In both my real life and online interactions with other women, a consistent concern continues to surface. Women want to know how to get their uninvolved spouse to engage in parenting. As soon as the lines show up on the pregnancy test, parenting is front and center in the minds of mothers. We are spurred on by Pinterest pins and Instagram images of parenting perfection. Men are not so intrinsically or socially motivated toward paternal excellence. Be it the distraction of work or hobbies, their natural bent, or the way they were raised, the fathers in our homes are not always the spiritual leaders and awesome fathers we hoped they would be. Nagging doesn’t seem to work. Guilt trips are wasted miles. What is the secret to endearing the heart of a father toward his children?
Lean in close, mother. This truth is crucial to this conversation. Only God has access to the hearts of men. This can be a deflating truth for a controlling woman (like me) to accept. Wives want to set up Father-Daughter dates that make daughters swoon with love for their fathers. We want to inspire the men to read family devotions, so we set out family devotional books in conspicuous spots around the house. Women give cold shoulders thinking this will lead to a warm heart. These efforts are in vain. This one truth remains.
Only God has access to the hearts of men.
Because the key to a man’s heart is through the Father, the only way to get to his heart is through prayer. One of the most effective ways to pray is to use God’s Word as a guide.
5 Encouraging Prayers for the Struggling Father
“The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make his face shine upon you and be gracious to you; the Lord lift up his countenance upon you and give you peace” (Num. 6:24-26, ESV). This prayer of blessing is a way to ask God for His divine favor to rest on your husband. It is a blessing of protection, grace, favor, and peace. As the Lord blesses the patriarch in your family, those blessings can flow through him to your children.
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen…By faith, Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going” (Heb. 11:1 and 8, ESV). Pray that your husband would follow the Spirit’s promptings in faith, even when the outcome is uncertain. This may be applicable in an area of career, family, or personal convictions. As the spiritual leader of your home, your prayers for a faith like Abraham will help sustain him as he leads.
“Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night” (Ps. 1:1-2, ESV). Pray for godly men to have an influence on the dad in your life. Ask God to protect your husband from bad company that might corrupt his character. Ask God to give your husband a passion for the Word of God. It is the foundation for godly living.
“We know that our old self was crucified with him in order that the body of sin might be brought to nothing, so that we would no longer be enslaved to sin. For one who has died has been set free from sin.” (Rom. 6:6-7, ESV). Sin holds us down, preventing us from living our life to the fullest. While it is not our place to point out sin in our spouse, we can pray that the Holy Spirit would help him find freedom from sin. (There is an appropriate time to confront sin. Read more about that here.)
For His Wife
“An excellent wife is the crown of her husband, but she who brings shame is like rottenness in his bones” (Prov. 12:4, ESV). Pray for your husband’s wife (that’s you). A change in your heart will often translate into a change in his.
If you are a woman of faith, you probably pray for your husband. Even if your husband is Prince Charming and Father of the Year, your prayers can strengthen and encourage him. Maybe you are discouraged because nothing seems to change. In his book, The Circle Maker, Mark Batterson speaks to this conundrum of faith:
This is when most of us give up. We stop praying because we can’t see any tangible difference with our natural eyes. We allow our circumstances to get between God and us instead of putting God between us and our circumstances.
Let’s commit to pray for the fathers of our children. Incorporate these five passages into your prayers for added depth and power. And if we don’t see change, pray anyway. When we get frustrated and want to scream, pray instead. Somewhere, somehow, God is working. We may not see it today, but we will see it one day. Pray and wait, dear sister.
#FridayFive Link Up
This weekend, we honor fathers everywhere. Praying is one way to bless the fathers in your life. Share your Father’s Day thoughts in the comments or using the link button below.
We turn to Jesus, next week. How do you keep Him at the center of your life? Is there a time in your life when He was all you had to cling to? Maybe you would like to share your journey to faith in Christ. Friends, I eagerly await your words next week!
*This is intended for a typical marriage with typical issues. If you are in an extreme situation of dysfunction or danger, please remove yourself and your children from danger and seek help from a trusted counselor, pastor, or friend.