On Mondays, we fast and pray for lunch (or something other than food) asking for the Lord to bring healing in our times: for men to be bold and to walk in to relationships with women, for women to be soft and willing to be molded by God’s gracious plan in their lives, and for God to give the good gift of marriage to those who desire it.
One of the many reasons why FastPray is such a unique place on the internet is that we have amazing readers who contribute their hearts, wounds, and perspective into the comments section each week. I appreciate when we hear from you when something has been particularly encouraging and when you might have a different perspective. The Lord has provided us a space to discover what walking in faithfulness means when so many of us remain in an unintentionally single place.
I really enjoyed Emily’s post last week. I wouldn’t call myself a runner per-say, but I know that 4-5 years ago, I made many conscious decisions with the hopes that I’d eventually meet someone who wanted to date me. Some of them worked somewhat? Most fell flat. But, I too, had marriage at the forefront of my decision-making matrix, sometimes in ways that weren’t healthy. (Noooo, I ne-v-er followed my mom’s suggestion to shop at Wegmans because she “always saw so many nice young men there.”)
All that being said, I really appreciated the comments last week asking about what we pray against as FastPrayers. I don’t know if we’ve ever done a specific post on that, so I figured, I’d elaborate a bit on what I pray against while I pray good things for men, women, and marriage. We freely acknowledge here that there are no specific, formulaic solutions to why so many are single for so long, and I actively pray (in word and deed) in faith for healing, wholeness, and renewal of marriage culture. But, there are also many things that I see as obstacles (both personally and culture-wide) that I pray against. So, here are a few:
Family/Marriage Idolatry. This one may be an odd one to start off the list, but when I pray for God to give the gift of marriage to those who desire it, I do so in the context of a proper understanding of what kind of a gift marriage and family is–and what it is not. When I pray against family/marriage idolatry, I am praying against the spirit inside and outside the Church that glorifies earthly, human families so much that it makes families hide their brokenness so that they appear perfect, shames single women who might think they could never be perfect enough to merit a husband, paralyzes single men who think that marriage isn’t an option because their paycheck, their spiritual maturity, or their social awkwardness make achieving John Eldridge “manly men” levels impossible.
Sexual Idolatry. I tried of think of a category that captures the myriad of related things that I pray against. Obviously, pornography and the entire porn industry deserve being mentioned, but really, pornography is a symptom of a deeper sexual idolatry. Our culture–and even we ourselves at times–worship sex in ways that scarily similar to Old Testament worship of Baal and Asherah. With at or near religious dedication, men and women want sex on their timetable, in their prefered way, at whatever cost. Christians disagree with the timetable, but many of us are skittish when preaching or teaching comes too close to home. Although, I’d never say sex isn’t meant to be pleasurable, we’ve decided as a culture (and sometimes in Christian circles too) that sexual pleasure is the highest good, and if you curtail (or even gently warn against) someone’s ability to pursue that happiness then–strap in, because you’ve just spat on the sacred altar.
Rejection of the Body. I hate not having parallel categories, but I couldn’t come up with a better way of phrasing it. When I pray on Monday’s I frequently find myself praying against our culture’s tendency to jettison the body and what it tells us about ourselves, the world, and God. You don’t have to look to far into your browser history to find the recent articles on this topic. I pray against our culture deciding that bodies don’t matter, that being an embodied man or women doesn’t say something about the nature of the universe and the God who set it in motion. Our bodies were designed, in a sense, to marry and produce children. I know that’s not the only purpose, and obviously as singles, we aren’t second-class citizens, but in the beginning, when God created Adam and Eve, he made a man and woman who were meant for each other and for children and for story. When our culture rejects the body, it rejects God’s baseline story and design for humanity.
I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface here, but the encouragement that I have for you is this: even if there are so many things to pray against–know that God sees and understands all of these things. He cares tremendously about how the world and culture affects you and your heart. When you pray this week, remember that you’re praying to a God who set the world in motion and for whom nothing is impossible. Pray with boldness!
For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.
Now to him who is able to do far more abundantly than all that we ask or think, according to the power at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:14-21