Struggling With Prayer

Sometimes I struggle with prayer.

Not the bow your heads as we all come together to close up this worship service type of prayer. Not the constant back-and-forth muttering, wrestling, surrendering to the Creator of the Universe type of prayer.

But the grocery listing of all the things in this world that are broken and need mending type of prayer. The begging for divine intervention type of prayer. And more specifically, the I have this deep and seemingly God-given desire to fall in love, get married, and have kids, and so I’m gonna plead with the Almighty One to find me a husband type of prayer.

My friend Bianca notices that I don’t seem to have much fight, at least when my personal interests are concerned. My friend Kyle wonders if I have issues feeling worthy. And my friend Joy fearlessly petitions Him on my behalf.

Their words, observations and prayers are of course appreciated but me, I still struggle with saying that prayer.

Yes, I wholeheartedly believe in an all-knowing and all-powerful God. I wholeheartedly believe that God has a plans for me, plans to prosper me and not to harm me, plans to give me a hope and a future. And I wholeheartedly believe that God can move mountains, He can heal the sick, and He can perform miracles on a whim.

But what I can’t seem to reconcile is that He wants to hear me groan about my singleness. That He doesn’t already know what my heart desires. And  that He would divert His perfect-for-me plan based on my fumbling attempt at words.

So yes, sometimes I struggle with prayer.

How about you? Do you struggle with prayer?

And…what are your thoughts on praying for a husband?

Don’t forge the rules. Be honest but only if you can do be honest while being kind, courteous, and respectful. 

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Lindsey has a sincere love for her precious dogs Molly and Maisy, a good red wine and the Delta Sky Club. She spends her days (and some nights) laboring to end childhood hunger at Feed the Children and to gather, equip and unleash women at IF:Gathering.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Cherith

    This must be why I was moved by the Lord to pray specifically for you last week on my walk!
    From your DC friend you have never met!

    • lindseyrnobles

      Thanks Cherith! Appreciate the prayers.

  • Andrea B.

    This is a huge area of struggle for me. Really Lindsey, I love that you are so honest and transparent! The part about praying for a husband that I struggle with the most is not even knowing if I should ask for one at all or if I should be praying in faith like He’s already got someone picked out for me. Kind of like when I’m talking to someone and I don’t know whether to say “when” or “if” I get married someday.

    I read a great book a few years ago by Candice Watters, “Get Married: What Women Can Do to Help It Happen,” and it really validated my desire to marry by confirming that it is God given…..but I still don’t know how to pray about it!

    • lindseyrnobles

      I’ve heard good things about that book.

  • Erica Olson

    OMG!! Love this! Thanks!

  • Sol E.

    As Andrea mentioned, I am so grateful that you are so honest and transparent. Thank you for that. I, like you, have a hard time praying ‘that’ prayer. It feels selfish. It feels like it is a God-given desire of my heart to be romanced, fall in love, get married, have babies… yet it is so difficult to ask God to provide a husband. Is that infringing on God’s will for me? Am I asking for too much?

    I struggle, because I feel no shame in asking for justice in my neighborhood, in school systems, or even advocating for friends and their love lives, but it feels incredibly different in asking for myself.

    • lindseyrnobles

      Yep!

  • Kristy

    Oh, sister, i get it!

    I struggle with the same thoughts and prayer.. “What if I pray for the gift of marriage and that prayer isn’t answered? “”Will I be upset with God?” “I don’t want to be disappointed with God so maybe I just won’t pray.”…. ” If it’s God’s will for me to be single in this season, is praying for a husband a sign of discontent?” “I don’t want to not be content and miss the blessings of now, so should I pray?”

    What I keep going back to is the early believers in Acts. Miraculous movement of the Spirit was preceded by prayer. And since it feels like it would take a miracle at this point, I guess I have to pray! 🙂

    • lindseyrnobles

      Yes. Yes. Yes.

  • Sarah W.

    Oh how many times I’ve thought that. And struggled with praying that. Personally I’ve come to the place where I pray for it and in the same breath pray that whatever the Lord’s will is, that I would live and rest there. It’s such a strange balancing act for me – praying for the Lord’s will, but at the same time praying for a husband. All that to say, I know how you feel!

    • lindseyrnobles

      Yeah, I feel a lot more comfortable with the ‘surrender me to your will prayer.”

  • ashley

    YES YES YES. If you pray for it, you’re a desperate girl begging for a man. If you don’t pray for it, you’re too independent, blah blah blah. But at the end of the day, as hard as it is, I do *think* He wants all of us, even our groans about being single. Praying for you friend. And remembering with you how faithful He is & has been in ALL things.

    • lindseyrnobles

      Thanks Ash. 🙂

  • Mike L

    “You don’t receive because you don’t ask” the Bible reminds us. Now, just because we ask doesn’t mean we get. But, God wants us to ask for it is in the activity of the asking that God moves. It is in the activity of the asking that our Spirit finds peace that passes understanding – regardless of what the future may or may not hold. Cry out until God hears your cry. The answer may be to give what you cry out for. The answer may be that you find yourself able to count it all joy even as you cry out. It may not be that you suffer in the ways others do – in poverty or sickness – but your cry is just as important to God your Father as any other. To whom else will you go? Only God has the words that lead to life.

    • lindseyrnobles

      Mike, Thanks for the encouragement. I do need to work through this struggle because you are right the Bible tells us to ask. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” I guess I am just trying to figure out what that looks and sounds like?

  • april walker

    yup… I struggle with this exact same prayer. I feel guilty about when praying it & that I should just believe and that by moaning & groaning about my singleness that I’m not trusting & believing that God will provide me with His best in His time. Maybe that’s why He gives us the gift of interceding family & friends? 😉 thanks for putting the struggle out there!

    • lindseyrnobles

      🙂

  • Iesha H

    Yes. I understand exactly where you’re coming from Lindsey.
    I’ve heard in church that you should be specific with your prayers because it gives your “faith” a focus. Then I’ve heard(in church) that if your prayers are too specific it shows that you don’t trust God to give you what He thinks is best for you.
    *shrug* I don’t know.
    I’ll admit that I have prayed for a husband in my 20s. Because that’s what I was told I should do. “Let your requests be made known unto God…”; “In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your path…”
    When it didn’t happen by my 30s…I prayed again. Well, I just turned 41 last week. No husband. No kids. And I haven’t prayed about it. I think because I believe God knows the desire of my heart. I’ve already made my request and I just have to endure the process of waiting(a lot longer than I anticipated). I just don’t think God will move any faster based on my frequency of asking.
    One more thing…do you think you struggle with praying for your “personal interests” because we’re so often taught as Christians to pray for others first? To put the needs of others before our own?
    Thanks for this post. Sometimes it’s a blessing just to know there are others out there dealing with the same things and to get support and a different POV.

    • lindseyrnobles

      I do struggle with praying for my personal interests. And…thank you!

  • Yeah, this is a big struggle for me too. In my twenties, I was all about praying for my future husband and “coming boldly before the throne” in that area…then I got my heart smashed and handed back to me. The prayers for him (and for contentment in being single) have pretty much stopped all together. I just don’t talk to God about that stuff anymore. 🙂 I tell myself that I don’t pray about that area because I don’t want to dwell on it, but I really believe it boils down to a lack of trust and being scared that I will get hurt again by God when it comes to my heart. My head KNOWS that God knows that desires of my heart and He gave me those desires. He wants us to talk to Him about that stuff. My favorite story that Jesus talked about (and it speaks to me about this area of prayer) is the woman who wouldn’t stop pleading with the judge for what she wanted and eventually the judge gave her what she asked for. I do want to have that kind of faith about my singleness.
    Thanks for putting this out there…its so helpful to see that we are not alone in this!

    • lindseyrnobles

      Yes >>> “I tell myself that I don’t pray about that area because I don’t want to dwell on it, but I really believe it boils down to a lack of trust and being scared that I will get hurt again by God when it comes to my heart. My head KNOWS that God knows that desires of my heart and He gave me those desires. He wants us to talk to Him about that stuff.”

    • Iesha H

      Yes, Marjorie. I think I feel this way too.

  • Jen D

    I, too, have trouble with prayer for a husband. I can pray for human trafficking, orphans, a sick friend, etc. But when I’m in need, I have the hardest time praying for me. As for praying for a husband. No, I can’t pray that prayer. I will pray for my future husband, that he will love God and love me but I have trouble praying that prayer, too. I agree that God knows my heart, knows my desire to be a wife and mom. I just can’t beg Him to do it when I want it because that may not be His timing for me. In the times when I’ve prayed that someone who is in my life will be that husband, it doesn’t work out the way I think I want it to. (And then down the line, I find out it is a good thing it didn’t work out that way.) My pastor’s wife asked me a question last summer that I always come back to, “If you never get married and have children, at the end of your life, if all you have is Jesus, will you still have joy?” And she wasn’t talking about being happy like most people think. She was talking about the Joy of the Lord. My answer was and still is an emphatic “Yes.” Do I still pray for my husband? Occasionally I will. I want to marry a Godly man. I pray that for him. But I’m more apt to pray for those who don’t know Jesus. THAT prayer, I can pray.

    • lindseyrnobles

      Me too. Me too.

  • This is uncanny, Lindsey. I do have a hard time praying for personal needs, especially when it comes to singleness. It’s not a matter of worth- I absolutely believe God finds me to be worthy and know He is the giver of all good gifts. It’s just for whatever reason, He hasn’t seen it fit to send a marriage my way. Yet. I keep thinking, “none of this is promised in the Bible!” So how can I keep asking for something that isn’t a guarantee, no matter how much I want it? Shouldn’t I pray for contentment or a right attitude? And yet, I do believe God wants us to lay our concerns before Him and that if it matters to us, it matters to Him. Maybe I should pray with more “fight” in me, maybe I should pray as zealously for myself as I do for others. It’s worth considering.

    • lindseyrnobles

      This is what we’ll discuss over coffee someday soon. “Maybe I should pray with more “fight” in me, maybe I should pray as zealously for myself as I do for others.”

  • I struggle with this, too. Whenever I do pray for a husband, I feel like I’m just whining. However, this week actually, I began to think about those in the Bible who prayed for their personal needs. Not that God would be glorified by delivering the nation of Israel through them or anything, but that God would give them what they themselves wanted. Hannah came to mind. She was praying for a child, but her desire for a child was similar to mine for a husband. Her husband asked if he wasn’t enough for her, but God “remembered her.” That story in 1 Samuel made my prayers for a husband seem okay. God cares that we are hurting, even if our hurt doesn’t seem especially difficult in the face of much bigger issues.

    • lindseyrnobles

      This >>> God cares that we are hurting, even if our hurt doesn’t seem especially difficult in the face of much bigger issues. #love

  • AnnieDowns

    I hear ya.

  • Erin

    I was just praying about this very thing this morning. I pray for it all the time! And I try not to feel guilty, because God already knows so I’m really just articulating it/petitioning out loud to Him. A few things … I’m really glad someone mentioned the story of Hannah, I think that’s an excellent example of being desperate (in a good way) before God. Also, I think it really comes down to the heart and I have to admit I have insecurities before God even (“are you mad at me right now for praying about this AGAIN?”) But He knows and He loves, and often I pray that He will bring me what I desire, or take that desire off my heart. Quickly and obviously. Very direct and honest. Lastly, in the meantime, I wanted to point you to one of the best, most biblical and honest things I’ve read on singleness.
    http://www.unc.ruf.org/site_content/attachments/0000/1199/Singled_out_for_Good.pdf

    • lindseyrnobles

      Great article.

  • Jenni

    I go through fits and spurts of praying for my husband and then being so overwhelmingly tired of waiting and asking and crying and beating on the gates of heaven with no answer that I take a break. Usually in those times, I cry out to my sister-friends (married and not) and they pick up their prayers with extra intensity. I KNOW that God knows these are the desires of my heart, but I also KNOW that He tells us through scripture to ask and ask and ask some more.

    • lindseyrnobles

      A good word.

  • Yesterday I attended a funeral for a lady in her ’90s. Three different preachers got up and told stories about her and her husband, how they met in high school and knew they were each other’s destiny right away and spent nearly seventy years together and how they loved each other so much even in the retirement home, how they looked at each other with such love even in their final weeks, how they supported each other until the end. I’ve seen that few times in my life, and that’s what I’ve always wanted, even as far back as Kindergarten. I left that funeral with this tightness in my chest that hasn’t gone away and all I can think about is how lonely and alone I feel even as God gave me clear evidence yesterday that He’s still working through me to touch others (a great privilege in and of itself). I went to bed last night begrudgingly praying about the very things you’re discussing here. I woke up steeped in a crushing sense of hopelessness and depression, convinced it’s never going to happen. I’m very upset right now and it’s been building for about a week and a half now and it’s been years since I’ve been as depressed as I am now.

    The older I get, the more I feel this ominous force weighing down on me. I wonder what’s wrong with me. I wonder about all the choices I didn’t make or what would have happened if I’d chosen differently. I think about all the beautiful, God-loving women who have entered and exited my life, any of whom I could have loved with all my heart except the timing or the circumstances were never quite right. I think about the years I wasted in relationships I knew were going to end badly, hoping that things would turn around somehow, and I wonder if I missed my opportunity at happiness because I didn’t end things sooner. Or I think about the times I could have been more aggressive in pursuing a relationship when opportunity presented itself instead of waiting for God’s approval, watching the opportunity pass while heaven remained silent. I think about the times I should’ve picked up the phone and I didn’t, or when I should have gotten the hint but it went right over my head. I think about how accidentally aloof I am and all the medical issues I deal with and then I start wondering if I could ever be anything but a burden to anyone. And the more all this garbage circulates through my brain, the more cumulative heartache I feel and the sharper that pain in my chest gets.

    I love God more than I’ll ever love my wife, and even when I’m mad and upset and feel so hurt by being passed by while everyone around me gets what I want, I have to trust that God knows I’m not ready, and that if I got what I wanted, it would turn into heartache down the line instead of happily ever after.

    No matter how much I love her, I don’t want to be married to someone simply because they were lonely and were just looking for anyone to fill that empty spot on the couch. As much as I want to be the one for the woman who needs me, as much as I want to share celebrations with her and be there to listen when she needs to talk and to hold her hand when she’s scared and to make her laugh when she’s had a bad day—as much as I want to be a blessing to my future wife—I know that God wants to be those things for me. God wants me to be real and rely on Him and trust Him and suffer through these times with Him. I’m still believing that one day, I’ll look into the eyes of a Godly woman—maybe a stranger, maybe someone I’ve known for years—and hear Him say, “This is my daughter and I want you to take really good care of her.” But that relationship can never replace the relationship I have with God.

    And seriously, from reading everyone’s responses and typing all this out, I feel better than I have in days. Thank you all so much for letting God use you.

    • lindseyrnobles

      Thanks William for sharing and being so vulnerable in your sharing. Loved hearing your thoughts and perspective. Sounds like you are wrestling too. That’s always where God seems the closest for me, when I wrestle.

    • William, thank you for sharing. Your honest words here echo Psalm-like emotions, and I feel honored to have read them.

      Linds, I think you’re onto something here. I often can’t find where my longing ends and my prayer begins, and I’m starting to become okay with that (despite the religious southern girl in me that wants it to look ‘right’ on paper).

    • William, thank you for sharing. Your honest words here echo Psalm-like emotions, and I feel honored to have read them.

      Linds, I think you’re onto something here. I often can’t find where my longing ends and my prayer begins, and I’m starting to become okay with that (despite the religious southern girl in me that wants it to look ‘right’ on paper).

    • William, thank you for sharing. Your honest words here echo Psalm-like emotions, and I feel honored to have read them.

      Linds, I think you’re onto something here. I often can’t find where my longing ends and my prayer begins, and I’m starting to become okay with that (despite the religious southern girl in me that wants it to look ‘right’ on paper).

  • Lindsay Snyder

    Lindsey, your authenticity is beautiful and completely understood. I use to struggle with the same thing, but my mindset and my prayers have recently changed when someone (actually a book-pointing to a story in the Bible) Mark 10: 46-52 came across my path, it’s where Jesus stops and responds with a pointed question to the blind man: “What do you want me to do for you?” I found this to be so interesting, as I believe like you that God knows what I need before I ask, scripture states that and I believe that, but the fact that Jesus wanted this man to verbalize his desire and tell Him what he wanted changed my view… The book goes onto say “He made them spell it out, but it wasn’t because Jesus didn’t know what they wanted, it was because He (Jesus) wanted to make sure they knew what they wanted” -The Circle Maker by Mark Batterson… I gotta be honest that really hit me hard. but I LOVED it all at the same time…. Another wise person in my life then told me that when he prays he paints pictures in his mind of what he wants to see happen, he prays the details. That also helped me SO much! I use to have a hard time feeling selfish about praying for myself as I am SO blessed compared to SO many, but I also learned to not compare. PERIOD. My blessing or my suffering to anyone, but to PRAY in everything! I hope this helps… ps.. only on Chapter 5 in the book but it is REALLY GOOD.. 🙂 hugs..

    • lindseyrnobles

      Sounds like a great book. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. Very helpful.

  • Shay

    Yes, I feel the same way. I always feel guilty about praying for a husband. I think of all the people that are praying daily for their health, for a job, for food on the table, and for financial freedon. Everything that I already have.
    I desire marriage and a family. Friends encourage me to pray on my knees for this. Just not sure how to feel worthy of wanting and this when all my needs are met.
    Silly, I know.

    • lindseyrnobles

      I get it.

  • andrea

    this, sweet lindsey, is beautiful! thank you for your vulnerability, for opening your heart. my biggest struggle with singleness is embarrassment and being too prideful to even ask for prayer from others. of course i pray for my future husband to have favor, anointing, protection and provision–i also pray that the Lord will continue to refine me into the woman that will compliment the amazing man i am trusting [hoping] for. maybe this *struggle* through singleness is that grain of sand that is polishing us to be those beautiful pearls, putting that final sheen on our character so that when we are [finally] united with that special someone we will be better reflections of the Father’s love to this world.

    • lindseyrnobles

      thanks andrea!

  • Ashley

    Oh yes! I’m getting married in 2 weeks but I’m 31 and I can so relate to this post. About 6 months before I met my soon to be husband, I had one of these heart wrenching, from the depths of my soul, gut wrenching cries out to the Lord, “Where is he? I know You’ve given me this desire but where in the world is he? What else do you want me to do??” Sure I had prayed for a husband and marriage before but it was something about just being very raw and real before my Creator- the One who gave me this desire and longing. I was broken, tired of feeling forgotten by God (because all of my friends were married). I think when we are able to get to that place of just admitting our desperate need to be heard by God, we are really able to hear Him.

  • Nina

    Well said. I completely agree. I’m 31 and have never been married. I don’t pray about marriage often enough. I have such a huge fear of a bad marriage that when I do pray for it, I very much pray that God’s will be done. I know that some people believe there is someone for everyone, but I’m not so sure. So, I’d rather not marry than marry the wrong person… but sometimes it sure can be hard to live with this deep desire for marriage!