This post is part of a biweekly series on effective prayer. To read the original post on effective prayer, click here.
An excellent wife who can find?
She is far more precious than jewels.
The heart of her husband trusts in her,
and he will have no lack of gain.
She does him good, and not harm,
all the days of her life.
~ Proverbs 31.10-11, ESV
As I mentioned in that post, marriage is about sacrifice made from a deeply committed, unconditional love. A lasting marriage takes effort, you can’t simply get married, hit auto pilot and expect smooth sailing. Turbulence, storms, low fuel and other variables require the couple to be attentive in order to stay intact.
There are many passages about wives in the Bible. Let’s dive in to a few before looking at focus points for prayer.
The “Submission” Issue
Ephesians 5:22 is probably one of the most controversial passages for women in today’s culture of female independence and dominance:
Wives, submit to your husbands, as to the Lord.
Ephesians 5:22, ESV
Yes. It actually says that in the Bible.
“Submit” is viewed as one of those dirty words. Webster’s Dictionary defines it as, “to yield oneself to the authority or will of another; surrender. To defer to or consent to abide by the opinion or authority of another.” So many pop songs talk about surrendering to the one we love, but the real-world application is far more elusive. Consider the rest of the context surrounding Ephesians 5:22:
“Look carefully then how you walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not get drunk with wine, for that is debauchery, but be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody to the Lord with your heart, giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ.
Wives, submit to your own husbands, as to the Lord.
For the husband is the head of the wife even as Christ is the head of the church, his body, and is himself its Savior. Now as the church submits to Christ, so also wives should submit in everything to their husbands.
Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her…”
Ephesians 5:15-25 ESV
I included the verses leading up to 22 because I want you to notice that in the context, the passage talks about submitting to each other in the church. Submission is not a suggestion. It’s a requirement for every Christian.
Does this mean that wives should be a doormat—trampled on, wiped with mud and treated as common? Absolutely not! Notice that the immediate words following the instructions to wives are “husbands, love your wives.” I’ve never seen anyone shower their doormat with affection, have you? (Well, maybe at Pier 1.) So what does healthy submission look like for the Christian wife?
I will share my penny-worth thoughts: a submissive wife is the life-force of the home. She and her husband have agreed on the goals of their home and she does her part to help those goals be achieved. She discusses issues with her husband and he either delegates to her or takes on the task himself, but the success or failure lands on his shoulders. She honors her husband in front of their children and doesn’t run him down behind his back. He consults her because she is a pillar in the home and shows her love and affection. She supports her husband in the training of their children—they do not undermine each other.
Jesus submitted to God’s will in going to the cross. He prayed, “not my will, but Thine be done.” We submit to Christ when we are baptized into His death and raised to walk in newness of life. Our life is to be in submission to His will. The Church submits to Christ because He is the authority. Does He crush, berate, and belittle His church? No! He loves the church just as husbands are to love their wives.
Is it hard to submit to Christ? Are we willing to surrender ourselves to Him by changing our ways and walking with Him? It takes effort doesn’t it? We make every effort to do so because we love Him, we respect Him, and we trust Him.
Transfer those concepts to the marriage relationship as a wife. What does it mean to submit? Love. Respect. Trust.
“However, let each one of you love his wife as himself, and let the wife see that she respects her husband.”
~ Ephesians 5:33 ESV
Do you love your husband? If you do, show him some respect. Don’t bash him behind his back, don’t perpetually roll your eyes at his every enthusiasm and don’t make him look like a fool. That behavior is cultural, worldly, and selfish. Don’t be conformed to the world. Be like Christ.
Does respect imply the absence of disagreement? By no means! If a wife is a true helpmeet to her husband, she will speak up if she sees as decision as a poor choice that will be detrimental to her husband or the family as a whole. It’s how she goes about disagreeing that is significant. For instance, if the husband decides that the family needs a boat, but the wife realizes that buying the boat will put the family in debt and under considerable financial strain, she’s going to hit the brakes. The wife approaches him and says, “I like that you want to create memories with the family and give us something for enjoyment, but I am concerned about the impact to our budget. We have our son’s braces to pay for next year and our daughter is going to need the next size violin in a few months…” Reasonable reminders, gentle persuasion. A good leader/husband will consider the rationality of his wife’s statement, concur with it and make the responsible decision.
A wife should speak well of her husband both to his face and behind his back. She should highlight his positive attributes and praise him in front of their children. She can also demonstrate respect by showing interest in his activities.
What if the husband isn’t a good leader and/or is not a Christian?
“Likewise, wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct.”
~1 Peter 3:1-2 ESV
This is no easy task and will be in the focus points for our prayers. It is no easy thing being married to a spouse who doesn’t obey God. The best thing for a wife in this situation is to focus on doing what God requires of her.
Live the way God wants you to live, love the way Christ loves and your example may have a powerful impact on your husband. Remember that he will stand before God on judgement day to answer for his choices as a husband and father. I do not encourage remaining in an abusive home as it can do great harm physically and mentally to a woman and children. When it is simply poor leadership or apathy toward God, remain and live for Jesus. Pray constantly for your husband.
If you are single, pray these things for your married friends! If you are a man hoping to be married one day, pray that you will find these qualities in a wife. If you are a woman hoping to be married one day, pray these qualities for yourself, paying particular attention to proverbs 31.
Dont fail to pray for the “strong” wives. Even if someone seems to have it all together, they are still human and subject to temptation and trial. They need your prayers to remain faithful and true.
What should we pray for wives?
- Pray they will be devoted to God in prayer and study.
- Pray they will learn to submit to their husbands in a healthy, Christ-like way and pray their husbands will in turn show love toward them.
- Pray they will be respectful toward their husbands both publicly and at home.
- Pray for them to stand against temptation.
- Pray they will honor the Lord in their marriage.
If a wife is in a difficult relationship with a poor leader or unbeliever, pray for her to remain strong in the Lord and have a positive impact on her husband that will lead him to Christ.
FREE PDF prayer guide. Includes bible verses and a few lines to add notes/names. Download by clicking here.
Pray with purpose.
Reach out and encourage!
Please leave feedback in the comments section re: the PDF download. I am still trying to format this effectively to be a tool for your use and mine. Thank you in advance for your help!