When thinking of how to pray for your unsaved spouse, it’s 100% normal to feel anxious and overwhelmed. After all, you may be dealing with thoughts of if your prayers will even be answered, questioning what to pray for, and possibly hesitant on praying in the first place. In this post, we’re going to address some primary questions saved spouses have about their unsaved spouse and ways to pray for them.
What Does the Bible Say About an Unbelieving Spouse?
Before going any further, let’s lay the foundation from a scriptural perspective of what the Bible says about an unbelieving spouse.
1 Corinthians 7:12-14 says:
To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.
Now, don’t get caught up on the “must not divorce” part of the Word. While we don’t promote divorce without making every effort to save your marriage, Scripture is clear in the following verses:
But if the unbeliever leaves, let it be so. The brother or the sister is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace. (1 Corinthians 7:15)
In other words, if after you’ve done everything you are able to save your marriage, Scripture clearly says the unbeliever may leave, especially for the peace of the household.
Do I Have to Submit to an Unbelieving Spouse?
This is another great question that wives especially ask themselves if their husband is an unbeliever. Scripture is clear on this as well:
Wives, in the same way, submit yourselves to your own husbands so that, if any of them do not believe the word, they may be won over without words by the behavior of their wives, when they see the purity and reverence of your lives. (1 Peter 3:1-2)
Although this passage carries somewhat of a burden with it, it’s still a promise worth memorizing and hanging on to. What this passage shows is that your life is essential to your words. And while it’s specific to wives of unbelieving husbands, we can safely assume that it could work both ways – whether it’s the wife that’s unbelieving, or the husband.
So, in short, yes. Yes, wives – submit to your husband unless it causes you to be disobedient to the Word of God. And yes, husbands – treat your wives with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life (1 Peter 3:7).
How to Pray for Your Unsaved Spouse
Pray for God to Have Control
It’s really easy for us to get in the way of work the Lord may want to do through us or in our spouse. In the case of praying for your unsaved spouse, pray for your trust to remain faithful and for God to remain in control.
Scripture for Prayer: Psalm 9:10
Pray for Your Spouse’s Salvation
Keep in mind that you cannot save your spouse, only Jesus can. Instead of trying to control how and when your spouse is saved, pray for his/her salvation to come naturally and by a true touch with Jesus.
Scripture for Prayer: John 14:6
Pray for Unity in Your Marriage
Genesis is clear that marriage means that you and your spouse come together in one flesh; however, when one is unsaved, it can feel like anything but that. Pray for unity in your marriage and that your unsaved spouse would see your union in a new light.
Scripture for Prayer: Genesis 2:24
Pray for Your Unsaved Spouse to be Considerate
Revisiting the principle found in 1 Peter 3, pray for your unsaved spouse to be considerate of your godly lifestyle and to be transformed by it. This can also go in hand with praying for peace throughout your home and in your spouse.
Scripture for Prayer: 1 Peter 3:1-7
Pray for Encouragement
Ask God to help you be an encouraging spouse versus one who wants to force their unsaved spouse to change their ways according to your understanding. God gives grace and encouragement to those who ask.
Scripture for Prayer: Romans 15:5
Being married to an unsaved spouse can be difficult; however, it doesn’t mean that all is lost. Use the prompts above to pray for your unsaved spouse. If you can, consider getting a mentor, an accountability partner, and/or participating in a Bible study that will help you through these times. And as always, you can never go wrong with prayer.