“Take … the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Pray always. Pray in the Spirit. Pray about everything in every way you know how!” Ephesians 6:17b-18
My littlest boy pattered down the stairs in the dark before dawn and found me sitting in the big leather chair by the window. On my lap were my Bible and the book I’d used for over a decade to prompt prayers for my husband.
My son sidled up beside me and reached for the book. He examined the tattered cover with 5-year-old curiosity then flipped through the yellowed pages inside. He studied the words splattered with coffee stains and rainbow highlights and cast me an inquisitive gaze.
“What is this thing?” he asked.
“It’s a book that helps me pray God’s Word over Daddy …”
My 5-year-old’s green eyes grew wide. “It looks like it’s been in a battle, Mommy!”
I planted a kiss atop my son’s unruly tuft and murmured, “It has, sweetheart. It has.”
My son leaned his sleepy head against my shoulder and as we sat in comfortable silence, I remembered the day when God had called a younger and floundering me into combat.
I’d stepped into marriage with grand plans to dance happily through life with the man I loved. But seven years and three kids later, our union felt more like a stumbling shuffle than a tantalizing tango.
There were bills to pay and children to feed; problems to solve and jobs to keep. And as life settled heavy on our shoulders, our marriage spiraled into a jaded jitter of frustrations and unmet expectations.
Sadly, I could name my husband’s shortcomings faster than I could list his strengths, and I could articulate my disappointment more keenly than I could define my delight. I knew God intended marriage to be more than a baffling boogie, but I didn’t know how to reclaim the joy that had once spurred our steps.
One day in Bible study, I aired my grievances to an older and wiser woman. She listened quietly, then pulled me into a one-armed hug and whispered words of truth: “Honey, you’ve gotta decide if you’re gonna spend your energy fighting with your husband or fighting for him.”
My stomach lurched with conviction, and she held my tear-filled eyes in a silent gaze. “Every wife was made to be a warrior,” she said with resolve.
I felt a sliver of hope stirring deep inside, and when I got home, I scoured the shelves for that book of prayers I’d been given as a young bride. Maybe somewhere on those crisp white pages I’d find ammunition for battle.
Later that night, I sat on the couch and begged God to teach me how to fight.
Day after day, I took the Apostle Paul’s words to heart —”Pray about everything in every way you know how!” And like a baby learning to walk, I learned to speak God’s truth over our waffling and weary union.
When I was tempted to fling hurtful words, I asked God to help me swing the sword of the Spirit instead. When I felt weak and discouraged, I asked Christ to infuse me with His strength and His hope.
Eventually I found myself choosing to battle rather than belittle, to praise rather than pester, to believe rather than despair. And one day I woke up and realized I was no longer blind to the gift of my husband. My prayers had granted me fresh vision.
Slowly and surely, our marriage dance began to change. We found ourselves waltzing to a new rhythm of joy. Not with flawless steps or perfect poise, but with confidence in the One who had joined our hearts.
I looked at the worn book on my lap and whispered a prayer of thanks as my son’s sleepy stupor gave way to playful frolic. “Let’s have a sword fight before breakfast, Mommy!” he said as he leaped off my lap and raced up the stairs in search of his plastic saber.
He paused at the landing and cast me a reassuring grin, “Don’t worry, Mommy. We’re just pretending.”
I mirrored his smile and swiped my Bible through the air like a dangerous dagger. “I’m not a bit worried,” I replied. “I’ve had lots of practice in battle!”