Our son was only seven years old when he first broached the subject of marriage. “What happens,” he wanted to know, “if you go to a lot of weddings and you never get picked?”
I wasn’t quite sure what he was asking, so I pressed for details. “Robbie,” I said slowly, “I’m not sure I know what you mean. What do you think happens at a wedding?”
“I think everyone gets dressed up and then the girl chooses the one she wants. What happens if you never get picked?”
I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. My son, who’d already been on a dozen different sports teams by the time he was seven, saw the whole world through the lens of athletics. To him, a wedding represented one more opportunity to “dress out” and compete for a starting position.
The fact that Robbie was concerned about the perennial bench warmers—and that he might be secretly worried about missing his own chance to “play”—pierced my heart. I found his question both touching and hilarious, and it served as a reminder that it’s never too early to start praying for your child’s marriage partner.
It’s never too early to pray for your child’s eventual spouse
We can pray for our children’s eventual spouses long before we ever meet them in person. Consider how Abraham did it.
When the time came for Isaac to marry, Abraham had some fairly concrete ideas about the type of wife he wanted for his son. She couldn’t be a Canaanite; rather, he wanted someone from his own country, someone whose family acknowledged the Lord. Too old to make the journey himself, Abraham sent his servant to find a good match for his boy.
The servant stood beside a spring in Abraham’s hometown and, as the young women came out to draw water, he prayed a very specific prayer: “May it be that when I say to a girl, ‘Please let down your jar that I may have a drink,’ and she says, ‘Drink, and I’ll water your camels too’ — let her be the one you have chosen for your servant Isaac. By this I will know that you have shown kindness to my master.”
Obviously, Abraham’s servant was asking God for a sign. But I think there was more to his prayer than this. I think that when he prayed for a girl who would offer him water — and water his camels as well (all ten of them!) — the servant was asking God to show him a girl with the kindness, thoughtfulness, generosity, patience, and strength that Isaac would value in a wife. And indeed, Rebekah turned out to be all of these things, and more.
Be specific when you pray about your child's marriage partner
I love how Abraham’s servant seemed to be focused on finding a woman whose attractiveness stemmed, at least in part, from her temperament. I’m sure the fact that Rebecca also happened to be very beautiful didn’t hurt, but as we pray for our own children and their spouses, let’s be intentional about asking God to shape their character. We can ask God to make our daughters like the Proverbs 31 woman—hard working, good-natured, and wise. And we can pray for our sons to be like the man Psalm 112 describes—generous, compassionate, steadfast, and just.
Is it wrong to be so specific with God?
I don’t think so — particularly when our prayers are wrapped in an overarching desire to see God’s will be done. In fact, I think our heavenly Father loves to grant these requests. Not long ago, I heard from a young gal who was in a Bible study I once hosted for middle school girls. She’d just gotten engaged and when I asked her how she knew that "he" was the one, she laughed. “It was obvious!” she exclaimed. “He checked off every one of the prayers that I’d put in my journal when you told us to pray specifically for our future husbands. After praying these things for over ten years, he was easy to recognize!”
Three ways you can pray for your child's marriage
What are your desires for your children’s marriages — and, in particular, for the people that they will marry?
Truth be told, I have kind of a long prayer list when it comes to my kids and their spouses — including the prayer prompts I share in Praying the Scriptures for Your Children: 20th Anniversary Edition — but there are three things that are tops on my list, prayers I’ve written in my Growth Book time and again:
I pray that my kids will be people who love God deeply — with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength — and who will love their neighbors as themselves. That's a request rooted in Mark 12:29-31, and one that I’ve prayed for their eventual spouses as well.
I ask God to give my children and their spouses good relationships with their parents, to grant them the blessings that Exodus 20:12 promises to those who honor their fathers and mothers.
And I pray that my kids' marriages will be marked, as Ephesians 4:32 says, by kindness and compassion and a willingness to quickly forgive. (What marriage doesn't need that?)
"Let him/her be the one You have chosen"
Our son Robbie is all grown up now. He’s still an athlete, and sports still color much of his world, but I imagine that if you asked him about his biggest win, he wouldn’t tell you about any of the stuff that earned him trophies or championship rings. He’d introduce you to Mary, his fiancée and the love of his life.
As I think back on all the prayers I’ve prayed for Robbie’s one-day wife—prayers that spanned twenty-five years—I can’t help but pray with thanksgiving. Mary is truly an answer to prayer. And what joy it was, when I heard “She said yes!”, to look at this beautiful young woman and think to myself: So it’s you!
It's never too early (or too late) to pray for your child's marriage partner. It doesn't matter whether your kids are single or married, four years old or forty, walking closely with Jesus or still finding their way; God hears every one of our cries. And his answers continue to unfold, long after we finish praying.
So let's join our voices with generations of families who've gone before, praying as Abraham's servant did: "Let her/him be the one you have chosen."
--Jodie Berndt, author of the bestselling Praying the Scriptures series, including the just-released Praying the Scriptures for Your Children: 20th Anniversary Edition.
About this beautiful author:
Jodie Berndt is the bestselling author of Praying the Scriptures for Your Children and the follow-up volumes for Teens and Adult Children. A speaker and Bible teacher, Jodie believes that there is not a need we will face in parenting—or in any part of our lives—that God has not already thought of, and provided for, in his Word.
Jodie writes about praying for your child’s marriage partner in the just-released book Praying the Scriptures for Your Children: 20th Anniversary Edition. This updated and expanded edition includes all the stories, prayer principles, and biblically-based prayer verses readers loved in the original book, plus all-new material on topics like praying for your child’s use of technology and their sense of identity, along with a kid-friendly bonus section designed to equip parents to pray not just for their children, but with them.
This beautiful hardcover volume comes with a satin ribbon and a presentation page, making it perfect for gifting. And if you want to use the book as a Bible study or for small group discussion, you'll find the companion Study Guide and a free, seven-session Video Series (a $24.99 value) at jodieberndt.com.