Monday, February 15, 2010

Marriage Challenge Day 1: Prayer

The two randomly drawn winners of the audio CD's by Rick Johnson are:

Power Tools for Women: Cindy Price Starnes
Speaking Your Mans Language: Kara Yagelowich Hughes

Congrats ladies! Please email me your mailing address and I will get these sent out to you immediately. For those who didnt win, check back tomorrow for another opportunity to win something!

(Check out Lysa Terkeurst's blog today - she shares a powerful short video entitled "I dont love my husband anymore"). Might be the perfect message today that someone needs to hear.
About ten years ago, God sent me a present. No, it did not come in the mail or fall out of the sky, but I have no doubt that it was a gift straight from heaven. Let me explain.

Back when my children were much younger, my husband and I were going through a really rough time. The stress of jobs, small kids, finances, and relationship problems had become overwhelming and emotionally taxing.

After yet another heated argument, I found myself feeling so disheartened, that I hardly knew what to do. Strange as it may sound, I decided to go to the car wash (which I do not do very often, so the fact that God nudged me to get the car washed was a miracle in itself!).

As I drove towards the Auto Bell, I could no longer hold back the tears. I thought I had tried everything possible to improve our marriage and felt emotionally worn out from worrying about our relationship.

I arrived to my destination, handed over my car, paid my bill, and proceeded to take a seat in the empty waiting room. I sat there, all alone, feeling low in spirit and clueless about how to be a good wife and what needed to be done to fix my marriage. I began pleading with God to show me a sign, to give me an answer to my concerns; to tell me what I needed to do to make things better between me and my husband.

As I sat there trying not to cry, consumed with my thoughts, I happened to glance down at the dirty, beaten up old table beside me......and laying on the table was the book called "The Power Of A Praying Wife", by Stormie Omartian.

My heart not only skipped a beat, I think it skipped a few beats. I thought "Wow! God sent me a book!"

I burst into tears in gratitude and thankfulness, praising God for sending me the "sign" that I had asked for. I believe with all my heart that God had divinely ordained for someone to leave that exact book, in that exact car wash waiting room, on the exact day that I would choose to get my car washed for the first time in many, many months. He arranged for me to find that book, just moments after I had surrendered to Him, and pleaded for His intervention.

I eagerly drove home in my unusually clean car, plopped myself onto the couch, and opened the pages of the book, only to have my breath taken away again - to my surprise, Stormie's husband's name was Michael - my husband's name was Michael! Almost a bit creepy huh? But a wonderful supernatural-surprise-which-gives-you-chill-bumps kind of creepy!

God had sent me a tangible answer to prayer with the gift of that book. An answered prayer that I could hold in my hand and gain wisdom and strength from. An answer that I knew only He could have ordained. An answer that I could tuck safely away, and pull out to hold each time I needed some reassurance of His love and concern for me.

God made it crystal clear, that the one vital thing my marriage had been missing, was prayer FOR my husband, not about him.

As I read through the first few pages of the book, I was acutely aware that the words on the pages could have easily been written by me. The raw feelings the author expressed were so close to my own thoughts and feelings, that I hardly knew how to process it all, and with each page, God spoke truth and healing into my wounded heart.

From that day forward, I made a commitment to pray for my husband, even when I didn't feel like it, even when I didnt want to, even if I didnt think he deserved those prayers. To pray for him when things were going great between us, and to pray for him when things were not so great. To pray for his work, financial decisions, sexuality, affection, temptations, fears, purpose, choices, health, protection, trials, integrity, reputation, priorities, relationships, fatherhood, attitude, emotions, deliverance, and faith (many of the chapters reviewed in the book).

I also made a commitment to stop asking God to fix my husband's flaws, and start asking Him to open my eyes to what I could fix about myself that would improve our relationship. Yes, that was hard, and took some humility to admit that I was not without fault too, and to be honest, it is a prayer I find myself continually praying even to this day. It can be hard, but sometimes, the things that bring the most blessings, can be the some of the hardest things that God calls us to do.

Stormie Omartian says this on page 14 of her book: "A husband can hurt your feelings, be inconsiderate, uncaring, abusive, irritating and negligent. He can say or do things that pierce your heart like a sliver. And every time you start to pray for him, you find the sliver festering. Its obvious you cant give yourself to praying the way God wants you to until you are rid of it."

She goes on to say that sometimes our marriages get to such a point of hurt and despair that we feel emotionally paralyzed and incapable of making good decisions - which is what ultimately leads to divorce, and that when we are in the middle of an unfulfilling relationship, divorce seems almost like a "promise of pleasant relief".

That is a powerful statement, and one that I think will resonate with many of you, based on the numerous comments that were left last week, which spoke of utter despair, frustration, hopelessness, loneliness, and the absolute exhaustion of trying to make your marriage relationship better. I understand those feelings, because I have been there.... but there is hope.

On this particular day, in a damp, smelly car wash, that hope was dropped in my lap, through this precious book that God gave had arranged for me to have.

After that day, I began to pray for my marriage like I had never done before. And just like Stormie states she had to do, I also had to confess my own hardness of heart each time, and ask God for the strength to put aside my feelings, and focus on Him. I had to learn to forgive. I had to learn to pray for my husband, and admit that not praying for him, was not getting us anywhere. I had to lay my marriage at His feet, and let go.

Slowly, but surely, I began to see changes. I began to see God work in our relationship. And, on May 26th, Michael and I will celebrate our twentieth wedding anniversary. We still have bumps in the road, and problems that call for deeper prayer and dependence on God at times, but I truly believe that it was my commitment to begin praying for my husband that has made all the difference in the world.

Is our life a peaceful harmonic melody all the time? Absolutely not. We are definitely not perfect. We argue and squabble over silly and important things. We disagree about how to spend money, how to raise the kids, and who has not done enough around the house lately. But no matter what we are going through, I know I can take it to the Lord. I know He will hear my prayers. I know I can trust Him to help us work through any issue, big or small.

You see, a wife's prayers are powerful. It may take a few weeks, months or years to see the full impact of your prayers, but the prayers of a wife for her husband have power. John 15:7 says, "If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you." If you desire a loving and committed marriage, God can help you reach you and your husband reach that goal.

So, to begin this challenge, I want to challenge you to pray for your husband, today, and every day for the next thirteen days. Hopefully, regardless of how hard or awkward it may feel at first, you will begin a new habit which you can continue to do every day for years to come.

If your marriage is going great right now, then pray for your husband. If your marriage is on the rocks, then pray for your husband. If your marriage is all but over, then pray for your husband. If you are getting married soon, then pray for your husband-to-be. Even if the problems you are experiencing in your marriage, if any, are not your fault at all, praying is still the first step towards positive change. And while you are praying, BELIEVE that God hears your prayers, and that He will begin to bless you.

I feel confident that you will begin to see God blessing you, as you spend time in His presence every day, and eventually, you will see Him blessing your marriage as well.

Stormie ends the first chapter of her book by sharing a profound statement, that says "It's your responsibility to pray. It's Gods job to answer. Leave it (your marriage) in His hands." When we surrender, only then can God take control.
If you are interested in purchasing The Power of A Praying Wife, click on the book title to get it through Amazon (not available through P31 right now). I would strongly encourage every woman to get this book. It is a powerful, life changing, marriage transforming, prayer building book.

Stormie also has a new book out, which I have not read yet but assume it is just as great, titled The Power of Prayer to Change Your Marriage.


**Tomorrow, Proverbs 31 is hosting a Blog Carnival on all of the speaker team blogs and ministry blogs! Each blog will highlight a specific topic and give away a cool item to one lucky winner. I will be giving away one my audio CD's called "Overcoming Stress with Extraordinary Faith" (since marriage can be stressful!), along with a Christian Notepad and pens. So be sure to come back tomorrow to find out how to enter!

Marriage Challenge Day 1: PrayerSocialTwist Tell-a-Friend


Anonymous said...

Thank you for this. After a dreadful weekend this has given me hope. I have a copy of that book. I guess I need to get it out and dust it off!

Becca said...

This Valentine's weekend held many things including a big argument, packing bags to leave, tears, hugging, reconciliation, intimacy, and many laughs... oh, and great food! Reading your challenges are going to help my marriage, I just know it. February is the second month I'm reading The Power of a Praying Wife. I have committed to read it every day for one year. Thank you for the challenge to pray for my husband and not for his faults.

JazzyTurtle said...

Thank you Tracie. I also have a copy of that book, and I will be pulling it back out and dusting it off as another comment said as well. I was able to pray with my husband before we got off to work today and I'm so thankful for that. God is good!

Peace, Love, God Bless,

Janet said...

I smiled when I read your blog today, because the first thing that came into my mind when i read your original blog the other day, was that book... I had bought it several years ago, read it and left it on a bookshelf since then. i remember when i read it, i thought "oh great, he's the one with the problem, and i'm the one God wants to fix....." will get it out again. thanks for your encouragement!

Tracie Miles said...

I am like so many of you, my Power of a Praying Wife book has been sitting on the shelf for all these years, and when I picked it back up to refer to for todays post, I couldnt put it down. It is such amazing and motivational information, even for women who truly feel that the majority of the marriage problems are not their fault, and are proabably right. Its just a great tool and God can speak so loudly through it. Have a great day ladies!

Kela said...

I'm with you on this! I just asked my FB friends "Do you pray FOR your husband, or ABOUT your husband?" One friend already replied, "uhhh. Both?"
I have the book (PPW) and flip it open to the prayers that I feel I need to pray "about" my husband. I think that's a little backwards.LOL
Praying FOR my husband is what I'll continue to do!

Angie said...

Asking for help is something I have a hard time doing. "I can do it myself" is a thought, I know now, was a seed Satan planted many years ago.

Even now, I find myself getting to the point of being worn down, throwing my hand up and telling God I can't fix this. Qucikly He reminds me I can't fix it and why don't I come to Him first.

It sounds horrible to say I did not want to pray for my husband. But for many years that is the state of mind I was in, or Satan had me in. And in the beginning it would be in my prayer for God to change my husband. But quickly I found out I had a lot of changing to do myself.

Pride is something I still struggle with in many areas of my life. Pride keeps me from admittimg I am wrong and pride makes it so hard to say I am sorry. Pride is the first thing that jumps up when I start to pray because so many times I think I can do it myself.

Praying for my husband everyday IS something that needs to be a habit. This challenge will help me do just that.

I know all to well what can come from one of your challenges. I am strapped in and ready! :o) Let's go!!

Julie@comehaveapeace said...

Such a simple challenge but so HUGE in its truth, Tracie. Thank you for the well written reminder today. I "sent" my readers over to you today from our "Marriage Mondays" series, and I know they'll be blessed as I am.

Lisa B @ simply His said...

Thank you Tracie for writing this. Several years ago I was in a similar place as you were at the car wash with a slightly different spin -- I wanted to die. I wanted God to take me to heaven because I kept messing up -- and I wanted him to bring my husband (and daughter) a better wife (and mother). Thankfully God impressed on my heart that it wasn't my time to go and he did end up giving my husband and daughter a better wife/mother -- he just changed me!

I absolutely love the Praying Wife book as well as several of her others. I pray for my husband a lot but it's basically just off the top of my head.

I'm going to pull mine back off the shelf and start reading it again -- oh, and Angie -- I'm going to be checking in with her :) She lives right down the road!

Angela said...

Like so many others, I own the book too, but it is sitting on a shelf. I'll be getting it out after my husband leaves for work today - time to start reading and praying!

Colleen Reske said...

I have heard of this book, but never read it. It sounded like a good idea, and recently I began praying for my husband even though I really thought our marriage was over. We are working on things together now, and I told him this weekend that I pray for him and he looked a bit surprised! : ) It was a good thing to let him know. I want to read the book to be encouraged to keep this going. Others have told me that God can heal a broken marriage. I am trying to realize what I truly want, and trying to be open to God's hand in what He knows is best for me.

Anonymous said...

Hi Tracie & Everyone,
...Peaceful Blessings.
..."PRAYER," what a wonderful instrument it is.

Thanks Tracie for all you are doing here and May I say to everyone your in my prayers.

I'm so thankful for my parents and the role model they have given me. They will be married 55 years this April. They have shown me what comment is...and no it wasn't easy for them....we are still pushing on.

It saddens my heart when I read so many marriages struggling. Why?? What is the reason??

Love is so many things. It is is does not envy does not boast. It is not self-seeking ect....

If children are in our homes...What message are we giving them? They do so much of what we do.

When You Thought I Wasn't Looking:
...I seen my parents giving of themselves.
...I saw Mom cooking every day 3 times a day. and trust me we were no small family.
...I saw them persevere through some tough years. Showing us ourselves to persevere.
...I saw them dress us every Sunday morning in our best clothes and taking us to church....showing us where great strength comes from.

...Hold on to what you have. To much brokenness in our world today. Let's stop satan in his tracks.

Go and do the same...
Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and God of all encouragement, who encourages us in our every affliction, so that we may be able to encourage those who are in any affliction. with the encouragement with which we ourselves are encouraged by God.
2 Corinthians 1:3-4.

Love & encouragement

Anonymous said...

I have that book and love it! But I fail often, forgetting to go back to reread all the highlights and underlines that I had done before. It ultimately comes down to me and my responsibility to my part of our marriage. I know that book turned us around 18 months ago by directing me back to God for His help. I just needed to get over myself. I will start from chapter 1 'His Wife' tonight. Thanks for your thoughts, words very well written.

LeeAnn@Encouragement Is Contagious said...

I've had the book for years and have never read it! I've thought about reading it at many different times, but am sorry to admit I left it on the shelf. I guess, maybe I was focusing too much on the "fixing" rather than on letting God fix ME first.

I'm getting the book back out tonight and am foregoing the fixing and instead praying.

Sharon Abbott Cowan said...

I have a belief that is not necessarily well received when I tell people but I believe if you want to be successful in raising children or influencing your husband in a positive way then watch the television show "Dog Whisper". Or as my granny would say "you catch more flys with honey than you do with vinegar."

~Grace and Peace said...

I need to dust off my copy of that book. I cried when I read the first few pages - like you, I could have written it, too! Thank you for that reminder. God is so faithful to answer our prayers.

Anonymous said...

I will pray for him. It will be very hard because he is not a christian and on our 10th anniversary told me he doesn't now, never did and never will believe in God or Jesus Christ especially. I am still married to him after 20 years and know that we will never pray together. The bible states that if you are "unequally yoked" that divorce is ordained? But I will pray for 13 days but I think I need a miracle!