This post is part of the weekly series on effective prayer.
About ten and a half years ago, I was single. I had no prospects in sight and was just about beyond caring.
Singleness had it’s good points. I was free to come and go as I pleased. I could do whatever I wanted (within reason). Mostly, I went to church, work and the gym. It was restful, but it had it’s drawbacks. At the end of the day, I’d be back at my place, alone.
I had read books about singleness and what a “blessing” it was, but I hated being alone. In fact, those books were often written by married people, and all I could think was, “easy for you to say!” It is not an easy season of life for many. It definitely wasn’t easy for me.
Looking back, (and yes, I am one of those married people writing about singleness…sorry!) I wish I had done more with my single time. What I mean is, I wish I had done more for others, for the cause of Christ, and for my family.
Contrary to how it may feel, singleness is not a curse.
When I was growing up, I had very special single adults in my life who mentored and befriended me—something that wouldn’t have been as likely if they’d had children of their own. They took me to symphonies and camping trips, constructed ginger bread houses and castles with me, allowed me to go hang out with the young adults and twenty-somethings, and taught me that being a Christian is a way of life—in the both the fun and the serious.
One of my very dear friends, Ida, has not ceased to serve others with her time. She teaches bible classes, helps people learn about and prepare whole foods, makes broth and soup for people who are sick and whatever else she can. She is a great blessing.
The Apostle Paul was a big proponent of being single. He himself lived unmarried until the end of his life. He wrote to the Corinthian church:
I want you to be free from anxieties.
The unmarried man is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to please the Lord.
But the married man is anxious about worldly things, how to please his wife, and his interests are divided.
And the unmarried or betrothed woman is anxious about the things of the Lord, how to be holy in body and spirit.
But the married woman is anxious about worldly things, how to please her husband.
I say this for your own benefit, not to lay any restraint upon you, but to promote good order and to secure your undivided devotion to the Lord.
~1 Corinthians 7.32-35, ESV
Paul wasn’t against marriage. He says as much in the surrounding context, but he was making a point. When a Christian enters into marriage, he or she has additional concerns. They now have someone counting on them. They have become part of a team, pulling together (hopefully) in the same direction, but this includes meeting the needs your teammate regularly. It includes setting aside time that could be devoted to other things in order to serve the needs of your spouse and your family. None of it is bad. It has a place and a purpose. We need married people and single people.
Paul wanted the Corinthians to devote themselves wholly to the Lord. Serving the Lord is to be desired more than the “ideal” or “expected” status.
I know, I know… it’s easy for me to say… now.
I think that the quote in the above picture hits the target on this issue: “Let not our longing slay the appetite of our living.”
Who are we supposed to be living for? To what are we supposed to be devoted? We should not allow our wishes for tomorrow rob us of our joy for today. (That goes for us old married couples too!)
In our prayers this week, let’s take some time each day to pray for the single Christians in our congregations.
- Pray for them to fill their days with purpose, serving the Lord as they have opportunity.
- Pray that they will be filled with God’s presence to quench any loneliness that may plague them from time to time.
- If you think that they would like to be married, pray for the Lord to bring into their life a godly, loving spouse who will team up with them to work for the Lord. Along those same lines, pray that they will patiently wait for what God has planned.
Let’s pray for those who are single this week to great effect!