women would be happy to have a praying husband. But what if the sounds
of intense intercession keep you awake night after night?
“Could you come down out of the heavenlies long enough to give me a hand with this dirty laundry?”
you ever uttered those words in your home? Some wives have trouble
pulling their husbands away from the TV set. Others struggle to keep
them from bringing work home from the office. But a growing number of
women these days are asking: “How do I deal with my husband, the
let me congratulate you women who are married to intercessors. Of all
the ministries to which a man could be called, none is more important
than the ministry of intercessory prayer. Thank God for men who are
committed to intercede for the needs of others, for revival and for
spiritual awakening in our world! These men give their families the
priceless gift of prayer.
But let’s admit it: Having an intercessor for a husband can present its share of challenges.
Tools of the Trade
in marriage is difficult for all couples at times. But understanding a
spouse’s intercessory burden can be particularly trying.
“He’s too emotional” is a
common complaint I hear from the wives of intercessors. These women are
concerned that their husbands are frequently tearful, weepy or
burdened—many times for no apparent reason! Actually, the men themselves
may be worried about the same thing. Some male intercessors don’t
understand intercessory travail and therefore resist the assignment when
it comes upon them—especially if they know their wives will think
they’re weak or strange.
Men have a natural
inclination to present a strong, “macho” image to their families. But a
posture of weakness before the Lord makes any intercessor effective.
This challenge—remaining strong before their families and at the same
time weak before God’s throne—is difficult for some men.
The husband of one of our
closest friends is an intercessor. For some time, he and his wife were
both perplexed by what seemed to be his emotional instability. He was
apt to burst into tears at the most inopportune moments. His tender
heart had become an embarrassment to both of them.
I explained to them that just
as wrenches are essential equipment for an auto mechanic, tears are the
tools of an intercessor’s trade. “Tears are a language God
understands,” Dottie Rambo’s song declares.
And Scripture promises: “He
who continually goes forth weeping, bearing seed for sowing, shall
doubtless come again with rejoicing” (Psalms 126:6, NKJV). When tears
have watered the soil into which the seeds of prayer are planted, we can
expect a harvest!
It is true that male
intercessors, like their female counterparts, are often preoccupied with
spiritual things. They seem to be always stuck in the prayer room—if
not physically, then mentally. At times they may seem out of touch with
reality and so committed to prayer that they are oblivious to the
everyday needs of their families.
The call to intercession,
however, is not a measure of spiritual maturity. Intercession is an
assignment from the Lord, like any other assignment. Intercessors need
to grow in wisdom and discernment, just like the rest of us—and wives of
intercessors need to be patient and prayerful in that process.
In extreme cases, a prayer warrior may refuse to hold a job or provide for his
using his call to intercessory prayer as an excuse. But a mature, godly
man knows that his spiritual responsibilities do not release him from
his physical responsibilities.
Paul wrote that a man who
fails to provide for his own family is “worse than an infidel” (1 Tim.
5:8, KJV.) If God calls a man to pray instead of holding an outside job,
God’s provision for his family will be the evidence. In other words,
God’s provision usually confirms God’s direction.
Some male intercessors are
impulsive. They “get a word from God” and act on it immediately. But to
assume that they have heard God clearly, have correctly interpreted what
they heard Him say and are applying it rightly is presumptuous! With
that tough-guy, John Wayne mentality, they overlook the fact that, at
best, “we prophesy in part…we see through a glass, darkly” (1 Cor.
Refusing to wait for the Lord
to confirm the word or for their wives to come into agreement actually
breeds marital resentment. It doesn’t take much of a man to win an
argument or walk all over his wife’s feelings. It takes quite a man to
It is crucial that male
intercessors allow their wives time to process and participate in
important decisions. As Ephesians 5:21 says, we must submit to one
A Lesson I Learned
1979 my family was living comfortably in a nice house on a beautiful
lake in North Texas. The occasional concert or revival meeting paid the
bills. Only nine months after moving into our new home, however, I was
offered a job in Houston, as the executive director of an evangelistic
I felt strongly that God wanted me to take the job. To my surprise, Alice felt just as strongly that He didn’t.
I knew there was no use trying to “railroad” her. I had to act from a position of truth.
According to the Word, Alice
and I are one. We are to be of one mind—especially regarding something
as important as selling a house and moving to another city. And that one
mind is to be the mind of Christ.
“Honey,” I told her sweetly,
“I really believe that the Lord is calling us to this new position.
However, it’s clear to me that you disagree. So here’s what I’m going to
“First, tomorrow I will call
the ministry in Houston and explain to them that we are unable to accept
the job at this time and that more prayer is needed for us to come to a
decision. Second, I will not mention this offer to you again. I’m not
going to bug you with this.
“Finally, I’m going to trust
the whole situation to the Lord. If God has spoken this to me, He can
just as easily communicate it to you. And if and when He does, you let
Understand, I knew I could be
wrong. Perhaps the job wasn’t God’s will. God has often used Alice to
keep me from making stupid mistakes. At the same time, it could be that
she was wrong.
What if, while waiting for
Alice’s agreement, someone else got the job and I missed God’s plan for
my life? Was I confident in God’s ability to speak to my wife—confident
that I could leave this issue in His hands until He had finished working
out all the details?
It wasn’t easy, but I kept my
word not to mention the job again. I was determined not to whine about
it, and I refused to say, “If it weren’t for you, I could be doing God’s
will right now!”
Late one night about six months later, Alice came into my study wiping tears from her eyes.
“Eddie,” she said, “The Lord has told me that you are to take that job in Houston.”
“Oh, Alice, I’m certain that the job was taken by someone else long ago,” I replied.
“No, the Lord told me that it is there for you,” she said. “Call them tomorrow, and you’ll see.”
The next morning I called the
ministry in Houston and learned that the position, amazingly, had not
yet been filled. I also learned that the night before, at the same time
Alice had heard from the Lord, the ministry leaders were in prayer,
asking God to confirm His will in our hearts.
I accepted the job offer, and
we moved. The pay, the housing—literally everything about the job—was
better because we had waited those six months. That experience proved to
me that Alice and I can submit to each other in the fear of the Lord—because we have a faithful God!
Being a Helpmate
How can you support your husband in his ministry of intercession? Here are some ways to start:
• Avoid the urge to judge or criticize him.
Intercession is a difficult job. It is a heavy responsibility to
represent life-and-death issues before God’s throne. Don’t become an
additional burden to him. Be a help, not a hindrance.
• Find ways to assist him.
Perhaps you can offer to assist more with the administration of the
family. I’m not suggesting that you replace him. Nevertheless, there may
be ways you can help him when you sense he is under a particular
spiritual burden or when he is fasting.
• Guard your heart against jealousy. Don’t
be jealous of his relationship with Christ. If you don’t experience the
same level of intimacy with the Lord that your husband shares in
intercession, that’s OK. Thank God we are all different!
Pursue your own intimate
relationship with Christ. Find your own rhythm of prayer. After all,
intimacy with Jesus is a journey, not a destination; learn to accept
yourself and where you are on the journey.
• Release him to learn. Today
there are many opportunities for your husband to learn from other
intercessors and teachers. Conferences, seminars and books offer a
wealth of necessary training for him. Your generosity in allowing your
spouse to learn from others will have far-reaching effects in the
Remember, the fruit of your
husband’s prayers and tears—measured in transformed lives—will be
applied to your heavenly account as well. Why? You’re partnered with him
so he can be a more effective minister of intercession.
Your praying husband is a
precious gift, not only to you and your family, but also to the church.
Understand him. Help him. Pray for him. And enjoy the blessings of your
Eddie Smith is
co-founder and president of the U.S. Prayer Center in Houston. He has a
life-coaching program and is a member of America’s National Prayer
Committee, the International
Prayer Council, the International Strategic Prayer Network, and the
International Reconciliation Coalition. Eddie is also an internationally
known conference speaker and best-selling author.