Over several years of ministering to single women, I’ve heard one question asked repeatedly: “Should I pray for a husband?”
On the surface, it can seem an odd question, but I am sympathetic to the reasons why it is asked. Lurking behind that one question are many others: “What if God doesn’t answer this prayer?” “Is this something I should even be focused on?” “Is it selfish of me to want a husband?” “Is God still good if I pray and I remain single?” and so forth.
My short answer is: Yes, you should pray! And don’t just pray for yourself. Pray for your other single friends (men and women). Pray for the marriages among your friends and family.
Then open your eyes to the many, many prayers He is answering. Every day, God is bringing people together. So instead of sighing with self-pity when you get that next wedding invitation, rejoice for the evidence of answered prayer!
To be honest, I have not always rejoiced at the weddings of others. At least not initially. But the more I’ve encountered the faithfulness of God, the easier it has become. Taking note of answered prayers is the best antidote I know for overcoming the forlorn assumption that your own prayers go unanswered. Soon you will see an abundance of prayers are answered every day, which balances out the long wait for other prayer requests.
In fact, these days I typically find it very easy to “rejoice with those who rejoice.” Over the years I’ve been in many formal and informal prayer groups where women have petitioned the Lord for husbands, asked God to bring more single men to their churches, and interceded for the single men who are already there. The majority of each group is now married. I can list dozens and dozens of men and women alike who now have spouses—men and women of various ages, ethnicities, sizes, shapes, abilities, and temperaments. And I take great delight in saying that because God is no respecter of our arbitrary standards of who is “marryable” and who is not.
So, praise the Lord! Seriously! I’m not being flip. It’s actually quite difficult to take two self-centered people and move them toward making a lifetime commitment to each other. Marriage is an act of grace in action.
Inevitably, though, when I talk about praying for husbands, someone comes in a theological tangle, wondering if God is good to me and to anyone else who is still praying and still single. Should we even pray for husbands? Is that acceptable? What if we pray and we remain single—what then??
My first answer is that of course God is still good if we pray and remain single. Marriage is a gift for this life alone. If we have received forgiveness for our sins and life eternal, we have already received the biggest and best gift and one that is for all eternity. We didn’t miss out on God’s very best.
Secondly, if we are still alive, the story of God’s grace in our lives is still being written. We don’t know the future. Only He knows the beginning from the end (Is. 46:10 and Rev. 21:6) and so it is arrogant to assume we can survey our circumstances and conclude we know what God is doing. (See: Naomi. A woman who was so very sure God’s hand was against her that she wanted to be called “Bitter.” But as she stood complaining, she had no idea that God was already at work to provide food, a kinsman-redeemer, an heir, and even far more unexpectedly, a place in the lineage of her Savior!)
Thirdly, we have no other option, according to Scripture. Philippians 4:4-7 makes this very clear: “Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. Let your reasonableness be known to everyone. The Lord is at hand; do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” This passage makes it very easy for us to understand that all we can do is pray, be thankful, and avoid anxiousness, which leads to bitterness. We’re not in charge of the answers. We’re in charge of the petitions. So, petition away!
But be thankful in those petitions. Since we’re not the omniscient, omnipotent, perfect, holy, just, and merciful Being in these transactions, we get to be the grateful recipients. All the time. Without ceasing. “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thes. 5:16-18).
What circumstances do you find yourself in today? Give thanks and pray without ceasing. For as we keep our eyes on Him and praise Him in all circumstances (the good, the happy, the hard, the confusing, the horrifying), we silence the Accuser, the one who exists to blame God for not being good and blame us for not being good enough.
Of this I am supremely confident: When we see our Savior and Redeemer face to face, we will not regret being thankful for trusting Him, even in circumstances we could not control and would not have chosen. We will see then by the light of His glory all that He was doing in and through those very moments. What seemed like unanswered prayer will be set against the grand tapestry of His grace coursing through history. We will see what He was doing . . . and we will eternally praise Him for it.
So pray without ceasing and eagerly await what God does in and through these prayers.