Her demon, and your prayers

I cannot let go of this topic. I realized this evening that my forays into that subject prior to the filler “Random” post (here and here) were not complete. I didn’t come to this realization on my own. Rather, like so many daily red pill awakenings, I was nudged into another aspect of the topic by a Family Life Moments with You called “With Friends like That”.

Dennis Rainey recounts a story his colleague Bob Lepine shared.

As Bob Lepine, my cohost on FamilyLife Today, was leaving for work one morning, he put his arm around his wife and prayed, “Lord, I ask that You would stretch Mary Ann today, that You would challenge her spiritually and cause her to grow in the image of Christ.”

And when he “amen”-ed his way to a close, Mary Ann looked back at him and said, “Would you mind just praying that I’d have a nice day and that the kids would behave?”

This is one that requires some explaining because the issue is just not obvious. Is there anything wrong with what Mrs. Lepine did? Nope. Is it fine to ask someone to pray specifically for you? Nope. Then whats the problem Empath?

The problem is not with the exchange. To their credit the article goes on to state that we must pray hard prayers over our spouses and loved ones even if those hard prayers are not FOR something the person is wanting or thinking they need.

The problem is revealed here:

Even though I can certainly sympathize with Mary Ann, I also recognize how important it is to pray for my wife to grow spiritually — even if it requires asking for a little “stretching” to occur. The key is to know her and to be tuned in to her truest, deepest needs.

Regardless the differences spherians have about the term Feminine Imperative, I’m going to invoke it here. Do you see how the bold part (my emphasis) plays into it?

On balance I like the tone Rainey takes in this article in that he presses ahead stating the as husbands we should be praying for the needs she needs instead of the needs she wants. This little get-out-the-door prayer is not where the rubber meets the road on this though.

The problem is, what about the constant insistence that husbands and wives pray together? Is the woman not evaluating those prayers and wondering why the man is not praying for the same things she is regarding herself? The woman is also thinking “bucko, YOU need to be praying for ____________ after that incident last week” Insert “patience” or some other character trait she wishes he had more of.

Its not just in sharing our day that we men find land mines. Its when we pray with our wives. Its when we need to pray for strength and resolve in the face of male temptation, to choose an easy example, that we may TRULY need to pour out our deepest thoughts. Whats the demon say then?

Even in everyday things, is the demon not going to want to ridicule the man’s prayers? Is the wife not sometimes going to give in to that and speak it? And when she does, would that not be an appropriate space for some serious spiritual warfare rebuking the Jezebel? Anyone care to g’head and try all this and report back the results? If so, maybe we can get some advice from Family Life on how to handle the problems that arise.

Or, like most men actually do, is it not safer to pray mundane things when praying together and save the real stuff for your alone quiet time? Is that the right thing to do?

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38 thoughts on “Her demon, and your prayers

  1. My wife knows what she is going to get when she asks me to pray for her. Something like:

    “Lord bless my wife today. Help her to see Your will for her life and guide her to do it. Bring glory to Your name through her and help her to see past herself. Remind her of you throughout the day so that she will remember to pray. Help her to see that the challenges she faces today will help conform her to the image of Christ and help her embrace and walk out the path that you have set before her. Bless her body and touch it and encourage her spirit.”

    Along with specifics that I know that she is dealing with. She hasn’t expressed a problem with prayers like this and if she did I would wait until no conditions were attached before I would pray for her again. If she isn’t willing to submit to me why should I intercede in joint prayer. She has already demonstrated that she has broken fellowship with Christ, I’ll take my prayer for her to the closet. (She doesn’t do this in reality). Again, if she isn’t willing to be obedient to God, why is she attempting to pursue Him through MY prayer? That is basically asking me to be complicit in her sin.

    Do she want ME to pray for her as her husband or would she rather compose a prayer and have me recite it? I know my wife’s answer.

  2. My first girlfriend actually interrupted me once when I was praying aloud for the two of us, because she objected to the content of my prayer.

    Apparently expressing her disagreement with me right then and there was more important than my speaking to God on behalf of both of us.

    Yeah, husbands and wives do well to pray separately, I think.

  3. I’ve never understood the obsession with couples praying together, frankly. We pray together for other people/situations, and for our kids, general stuff.

    But there are things that are just not meant to be shared together. Husbands need to be able to take things to God in private. His personal struggles, issues he has with his wife, etc.

    Maybe I’m just not holy enough, but I am very thankful that my husband doesn’t expect access to every thought I have and every prayer I pray. And because I desire the freedom to be able to cry out to God with my deepest struggles in private, I am more than happy to give him the space to do the same. That especially includes any thing in me he wants God to fix/change.

  4. I pray for my wife like I pray for myself. The little prayers we say together in the morning (along with our morning “smooches”) are just a portion of our prayer life. I can understand why people feel awkward about this and I can see how feminism has used it to grab husbands by the throat as we see in Empath’s post. Christ openly prayed for the Church:

    I pray for them: I pray not for the world, but for them which thou hast given me; for they are thine. And all mine are thine, and thine are mine; and I am glorified in them. And now I am no more in the world, but these are in the world, and I come to thee. Holy Father, keep through thine own name those whom thou hast given me, that they may be one, as we are.
    (Joh 17:9-11)

    His prayer is much longer. It was sincere and unflinching. Those are the qualities I want to see in my prayers.

  5. GIL:

    I am a huge proponent of praying Scriptural prayers. Can’t go wrong with that, can’t offend with it, and you know that you are praying according to His will. The times that my husband has prayed for me in my hearing (when I have asked or when he has been so moved), those are the prayers he has prayed.

    It’s the insistence that a couple needs to pray together regularly or be privy to everything their spouse thinks that bugs me.

  6. Its the feminised vision of the man and woman holding hands and kneeling and weeping. Its femo-porn of sorts. Its actually a tricky one because that scenario neednt be femoporn, situations can be where that is what happens.

    But I can tell you with certainty that when some pray together the wife doesnt think a prayer is a prayer, nor is it over, until both people are wet with tears and mucus. Short of that the man has not prayed

  7. until both people are wet with tears and mucus.

    That’s disgusting. I don’t know why any woman would want that from her husband.

  8. @ Elspeth.

    I’m a very big proponent of transparency. I make people uncomfortable. My closest siblings in Christ call me “Brother Gasoline” (only occasionally as a term of endearment). My transparency combined with insights into human nature (which I think is a gift from God) tends to make people either run and hide, put up a screen or come clean. It’s not hard to see the difference. I don’t particularly relish the role.

    When I consider that every action that we do now is going to be exposed and judged according to motive before the entirety of creation I think that our sense of privacy is illusory and little more than a convenient fiction to shield us from the reality of our situation. It’s uncomfortable to think about.

    All that to say is, that I want to be as authentic and out there as much as I can stand while remaining obedient to God. (I don’t share ALL of my dirty laundry everywhere as it would not be edifying). But I will let you know that I have it and that it has been washed in the blood and because of this I have no right to drag it out to be ashamed of or beat myself up over. (To do that would suggest that the blood of Jesus wasn’t enough to truly cover my sins). he is the only covering I need, He’s the only covering that completes the promise that as far as the East is from the West my sin will be forgotten.

    (And you were probably talking about keeping the decision on what color socks you would wear to yourself). LOL.

  9. (And you were probably talking about keeping the decision on what color socks you would wear to yourself). LOL.

    Yes, sort of. Things like if you could live without your mate’s favorite shorts that he likes to sleep in, LOL. Or even deeper stuff like if your in-laws get on your nerves. One of the things I tell my children is that “not every thought needs to be given voice.”

    But not just that, It could be something more “serious”, so long as it isn’t sin that needs to be confessed. Even a cursory reading of my blog reveals that I am not shy about my spiritual struggles, and those closest to me know even more, including details.

    The thing I don’t like is the idea that marriage means husbands are not entitled to a private thought. To be honest, if there is some woman on my husband’s job who is a distraction to him, I would much rather he pick up the phone and call his brother or his best friend, both of whom are very strong believers, than tell me. I don’t need to now about that until he’s worked through it with God and those men he feels he can share it with.

    I don’t need that headache. And he doesn’t need the misery I would inflict on him in the wake of his confession. When the thing is in hand spiritually and it can be dealt with rationally, then he’ll tell me about it.

    Conversely, there have been times in our marriage -early on especially- when my husband’s temperament was difficult for me to handle. I would talk to my SIL and cried. She prayed for me, and gave me tough love. And I grew up. When I grew strong enough that I could talk to him without histrionics, I went to him. was able to hear me, and things got progressively better.

    I am not advocating secrecy, but discretion and discernment. Weighing our words, hearts and decisions rather than believing that saying any and every thing at the moment we feel it is a good thing, that it’s more honest. It may be, but it may not be the best thing to do.

    In general, my way of thinking is frowned upon though. I suppose I’m not confrontational enough.

  10. Oh, my two example were a textbook case of his sin is his sin but my sin is his fault. Oh, I hate that.

    Maybe I should have mentioned the time I bought a dress at a time when we were trying to cut back expenses and then put it in the back of the closet and pretended as if were always there.

    And I did confess it. Thankfully he forgave me.

  11. Praying together doesn’t resolve anything in marriage. You really can’t express issues to God or hear from God because you’re constantly trying not to offend the person you’re praying for. My thoughts is that some husbands/wives uses prayer to get what they want. The more “fix him/her” instead of allowing God to fix their own demons and issues. Do I pray for my wife? Yes. Do I pray together with her. No. i find it better to do it alone as I’m free from her criticism .

  12. @Rookie Writer: i find it better to do it alone as I’m free from her criticism

    Might be more problems than prayer logistics. Just sayin’. I’m not one to talk, though … I consider myself lucky if I can get her to go to church with me on Sunday.

  13. I’m firmly in the camp of “save the real stuff for your alone quiet time” strictly because I know from past experience there is absolutely no way for me to share my real hard stuff with my wife. She cannot handle it, not even a peek-aboo glimpse of the real stuff. She cannot handle it, not in the slightest. I don’t mean just holding back the worst 1%, I mean she cannot handle even the “easy” 99% of the real stuff. Because of all my past experience, I know I have to treat her as a spiritual child. Besides my pastor, I have a longtime confessor I call on when needed. This is why men are silent towards women, in case women wonder.

  14. @Elspeth, “I don’t need that headache. And he doesn’t need the misery I would inflict on him in the wake of his confession.” Exactly right. “When the thing is in hand spiritually and it can be dealt with rationally, then he’ll tell me about it.” You’re talking pre-Pearly Gates? I don’t think there’s any good time for a man to tell his wife there’s a woman at work that he really had to deal with himself so he wouldn’t be drawn away with lust. You think there is a good time? “Oh, by the way, honey, remember Susie from work? You had wondered why I suddenly stopped mentioning her a couple of months ago? Well, luckily she just took another job, so now I can tell you …”

    Maybe it’s different when wives actually care enough about their husbands’ sexuality. But that’s too rare.

  15. @empathologism, how was San Antone? I didn’t go this year, but in previous years I’ve had a standing reservation for a corner room at the St Anthony that my wife likes. She’s always been impressed by the shrimp plants along the river walk, but I’ve never gotten one to grow well around our house.

  16. Imagine what a modern husband has to pray for (or against) and you can see why praying together is a bad idea. Asking for assistance in discovering the identity of the wife’s bad-boy lover, for example: or asking for protection against divorce, adultery and addiction. Obviously, a wife would object to hearing those kinds of prayers.

  17. jf12:
    “Maybe it’s different when wives actually care about their husbands sexuality. But that’s too rare.”

    Or care about their husbands at all—that’s even more rare.

  18. jf12 I am still here. This thing lasts from Friday until Wednesday so while SA is great, Im ready to be home. May I assume you attend the same convention in the past, or just a regular SA visit?

  19. Re: 1 Cor 10:13 There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it.

    Has anyone here ever found their help-meet to be a help when tempted? Ever? Anyone? Hello?Despite her chief function in this area essentially being to help him relieve concupiscence so he can get on with other things, is there any man who thinks it is likely that his wife would willingly HELP him bear it, would willingly submit to being a WAY for him to escape? Is there anyone who doesn’t see how tragic this all is? Is there anyone who doesn’t blame the women?

    Not to derail the topic, just speed it up and crash it into the obvious obstacle.

  20. @jf12:

    You’re right that my husband needn’t ever tell me about such a thing. It’s just that it would never occur to him to be the kind of thing he’d think to keep secret forever.

    I have avtially had occasion to meet a woman he once worked witj that he thought had some killer curves. It didn’t bug me. It would bother me more if he lief to me and pretended that he never saw any other woman but me as attractive. There are men who play those kind of mind games with their wives.

    But I agree. Wifey is NOT an appropriate accountability partner. And no man should allow his wife to try and be that. Nor should he be so foolish as to place in that role as some misguided attempt to foster closeness.

  21. Wife sucks as a confessor. Find another man and have a relationship with him, a real one. Get into each others lives and have fellowship in Christ.

  22. @Elspeth, re: never seeing any other woman. One of the funnier aspects of the blindness of love, in men, is not that the man cannot see other women. The way it works is, and yes I’m serious no it’s not an April Fool’s joke, the oxytocin in his brain causes him to see him and his woman as Us against Them, Them including other women. Being in love causes a man to see other women as a threat to Us, so much so that his brain perceives women as (even more) antagonistic than usual.

    Anyway, there’s this girl at work, well a lot more than a girl, she had a baby last year, and … What? No, I didn’t mean anything by “a lot more than” other than she’s 28. Remember? I was going to get her that balloon with 30 and 29 crossed out and 28 looking like it was rewritten, even though she really was just 28? You seriously don’t remember you saying something about me buying a little gift for her party? Anyway, she’s not really my type … no I didn’t mean anything by “not really” … but for some reason she cornered me in the break room and wanted my honest opinion about how she looks now after the baby. No, we weren’t alone, not very, I’m pretty sure. And really, to me she looks better with that little extra spread in her … No! I didn’t tell her exactly … well forget it. Forget I said anything. I was just going to show you this handkerchief she gave me, so you don’t get any wrong ideas. She’s been real nice to me this past year, you wouldn’t believe. Yeah, it was gift-wrapped and everything, with this card too. Oh, hmm, maybe you’re right. I thought those little hearts were just part of the card background, but she’s been doing that lately. By “that” I mean, uh, I mean, uh, just being real nice.

  23. Re: little “Anyway” story. Although maybe it was a little too transparent to see clearly, my point was that “there’s this girl I think is kind of cute” is not really much of a red flag but “there’s this girl who is being kind of nice to me” is a big red flag. Also, little stories that start out “Anyway” tend to contain red flags. And btw the handkerchief was intended as a replacement for one of the ones that I gave her … I mean probably I gave her one or two, I think. Anyway, she’s been kind of emotional for some time. See, her boyfriend … um, yeah, she talks about her relationship with me, a little, a little bit, sometimes. Other times we talk about other things, too. No, I don’t think her crying to me is all that … No! She doesn’t cry on my shoulder. I told you, I gave her my handkerchief, maybe a couple of times. Or so. Yes, I think once after we talked she kind of hugged me but I didn’t hug her back. You know me … what do you mean you’re not sure. I’m telling you so you can be more sure. Besides, the boyfriend isn’t a problem any more. He’s been gone, gone-gone a while now, and she’s been a lot nicer since. That’s all. That’s all I was trying to say. See? No, I don’t mean anything in particular by “a lot”, just, you know, nice. Like how she appreciates … No, she doesn’t “make” me talk about just her and her feelings. No! I don’t talk about me! We just talk about, I guess, a lot of things, I don’t know. What do you mean you wished we talked about a lot of things? We are, aren’t we?

  24. I mean men who pretend that they don’t even notice other women. Let alone look at them. I am very confident in my husband’s attraction to and commitment to me. That doesn’t mean I think he’s blind. He’s too visual, artsy, and drawn to beauty in general to be the type not to notice it when it passes by.

    For example, this guy at my husband’s job a few years ago really liked a woman who worked there. He was behaving like a desperate puppy and my husband was advising him that his behavior was not likely to get the result he wanted.

    As he was telling me about it in passing he simply said something along the lines of, “Sometimes you can’t help but look at her but that’s no reason to abandon his pride”, and he said it so matter of factly that it never even occurred to him that he said anything that was wrong or inappropriate.

    When I met her eventually. I could see his point and could see exactly what he found alluring about her, and that was that.

    That chick never did go out with that guy, either.

  25. “I mean men who pretend that they don’t even notice other women.” That would be me. And for a long time, long long time, it was actually true. Other women did not register as women for me, literally, “women for me” in the same way that other people’s houses, fields, servants (ha!), oxen, etc., don’t really register as something that could be mine i.e. desirable. When my wife would elbow-nudge me to look at some woman I’d be better off not seeing, I wouldn’t really see. Truth. It would have been the same whether she was pointing out a well-designed garbage can or fire hydrant or something. “Yeah, um, it’s sure neat, all right, I guess.”

  26. Your wife is fortunate. I hope she knows that.

    Either way, it isn’t something I fret about because i trust my husband- completely. No matter how many pretty flowers he admires, I have full confidence that he wouldn’t pick one.

  27. I’m sure now my oneitis was sickening. My pictures of her here in my office were all formerly turned around facing away from me, most of the time. “I only have eyes for you” (nice song, btw) isn’t some shtick about exaggerated feewings, it’s descriptive of actual physical/mental impairment. I concede women hyperfocus too, as in “I’m in the mood for love.” But I think women can drift in and out of it, while with men it’s all or nothing (I think). I think, making an incautious leap, but one I’m used to, that the intensity of latching that men feel for their own women is the same intensity that women feel for their own babies (or cats). “Oh, what a precious little nose! (or whiskers, or whatever) I could stare at you all day!”

  28. Here is a weak attempt at an April Fool, telegraphing my intent.

    Isn’t it such a Good Thing that a husband’s oneitis doesn’t induce feelings of respect/submission/love in his wife? Otherwise we’d never get anything else done, and we wouldn’t need God or anyone telling us any different.

    Cane has a post somewhere describing how men were designed to feel oneitis, in marriage of course. I’m not so sure any more.

  29. Just when I think I understand things around here I learn something new. So “oneitis” causes blindness to all other women?

    I didn’t know that. I just thought it meant deep ermotional, physical and spiritual attachment, sufficient that you wouldn’t want to ever do anything to jeopardize your relationship with your “one”.

    Huh. Live and learn.

  30. Oneitis is both a trend and a disease. As a trend, it is simply the tendency of a man to focus all of his romantical attentions/hopes/etc on The One, since he literally cannot see that there are other possibilities. As a disease, it causes infatuation to be locked in.

  31. Has anyone here ever found their help-meet to be a help when tempted? Ever?

    No. Ill go so far as to say to the man who claims this to have happened to be truth challenged. The very act of making the temptation known and trying to ask for its mitigation is not, in this age, understandable as being the biblical vehicle it would be. It does not happen.

    In an indirect way, yes, or if unaware of why the “help” was occurring, yes. But eyes wide open, no way.

  32. Empath:
    I would actually go one step further and say I’ve rarely found a ‘help-meet’ to be of any help whatsoever, in temptation or not. Most men in marriages/relationships succeed or overcome problems in spite of the women in their lives, not because of them.

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