If you have ever been young, you have probably wrestled with questions about marriage at some point during your growing years, especially, if you wanted to start a family in your younger years. Biological clock is not only for women. Men may not fair better as the choices of suitable girls within their age group get slimmer the longer they wait.
If you’re single and seeking God’s guidance, you may be confronted with this dilemma. Should you wait and focus on your career, or should you marry and hope the spouse you select is the right one? Should you marry at all? Everyone at some point is confronted with this decision. In some cultures, the decision to marry may be automatic and so is the choice.
Followers of Christ are given two choices: to serve the Lord as single people (if they can remain celibate), or to serve the Lord as married couples, if they cannot remain celibate, in order to avoid sexual immorality (1 Corinth 7: 1-2).
If you have failed in this area, don’t despair. God is gracious and He will forgive you, if you repent. It is not too late to allow God to help you turn your life around and start living according to His master-plan, a plan He created for us to honor Him. (1 John 2: 1 – 6; I Corinth 6: 18ff)
What is the gift of remaining single?
The gift of remaining single, also known as the gift of celibacy, is not cohabiting with someone, or jumping from one relationship to another, instead of making a marriage covenant with one woman. The gift of celibacy is the ability to remain single, without a sexual partner – whether casual, or permanent partner – for the rest of your life. If you are a believer, it is the gift of remaining single for life and honoring God with your body, so that you can focus on serving Him, without the distraction and demands of marriage (I Corinth 7: 1ff ; * vs 32 -34). This also includes widowers who choose to remain single and not remarry.
In one instance, the Pharisees tried to trap Jesus about the question of divorce. Jesus told them that no one should divorce except for adultery. The Disciples were shocked and said, “Then it is better not to marry!” Jesus replied, not so fast. (Matth 19: 1ff, pp)
Jesus went on to explain that very few people have the gift of remaining single: 1, those who can’t function in the bedroom from their birth, 2, those who can’t function due to surgical procedure forced on them (today we may also include other abuses); and 3, those who choose to practice abstinence and remain, or live as single people, so that they can focus on serving God (Matthew 19: 11 – 12, full text vs 1 – 12). Christ’s implied response to His disciples was really, if you are a full-blooded person, plan to marry as God planned, unless you know you can remain sexually pure for the rest of your life, in order to dedicate your life to serving God.
Advancement in medicine may reduce the number of the first groups. Also, God’s healing hand can wash away the pain of the past and rebuild a life that was fractured through abuse.
If you initially chose to remain single, but find it increasingly difficult to honor God as a single person as the years pass, you can marry at any time. (I Corinth 7: 35 – 38). God is a loving, forgiving Father, but He is also holy. That means the majority of Christ’s Followers should get married as God originally planned.
In echoing Jesus’ teaching, Apostle Paul said, though celibacy is good, in order to avoid sexual immorality (1 Corinth 6: 9 – 20), each man should have his own wife and each woman should have her own husband (I Corinth 7: 1 – 2).
Though God’s grace is sufficient in all situations and God does help His children to do the right thing. All said, being single and remaining celibate is not for the faint-hearted. Even with the help of the Holy Spirit, it can get quite lonely. Also, remember that companionship could include a simple thing like going out for dinner, or to a social gathering. As you get older, it gets harder to find spontaneous friends, as your one-time single friends, now married, focus on raising their families. Therefore, contrary to the popular trend, the majority of Christ’s Followers should be prepared to marry at some point, in the LORD.
Caveat: As a believer, you have been given moral and spiritual boundaries for choosing a wife, but there is no age limit as to when an adult believer of marriageable age should marry. Also, contrary to popular belief, nothing in the Bible prohibits marriage due to age differences between the adults (if you find one, please send an e-mail). The only implied limitation is child-bearing age. Other limitations could be the skills-set required to socialize with age groups that are polls apart, or the awkwardness of having a spouse who is closer in age to your parents than to you.
Regarding child-bearing, God can work miracles, directly, as He has done in the past, or indirectly, through responsible, ethical and moral medicine, if it is His will.
Example of a prayer to ask God’s guidance on whether you should remain single
If you believe you may have the gift of remaining single, please pray this prayer, or one of your own:
“Heavenly Father, the Lord Jesus Christ, said very few people have the gift of celibacy. If it is your plan for me to remain single, please remove from me the desire to get married and the feeling of loneliness. You said you will never leave us, or forsake us. Fill my life with your presence and be my sufficiency, I pray, and help me feel complete and whole. Orchestrate my life and provide a holy and righteous way for me to meet all my social needs so that I will continue to live a full life that honors you, LORD. If it is not your will for me to be a celibate, please provide me a suitable wife who pleases you. I pray all these things believing in the precious Name of Jesus Christ. Amen.”
What is the gift of marriage?
So, if the gift of remaining single is the commitment to honor God with your body in your single state, what is the gift of marriage?
God created the earth and all living things in pairs, except for Adam. He saw that Adam was lonely, so He created Eve to complete him. God created a woman to complement a man for two main reasons: 1, companionship; 2, replenishing the earth. In providing this option, God acknowledged human need for companionship and procreation, but raised us above other creatures. Therefore the gift of marriage is the gift to commit to one woman, your wife, and remain faithful to her as long as both of you live.
The gift of marriage is an honor that God bestowed on human beings – God’s provision for human beings to live a guilt-free, safe and complete life here on earth, according to His original master plan. It was never meant to limit our freedom, but to enhance it, within the parameters of the best choices for quality of life that can and does impact future generations. As a man, you will to commit to your wife, and remain faithful to her as long as both of you live.
Committing to your wife does not mean you won’t disagree sometimes. It means you choose to remain faithful to your spouse. Evangelist Billy Graham and Ruth, his late wife, were married for nearly 64 years. They were devoted to each other deeply, yet during most of that time as their children were growing up, Dr. Graham was gone from home, on the road preaching the Gospel. Their marriage could have been turbulent, but because Dr. Graham had sought wisdom from the LORD in choosing a wife, she proved to be perfect for him. At times she thought about breaking his legs (jokingly), but she chose to remain devoted to him all her life. (Decision: Special Commemorative Issue. Ruth Bell Graham: 1920 – 2007, p.18)
Despite the rise in divorce, there are more couples like that – whose stories we don’t always get to hear – who choose to remain dedicated to each other. Perhaps, you know a few, may be your parents were one such couple.
As mentioned previously, if you believe you do not have the gift of remaining single, the question then is not if you should marry, but when you should marry. God’s timing is always perfect. Your choice of a wife should be limited to single women from the household of Christ, according to God’s plan and provision (Genesis 1: 18 – 25, Rom 7: 1 – 3; 2 Corinth 6: 14ff). Apostle Paul may have also extended grace to people who became believers after they were already married, as a result, their unbelieving spouses asked for divorce (1 Corinth 7: 12 – 16) and they are now single again. (Please seek your pastor’s counsel on this issue).
Marriage is the commitment to honor God with your body within the bond of marriage, as long as both you and your wife live. Even if you elect to have your trusted friends and family choose a spouse for you, it doesn’t hurt to pray for the LORD to guide them.
Finally, single people include widowers. While generally society has been gentler to widowers, and assume many of them will remarry at some point, losing a spouse is difficult. Some widowers choose to remain single and continue serving the LORD as single people. If you are a widower, and you choose to remarry, God is gracious, He will provide for you, according to your heart’s desire to honor him.
Examples of prayers for a man to pray for a wife
If you wish to seek God’s guidance regarding marriage, you may choose any of the prayers below, or pray from your heart to express your preferences for a godly wife to the Lord.
Example of a longer prayer for men to pray:
“Heavenly Father, your Word says that when you created heaven and earth and living beings, all other creatures had partners, but Adam was alone. You created a woman out of his ribs and flesh so that he would have someone to complete him and together replenish the earth. Father, I thank you that when you molded and shaped me in my mother’s womb, you made me a man.
The Lord Jesus Christ also taught us that very few people have the gift of remaining single for life. Since one day with you is like a thousand years and a thousand years is like one day, remaining single for life and continuing to honor you could be a very long time. But, if it pleases you that I should remain single, then please empower me to do so to your glory in Christ.
Lord, given a choice, I would prefer to find a suitable woman and marry, lest I be tempted to sin against you.
If it pleases you, please provide me a suitable godly wife – a woman who is filled with your grace and who together with me, will establish harmony, peace, joy and laughter in our home and let Christ be the head of our house. Help us make a home that will glorify your Name. LORD, continue to prepare me to be a suitable husband to her. I pray in the Name of Jesus Christ. Amen.”
Example of a shorter prayer for men to pray:
“LORD, your Word says that it is not good that man should be alone, that whoever finds a wife, finds a treasure. Father, you created many beautiful women out there, but not all of them are meant for me. Please guide my feet to the woman with whom I’m the most suitable and help us together make a home that will honor you – a home full of joy, peace, harmony and laughter; a home where Christ is the head; a home that you will bless abundantly through the years to come. And LORD, please help me be the kind of husband who pleases you, as the Lord Jesus continues to be my strength and guide, for it is in His Name, I pray. Amen.”
Example of a prayer for a widower to pray, or please pray your own personal prayer from your heart:
“LORD, thank you for the years I spent with my wife _________. Thank you for the memory we shared together. LORD, since she is gone, I believe that you have another special woman out there for me. Please help our paths to cross, as you helped Boaz cross paths with Ruth. And help us together make a home that will honor you – a home full of joy, peace, harmony and laughter; a home where Christ is the head; a home that you will bless abundantly through the years to come. And LORD, please help me be a better husband than before, as the Lord Jesus continues to be my strength and guide, for it is in His Name, I pray. Amen.”
Genesis 2: 18 – 25; 24:1ff
Ruth 2: 1 – 12
Proverbs 18: 21; 31: 10 ff
Matthew. 19: 1 – 12
Rom 7: 1 – 3
1 Corinthians 6: 9 -20; 7: 1 – 7 ff (*vs 32 -34)
Hebrews 13: 4