Q: I was at your LovePath 911 workshop last year and Joe had shared his personal story and said that he had prayed a prayer when he was going thru his struggles asking for God’s help. He said that the prayer he had been praying should have been something else. ..he was praying the wrong prayer…he should have asked and prayed differently. For marriages struggling and dying thru separation, what would be a prayer to help?
A: In the 911 workshop, I point out that while I was struggling with my personal sin, I often asked God to help me stop. I have no doubt He answered my prayer and provided ways for me to overcome my temptations (“when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.” I Corinthians 10:13) However, no matter how sincerely I prayed, my emotions and desires at the time of the prayer were somewhat different than what I felt when actually faced with the same temptations I had before. Yes, I’m sure the “way out” was there, but when overcome with temptation, I wasn’t looking for it. I focused on what was before me and how badly I wanted it. Therefore, though I asked God to help me stop so very many times, I kept doing the same thing until finally I quit praying altogether. After all, in my heart I felt that God didn’t want to hear from a hypocrite like me.
I now pray differently. There is no sin in asking God for help. You can find people in the Bible doing it and certainly many Christians pray that way today. However, I found that amazing things happened when I quit asking God to help me do something and instead asked Him to do it Himself. It can be a scary ride because God takes the short routes. For example, one woman who heard me teach this quit asking God to help her stop her affair and asked Him to stop her. Within 24 hours her husband discovered her infidelity. Though it was a very tough experience, his finding out led to their working out their problems, ending her affair, and saving their marriage. Another lady told me that she quit asking God to help her have a better relationship with her daughter and for her daughter to develop a relationship with God. That very night she decided to organize some things and stumbled across a video of her daughter having sex with a man. She was devastated. However, that led to interactions with her daughter that not only brought the two of them together, it led the daughter into a relationship with Jesus. Last I heard, the daughter was doing mission work for the kingdom.
I don’t think either of those women would have chosen those paths to solve their problems. But you have to admit they worked and worked mightily. Painful? Yes. But the pain wasn’t caused by God; the pain was caused by the people involved. God revealed what was occurring so that the pain could be healed.
That, in short, is how I see this type prayer. Quit asking God to help and ask God to do it directly. Whatever you pray for, that works. You asked specifically what to pray for concerning a marriage that is dying. I would ask God to fix the situation. He may break someone’s heart to get them to see what is good and right. He may reveal that one of the partners is involved in a secret sin that is keeping the marriage in turmoil. He may just arrange circumstances to bring you together because of a developing need. Of course, you understand that He also may make it clear that one or both of you have such hard hearts toward each other that your marriage will not heal unless one or both of you gives up your selfishness. That may bring the marriage to an end rather than healing it if one of you decides to continue with the hard heart. However, that is a clear answer to your prayer as well.
If you have the courage, ask God to work directly instead of asking Him to help you.
Then fasten your seat belt.