It’s a question many people have wrestled with, so it probably won’t sound new to you, but here it is: Is it possible for genuine change to occur in my marriage, and if so, what would that process even look like?
Whether you’re on the brink of divorce, or simply feel your marriage is in the doldrums, the answer is found (in part) in one short verse in the New Testament.
For it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose
Friends, this is amazing news. God Himself is in your corner, He wants you to succeed, and He’s the biggest fan of your marriage. He’s involved. He always has been; and He’s able to transform your marriage from the inside out. This little verse gives us big insight regarding the process of transformation. Here’s what it looks like:
1. God works IN us. A different translation of this verse (The Message) refers to it as God’s energy, deep within you. That’s where the change process begins! It begins with God in us. God’s energy in us, which does a couple of incredible things…
2. God works in us to WILL. In other words, God’s energy works in us to want the right things for our marriage. He shapes our will. He refreshes our desire to keep working on it. So often we hear about doing the right things, not realizing that that train never leaves the station until it’s fueled by desire, and God is in the business of resurrecting desire. Maybe you’ve given up on your marriage because you feel like you’ve done all you can do. Nothing has worked up to this point, and the road has been too long and the hurt between you and your spouse is too deep. Let God’s energy shape your will.
3. God works in us to ACT. In other words, God’s energy works in us to create action. And that usually involves doing something we don’t feel like doing, and it’s probably actions that can already be found in the Bible. For example: forgiving, serving, loving unconditionally, speaking loving and respectful words. Stuff that God already said we should be doing in our marriage, but stuff we often forget about. And when we find ourselves doing them, we know it’s God’s energy in us that began the whole process. Amazing.
4. To fulfill His good purpose. Again, The Message translation refers to it as His pleasure. And isn’t that the point? Believe it or not, there is something even more important than improving your marriage. It’s pleasing God. And when our goal is to please Him, our prayer changes from “God, change my marriage” to “God, teach me to please You in my marriage.” And we do that by allowing Him to shape our will, and our actions.
Here’s a prayer I’ve written to get you started. Feel free to pray it verbatim:
Lord, I recognize my need of You in my life and marriage. I thank you for all the ways you’ve worked in me, and I ask you to do it again. Work in me to want the things You want for my marriage. Work in me to do the right things for my marriage. I need Your energy and power because I cannot do this in my own strength. I need every resource You provide. And my prayer isn’t just for a transformed marriage. It’s deeper than that. My prayer is that I would please You in my marriage. In Christ’s Name I pray. Amen.