means understanding that what your husband or wife wants may be the last thing he or she needs. Be willing to pray bold, farsighted prayers. And be willing to have them prayed over you. The secret of spiritual fitness is often found in the stretching.
Share with one another a couple of things that you could use prayer for—challenges you are facing.
Ask God to continue to grow your spouse’s faith and dependence upon Him.
Each individual among you also is to love his own wife even as himself (Eph. 5:33). The longer you are together, the more things you learn about this man or woman that are not very pleasant, not too pretty.
There is no fear in love; but perfect love casts out fear (1 John 4:18). If you accept only in part, you can love only in part.
Once he has looked at himself and gone away, he has immediately forgotten what kind of person he was (James 1:24). Sometimes we lose our way, forget who we really are. In those times, God often inspires people around us to hold up a mirror and let us see who we've become.