Amy and Michael Smalley share a contemplative prayer that invites God to make the changes in your spouse you desire to see.
What is the biggest complaint about your spouse? One of our mentors is Dr. Ed Laymance, and he has a wonderful exercise on getting rid of hurtful issues through an exercise he calls “flushing”. It is quite powerful and we wanted to borrow the idea here in this chapter. We are not going to go through the entire thing, that is called plagiarism, but the term "flushing" is so appropriate for what you need to do with the issues against your spouse.
Take a moment and write out what you want your spouse to change the most. Make sure and keep this list private. it would be cruel and extremely unfair to let your spouse see this list. But write out what you want to change. Let it all out and don’t hold anything back.
Now, take a few minutes to pray out loud the following prayer. In the book, 31 Days to a Deeper Meditative Prayer Life, they teach how to truly calm your mind and to meditate on scripture. Their technique to help foster a contemplative experience is very helpful. One of their ideas is to repeat reading the verse you want to focus on multiple times. We encourage you to not only pray the following prayer, but take the time to really let it soak in by meditating on it and asking the Holy Spirit to reveal His truth in your life. Take a deep breath and rest in this prayer:
Lord, please forgive me of how I approach (spouse’s name). I have been judgmental and impatient, and I’m sorry. I am handing over my spouse to you, God, right now. I am no longer in charge of (spouse’s name) growth, I am handing it all over to you. I ask for patience, kindness, and mercy as (spouse’s name) struggles through (add your spouse’s struggle/s). Give me Your heart as I deal with my spouse. Let Your will be done and give me the insight to understand your plan for our marriage. Amen.
This is a great first step in your process of letting go of the changes you want to see in your spouse. Your need for prayer is not over. Come back to this prayer as often as you feel led. Allow time for God to work on your heart over whatever your spouse is struggling with.
The next step is to build yourself a P.I.T. Crew. This idea comes from our dear friend and prayer mentor Colin Millar. His official title is Prayer Strategist. We know this because he has it typed out on his business card. Nothing gets by us!
We want to outline Colin’s strategy for developing a group of individuals who commit to praying for you in a specific way. We can be overly isolated as Western Christians. We go to church and pretend everything is okay when in fact we are going through major hurt and rejection in our marriages and elsewhere. We do not have to pretend any longer that everything is okay. The reality is that everyone else is struggling through the same problems. No one is free from the curse of sin on this world. Things are not as they should be and we all suffer the consequences.
Colin wrote on his website, “As Christians we often experience all types of spiritual warfare and physical challenges [marital challenges as well]. You are particularly vulnerable unless supported and protected through a PIT Crew Prayer Shield.”
The point of a PIT crew is to pray the purposes, promises and plans of God “into, over and through the life of the person they serve.” PIT stands for Personal Intercessory Team. The word intercessory can feel confusing. But all this means is that you gather a group of individuals who commit to praying for you specifically. Intercessory prayer is praying for others. It is someone who commits to being an intercessor by pleading your case to God and on your behalf.
Your PIT Crew will bring your marriage to the feet of our Heavenly Father and ask for help and God’s intervention:
- Small inner circle team knitted together by God. They listen for and pray God’s purposes for your life.
- Function as crises intercessors at times when you may undergo physical and spiritual attacks.
- They are faithful to pray for you on a regular basis, daily if possible, best to have a time commitment (3 months)
- Pray for those areas in your life as the Holy Spirit leads or as guided by the team leader.
- Be patient for you to reveal personal requests.
- Resist the need to counsel; Pray—don’t counsel.
- Never talk about or entertain anyone who talks about your minister.
- Expects intercession to be a sacrifice of love – not for personal recognition.
- Stand in the gap where the walls of protection are crumbling down.
So who do you want to be on your PIT Crew? First, you only want people who are committed to you and the marriage. Asking someone to pray for you that does not want you to be married would be akin to some who has a weight problem deciding to work at a chocolate factory.
Lastly, make sure the person is strong in his or her faith walk. Your PIT Crew is not the place for someone to find God or become a Christian. Once you have identified some people for your PIT Crew, go through Colin’s 9 points of structure and strategy for your PIT Crew:
- PIT Crews are generally chosen by you or your team leader.
- PIT Crews should be a minimum of 3 and a maximum of 12.
- Some PIT Crew members may be people outside the local congregation.
- It is recommended, if possible, that the team meet in person/or conference call once a month to pray for and over you.
- Establish best method for communicating prayer requests.
- Ensure that expectations are clear, and that guidelines are provided on how to best pray for you.
- You should provide specific requests in order to avoid overburdening Crew members. Such requests should be concise.
- You should provide Crew members with the requisite personal information, issues, concerns and ministry objectives in order to expedite prayer requests.
- New Christians can be mightily effective if their heart is right as the LORD truly TEACHES THEM TO PRAY on such specific assignments.
Handing your spouse over to God is going to be a process. It will start with you acknowledging that it needs to happen. But if you begin with a prayer similar to what we gave you in this chapter and then follow through with a PIT Crew you will succeed because it takes prayer and a community to help release our spouses to God!