If you have ever been young, you have probably wrestled with questions about marriage at some point during your growing years. Women especially, may find themselves in a dilemma as their biological clocks tick away, if they want to have children.
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 is automatic and so is the choice of who to marry.
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 and to honor our bodies. (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 man. 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 widows who choose to remain single and not remarry.
In one instance, the Pharisees tried to trap Jesus about divorce. Jesus told them 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, you can get married 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 husband, but there is no age limit as to when an adult believer of marriageable age should get married. 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 age, while not every older woman will bear a child, God can work miracles, directly, as He has done in the past (Gen 18: 10ff; 21: 1ff), or indirectly, through responsible, ethical and moral medicine, within the bond of marriage – 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 husband 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 man, your husband, and remain faithful to him as long as both of you shall 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 choice for quality of life that can and does impact future generations. As a woman, you will to commit to your husband, and remain faithful to him as long as both of you live.
Committing to your spouse does not mean you won’t disagree sometimes. It means you choose to remain faithful to your spouse. Ruth Graham, the late wife of Evangelist Billy Graham, was married to him 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. Ruth was left to raise their children alone, or with the help of the grandparents. Once when asked whether she had ever thought of divorcing him, she replied jokingly that she had never considered divorce, breaking his leg, yes, but not divorce (paraphrased) (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 husband should be limited to single men 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 counsel from your pastor).
Marriage is the commitment to honor God with your body within the bond of marriage, as long as both you and your husband 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 widows. As apostle Paul said, some widows choose to remain single to focus solely on serving the LORD, some remarry. In the early days, women in general and especially widows, had no means of supporting themselves and faced hardship, if their relatives, or the church, did not provide for them. Today, many women are busy professional people, with their own independent means of support. Losing a spouse is difficult and remarriage may not be for you. If you are a widow, and you choose to remarry, God is gracious to provide for you and answer your prayers, according to your heart’s desire to honor him.
Examples of prayers for a woman to pray for a husband
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 husband to the LORD.
Example of a longer prayer for a woman 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 with her, replenish the earth. Father, I thank you that when you molded and shaped me in my mother’s womb, you made me a woman.
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. Nevertheless, 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 man and get married, lest I be tempted to sin against you. I believe that somewhere out there, you have created a man with whom I’m the most compatible.
If it pleases you, please provide me a suitable godly husband – a man who is gentle, loving and willing to continue to become more like Christ. A man, who will lead with grace, and allow Christ to be the head of our home, as you help us, together, establish a stable, loving home, filled with joy and laughter – a home that will glorify your Name. LORD, continue to prepare me to be a suitable companion for him I pray, in the precious Name of Jesus Christ. Amen.”
Example of a shorter prayer for a woman to pray:
“Lord, your Word says that it is not good that man should be alone, that you created woman to be a companion to him. Please guide my feet as you guided Rebecca’s feet to Isaac and Ruth to Boaz and help me find favor in the eyes of the man with whom I’m the most compatible, that together we may make a home that is centered on Christ – a home full of joy, peace, harmony and laughter. A home you will bless abundantly through the years, in Jesus’ Name. Amen.”
Example of a prayer for a widow to pray, or please pray your own prayer from your heart:
“Lord, thank you for the years I spent with my husband _________. Thank you for the memory we shared together. Lord, since he is gone, I believe that you have another special man out there for me. Please guide my feet as you guided Ruth to Boaz and help me find favor in the eyes of the man with whom I’m the most compatible, that together we may make a home that is centered on Christ – a home full of joy, peace, harmony and laughter. A home you will bless abundantly through the years, in Jesus’ Name. 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