When I spoke my wedding vows over 38 years ago, I didn’t do so with the thought in the back of my mind, “In a few years when things get hard, I hope to get a divorce.” In fact, if I would have had this thought in mind and my husband was aware, he probably would have left me at the altar. I would be a fool (and a liar) to say that there have not been rocky times in our marriage, but through God’s grace and sticking it out, we have grown up together. I would also be a fool to get mad and upset with those around me who choose to not stick it out, but simply walk away from their marriage. The foolish part would be to get mad at the couple, when in fact, if anger should be turned at anyone, it should be turned toward the enemy. I believe with all my heart that Satan has a goal to destroy marriages, and in turn, tear families apart for generations to follow. I am becoming increasingly more aware of struggling marriages, as I am surrounded by them in my family, friends in the church, and in my classrooms. I am also becoming increasingly more burdened for those I personally love and care about. In fact, I received an email just this morning from a distraught out-of-state student, who apologized for her assignment being late, because her husband walked in this weekend and announced to their three children (without prior notice to her), that he wanted a divorce and was leaving – with that, he walked out. Absolutely tragic. Satan wins again.
Every couple has their own story, and I certainly cannot make a blanket statement which says that all marriages fall under the same category, but what I can say is for me to simply sit back and do nothing when someone’s marriage is on the brink of division is just as heartbreaking to the heart of God as is the destruction of the marriage itself. If I say I believe in the holy union of marriage, and I say I truly care about my family, friends, and those within my sphere of influence, how can I simply sit back, shake my head, and do nothing? I can’t. My heart compels me to do something. I feel compelled to do what I believe is the greatest action before God. I feel compelled to pray – sincerely pray.
Dr. James Dobson, an American evangelical Christian author, psychologist, and founder of Focus on the Family, has been an aggressive advocate of traditional marriage and family for many, many years. He is quoted by saying, “It is impossible to overstate the need for prayer in the fabric of family life.” This quote seems to compliment the old cliché, “The family who prays together, stays together.” Again, I would be a fool to believe that all families are praying together, but the burden I have in my heart is not about what families are doing, it’s about what I am to do. I believe the power of prayer transforms hearts, changes lives, restores relationships, and sets captive hearts free. I also believe that we are not fighting against flesh and blood (each other) in these battles, and it is useless to try and tear each other down. “For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places (Eph. 6:12, NASB). If I really believe this, why wouldn’t I pray?
I cannot simply say I will pray and make a difference. Saying and actually doing are two completely different things. The scripture is clear that the enemy has a strategic plan against the ways of those who follow the Lord. Ephesians 6:11 – “Put on the full armor of God, that you may be able to stand firm against the schemes of the devil” (emphasis mine). The Greek translation of schemes is methodeia which means “the following or pursuing of an orderly and technical procedure in the handling of a subject.” If Satan, who is a proven liar and thief (John 10:10), is following an orderly and technical procedure with an end goal to kill, steal, and destroy, and his target is clearly aimed at the family – this should drop me to my knees on behalf of those I dearly love. And this it has. Not only has it dropped me to my knees, God has given me a counteractive, strategic, and prayerful plan in mind for the upcoming month “of love.”
February, the month of love, is just around the corner, and with the changing of the seasons and holidays, we will soon have our eyes and ears turned to Valentine’s Day; a day which is designed to be an expression of devoted love. According to a 2016 U.S. News and World Report, Americans were predicted to shell out a record $20 billion on Valentine’s Day gifts. Twenty billion dollars – let that one soak in. I don’t know about you, but in my financial books, that’s a lot of zeros! Although my husband and I have never really shown our love and concern toward each other through Valentine’s Day gift-giving, I know others who do, and that’s okay. But God has not softened my heart in the area of my friends and family who are struggling in their relationships by telling me to buy a gift. He is instructing me to pray and reach out to those within the sphere of my influence and let them know I care and want to help. Only the Lord Himself knows what goes on behind closed doors or in our hearts, so I am calling on the Name above all other names and the power of the Holy Spirit to do a mighty work in the relationships of those I love. I may be an army of one, but I am hoping others would consider this strategic effort as well.
Here is my invitation: will you join me? During the entire month of February (the love month), I am setting aside one day a week to fast and pray, sincerely pray, concentrating on my family and friends who are struggling under the attack of the enemy in their marriage. I am standing in the gap on their behalf, fully geared up with the Spiritual Armor of God Almighty, and fervently seeking the Lord. I am asking Him to tear down the strongholds the enemy has placed around the homes of my loved ones. I am begging Him to break the shackles of fear and doubt, distrust, unfaithfulness, lies, and deceit the enemy has tightly anchored on the ankles of those I care for deeply. I am calling on the King of Kings, the Lord of Lords, the Great I AM to step in and take over – to rid homes of the influence of the enemy and the strategic schemes and gnarly deceptions he has put in place. One day a week, I am fasting and praying. That may sound like a lot – it’s not. It’s only four days in the month of February. I believe my family and friends are certainly worth four days of my time, aren’t yours? Or has the enemy deceived you into believing you are just too busy?
As with the majority of Americans, my schedule is full. I seem to be way too busy all the time. But I have learned, if do not follow the leading of the Lord, even in my “busyness” my time will be wasted. I must allow Him to be my time manager, and guide me to do those things I know are in His will. I KNOW praying against the enemy in the area of my own marriage and family is in God’s will. I know He instituted marriage, I know He blessed it, and I know He desires to see families set free from the influence of the world and the enemy. Therefore, I KNOW I am to pray for those I love who are struggling in this area. In addition to fasting one day a week in February, I am also praying for a short time each day. I am setting an alarm on my phone, and at 2:14 p.m. (February 14th is Valentine’s Day) each day, no matter where I am or what I am doing, I will stop and pray for two minutes and 14 seconds. This may sound silly to some, but this is a plan God placed on my heart to work as a reminder to keep this commitment to pray ever before me – why? – I’ll say it again, because my schedule is busy, and I’m certain yours is as well. If I do not remind myself, even as much as I care, I will forget as I am wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of the day.
How about you? Do you have friends or loved ones who are struggling in their marriage relationship? Maybe you and your spouse are personally struggling and no one knows but the two of you. Would you join me in calling on the greatest power in the universe? Would you join me in prayer? Would you fast for four days in February specifically to pray for those you love? Would you pray for at least 2 minutes and 14 seconds every day? Please tell me you believe two minutes out of your day is worth seeing a marriage restored (whether your own or a couple you know). Please tell me you care enough to pray. Please tell me you believe in the sufficiency of Christ and the power He holds to heal, restore, and set free. Please tell me you believe prayer makes a difference. Please tell me you will pray. Sincerely pray.
38 years ago, I said my vows. I have seen 38 years of marriages come and go. I am not mad at the people who walked away from their marriage, I am simply sick and tired of the enemy continuing to destroy families I love. I refuse to sit back and do nothing. I am fighting back – on my knees. I have a list of names (and my list is way too long — currently 26 couples and growing). I am laying this list on the throne room of heaven at the feet of Jesus – begging for restoration and healing. Perhaps you would like to have your name added to this list. I would be honored and humbled to go before the Lord and stand against the enemy on your behalf. Have you had enough of the enemy’s schemes and victories? Join me on your knees, sword in hand.