“Pray for your future spouse.” It’s a beautiful phrase which often serves as a reminder to entrust everything to God – including our love lives. But more often than not we hear the phrase in the low points of singleness, when we’re encouraged to ask God to bring us the spouse we long for.
The problem with that is we risk getting so caught up in our own desires that we forget what we’re really praying about: a person! Sometimes we focus so much on the future that we forget they already exist. They’re the same person now as they will be when you meet them—they get out of bed every morning, go to work or school, spend time in prayer, practise hobbies and hang out with friends… And they have needs and desires! Instead of just prayers of petition for ourselves, we should be offering up prayers of intercession for our future spouses.
Around December last year I felt the Lord urging me to pray a novena for my future husband. I don’t know who he is yet, I don’t know what was happening in his life at that time, but I do know that for whatever reason he needed my prayers. Because I love the person he will be on our wedding day, I love the person he is right now—so I continue to pray for his growth with God and for his protection from the enemy.
I want to encourage you to pray for your future spouse, rather than simply praying to have them!
1. Seeing your future spouse as a real person will keep you focused in your pursuit of purity.
When the person you will marry becomes real in your mind rather than an abstract concept, they provide the motivation to resist temptation and save yourself for them. You know the heart of who you’re waiting for, even if you don’t yet know their name, height or hair color.
2. Praying for their needs will prepare you for the total gift of self that is marriage.
When you get married, and even more so if you have children, you will need to very quickly adapt to having more than just yourself to worry about, and sometimes having to put your own desires lower down the priority list. Replacing prayers for what you want with prayers for what they need is the first step.
3. Not focusing on your own desires helps you to put your trust in God.
You may feel you’re called to marriage, but only God knows when that will be. Demanding instant gratification in the romance department won’t alter God’s plan to prosper you. So instead of offering God a comprehensive list of qualities you need in a partner (with an N.B. that you’d prefer them all by next Easter), try thanking Him for the person they are and praying into their current situation… whatever that might be.
You might be thinking “soppy, overly-romantic, idealistic.” Well, anyone that knows me will tell you I’m none of those things. For me, praying for my future husband isn’t a way of “coping” with singleness, it’s an assertion in advance of my equal status in our relationship and prayer life. I believe that the power of a couple’s prayers for each other secures their relationship.
What if I don’t get married?
Your prayers are never wasted! You are, first and foremost, a bride of Christ—so if your vocation doesn’t involve marriage, then your prayers will be offered up to your holy spouse (Jesus) anyway. As the idea is already to pray for needs that we don’t fully understand, only Jesus will know what good your prayers do for humanity through Him.
Try adding your future spouse to your prayer list, or offering up a prayer whenever you think about them, and see how your perspective changes! Pray for blessings on their life, pray for their safety and security, pray for their faith and relationship with Jesus. Most of all pray for them, rather than your desire for them.
Esther Rich is in her final year studying Psychology at Oxford University, UK. She loves Theology of the Body, Papa Francesco and a good worship band. She is passionate about empowering women to be who they were created to be, and blogs at “For Such A Time As This.”