How to Pray for Your Husband When He’s Not a Godly Father
In the past I’ve shared some characteristics of a Godly father that I've observed.
But what if your husband is not a Godly father? What if he:
-Disciplines the children too harshly
-Undermines your parenting
-Speaks disrespectfully to you and allows your children to do the same
-Does not show interest in teaching the kids spiritual things
-Does not spend time with the children
-Does not help you care for the children
No doubt it’s hard to watch your children not receive the loving care that they deserve from a father. No doubt it’s hard to do all the work to teach them and take care of them and not to receive any participation from your spouse.
I imagine that if your children’s father is this kind of a man that you have already spent time in prayer, asking God to change his heart and help him be the right kind of a father. (Read: 10 Ways to Pray for the Father of Your Children.)
But what if nothing is changing?
Where do you go from here?
What I am about to share is by no means a comprehensive answer. Without knowing you, I can’t possibly offer insight into your unique situation. I only want to give you some options to think about.
If you are unsure if there is something deeper at play, I encourage you to check out one of these books, which will give you much more information than I can provide here: (affiliate links)
–Is it Me? Making Sense of Your Confusing Marriage
In the meantime, here are some ways that you can pray for your husband when he is not a godly father.
1. Pray that the Holy Spirit would reveal areas of his life that are not submitted to God.
Sometimes an area where we ourselves have grown is not the same area where our spouse is growing at the moment. Maybe he is learning other things right now and the areas of needed growth that are so clear from your perspective are not something he has seen yet.
Important to note: God is faithful to answer our prayers; however, this is not a guarantee that your spouse will change. When God does the revealing, your husband must make the choice to act on what God reveals to him about his character.
Why doesn’t he change? God will never force anyone to change. Obedience to God is a voluntary choice, and it is up to your husband to make that choice.
What to look for: Is there evidence of spiritual growth in other areas of your husband’s life? I am not speaking of outward shows of religion. Anyone can read their Bible, pray, sing spiritual songs, and say spiritual words. These are outward behaviors. But is there evidence of an ongoing transformation of your husband’s inner life? When there is an area of his life that has not been a reflection of Christ, does he humbly repent and submit that area to the Lord? Although he may have areas that still need adjusting, is his overall demeanor characterized by the fruit of the spirit – love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance?
If there is not evidence of an ongoing inner transformation into the image of Christ, it is not likely that you will see him become more Christlike in his parenting either.
2. Pray that God will give you the words to speak to your husband.
“You are not your husband’s holy spirit.” Many wives have heard these words and believe that it is wrong for them to speak up when they see something in their husband’s life that is not Christlike.
But while it is true that it is not our place to dictate to another believer what he must and must not do, it is also true that as believers we are called to:
-exhort one another so that none will be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin (Hebrews 3:13)
-provoke one another to love and good works (Hebrews 10:24)
-restore the one who sins, in a spirit of gentleness (Galatians 6:1)
-speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15)
You can speak the truth to your husband in love, asking God to give you the wisdom to know what to say to him. (James 1:5)
If you feel that speaking truth into your husband’s life and calling him to a more Christ-like way of life will only make him angry or cause negative consequences for you, that is a much bigger problem, which leads me to the next point.
3. Pray that you will have wisdom to know how to protect your children.
If speaking up to your husband is only going to create negative consequences for you and your children, I encourage you to do what is necessary for everyone’s safety and well-being.
I am not saying to keep your mouth closed and go on living as if there’s nothing wrong.
I am saying that if your husband has already demonstrated in the past that his response would cause distress to you or your children, then there is no sense in trying an approach of talking to him. He has already shown what is in his heart. Your priority now is to protect your children.
He hath shewed thee, O man, what is good; and what doth the Lord require of thee, but to do justly, and to love mercy, and to walk humbly with thy God? (Micah 6:8)
Being an agent of mercy and justice for your children – protecting the vulnerable from one who is misusing his power over them – is a godly thing to do.
Do they need emotional protection?
Do they need physical protection?
Do they need spiritual protection?
Your unique circumstances will require a unique response. This is why praying for wisdom is so important. God has promised to give wisdom to those who ask him, so prepare yourself for His answer. Look for the places that He might be providing information you can use to make wise decisions that will protect your children.
4. Pray that your children will understand the love of God in spite of having an imperfect earthly father.
Many children struggle to understand the love of God when their earthly father is harsh or indifferent toward them.
Yet God shows his love to people in many different ways. He can show his love to your children through you, their mother (II Timothy 1:5). He can show his love through his beautiful creation that he has given for them to enjoy (Psalm 19:1). He has given them his written word by which he reveals his love for all mankind (II Timothy 3:15). Love them, teach them who God is, and point out to them the beauty of God’s love as shown in his creation of the world around them. Pray that they will understand who God is and that their tender hearts will not become hardened to the idea of having a relationship with him.
What if your husband is not a believer? You can pray the same prayers from this post either way. You can pray that God would draw your husband to himself, understanding that God will never force anyone to come to himself. You can pray that you would have wisdom to know what words you should or should not speak to your husband; you can pray that you will have wisdom to protect your children; and you can pray that your children will understand the love of God.
Dear Christian Mama,
I close this article with a prayer for you.
Father, I ask that you will give your wisdom to this reader. I ask that you will help her know that words she ought to say to invite her husband to a place of repentance. If her husband is willing to humbly grow in Christlikeness, I ask that you would give her a spirit of graciousness and not of criticism. If her husband is unwilling to submit to you, I ask that you would make that clear to her, and show her what she should do to protect her children's tender hearts as well as keep them physically safe. I ask that your presence would be unmistakeable in her life, that she would know your deep love for her and be able to pass it on to her children.