Are you married to an unbeliever?
Whether you became a Christian after marriage or your spouse has walked away from the faith altogether – you may find yourself in a marriage that is unequally yoked.
So what is a faithful and concerned spouse to do?
Is it possible to experience peace and hope in your marriage?
You may not be able to change your spouse – but you CAN work on changing you – and through the power of prayer, God can change the heart of your husband or wife too.
Remember, He loves them even more than you do!
Here are 5 practical strategies and tips to help you live out your faith while praying expectantly in hope for your spouse:
1. Make Your Prayers Specific
As the believing spouse in an unequally yoked partnership, you may be dealing with all kinds of issues in your marriage.
As you’re reading this, you may even be separated or heading towards divorce.
Common marital disagreements on topics such as finances, career moves, family priorities, holiday expectations, level of church involvement and styles of parenting are all amplified in marriages where partners are unequally yoked.
A lack of faith in one partner can even lead to infidelity, addiction, or abuse.
Or perhaps your marriage is otherwise healthy, but you’re grieved for your unbelieving spouse’s soul.
No matter what the issues are, the answer is the same – prayer.
Your marriage and your situation is unique to you. Your spouse is a unique individual with their own unique thoughts, feelings, and beliefs.
Saying a quick, general prayer once in a while may not be enough to truly experience the hand of God moving in your marriage.
You’ll need to truly walk by the Spirit and take everything that happens to God in prayer, asking Him for guidance each day. Lay your burdens at His feet, surrendering it all to the One who truly cares for you.
And don’t be afraid to ask for specific things from God. Ask and you shall receive. (Matthew 7:7)
A great resource to help you on this journey is the well-known prayer books by Stormie Omartian.
They are divided into 31 chapters, which you can read and pray on throughout the course of a month. Each chapter focuses on a specific area such as your spouse’s emotions, priorities, fears and choices.
Purchase The Power of a Praying Wife, or The Power of a Praying Husband or look for a copy at your local library.
Remember to let all your requests be known before God, and watch and experience what He can do!
Restoration of your marriage is possible. Wait upon the Lord.
2. Personalize Your Prayers
There is something powerful and beautiful about praying scripture using your spouse’s very own name in it.
The wife of now-famous apologist and former atheist, Lee Strobel, often shares how she prayed Ezekiel 36:26 *daily* over her husband: “And I will give [insert spouse name] a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within [spouse’s name]. And I will remove the heart of stone from [spouse’s name] flesh and give [spouses name] a heart of flesh.”
You can take pretty much any scripture that speaks to your exact situation and turn it into a prayer for your husband or wife. God’s Word has power, and when you pray His Word – things happen in the spiritual realm. It is often said that faith moves God’s hand.
It takes faith to trust in God’s Word and it takes faith to have hope for your spouse’s heart and salvation.
Whether you prefer to write your prayers out, whisper them in your prayer closet, or shout them out loud over your home – try this special prayer exercise today and see what happens!
3. Focus On Your Own Faith Walk
There is a freedom in recognizing and accepting that we can’t control others – we can only control ourselves. This frees us from feeling responsible for other’s behavior too! When we stand before God, we will each be responsible for our own lives and actions.
During this season in your marriage, it is important to take a hard look at yourself and take the steps needed to grow in faith and love.
Is there something you could be doing in your marriage to improve things? Is there anything in your heart that needs to change? Let the Great Surgeon perform heart surgery on YOU as you also pray the same for your spouse.
Just as David did in Psalm 139:23-24, don’t be afraid to turn to the Lord and pray: “Search me, O God, and know my heart! Try me and know my thoughts! And see if there be any grievous way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting!”
As you allow God to reveal your own weaknesses to you, the changes He makes in you has the power to positively affect your spouse and your marriage. Often we become deadlocked in old, broken patterns and all we need is for someone to take the first step. Let that someone be you!
We all need God’s help and presence in our lives, but when things are going well we can so easily forget this truth – and even begin to drift away from Him.
Trials can bring about positive change in our lives. We often grow closest to God in the darkest times. As crazy as it sounds, you can even come to enjoy this deep one-on-one time with God as you labor in prayer for your spouse.
In this season, fill your heart, mind and home with worship as you cry out to the Lord. Remember that He walks with you daily.
4. Change Your Behavior
We’ve all heard the quote, “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result,“ and we may laugh – but it’s true!
If your current behavior or approach has done nothing to change the shape of your marriage – why continue that behavior?
The Bible tells us in 1 Peter 3:1-2 that our behavior and actions can do more to change hearts than our words ever can: “Wives, be subject to your own husbands, so that even if some do not obey the word, they may be won without a word by the conduct of their wives, when they see your respectful and pure conduct.”
Ladies, when has nagging ever worked for you? Men thrive on respect. Treating your husband like a child by constantly reminding him that he needs to go to church, or that he shouldn’t watch that violent movie will never, ever work.
Besides, it’s a true heart change you’re after – not just a behavior change. The Holy Spirit can do more in your husband’s life than you ever can! The more you step back and leave room for the Holy Spirit to speak to him – the better.
So good news – you can quit worrying about finding just the right words to say! It is not your job to “convince” your husband of anything. Your gentle, quiet spirit along with respectful, holy conduct will accomplish much more than any words you could ever say.
As wives and mothers, women often set the tone for the home. Make sure the environment you’re creating is a warm and welcoming one for your spouse.
Now, a few verses later, Peter speaks to the men: “Husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.”
Men, if you are praying for a change in your wife, make sure you are also treating her with love and care. Women often want to submit and follow just as much as you want to lead them. But if they don’t feel that their husband is acting in a reliable or understanding manner, it will be much harder for them to feel safe in the marriage.
Spend some time in prayer asking God what you can do to help care for your wife in this season. In time, your steady and caring influence in her life as a Godly man can accomplish much towards the salvation of her soul. (1 Corinthians 7:14-16)
Just as men need to feel respected, women need to feel loved. Be sure that you are kind and gentle with your wife as you prevail for her in prayer.
5. Don’t Walk Alone – find a spiritual mentor or prayer partner
There are many Christian support groups that serve as a starting point for faith-based fellowship and prayer. If you have experienced infidelity or abuse, check your local churches for various recovery groups such as Celebrate Recovery. If you are currently separated, two fantastic ministries to connect with online are Rejoice Marriage Ministries and Standers United.
Whether it’s an online support group, church-based class, or a trusted friend or counselor, make sure you connect with others who can speak encouragement into what you’re going through. No Christian should ever have to walk alone.
It can sometimes be embarrassing to admit to others what you’re experiencing at home, but the support, prayer, love and encouragement that you receive is well worth confiding in others.
The only thing more powerful than a committed believer crying out on their knees in prayer is two or more believers united in prayer on the same request.
With these 5 strategies, great change can come to you, your spouse, and your marriage. Don’t lose hope!
The eternal rewards for your family and the future generations to come are well worth it.