Prayer, Plain and Simple

I heard yesterday from a friend who confessed that he and his wife are struggling severely in their marriage. He admitted they are considering separation. I’m praying for them today, and with them all those trying to battle through toxic relationships.

My prayer for my friends’ marriage is not for a “thunderbolt miracle” from heaven but for practical wisdom and strength for both of them to change the behavior patterns that have poisoned trust and intimacy. There’s really nothing mystical or magical needed here. They simply need to act and speak differently. I realize – and they do as well – that wounds from their own lives traced back to their childhoods are contributing to emotions that come out sideways in their interactions with one another. These past traumas need to be healed, and only God can do that. But still, no matter the pain we carry we all have a will to choose our behaviors. And the then moment between a stimulus that may trigger and emotion and the response we have to that emotion offers us a moment of choice.

My friend admits that he has an anger issue, that at times he vents anger in abusive words aimed at his wife. He also realizes that the anger comes from some deep subterranean conflicts in his soul. But he does have a choice in how he vents it, and he knows this. He never explodes at his young, adopted daughter, while he does let loose on his wife. Why? He chooses to.

I’m praying today that my friend will find healthy ways and healthy places to vent his frustration. This is really a practical matter. I’m praying he finds the discipline to exercise regularly, to manage his diet, to start a hobby, to begin a creative project. Anger is a part of everyone’s life. It can be fuel for productive behavior as well as unproductive behavior. It can be a fuel for good. I’m praying for that for my friend, that eventually God will heal his hurts that generate the anger but that in the process the anger itself can become a source of motivation to do something practically useful. This is my prayer request for wisdom, discipline, accountability and practical behavioral modifications. Nothing mystical or magical here, just simple, straightforward insight and resolve.

“God I pray today for all those struggling with painful marriage conflicts. I pray for those battling anger and those suffering abuse from an angry spouse. I pray today for those battling anger within them. I ask that you will show them simple, straightforward and productive alternatives to express these emotions. I pray that they will have wisdom to manage their diets, the discipline to exercise their bodies, and insight to modify their work/rest patterns, and the prudence to organize their time, space, finances and relationship priorities. God, work in the nuts and bolts of troubled marriages. Do miracles, but begin the miracle work in the simple and down to earth elements of these relationships. As your Word has said, ‘What God has joined together, let no human separate.’ We pray for healthy marriages in Jesus’ name…”

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