Praying Circles Around Your Marriage

by Mark Batterson February 6, 2019
“Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Ephesians 4:2 (NIV)
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My wife Lora and I have been happily married for 24 years. And … we just celebrated our 26th anniversary.

In other words, our first two years were tough. We had a lot of growing up to do, both as individuals and as a couple.

We realize not every marriage starts with a “honeymoon” phase. Although we had some amazing moments, our early years involved more work than we originally imagined. And we weren’t very efficient in the learning process because we tried to figure it out by ourselves. Thankfully, the Lord’s grace on our marriage helped us survive some really hard seasons.

For our relationships to improve, it’s important we learn the lessons God is trying to teach us. We’ve had to learn a few lessons many times over! Making mistakes is a given, but what we do with those mistakes, and whether we learn from them, helps determine whether we grow closer or further apart.

Like many couples, Lora and I are very different from one another. Those differences can bring quite the adventure — and perhaps some adversity, too. But the tension-causing differences can become blessings in disguise where we learn to complement one another. Each of us, with our differences, reflect varying dimensions of God’s character.

Another lesson I’ve discovered is I can be selfish and married, but I cannot be selfish and happily married. Marriage is one way God interrupts our preoccupation with ourselves. As we grow as a couple, I have to focus on meeting my wife’s needs. Because when I focus on getting my needs met, I end up swimming upstream, against the current.

There are two keys to changing the current: humility and prayer. When we stay humble and stay hungry, there’s nothing God cannot do in us and through us! That certainly applies to marriage. When I walk in Christ-like humility and have a desire for oneness, I gain wisdom and experience — instead of repeating my same selfish patterns.

Ephesians 4:2 reminds us, “Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.” Humility is the key to unity. And prayer is the key to humility. It’s recognition that I cannot do this in my own strength, with my own wisdom.

Nothing has the potential to change relational momentum like prayer! When people pursue a dream, I often remind them it takes longer and is much harder than they originally imagined. But the payoff is always greater, too.

The same is true for marriage. Marriage is a God-ordained, God-sized dream. And no one said it would be easy. Just like chasing a career dream requires a plan, some training and some determination, focusing on your marriage with the same kind of intensity is one of the best investments we can make.

Prayer is the difference between the best I can do and the best God can do. Prayer softens hearts, downloads wisdom, develops patience, exposes fear, challenges our thinking, and points us to the ultimate covenantal relationship with the One who loves us in the purest, most self-sacrificing way.

Prayer is as important to marriage as anything you’ll ever do. I’ll never be a perfect spouse, but I can be a praying spouse. There are moments in marriage when prayer is all we have left, but that doesn’t mean it should be a last resort. When we prioritize prayer, it’s preventative medicine. How are you circling your marriage in prayer today?

Lord, lead me in a prayer revival for my marriage. Use my spouse and me to be part of the perfecting work You’re doing in each of our hearts and lives. Give me a greater humility and love so I might care properly for my spouse. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.


Philippians 2:3-4,“Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit. Rather, in humility value others above yourselves, not looking to your own interests but each of you to the interests of the others.” (NIV)


Marriage is one of the most sacred relationships on earth, and prayer is the most powerful way to transform it. Discover how to support your marriage (or encourage a friend’s) with the power of prayer in the new book, Praying Circles Around Your Marriage by Joel and Nina Schmidgall, along with Mark and Lora Batterson. Be empowered to identify your greatest dreams for the most important relationship in your life, and pray the kind of audacious prayers in which God finds delight.


Follow Mark Batterson on social media at @markbatterson, or stop by

Stay connected with co-authors Joel and Nina Schmidgall on Twitter at @joelschmidgall and @ninaschmidgall or on Instagram. Joel and Nina have served at National Community Church (alongside Mark and Lora Batterson) for nearly two decades. Through their ministry to couples, they see the power of prayer at work in marriages.

Enter to WIN a copy of Praying Circles Around Your Marriage. To celebrate this new book, Zondervan is giving away 5 copies! Enter to win by leaving a comment here in our comments section. {We’ll randomly select 5 winners and notify them in the comments section by Monday, February 10.}


What are the areas of your marriage needing prayer and intentionality today? Ask God to give you a revelation for the area of your marriage He wants to develop.

Humility is the key to unity. Is there an area of your marriage where you need to humble yourself, rather than repeating the same patterns? Ask the Lord for the strength and patience to approach a reoccurring problem in a new way.

© 2019 by Mark Batterson. All rights reserved.

Proverbs 31 Ministries thanks Zondervan, a division of HarperCollins Christian Publishing, for their sponsorship of today’s devotion.

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