Getting together with my five other siblings for the sixth and final wedding created a special celebration last month. It was a storybook romance; my sister married her childhood “crush!” Two young adults who love Christ coming together to begin a new life. It was the exact marriage all Christian parents want for their daughters. I would be thrilled if a future like that lies ahead for my daughter. However, I’m not praying for it—not anymore. A year ago I made a conscious choice to stop praying for my daughter’s future husband.
This is not a post raging against marriage. I fully affirm and embrace the gift and beauty of marriage and would be glad if my daughter one day marries. Rather, this is a post about consciously raising my children in a way that sets them up to be able to embrace the life God gives them. No conditions, no caveats.
In 1 Corinthians 7, Paul describes both singleness and marriage as a gift. Both are good, and both have benefits for serving the Lord. As this post from Desiring God explains, “Singleness is not a problem to be solved.” Sometime last year, this idea started to take root with me.
I began to wonder if my prayers for a future husband treated singleness as something to be solved or healed?
Was I unintentionally raising daughters who would view the gift of singleness as a curse instead? I began to seek out how I could raise my children to follow Paul’s admonition in 1 Corinthians when he says, “And don’t be wishing you were someplace else or with someone else. Where you are right now is God’s place for you. Live and obey and love and believe right there. God, not your marital status, defines your life.”
So, during our nightly prayers I stopped praying for a future husband. My original intention was for my children to know at an early age that I was committed to praying for their (future) spouses. I wanted to establish early on that I had a vested interest in who my children would marry and that I deeply cared about their character and spiritual development. Yet I think in the middle of my well intentioned desire, I realized I was perpetuating the idea that one day my daughter would certainly get married. I began to question, Am I setting her up for deep-seated spiritual anguish if she never gets married? What if God calls her to a life of singleness? Are my prayers for a future husband in direct opposition to a good gift her Heavenly Father could give her?
Obviously I cannot predict the future relationship status of my daughter, but I want to raise her in a way that enables her to embrace whatever life God calls her to. Not my version or desires for her. I want to raise a daughter that is willing to say “yes!” and thoroughly enjoy all the good gifts her Father wants to give her—not struggle through them.
Married or single, I want her to know that all of her needs will be met and fulfilled through Christ.
This doesn’t mean I stopped praying for my children’s future. In fact, I believe my prayers now are more intentional and specific than ever before. But my prayers are now shaped in way that I hope helps my girls grow into adults who are able to find contentment in all situations, regardless of relationship status.
Now instead of praying for a future husband, I pray three specific things over each of my daughter’s future:
- I pray that my children would always live a life surrounded by those who love them unconditionally. This may include a husband; it may not. As I’ve imagined and thought about my children’s futures, married or single, I believe we were made to be in fellowship with others. My prayer is that my daughters would always be surrounded by a community that loves them well.
- I pray that those closest to the hearts of my children would love the Lord with all of their heart, soul, mind, and strength. Rather than just praying specifically for a husband who would know the Lord, I pray that all those near and dear to my daughters would love Christ. After nearly a decade of marriage experience, I have come to appreciate how valuable it is for both my husband and I to have good friends who follow Christ. My prayer is that married or single, my children would be surrounded by a community of believers.
- I pray that my daughters’ community would constantly encourage them to love God with all their heart, mind, and strength. I pray that those closest to my children, be it spouses or best friends, would constantly point them back to Christ. That those who engage and interact regularly with my daughters would encourage them to strengthen their walk with the Lord.
At the end of the day, these prayers are still very similar to the prayers I used to pray exclusively for future spouses. And if God does lead my children to a life of marriage, then I would certainly want these three things for their marriage. However, I also believe by changing how I pray for my daughters I am no longer projecting a future onto them that may or may not be true.
My hope is that that by praying this way, they will be more open to God’s plan for their lives, not my plans.