Advice to wives: Stop Praying

Irritated.  Frustrated.  Hurt.

Those were the words bumping around in my mind as I grabbed my Bible and sat down to do some sort of quiet time.

I felt like such a fake mindlessly scanning these words on thin pages.  My heart wasn’t connecting.  My mind wasn’t tuned in.  All I could think about was the argument I’d had with my husband.

Why couldn’t he see my point?  Why didn’t he understand?  Why was he being so stubborn?

I closed my Bible and decided a much more productive thing to do with this situation would be to pray. That’s what godly women do.  And oh how spiritually sound I felt listing all the many things the Lord could do to fix my man- all that was wrong with him.

Sounds spiritual.  However, it was anything but.

Suddenly in the middle of my prayer, all I could sense God saying was, “Stop.”

Stop?  Stop praying?  Well, that certainly couldn’t be from the Lord… so I kept going. 

But the word “stop” was pulsing through my mind with each beat of my heart.  And deep in my heart, I started to sense why.

God wasn’t looking for me to be a “fix him” wife.

God was looking for me to be a “love him” wife.

I needed to stop praying.  At least, I needed to stop praying the way I had been.  Yes, there were things my husband needed to work on.  But nothing good was happening when all I did was complain about him.

I needed to be a wife daring enough to ask God to reveal to me how to love him. And I needed to ask God where I was going wrong- where I was being selfish- where I needed to work.

When I shifted my focus on letting God change me, that’s when I started to see real progress.

In this season of struggling through all of this, God taught me three powerful lessons:

1.  Is this an irritation or an issue?

There is a big difference between an irritation and an issue.  Identifying the difference helps me pick my battles.  If this is just an irritation, maybe I need to practice being more flexible, patient or willing to extend grace?

2.  Am I praying about or for my husband?

If I do sense something that needs to change, I need to pray for my husband- not about him.  Praying about him is just ranting.  Praying for him means digging into God’s word and praying Scriptures specific to his struggles.  That’s powerful!  When we pray the WORD of God, we pray the WILL of God.

3.  Where is my focus?

I’ll never be able to control how another person acts and reacts, but I certainly can control how I act and react.  My focus shouldn’t be on having the right partner.  My focus should be on being the right partner.
My marriage changed for the better when I decided to start focusing on being the right partner instead of having the right partner. www.lysaterkeurst.com

Slowly, as I shifted my heart in these areas, I saw such progress in our marriage.  Do I still get irritated, frustrated and hurt?  Of course.

But when I stopped trying to fix him, I was freed up to just love him.  And that’s a much more fun and realistic job for me.

End note:  These words are easy to type but much harder to live.  Good gracious do I readily admit that!  I write this to point out my issues… not to heap any kind of condemnation on you.  Every marriage is unique and different in their challenges and struggles.  But maybe there is something here that could help you.

If so, which of these three lessons applies to you today?  Let’s talk about it.


Congrats to the following who have won a copy of Made to Crave and Made to Crave Devotional from my last post. Please email Holly@Proverbs31.org to obtain your books! Tammy Irmiter, Terry Barnes, Cheryl Hash, Shelly Gray, and Judy Blunt.


  1. Bernadette says

    Thank you for being real ~ it does make me feel better in my walk with Jesus when others admit to not being perfect~ As for my husband I know I have trouble with discerning irritations v issues ~ we are both very sensitive and I sometimes I don’t know how to move forward when I think~feel its an issue we need to discuss further and I know I have to work on my focus. Its been a mixed twenty years but God is still working on both of us! Just like everything peaks and valleys and lots of prayer!

  2. says

    So I was in the middle of sorting through my thoughts of frustration with how I was going to get my point across to my husband on a certain situation re-accruing in our lives and I read this!!!! Stopped me dead in my tracks! I can and did apply #1 to my current thought process. #2, I seem to do pretty good on because I grew up listening to women say/make fun of themselves for praying about their husbands and praying for the husband to change. I know better by now, though I do still have the tendencies I always remember that thought…he’s not perfect and neither am I, maybe I’m the one who needs the heart change! Now #3, I need to apply this almost every day!!! We have been married for 2 years at the end of April, been together 3 yrs in July…the honeymoon phase is over. Especially since we have a 2 yr old! I find myself nit picking on things that just don’t matter because I’m trying to avoid the big underlying problem!! This post was at perfect timing!! Totally God!!!

  3. Nan says

    Lysa, I too stumbled up this. The whole time I was reading, I kept thinking that that is exactly what I need to do for my 16 year old rebellious daughter as well! Thank you so much! Btw, I’ve been married to my husband for 31 years.

  4. Karilyn says

    Thank you for sharing Gods wisdom. My husband is military & has recently come home from being overseas for a year. I cannot even tell you how hard it has been. My emotions have been such a roller coaster. It seems like I cannot do anything right. I broke my ankle while he was gone, gained weight, and the list goes on & on… Thank you for changing my thinking. I know that only God has taken me this far and he’ll never leave me.
    My bible study group has been doing more than just a good Bible study girl. It is my first study of yours and im so glad that God has so graciously “put us together”! Blessings!

  5. Karen Le says

    Perfect words. Perfect timing. God is so good and so clever in the way He talks to each of us. Nothing in our lives goes unnoticed by Him. He is the God of hope. If I am praying in His Word, I am praying His will. I have heard this more than once in the last few weeks. Thank you Lysa!

  6. Holly says

    great thoughts! So true. God has been reminding me that unconditional love for my husband, no matter what, is the key. My responses and actions have to measure up to what God wants of me and then I need to let God deal with my husbands’ actions and responses. It’s not my responsibility, it is his and God’s. How freeing, when we let God be in control.

  7. homec says

    thank you for this! I’ve been praying for my husband because he’s going through some things right now, but thanks to this post I see it would be wise for me to also pray for myself to better understand and support him.

  8. Cyndi says

    Wow…this is something that I constantly need to reminded of. It’s so good to know that there is someone else to struggles with this, and has a heart to glorify God in their relationships. God is ever increasingly dealing with me on this issue. I praise Him for working in my heart, to make me more like Him! I want His love to fill me up so much so that it pours out onto my husband and my children, and everyone else around me!

  9. Tara says

    Wow, this one hit home for me. I had a big argument with my husband on Sunday morning, in the car, on the way to church, with kids in tow. Sigh. It was a loud one, with me being the loudest. Hooray for me? I don’t think so. We ended up not going to church. The argument was so dumb. It was about what we were going to eat during the Super Bowl. I was being stubborn and did not want to give in. At. All. I ended up doing what I wanted to do, but it cost me. I have apologized profusely to my daughter for behaving badly. My husband and I made up like I knew we would, but oh my. I needed a spanking and time out. I loved the three powerful lessons and will try to remember them every time I get frustrated with my husband. I need to always control how I act and react. I lose sight of that often. Thank you for your awesome blog.

  10. Yolanda Martell says

    I know that the Lord has been working on me in this area for a long time! I’m so quick to look at everyone around me… not just my husband… and think of all the ways they could be doing better. The Lord has started to help me slow my life down enough so that I can stop and look at what an downer I must be to all the people in my life! Gosh! Would I want to be around or live with someone like me? My poor husband! My poor children! And what kind of children will I be bringing up if I am always at them?! Please pray for me in this! I soooooo want to be a wonderful wife and mother! I want to live for my family by living for my Lord! I want to build up not take down! I want to rub joy into peoples lives! Oh Lord please help me!

  11. Krysla says

    Just last night I got upset at my hubby for not backing me up. After I finished chewing him out he told me the reason he had remained quiet…he thought I had it under control. I felt about this big…it wasn’t an issue it was an irritation. Unwarranted by him. The issue was my response. Thanks for pointing out the difference. I will work on praying for him, not about him, too.

  12. Nancys1128 says

    OUCH! God really does know what we need and when we need it. Had I read this the day it was posted, I fear it would have had little impact. Reading it a day later, after many annoyances, coupled with the hormal craziness of peri-menopause, had created a really bad attitude (or should I say were allowed to create a really bad attitude) was perfect timing. The 3 questions asked were exactly what I needed, at the time I’d be receptive. Thanks, Lisa, for writing this, and praise God I read it a day later than it was posted.

  13. says

    I KNOW the feeling, Lysa. I had a similar experience when I was doing the same thing…and He spoke to me, saying, ” I KNOW Mark’s problems….let’s work on YOURS….” [OUCH]

  14. Sonia says

    Hi Lysa, Thank you so much for this wonderful book you have written for all of us. I have a question. Do you have Made to Crave in spanish? we have a huge need in the hispanic world and your testimony and encouraging words in this book I know it will help sooooo many ladies out there. Please please let me know.
    thank you.

  15. Ida says

    I wish I had read this when I got it yesterday! My laziness came a little late I think… I look back at the disagreement we had today and realize that while he is now on night shift again, he was trying to make an effort to spend time with me on Valentine’s night next week by organizing our schedules. (We have not had much romance, if any, so I couldn’t see the special day as anything else than “just another day”!) Before he left for work, all I could do was complain about his lack of romance so why make a big deal… now his solution is to make an example of my ungrateful behavior! I wanted so badly for God to “fix him”, I found myself not responding to his final comment. I can understand that God needs to fix me! So much for romance!

  16. Divina says

    This is just what i needed for today…Thank you.Our God be praised and glorified through your work.

  17. says

    Great meditation Lysa. I have just started reading Stormie Omartian’s book, the Power of a Praying Wife. Dynamic prayers in there for just what you are talking about……..praying FOR our husbands, not ABOUT them. Thanks for the added encouragement in this area. I need it!

  18. Allison says

    WOW – that was goood, Lysa! Thank you so much for sharing your insights about how a wife prays. My husband has just recently invited Christ into his life, as a result of God taking our family to our knees, but the beauty is that my husband turned to God instead of away from God in our time of crises. What I really connected with was your second insight: to pray FOR my husband rather than ABOUT him. I am actually excited to pray differntly as I can see how I have certainly been in the “complaint” mode, which usually means it is really about me and not so much praying for God to develop my husband through a deeper richer relationship with Christ. Thank you and God Bless!

  19. BlessedMommyof2 says

    Whew, talk about confirmation! We have recently been in a season of irritating the life out of each other. I recently was on a retreat with some girlfriends and we did a Beth Moore study on How Wisdom Looks on a Wife. A point I received in that…Overlook offenses (or as you stated an irritation). Yesterday, in my MOPS meeting, our guest speaker states…Are you serving your husband as you desire to be served? (as you stated focus on BEING the right partner). And then today, I opened your email!! Yes God, I HEAR YA!! Pick our battles wisely, wear the garment of humility, and be his crown instead of the “nagging wife”. Our obedience to God allows HIM to deal with our husbands!! Thanks Lysa!

  20. Cheri Bovee says

    All of these apply to me. Boy does God use this to open my eyes. I pray about and at my husband and children all the time. I thought I was being very good. I was praying after all. I see now that maybe I was telling God with my pray what I wanted to happen. Sorry, that really was how I was praying. I see now that I need to let God lead me to the right place for me and my family. Thank you for the eye opener.

  21. Tanya says

    I think you might have saved my marriage. I have been so focused on what he needs to do and how hurtful he can be, and I have never asked God to show me how to love him through that…

    Thank you so much! I mean, seriously….

    Be blessed!

  22. Julia says

    This is a lesson that applies more than to husbands but all relationships and even to situations. Lord help our focus to be right!

  23. Annmarie says

    My biggest breakthrough in the relationship with my husband when God showed me to 1 – love him unconditionally and 2 – accept him just the way he is. Our whole relationship changed and brought us so much closer. To God be the glory!

  24. Elizabeth says

    Thank You so much for having the courage to share this. I am 28 years old and still single, but I do still live with my parents- personal conviction- and I also work for my dad. As you can inagine, it can be very stressful at times. I have harbored alot of hurt from having an emotionally absent dad in my life and have found myself struggling with honoring him at times as I know God says I should. When I read this entry on your blog God really used it in a mighty way to speak to me about honoring my dad, cutting out the critical and looking for the best in him. I want to be a jewel in my dad’s crown, not a chain around his leg!

  25. says

    i think this whole blog relates to me. but not only with my hubby, but my whole life. and that’s just sad…i want to build relationships with my family to be like i’ve dreamed of. i’ve watched others with their families and just admire the love that you can literally see just by the way they treat each other and interact. i want that!

    • sabrina says

      be careful that you don’t beat yourself up for not having what you want NOW. i do that too often and the cycle repeats. give yourself grace dear sister. lots of it.

  26. Heather says

    What is the difference between “irritations” and “issues”? I’m still fairly a newlywed (3 yrs.) but in my 30’s. We have A LOT more arguments than either of us would like and I can SO relate to this blog article! But, I think I have a hard time differentiating between these to items. Could you give some advice on diciphering and maybe some examples?

  27. Linda Bare says

    I went through a time when I prayed telling God how to fix my husband. Finally I stopped and asked God to change him . That prayer was answered over the years. Now he is a leader in the church and a very good loving husband and father. God is good!

  28. Linda Bare says

    Please take my comment off. I do not want it put on your comments section. Thank you, Linda

  29. Maria Bailey says

    I appreciate this blog today (although a week after you wrote it). My husband and I have been struggling the past 3 or 4 weeks and I am nearing the point of discouragement that it could be fixed. After reading here today I was encouraged to continue to focus on myself and pray “for” my husband to have the strength to deal with his own discouragement and frustrations.

    It has been difficult for me to be a loving wife when I am not receiving the love and emotional support I need from him. Or so I think. My focus hasn’t been in the right place. I want to be “justified” in my position right now; that HE is the source of my discouragement. How selfish of me to think that way. Who prays for my husband if I don’t? We have very few praying folks in our family and not many in his either (that I know of) and if I don’t pray for him, he will be left alone to struggle.

    I like your comments in #1. Is this an irritation or an issue? This is very helpful to me in determining what is “really” going on with us right now. We have been married less than 2 years but we aren’t spring chickens. I’m sure with helpful information such as you have presented here I will be able to work through our current icky stuff (sin) and will soon be able to love my husband and do what God expects of me as a wife. Thank you.

  30. Phoenix says

    We can only ever fix ourselves. How that affects the people around us is up to them. Doesn’t mean perfection will be an absolute, sometimes, relationships end & it’s a good thing. Sometimes, they find a new level of connection & it’s a good thing.

    Being healthier in heart & mind, means a healthier relationship with your spiritual guides (God/dess etc) & therefore a healthier relationship with everyone around you & those you’re most intimate with. Request ‘you first’ perspective changing & watch the world unfold in techni-color 🙂 Believe it or not, “they” are all about “them” & that includes “you”.

  31. says

    Good Morning,
    Ladies I can relate this to my spirtual relationship with chirst and my marriage by reading this blog asking myself what is the difference between the two ( irriatation issue ) because I get very irritated whenmy husband say the same thing over over again and it becomes a issues becasue I tends to get upset and not look at the situation and it becomes bigger I’m I wrong if I ask God ( I hope he get everything that God has for him ).

  32. says

    I been married now for 7 years and I realize after reading this blog that I loet my irritation and frustration and issues get in the way of my marriage a whole lot we have some issues and then they turn big ones me and my husband lot our home 3 years ago and we both are living at our parents homes we sturggle thru alot of issues one my daughter fourteen and she doesn’t get discipline lke she is supposed to and we get into alot of those issues I just needed this blog I need to ask God to change me and not him for me being the right partner Thank You Lisa .

  33. Michelle Thomas says

    This is in reply to Heather, who wanted some examples of irritations verses issues…only been married for 7 years, but have had more than enough practice getting in my own way with this one to learn from it 🙂 Thank you Jesus and Amen. Now some of my examples of “irritations” might be “issues” to someone else in that we are all different and married to different people. If I have to ask myself which it is, it is normally not an issue, in that “issues” are something on a larger scale – something if it goes unaddressed could cause problems in the long run and not just because you may get cranky 😉 An “Irritation” in my world: my husband leaves the bathroom hand towel in a ball on the sink, rather than hanging it back up or even creatively folding it so it has some chance of drying 🙂 That is something that irks me, that I don’t understand, but not something that I want to waste precious time in our life/marriage discussing. (again.) The lack of these minor “irritations” during my husband’s military deployments, not only made his absence more obvious, but also illustrated for me what battles are really worth fighting. Now an “Issue” in our life would be my husband not getting me an anniversary card or birthday card. Again, I might sound crazy to a stronger woman, but that one hurts me deep down and I know from experience i have trouble ‘getting over’ which is why my husband stopped at the store before coming home on Monday evening to buy me a card 😉 He knows after this long that cards are a must for this semtimental girl. At the same time because we worked through this “issue” of mine, I learned that my marine husband prefers the cards that ’say it’ in the least amount of words possible. As contrary as that is to my makeup, I no longer look at ’books’ that go in envelopes. 🙂 If I waste his,mine, and our time on balled up towels or the like (which no doubt I’ve done), there is the danger of never getting to the real “issues” of your marriage.

  34. jai says

    In reading this today, It made me say ouch! Getting caught up and overwhelmed with the hurt, frustration not mention the irritation, allowed me to become distracted, lose focus. Thank you for sharing this word. I am in the process of learning to go through the process of forgiving, this here has given me some hope and willingness to pray for my husband and not be stuck on the pain amen. It spoke to me in area where I couldn’t see clearly, again thank you. God Bless you!

  35. Colette says

    Lately, in utter desperation of how bad things have gotten, I’ve begun seeing a Christian counselor, recommended by my church. There were things I knew had been wrong for years, but he’s showing me that those wrong things were verbally & emotionally abusive–and just recently, even physically abusive. We’re at 22 yrs of marriage, with 4 kids ranging in age from 21 down to 9. There’s been so much lying & hiding by him that I have unexpectedly found myself in Bankruptcy. We can’t discuss literally anything without it exploding or peeling back years of layers. He disagrees with the word “abusive”, of course–just that he’s “emphatic” or “passionate”. I’m having to ask God to hold me up, every day, because I just can’t stand under the weight of this any more. Please be praying I have the courage to do all I need to do. Others around us feel he’s this great deeply Christian guy. Because I’ve been more withdrawn & reserved, I don’t make quite as good an impression. The very few close women friends I’ve shared this with have been in utter shock. PLEASE be in prayer for me!