Women, Men, and the Gift of Marriage

This first Monday of the year, we are recommitting ourselves to fasting and praying for God to do a work in our generation. We are praying that God would soften women’s hearts–to be willing to follow him wherever He is leading in the year ahead. We are praying that God would embolden men to walk upright into relationships–unafraid of what challenges might come. And finally, we are praying that God would build up the unique man-woman partnership of marriage in the next year–specifically by giving that gift to those who desire it.

Happy New Year, FastPrayers!

I was going to originally write a post on the new year and what it means that God is calling us into 2015, but looking back over the past year of fasting and praying and blogging, I realized that I wanted to spend some time at the beginning of this year reiterating what our mission and vision means to me personally, how I apply it to myself, how it influences what I pray, write, and how I respond to questions in the comments. I’m hoping to provide some context for readers and prayers who may be new or who may be coming back after a long absence.

And, so without much ceremony, I want to walk through our basic, weekly prayer theme and elaborate a bit.

Soften and change women’s hearts. When I pray for God to soften and change women’s hearts to make us more like Christ and to give us grace to follow Him where He leads, I am praying for God to essentially do a Romans 12:2 work in my heart. I do not want my “status” as a single woman to define me, but instead, I want my heart to to be transformed and shaped–not by my circumstances but by the Word of God. When I pray for my heart to be softened, I want to see God undo the curse of Genesis 3 in my heart.

I’ve noticed a pattern in my heart. When I’ve continually not gotten what I’ve asked for in the way that I’ve asked for it, either in prayer or in my relationships, my first natural response is to mourn and be sad (not necessarily a bad thing), but left to myself, what otherwise might be healthy, godly sorrow, turns into bitterness, resentment, and stubbornness. My prayer for God to soften my heart and transform me is a prayer asking God not to let my heart grow cold to His tender kindness, pleading with the Lord not let my heart grow a spiritual gangrene as I walk this road of unintended singleness.

Raise up men. When I pray for God to raise men up to walk into relationships and to embolden them to lead both in homes and in the church, I am praying for men to be encouraged and filled with a holy confidence that God has made them with special care as an image bearer of God. Without getting into the weeds and controversy over gender roles, I pray specifically that God would renew men’s desire to lead, that He would rekindle servant leadership in the men of my generation. I don’t want machismo or misogyny or more of the “bro” mentality, but I do want the men in my life to feel like God has given them an important mantle and role to play in the world. Men have been designed by God to reflect a unique part of His image.

When Connally and the other writers started FastPray, one of the things things they were frustrated by was the fact that there were seemingly few available, Christian men. I don’t really know enough about the specifics of the church’s demographics to make that statement empirically, but it sure feels that way for a myriad of reasons. Whether there is a giant, secret stash of available, Jesus-following men or not, my prayer is that whatever the current ratio of available, believing men to women–that God would raise men up to walk upright before Him.

Give the gift of marriage. The short answer for why I pray for marriage is that I want to get married. It may not be politically correct, and it might make me a good candidate for the “she’s clearly desperate” category in the Bachelor. As I’ve written here before and on the Single Matters magazine, I pray for the gift of marriage…

[B]ecause, honestly, I don’t know what else to do with my desire to nurture my own children, love a man and create a home for them. I can church hop or move to Montana or sign up for online dating. But after that exhausting day, my life is His story to tell, and I can’t make marriage happen. I write plenty about what it means to live a full single life, and the Lord is blessing me now with good things that aren’t just placeholders—goods of friendship, fellowship, meaningful work and service. My life is full of undeniable advantages, and most days I love it. That being said, my desire for a husband is still there. My heart plus the demographic realities and cultural breakdown are too much for me to just stay silent in my prayers—leaving the desire to fester elsewhere.

I constantly have to walk the line on the blog between elevating marriage to an unhealthy level and denigrating God’s great gift. I don’t want to buy into the lie that my life will be ruined or never quite full if I never get married. I also don’t want give the impression that my life wouldn’t be made better in some ways by being married. It’s my hope that as I pray for the gift of marriage for myself and for others that I won’t fall into either trap, but that I will graciously hold my own life and story loosely. I can hold my story with its plot points (or lack thereof) loosely, not because they don’t matter, but because they matter so much more to the author of my story. No one is going to take the pen from His hand, which means that I can boldly bring my prayer for marriages before Him without fear.

I hope that whatever 2015 holds for you that you will experience the goodness that only comes from the nearness of God.

Blessings,
Anna

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9 Responses to Women, Men, and the Gift of Marriage

  1. Maria says:

    I started following this blog a few years ago when I was living in the US and I have always appreciated the “realness” and utter honesty of the posters. Thank you for continuing to share you heart with us and providing so much companionship and encouragement on this journey we call life.

    “I’ve noticed a pattern in my heart. When I’ve continually not gotten what I’ve asked for in the way that I’ve asked for it, either in prayer or in my relationships, my first natural response is to mourn and be sad (not necessarily a bad thing), but left to myself, what otherwise might be healthy, godly sorrow, turns into bitterness, resentment, and stubbornness.”

    That^ really spoke to me. See most of the time to myself I have somewhat given up on getting married having been deemed too undesirable and unattractive. I asked and begged and prayed instead for some consolation prizes; the job of my dreams, the country and city of my dreams, to see a hobby turn into a money maker and I have not gotten any of them and I have mourned that and in that mourning I have become bitter and resentful and angry and had adopted the attitude of I will pray for others but no longer for myself. As when I have prayed for others, I have seen their dreams of marriage, of family in impossible situations of infertility come to being, of homes and jobs come to be but for myself every dream, every wish every longing remains shut, slammed, unmet against me.

    I no longer want to have a cold, angry heart for 2015 but at the same time I do not wish to get back into the cycle of pointless hope for myself either. I look for the middle ground where I can surrender everything and then move past them and create a new life and future where none of the things I want or dream of for so long even exist but where I am OK anyway.

    • Riss says:

      Maria,
      You feel exactly as I do. I don’t want to have a cold heart but I also don’t want pointless hope. I too am tired of my prayers being answered for others but my own for myself are swirling in the wind.

  2. Rebekah says:

    Happy to pray for the ladies who are a part of this community and for godly single men as well! Thanks for your commitment to be transparent and yet trust God and believe He has a good plan (even if it doesn’t seem to line up with how we might define good).

  3. smvernalis says:

    Great reminders, Anna! Blessings to you as we start this new year.

  4. Veronicachris says:

    So encouraging! Love your blog 🙂 been reading for two years now. Still single but still have hope and I pray 🙂

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