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My Favorite Three-word Prayer


By Stormie Omartian
Excerpted from The Power of a Praying Wife, with permission from Harvest House Publishers

The hard part about being a praying wife, other than the sacrifice of time, is maintaining a pure heart. It must be clean before God in order for you to see good results. That’s why praying for a husband must begin with praying for his wife. If you have resentment, anger, unforgiveness, or an ungodly attitude, even if there’s good reason for it, you’ll have a difficult time seeing answers to your prayers. But if you can release those feelings to God in total honesty and then move into prayer, there is nothing that can change a marriage more dramatically. Sometimes wives sabotage their own prayers because they don’t pray them from a right heart. It took me awhile to figure that out.

I wish I could say that I’ve been regularly praying for my husband from the beginning of our marriage until now. I haven’t. At least not like I’m suggesting in this book. Oh, I prayed. The prayers were short: “Protect him, Lord.” They were to the point: “Save our marriage.” But most commonly they were my favorite three-word prayer: “Change him, Lord.”

When we were first married, I was a new believer coming out of a life of great bondage and error and had much to learn about the delivering and restoring power of God. I thought I had married a man who was close to perfect, and what wasn’t perfect was cute. As time went on, cute became irritating and perfect became driving perfectionism. I decided that what irritated me most about him had to be changed and then everything would be fine.

It took a number of years for me to realize my husband was never going to conform to my image. It took a few years beyond that to understand I couldn’t make him change in any way. In fact, it wasn’t until I started going to God with what bothered me that I began to see any difference at all. And then it didn’t happen the way I thought it would. I was the one God worked on first. I was the one who began to change. My heart had to be softened, humbled, pummeled, molded, and reconstructed before He even started working on my husband. I had to learn to see things according to the way God saw them—not how I thought they should be.

Gradually I realized it’s impossible to truly give yourself in prayer for your husband without first examining your own heart. I couldn’t go to God and expect answers to prayer if I harbored unforgiveness, bitterness, or resentment. I couldn’t pray my favorite three-word prayer without knowing in the deepest recesses of my soul that I had to first pray God’s favorite three-word prayer: “Change me, Lord.”

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Don’t say I didn’t warn you. When you pray for your husband, especially in the hopes of changing him, you can surely expect some changes. But the first changes won’t be in him. They’ll be in you. If this makes you as mad as it made me, you’ll say, “Wait a minute I’m not the one that needs changing here!” But God sees things we don’t. He knows where we have room for improvement. He doesn’t have to search long to uncover attitudes and habits that are outside His perfect will for us. He requires us to not sin in our hearts because sin separates us from Him and we don’t get our prayers answered. “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear” (Psalm 66:18). God wants our hearts to be right so the answers to our prayers are not compromised.

This whole requirement is especially hard when you feel your husband has sinned against you with unkindness, lack of respect, indifference, irresponsibility, infidelity, abandonment, cruelty, or abuse. But God considers the sins of un forgiveness, anger, hatred, self-pity, lovelessness, and revenge to be just as bad as any others. Confess them and ask God to set you free from anything that is not of Him. One of the greatest gifts you can give your husband is your own wholeness, The most effective tool in transforming him may be your own transformation.

Don’t worry, I struggled with all this, too. In fact, every time my husband and I came to an impasse, God and I had a conversation that went something like this:

“Do you see the way he is, Lord?”

“Do you see the way you are?”

“Lord, are You saying there are things you want to change in me ?“

“Many things. Are you ready to hear them?”

“Well, I guess so.”

“Tell me when you’re really ready.”

“Why me, God? He’s the one that needs to change.”

“The point is not who needs to change. The point is who is willing to change.”

“But God, this isn’t fair.”

“I never said life is fair, I said I am fair.”

“But I . .

“Someone has to be willing to start.”

“How important is preserving your marriage?”

“Very important. The other options are unacceptable.”

“I rest my case. Let’s get on with changing you.”

“Help me to have a good attitude about this, Lord.”

“That’s up to you.”

“Do I have to pray for my husband even if he’s not praying for me?”

“Precisely.”

“But that’s not . . . okay, okay, I remember. Life’s not fair. You’re fair!”

(Silent nodding from heaven)

“I give up. Go ahead. Oh, this is going to be painful! Cha. . . change. . . . I can’t believe I’m saying this.” (Deep breath) “Change me, Lord.”

Painful? Yes! Dying to yourself is always painful. Especially when you are convinced that the other person needs more changing than you. But this kind of pain leads to life, The other alternative is just as painful and its ultimate end is the death of a dream, a relationship, a marriage, and a family.

God can resurrect the deadest of marriages, but it takes humbling ourselves before Him and desiring to live His way— forgiveness, kindness, and love. It means letting go of the past and all hurt associated with it and being willing to lose the argument in order to win the battle. I’m not saying you have to become a person void of personality, feelings, or thoughts of your own, or be the whipping post for a husband’s whim. God doesn’t require that of you. (In fact, if you are in any kind of physical or emotional danger, remove yourself immediately from the situation to a place of safety and get help. You can pray from there while your husband receives the counseling he needs.) Submission is something you give from your heart, not something demanded of you. Jesus said, “He who loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matthew 10:39). But laying down your life is something you willingly do, not something that is forcefully taken from you. What I’m saying is that your attitude must be, “Whatever You want, Lord. Show me and I’ll do it.” It means being willing to die to yourself and say, “Change me, Lord.”

Excerpted from The Power of a Praying Wife, with permission from Harvest House Publishers

© Stormie Omartian
Stormie Omartian is a popular speaker and author of eleven best-selling books including "The Power of a Praying Wife". She and her husband have three grown children and reside in Tennessee.

 

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