When single, preparing your heart means preparing yourself to receive another person in your life: so start making space for them now.
Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall join to his wife. (Genesis 2:24)
My love story started a long time ago. It's been over four years since God first told me to pray for my future husband. I didn’t understand what this meant because I didn’t know him. But I obeyed my heavenly Father and have been praying for him ever since. During this time, I have been through a rollercoaster of battles, epiphanies, dreams, visions, desires and changes in my life when it comes to my love life.
The problem is that when God tells us He has someone for us or promises a bright future with a family, a spouse that will help us glorify Him and a marriage that will be built upon His word, the first thing we do is jump.
We jump to where this person is: what are they like, what do they do, how will they treat me, where will we meet, where will our wedding be, how many children will we have? We jump. God doesn’t give us those promises for us to ignore the present and live in the future, but he instils peace and hope in us for the exact opposite reason: to stop worrying about the what if’s.
If you are someone that has been praying and God hasn’t said anything about a future spouse or what your love life will be like, do not worry. God gives every circumstance and situation its own individual treatment. Everything happens for a reason. And that reason may be that you need to learn what your priority is in life, or you need to ensure that you’re not idolising the idea of getting married, it may be that you need to learn patience and trust in God, or merely that you’re not ready yet and you need to just enjoy singleness. Whatever the reason may be, continue to wait. And know that the following is just as relevant to your situation as any other.
Before any of God’s promises can come to pass, we need preparation. This is something natural and normal with any form of big decision or shift in our lives. Artists have lost their careers because they’ve gone into fame overnight without any preparation for it, relationships break every day because partners rush into commitments they’re not ready for, and of course, so many marriages end because its hasty reality doesn’t meet the initial expectation.
Erase everything that you know about relationships. Erase the world’s standard of a happy marriage, erase your belief of how it will be, people’s opinions on what makes it successful and every single thing that is not according to the Word of God. Going into a marriage means a clean slate. There needs to be total powerlessness of any other form of comparison or expectations from before. This is new.
In most cases, if God isn’t telling you anything then you have more preparation to do. And the great thing is that you have time to do it. When God keeps warning you that your spouse is close, He’s not just trying to make you excited and happy: He’s warning you. Warning that you are running out of time and you need to prepare yourself.
More specifically, prepare your heart.
Pray for your Heart
First and foremost, start by praying for your heart. This may make no sense. It certainly didn’t to me at first. But I’ve experienced such power in this prayer that I’ve literally seen my desires shift in a matter of days!
The way the Lord has taught me to pray for my heart is to think of everything that consists of emotions, desires, hopes, dreams, love and hate, and pray for it. I began by listing all my past relationships and taking everything I still held in my heart (old resentment, for example) and I surrendered it all to God. Remember, this isn’t just about how your old relationships or crushes or men/women in your life made you feel, but it’s also about the habits you built over time— the ways in which you acted, the things you said to hurt them, the ridiculous expectations you had of them, how you underestimated them or under-appreciated their best efforts. Your heart holds all of that and it needs releasing. You need to start with forgiveness: for others, and for yourself.
Preparing your heart means preparing yourself to receive another person in your life. Make space for it in your heart, and in your mind. One of my difficulties as a strong headed independent woman has always been the idea of how a woman is a man’s ‘helper’, how she is allegedly ‘weaker’ and cannot serve the same role as the man. I always liked being front and centre, the middle of attention, the main event. And a husband means a man sharing the spotlight, and sometimes even standing in front of me, and I behind him. Not many agree with this at all, but I follow the Bible and not the many. A woman is there to help her husband and the husband is there to love the woman. It’s my role and destiny in life as a woman and I intend to follow God’s will in that. Women are to support and lift the husband, and the husband is there to love and do the same to the woman. But it’s not easy, so I pray that all forms of fear and pride is vanquished now, in order that I won’t feel in competition with him later. I pray for only love in my heart for who he is, giving him the spot that is made for him and happily taking the one that only I can fill.
Once we finally let go of the past, we need to pray for protection. I’m someone that lets people into my heart far too easily and that required a lot of prayer for restoration and healing. It's a habit many of us can be guilty of, but only because it comes so naturally and we expect the best in people. But the danger of it is what needs our attention here.
So pray that God builds a wall of love around your heart. One that gives love to those coming near it, but doesn’t open its gates for just anyone. Be cautious and selective and pray for God’s wisdom to be in it when you do need to open it up again.
For your Desires
Real change doesn’t just come from the mind and that one spontaneous but determined decision we make. Change comes from a real desire to see a different result. So pray for your desires: that they align with God’s will for your life, that they never overtake Jesus’ first place. Pray that old, unclean desires start to dissipate, and new ones are born. Not just daily, physical desires, but desires that you know will also benefit your future marriage and spouse. For me, I pray for a greater desire to sacrifice myself. I find it hard to give my time to other people sometimes. The Bible says to “honour one another above ourselves” (Romans 12:10). But I like my space and I like taking time for myself. Always have. And whilst a good balance of that is healthy, I often tend to prefer it over spending time with friends or family. And I know very well that if I don’t work to change that desire now, my marriage will suffer.
Praying for the desires in my heart made them that much clearer and real. I realised who I truly was and how much I wanted to change. So through that, I took more of an initiative to act upon what I’m praying for God to do. Even if it’s something as small as staying late and talking to someone that needs a listening ear, instead of my usually preferred option of going home to watch a movie and relax on my own. Start small and dream big.
For your Emotions
Our emotions are unpredictable, just like our thoughts. They come and go, some bad, some good, some are from the devil, some from the Holy Spirit, and a lot of them from ourselves. We need to learn to direct and refine those emotions in order that everything that enters our heart be good.
Naturally, I’ve always loved the attention of men in my life. I wasn't very popular with men and I also suffered a great deal of low self esteem growing up. So whenever a man gave me some form of attention, no matter who he was or what he looked like, I ate it out of his hand. This lead me into relationships that I wanted no part of. It made a lot of male friends fall for me over time because they would get the wrong impression. And I’d always have a little jealousy when I’d see them with someone else, even if nothing had happened between us. It caused a big mess in my life and this has certainly been on my list of preparation.
God made me see that I need to direct my emotions to the right people or to Him. And I need to control them. Flirting with married people, for example, may seem innocent to a lot of us, and for a long time it did to me too. But I know that if their spouse stood next to me in that moment, I would immediately feel guilty. So that means that what I’m doing is wrong. Of course, physical attraction is a natural thing that can happen to the most devoted of couples: but it's your choice in what you decide to do with that emotion that testifies to your strength as a person and devotion as a Christian.
Pray that God leads all forms of emotions to the right source. And even more so, that He helps you control them. Feelings are so all over the place, they have no boundaries or limits. You need to start aiming those deep romantic emotions to a specific source: one person and one God. And you need to pray about them now, while you still have time and some room for the inevitable hiccups that’ll come in the training. Pray that God helps you create such a straight and narrow path of where your love and admiration goes, that no other person will interfere. No matter how great they may be, even when your actual spouse shows nothing but hopelessness, we need such a tight path that no one else will ever find or enter it.
Make little sacrifices, choose other people above you, give more than usual, have more patience with others: all these incredible traits come from your heart. And praying for it will enable them to start taking a greater shape in your life and character. This not only prepares you for marriage, but it greatly refines you into becoming more like Christ every day.
So I encourage you to pray for your heart. Start today and do it regularly.
Remember that when He reveals your spouse to you for the first time, you will need a heart that is clean and ready to give and receive love. Your marriage will be lead in God every step of the way and no matter the difficulty or trial ahead, neither of you will falter, all because you have prepared yourself.
Rejoice ever more. Pray without ceasing. (1 Thessalonians 5:16)