When I speak at college or high school events, sometimes I’ll get asked about the practice of praying for my future husband. More and more I see it addressed on other blogs and by other speakers on the issue. I used to do this, (and write him as well!) but I don’t anymore, nor do I encourage young women to.
I came of age during the True Love Waits Movement. Signing purity pledges, writing love letters to your husband, and praying for your future husband were all standard ‘assignments’ for young Christians who wanted to honor God with their sexuality and their future marriages. I did them all for several years.
As I came up on my 21st birthday, I even bought a “purity” ring and promised myself not to date any guys. It was no huge sacrifice. I didn’t even get asked out on a date until I was 27, so it’s not like I had a line of suitors.
As a young Christian who struggled in the area of sexual integrity and desperately wanted to get married, I was all about doing “waiting for marriage” the right way. Honoring your future husband and “doing him good all the days of your life” was a worthy calling.
I would faithfully pray for him every day- that God would lead him, guide him, and form him into a man after His own heart. I prayed that He would keep working in his heart and keep him from temptation, help him stay strong. I prayed that God would surround him with solid friends, and give him great mentors who could speak into his life.
I prayed that, even if he were in a relationship, he would treat her well, and respect her boundaries. I prayed that he would become a Godly man and leader, that he would be wise with money, a gentle communicator and growing in the knowledge of God.
And, of course, I prayed that God would hurry up and bring him already.
Then, as I began to date men, work with men at church, and deal with my own biological brothers, I realized something:
All of my prayers for my future husband should be prayers for every man in my life.
They are not exclusively for my husband. They are prayers that I should have for every man know. I want that for my brothers, the men in my small group, my pastors. I pray it for my friends’ husbands, for my friends who are husbands, even the guys I date… even after I’m done dating them. Some of the men I used to date are now newly married. Of course I want them to be great husbands and fathers! Just because someone isn’t my husband doesn’t mean I somehow wish he would be a horrible loser.
No, I only want my husband to be a strong Godly man. The rest of them can be wimps for all I care. -prayed no Christian woman ever.
So, I made it a practice to pray the above things for every man I know, which will one day, hopefully, include my future husband.
I also realized that the best way to stay discontent is to pray for someone who might not even exist.
Understand this. You are not promised a husband. You are promised many things. A husband is not among them. When you pray for your future husband- not “dear God please can I have one?” but “dear God please be with my future husband today as he’s at work…”- you’re making an assumption that isn’t grounded in truth. In my experience, it’s a surefire way to keep you discontent and frustrated.
It goes the other way too.
Why would I pray for God to make me a Godly wife when I am, in fact, not a wife?
The only difference between a Godly wife and a Godly woman is that one is married and the other isn’t. So, praying that God would make me a Godly wife is a frustratingly futile prayer. I can’t do anything about it because I’m not a wife.
To me, it makes far more sense to pray to be a Godly woman and work on that. That’s something I can do now. Being a wife is completely out of my control.
We’re praying God would make us Godly wives, and assuming an identity we don’t actually have.
But I think some of us single girls get trapped there in that place. We’re praying that God would make us Godly wives, so we’re assuming an identity we don’t actually have. In order to cope with that, we imagine a husband. That way we can pray with a purpose: “God make me a Godly wife fit for this imaginary husband I just invented.” And we pray like that.
Instead of praying for a husband in the sense of “God, please bring one, please, please, puleeeze!” (which I pray from time to time) we pray for him, the person, the individual man, as if we already know him. In reality, it’s fantasy, shrouded in prayer so it looks holy. At the core of it all, though, you’re imagining this person exists.
You’re forming a spiritual and emotional intimacy with a figment of your imagination.
When you imagine a husband, you imagine all of those things that come with having a husband (ie sex), and now you’ve got sexual frustration in the mix. So you’re not only discontent, even desperate, but you’re sexually frustrated.
You’ve concocted this world in which you are a wife. You’re creating one-sided emotional intimacy with him and awakening desires that cannot be satisfied. It’s a recipe for struggle.
You would think that praying for your future husband would help keep you pure.
It’s a good motivation, right? But I have found the opposite to be true. When I first started my one-on-one counseling for porn addiction, I thought about what could be making my struggle worse. One of the things on the list was my journals to my future husband. Every time I wrote to him I would get so frustrated that he wasn’t here yet.
If you think about the reasons the Bible gives for celebrating singleness, what’s the most prominent one? Single people have time to focus on the things of the Lord and not be concerned about their husband/wife. If I’m spending my single time concerned about my future husband- devoting time and emotional energy to him- I’m off focus.
Don’t get me wrong, I want to be married. One day truly hope to be, but for now, I’m not. The best way for me to keep focused, stay pure, and not get frustrated, is to choose not to “interact” with him.
I don’t pray for my future husband. I don’t single him out of the pack. Every hope and dream I have for him is the hope and dream I have for every man I know. It makes me a better friend and a better sister. Some day, maybe, it will make me a better wife.