In this episode of the Purposed Marriage podcast, we discuss what God’s word says about His will for marriage, and how we should view it in light of His truth.
Tommy and I get a number of inquiries from readers asking my perspective or what we often refer to as the prodigal’s perspective on certain topics. One of the more common questions is, do you think my prodigal is open to the possibility of restoration. More than likely, if you are asking this question, the answer is yes!
During our pause, it was evident to Tommy when the Lord was working on me and softening my heart. We began having more meaningful conversations and spent quality time together with our children. That doesn’t mean there is no hope of restoration if your spouse (or ex-spouse in some cases) doesn’t desire to speak to you or spend time with you, but it may mean you have a longer road ahead if the latter situation is one you find yourself in currently.
Below are some practical tips along with biblical guidance that greatly impacted my life during our separation and divorce.
- Show your prodigal sacrificial love without expecting anything in return.
Nothing demonstrates Christ’s love like sacrifice and selflessness. Find ways to love and serve your prodigal without expecting anything in return. If you are not sure what to do, ask the Holy Spirit for guidance and don’t be surprised if He reveals something that is outside your comfort zone. Stepping outside your comfort zone forces trust in the Lord and growth in your spiritual walk. That awkward and uncomfortable feeling also produces authenticity. Your prodigal will sense if you are attempting to serve with an ulterior motive so the more authentic, the better.
There are numerous examples I’ve shared in our podcasts where Tommy went above and beyond in his pursuit to love me well. His acts of service displayed the love of Christ in ways that were not present during our previous ten years of marriage. Over time, the seeds he sowed took root and began to grow. His sacrifices did not go unnoticed. It did not happen immediately, but in time, God revealed the fruit from his labor.
Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus.
- Ask if you can pray with your prodigal or if you can pray for them.
It’s important to use discernment when addressing your prodigal. Some days there may be more of a reluctance to talk about spiritual matters than others. But, when you recognize there is an openness and willingness, ask if you can pray with your spouse or pray for them. Not only will this create a healthy dialogue, but it will also shine a light into what’s happening in the life of your prodigal.
I don’t recommend this every time you speak, but perhaps monthly or bi-weekly depending on how often you talk. Also, be sure to prepare your heart for their response. Don’t take it personally if they do not request prayer for your marriage. When you spend quiet time with the Lord, you can pray for your current situation.
If your prodigal is agreeable to prayer, that is a great sign that God is at work! Desiring your prodigal to have a restored relationship with the Lord should far outweigh the longing for a restored marriage. Keep in mind, only the work of the Holy Spirit can transform the heart and mind so be patient and loving when approaching your spouse.
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God.
For where two or three are gathered in my name, there am I among them.
I will give them a heart to know that I am the Lord, and they shall be my people and I will be their God, for they shall return to me with their whole heart.
- Take responsibility for any sinful behaviors, habits or actions that you may have contributed to the marriage.
I recognize this may be very hard to hear, and you may be wondering why you should take the initiative if you’re the one being wronged. This difficult question has a very simple answer. God took the initiative to love us when we were unloveable and we should do the same for our covenant spouse. Repentance is necessary before reconciliation can occur and God’s Word calls us to reconcile relationships. You have no control over your prodigal’s actions or inactions, but you can take personal responsibility for yourself.
I remember vividly every time Tommy came to me to apologize for past sins and ways he had wronged me. At first, I thought he was using his sins as an excuse for his bad behavior. With time, I came to understand that God had transformed his heart and his godly sorrow was sincere.
But God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
Do all you can to live in peace with everyone.
But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you. Be merciful, even as your Father is merciful.
Luke 6:27-28, 36
For those that have little to no contact with your prodigal, there is still hope! We did not always communicate well or communicate often. It takes time. God hears your cries and understands your desire for healing and restoration, so don’t give up on the process. If you find yourself in a similar situation, I pray these steps come in handy.
- Pray fervently. 1 John 5:14, Romans 12:12, James 5:16, Philippians 4:6, 1 Thessalonians 5:17
- Read Scripture for encouragement and guidance. Matthew 4:4, Hebrews 4:12, Isaiah 30:21, Psalm 25:4-5, James 1:5, Proverbs 3:5-6, John 16:13, 2 Timothy 3:16-17
- Fast. Joel 2:12, Matthew 6:16-18, Matthew 5:6
- Serve while you wait. Galatians 5:13, Romans 12:1, 1 Peter 4:10, Matthew 20:27-28, Romans 12:10-13
- Lean on your church family. Galatians 6:2, James 5:16, 2 Corinthians 13:11, Colossians 3:16, Hebrews 10:24-25
Dear friends, may God continue to bless you and strengthen you as you stand for your marriage, no matter where you are in your journey!
If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.James 1:5-8 ESV
So much of standing for restoration during a marriage crisis is based on faith that trusts in the Lord to work all things together for our good. Granted, this may be hard to believe, especially when dealing with a spouse whose heart has been hardened by the enemy, but this promise from God is a great assurance in the midst of trials and tribulations. We need to hold fast to it, despite what we see and feel surrounding us. And while many know and understand what we are to believe while waiting on the Lord, practically speaking, there tends to be confusion as to what specific actions we should be taking while believing in faith our prayers will be answered and our marriages restored.
While standing for my marriage, I received all types of advice as to what I needed to be doing. I would consider only a small amount of this to have been biblical. And while the intentions behind much of the advice I received was good, I recognize and can honestly say most of it was completely misguided. I recall one bit of conventional wisdom that urged me to focus all my time and energy into my boys. I should make the most of every moment I had with them, because it is the memories they make with me, that stay with them for a lifetime. On the surface, these words seemed to sound right, but the more I compared them to what I saw and read in Scripture, the clearer the truth became. God didn’t bring me to my knees in order for me to spend more “quality time” with my children. On the contrary, He broke me because He is a jealous God who wanted all of me, not just whatever time was left over after I had already dedicated the largest portion to my children. God is never satisfied with what we “leave” Him after the more “important matters” are taken care of. A complete and total realignment of our priorities is what He is after, and until we realize this, the longer we will wander, and be left to our own devices as we walk without the wisdom needed to navigate life’s waters.
While the Word of God doesn’t give us specific answers for every question or concern we face, it does lead us to the wisdom and discernment necessary to ensure the choices we make are in line with His will. Whether it be on the topic of how to speak to your prodigal spouse while they are running, or how to manage your money in the midst of desperate financial circumstances, the Word of God gives us the framework we need to discern what is right and true concerning important life decisions.
But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere.James 3:17 (ESV)
With great regularity I reached out to the Lord when it came to responding to my prodigal spouse when she was held captive by the enemy. I needed assistance from Him to say the things that were right. I knew God desired for me to speak the truth in love but when attacks came my way, the natural instinct was to fire back in anger. It was a real struggle. I needed help in these situations. I knew the enemy could take my words, twist them and then take them out of context to advance his agenda. For this reason, discretion and wisdom was needed.
If you recall the story of Christ and His temptation in the wilderness, you’ll remember the strategy He used to win the battle. Jesus dealt with the temptations, lies and accusations with the wisdom found in the Word of God. Satan’s entire strategy was to trick Christ into believing there was a better way, apart from Scripture. Of course, Jesus was the very embodiment of the truth. Against this, the devil had no realistic hope of deceiving Him into abandoning His holy will. The question we need to ask ourselves is whether the decisions we are about to make will honor and glorify God. Will the fruit of that decision lead to something that is good, wholesome and pure, or will it lead to more conflict, chaos and uncertainty? Godly wisdom will always produce what is good and leads to life. Wisdom apart from the Savior, will invariably lead to death and destruction.
Friends, we recognize the battle for your soul and identity is very real. The decisions we make on a day to day basis flow from what is already in our hearts. It is for this reason, we need to be mindful of who is reigning and holding the keys. If you are struggling to make decisions in your day to day life and feel as though you constantly keep getting it wrong, reach out to the Lord and ask for His wisdom to fill your mind and spirit. It is His promise that this be given. All we need to do is ask.