I have a dear friend whose marriage is in crisis. Both she and her husband are strong believers, yet they are in a very hard place. There is not an overriding reason, just years of accumulated “stuff” that has not been dealt with properly. Both my husband and I have talked, challenged, encouraged, and prayed with this couple. There have been a few positive steps taken and many disappointments. We honestly do not know what their future holds.
My good friend Mary (not her real name) is also best friends with the couple in crisis. Several months ago when this marriage began to unravel, Mary and I were devastated. We longed to be able to help and we simply did not know what we could do. Our natural inclination was to try to set them both straight—to fix things. And although we have given advice, we know that only God can bring about the necessary changes. This is a spiritual battle.
What could two friends do? We could pray. It’s easy to pray for someone as they come to mind but Mary and I felt we needed to make a more serious commitment on behalf of our friends. So we made a commitment to pray together every day on the phone for 30 days for this couple. To make this easier we determined that we would not talk when we called in. We would merely pray. This kept the length of our prayer calls to a minimum and it kept us centered on Jesus. If we wanted to talk we called at another time.
For 30 days we prayed. Sometimes it was from a ladies’ room in an airport, a parking lot in a mall, or stopped on the side of an interstate across the country—from wherever one of us happened to be at the time. Often God gave us the exact Scripture for the need of the moment.
After 30 days we did not feel the freedom to stop. The marriage still struggles. It’s now been nearly five months and Mary and I are still praying. We’ve missed some days but not many. We’ve grown weary and discouraged when we don’t see any progress. But we’ve experienced His blessing in our own lives in several ways:
We are learning endurance and perseverance. (James 1:1-5)
We are experiencing having to wait on the Lord. (Isaiah 40:31)
Our own times in the Scriptures have been enriched. (Psalm 119:105)
Our relationship has grown deeper as we’ve prayed together for our friends. (Ecclesiastes 4:12)
We are gaining new insight into the meaning of the “fellowship of His sufferings.” (Hebrews 4:14-16)
We are learning not to grow weary in praying even if we feel very weary! (Galatians 6:9-10)
Recently as I reluctantly picked up the phone to call Mary to pray I was overwhelmed with a sense of God getting ready to hear us and I imagined God thinking, Oh me, here we go again. These two with their same old requests—again. And then I realized what I was doing. I was projecting onto God how I would feel. But He is oh so different!
His response was more likely, Oh what joy! What delight! My two children are coming to me again. They aren’t giving up. They love their friends. They bring me such joy when they come to me! It thrills me. It delights me. I love them so much! I understand them and I rejoice every single time they come to me. After all, I am their Father, their Daddy who loves them perfectly and longs to hear their voices cry out to me.
Today He sees you and me and He says, Oh what joy you bring me! Just call on me. Come to me. It doesn’t matter what you’ve done or left undone, just come! I delight in you for you are my child!
Susan Yates has written thirteen books and has spoken nationally and internationally on the subject of marriage, parenting and women’s issues for many years. For 11 years she was a regular columnist on parenting for Today’s Christian Woman magazine. Susan is the mother of five and has 21 grandchildren, including a set of quads. She is devoted to sharing her wisdom and experience with moms and wives and is selflessly available to those in need. Susan has been a mom for 40 years, she and John have been married for 43 years.