"The world is unprincipled. It's dog-eat-dog out there! The world doesn't fight fair. But we don't live or fight our battles that way-never have and never will. The tools of our trade aren't for marketing or manipulation, but they are for demolishing that entire massively corrupt culture. We use our powerful God-tools for smashing warped philosophies, tearing down barriers erected against the truth of God, fitting every loose thought and emotion and impulse into the structure of life shaped by Christ. Our tools are ready at hand for clearing the ground of every obstruction and building lives of obedience into maturity." - 2 Corinthians 10:3-6, The Message
I want to encourage you not to pray about your spouse. What? Yes, you read correctly, don't pray about your spouse. Instead, pray for your spouse. There is a difference. When you pray about something its as though you are going to the Lord about something He is not aware of. You're telling God all about the situation or what your spouse is doing as though you are the one informing Him. But the Lord already knows. He is already aware of the situation. He is already aware of what your spouse is doing. He is already aware of the things you are having to deal with. So don't go to Him frantically as an informant or as if He needs to be brought up to date on things.
I'm sure you will struggle with worrying about your spouse or the way the situation looks. Worrying is what the enemy wants you to do. Worrying is how the world would respond to things. But worrying wont change things. Only the Lord will change things! Prayer affords you the opportunity to turn to the Lord, to fix your gaze upon Him. Prayer allows the Lord to place things in their proper perspective. With Christ at the center, your life in Him, these other things, though they seem tumultuous will come into their proper perspective.
"Don't fret or worry. Instead of worrying, pray. Let petitions and praises shape your worries into prayers, letting God know your concerns. Before you know it, a sense of God's wholeness, everything coming together for good, will come and settle you down. It's wonderful what happens when Christ displaces worry at the center of your life. Summing it all up, friends, I'd say you'll do best by filling your minds and meditating on things true, noble, reputable, authentic, compelling, gracious-the best, not the worst; the beautiful, not the ugly; things to praise, not things to curse. Put into practice what you learned from me, what you heard and saw and realized. Do that, and God, who makes everything work together, will work you into his most excellent harmonies." - Philippians 4:6-9, The Message
In turning to the Lord, ask Him what He would have you pray. This will require some adjustments on your part if you are one who normally prays about things. As the Lord leads you, and you start praying for your spouse you actually begin to experience His heart for your spouse. The Lord desires abundant life for you, your spouse and your family. This abundant life is only found in Jesus Christ, it it His life.
Remember God has given Jesus authority over everything (Matthew 28:18). Recognize the authority of Jesus is over the weapons of the enemy. Speak Life and blessings into your spouse's life. You always have a choice to bless or to curse. Choose to bless, to speak words of Life over your spouse and family. As you pray for your spouse begin to take authority in Jesus' over things that hinder them from returning to the Lord, bind them and cast them into utter darkness, never to return again. Then replace those things with the fruits of the Spirit. Take authority over your spouse's bitterness, remove it and replace it with love. Take authority over their anger, remove it and replace it with joy. Take authority over their waywardness, remove it and replace it with faithfulness. Always replace those things with things of God.
Most people would also encourage you to pray a "hedge of protection" around your spouse and family. This is wise to do because it is obvious the enemy's attack has come upon your family. But not everything that is happening is happening because of the attack of the enemy. No, somethings your spouse may be doing or saying is because of their own choices. If your spouse is doing things or going places that are out of character and unfitting there is another "hedge" you should begin praying around your spouse.
"Therefore I will block her path with thornbushes; I will wall her in so that she cannot find her way." - Hosea 2:6, NIV
Praying a "hedge of thorns" around your spouse is something you can do so the path that leads to sin is blocked should they try to go down it. It is not meant to harm your spouse, but it is meant to make the path of sin be very unpleasant, unsatisfying and more difficult to access.
There may be times when you won't know what to pray, you just may not have the words, or in some moments all you may be able to do is weep and cry out for your spouse and your marriage, but take heart, the Lord knows and the Spirit is there to help.
"Meanwhile, the moment we get tired in the waiting, God's Spirit is right along-side helping us along. If we don't know how or what to pray, it doesn't matter. He does our praying in and for us, making prayer out of our wordless sighs, our aching groans. He knows us far better than we know ourselves, knows our pregnant condition, and keeps us present before God. That's why we can be so sure that every detail in our lives of love for God is worked into something good." - Romans 8:26-28, The Message
Throughout the course of your struggle there may come times when your spouse will hurt you by something they say or do and you just won't feel like you love your spouse anymore, or perhaps your spouse has told you they don't love you anymore. I want to encourage you to pray for the love between you and your spouse to grow. This is something that may take time, and you may not be able to "see" progress in this area, but trust the Lord to work in ways beyond what your eyes can see.
"So this is my prayer: that your love will flourish and that you will not only love much, but well. Learn to love appropriately. You need to use your head and test your feelings so that your love is sincere and intelligent, not sentimental gush. Live a lover's life, circumspect and exemplary, a life Jesus will be proud of: bountiful in fruits from the soul, making Jesus Christ attractive to all, getting everyone involved in the glory and praise of God." - Philippians 1:9-11, The Message
One thing I have noticed is that as the love of Christ grows in you, Christ through you becomes attractive to those around you. Your life will begin to overflow with the love of God and it can't help but to spill over into the lives of those around you. And despite the circumstances you are in, you will begin to hope again, not in man, but you will hope in the Lord, just as the saints who have gone before us hoped in the Lord as they were persecuted for their faith. You will also find hope in what the Lord has spoken about your situation.
"God means what he says. What he says goes. His powerful Word is sharp as a surgeon's scalpel, cutting through everything, whether doubt or defense, laying us open to listen and obey. Nothing and no one is impervious to God's Word. We can't get away from it-no matter what." - Hebrews 4:12 & 13, The Message
A marriage in crisis is no easy thing to walk through. I know I had to learn to let go of certain people and things and trust the Lord would watch over them and take care of them, which meant I was acknowledging they were out of my hands and I couldn't take care of them myself. Some people or things are harder to let go of than others. At some point you are going to have to let go of certain people or things and trust the Lord to watch over them and take care of them. I will tell you from experience, it is better to let go of people and things willingly into the Father's hands than to have them stolen from you by the enemy's hands. Granted, the Lord is always in control, but there are people and things we try to hold on to and take care of on our own, and in doing so, we sin against the Lord by seeking to place ourselves in His position over those people and things. In everything, He must have the preeminence. We must entrust everything and everyone to His care, this includes our spouse, our children, our finances, our time...everything.
"Now I'm turning you over to God, our marvelous God whose gracious Word can make you into what He wants you to be and give you everything you could possibly need in this community of holy friends." - Acts 20-32, The Message
I encourage you to turn your spouse over to the Lord, not in a spirit of revenge or vengeance, thinking they will get their just punishment for the things they have said or done to hurt you. But turn them over to the Lord in love, having forgiven any wrongs they have committed against you, and with no strings attached, simply wanting to see the Lord have His way in them and through them. Let love be formed in you. Love for the Lord, love for your spouse, your family and for others. Love according to the standard of love we are given in the scriptures.
"Love never gives up.
Love cares more for others than for self.
Love doesn't want what it doesn't have.
Love doesn't strut,
Doesn't have a swelled head,
Doesn't force itself on others,
Isn't always "me first,"
Doesn't fly off the handle,
Doesn't keep score of the sins of others,
Doesn't revel when others grovel,
Takes pleasure in the flowering of truth,
Puts up with anything,
Always looks for the best,
Never looks back,
But keeps going to the end.
Love never dies." - 1 Corinthians 13:4-8a, The Message
I encourage you to read all of 1 Corinthians 13.
Lastly, I would like to give you a few scriptures to pray over yourself, your spouse and your family during a time of crisis in your marriage. They were given to me by a brother in the Lord named Rob, who was gracious enough to share his story with me.
Pray Over Your Spouse
"For here's what I'm going to do: I'm going to take you out of these countries, gather you from all over, and bring you back to your own land. I'll pour pure water over you and scrub you clean. I'll give you a new heart, put a new spirit in you. I'll remove the stone heart from your body and replace it with a heart that's God-willed, not self-willed. I'll put my Spirit in you and make it possible for you to do what I tell you and live by my commands." - Ezekiel 36:24-27, The Message
Pray Over Your Spouse & Family
"That's why, when I heard of the solid trust you have in the Master Jesus and your outpouring of love to all the Christians, I couldn't stop thanking God for you-every time I prayed, I'd think of you and give thanks. But I do more than thank. I ask-ask the God of our Master, Jesus Christ, the God of glory-to make you intelligent and discerning in knowing him personally, your eyes focused and clear, so that you can see exactly what it is he is calling you to do, grasp the immensity of this glorious way of life he has for Christians, oh, the utter extravagance of his work in us who trust him-endless energy, boundless strength!
All this energy issues from Christ: God raised him from death and set him on a throne in deep heaven, in charge of running the universe, everything from galaxies to governments, no name and no power exempt from his rule. And not just for the time being, but forever. He is in charge of it all, has the final word on everything. At the center of all this, Christ rules the church. The church you see, is not peripheral to the world; the world is peripheral to the church. The church is Christ's body, in which he speaks and acts, by which he fills everything with his presence." - Ephesians 1:15-23, The Message
"My response is to get down on my knees before the Father, this magnificent Father who parcels out all heaven and earth. I ask him to strengthen you by his Spirit-not a brute strength but a glorious inner strength-that Christ will live in you as you open the door and invite him in. And I ask him that with both feet planted firmly on love, you'll be able to take in with all Christians the extravagant dimensions of Christ's love. Reach out and experience the breadth! Test its length! Plumb the depths! Rise to the heights! Live full lives, full in the fullness of God.
God can do anything, you know-far more than you could ever imagine or guess or request in your wildest dreams! He does it not by pushing us around but by working within us, his Spirit deeply and gently within us. Glory to God in the church! Glory to God in the Messiah, in Jesus! Glory down all the generations! Glory through all millennia! Oh, yes!" - Ephesians 3:14-21, The Message