Later this year, I will enter the third decade of my life. I’m still as single as I was at 20.
I question if it’s worth it to keep praying for a husband. I have been praying for a husband for the better part of the last 10 years, and I’ve wondered, on bad days, if I’ve been attempting to trick God into giving me what I want. My attitude is definitely calculating at times, and I know, at least theoretically, that I have to live fully in the present—regardless of whether or not I have a ring on my finger. God has called me to be single for today, but as uncool as it might make me seem, I’m still going to keep praying for a husband.
In researching this topic, I came across an article entitled “Why I No Longer Pray for a Husband.” The author, Anna Broadway, chronicles her journey away from asking for a husband to feeling called to inhabit her singleness. Her thesis is that it is better to ask the Lord more broadly to meet her needs and the needs of those around her—asking for flourishing community to meet relational needs. Her thought-provoking perspective forced me to dive deep into the reasons why I pray for marriages instead of communities where he or she can most flourish and be a blessing.
When I took the time to reflect, I realized that I pray for a husband for myself and for marriages for those who desire it for many reasons, from the theological to the personal. On the most fundamental level, I pray for marriage because God originally created it as the foundational community through which God the Father was going to exercise His reign over the whole earth. Adam and Eve’s relationship wasn’t the foundation of a generic community but was the start of sacrificial, familial ties—for life. Marriage is a unique good, reflective of ultimate realities.
Marriage isn’t in the cards for everyone, and there’s nothing wrong about praying for flourishing communities for singles, but to replace praying for marriages for singles who want to be married with praying for mere communities undercuts the good theological and cultural foundation for man-woman marriage.
Marriage isn’t just good because “the Bible tells me so.” Strong marriages are beneficial for people in every culture on the face of the earth. I pray for a husband and for more strong marriages because I see marriage as not only something that is good for Christians in Christian circles, but also I see it as a common good for the world. Broadway writes, “I’ve even become more cautious about specifically asking for marriage on behalf of others. How do I know that’s best for them, after all?” She’s right. I don’t know what God’s best is for any one individual. And yes, not all marriages are happy nor do they necessarily produce a noticeable benefit on an individual basis. Marriage between two sinners can be a dysfunctional mess. But that doesn’t change the fact that strong marriages are a net good for the world.
On the whole, men, women, children, neighborhoods, villages and cities are happier, healthier and better with more strong marriages than with few. Marriage may not be God’s best for every individual story, but it is most often how God chooses to flourish humanity.
Even though God often chooses to bless the world through marriage, the Bible does call us to pray humbly, acknowledging that God’s will is higher than ours. I can’t know if I will get married or if any one of my single friends will get married, but I’m not at all shy about praying that the Lord would provide in this way.
I pray for a husband because I have to be honest with the Lord. He cares about my desire to get married, even if that isn’t ultimately in His plan for me. Thankfully, God sees the tender spots in our hearts and doesn’t fill the silence with, “Get over it!” He delights to walk beside us as we cultivate faithfulness where we are.
I pray for a husband because, honestly, I don’t know what else to do with my desire to nurture my own children, love a man and create a home for them. I can church hop or move to Montana or sign up for online dating. But after that exhausting day, my life is His story to tell, and I can’t make marriage happen. I write plenty about what it means to live a full single life, and the Lord is blessing me now with good things that aren’t just placeholders—goods of friendship, fellowship, meaningful work and service. My life is full of undeniable advantages, and most days I love it. That being said, my desire for a husband is still there. My heart plus the demographic realities and cultural breakdown are too much for me to just stay silent in my prayers—leaving the desire to fester elsewhere.
If you are single and have no desire for marriage, then the Lord may lead you to pray in other ways and for other things. But for me, and for other singles who want to be married, praying about it is the best possible thing we can do. Praying for marriage at least gives marriage-minded singles a chance to open their hearts to the Lord, acknowledging how invisible they may feel in the world of online dating, well-meaning sermons and Christian singles mixers.
Honest prayer is the best antidote to bitterness and hardness of heart that comes to mind. No bargaining chips, if-onlys or saccharin platitudes allowed.
Pray for marriages. Pray for a husband. And then, live fully the life God has given you today.