This Valentine's Day, one thing will say "I love you" better than any card, outlive any flower, and be remembered longer than any romantic dinner: praying for your spouse. In my wedding vows, I committed to pray daily for my husband, and the most effective way he communicates love to me is when he prays for me. Keeping a journal of our prayer requests lets us record God's answers.

When we pray specifically, we see specific results. Lyn Breiding knows those kinds of results firsthand. She prayed that her husband, Greg, would keep his focus on the Lord despite intense competition at work. When everyone else at his consulting firm worked late hours every night, he refused to give up time with his family and his responsibilities at church. He missed late-night political wranglings, and he declined the three-martini lunches, so he was passed up for promotions for three years. Lyn continued to pray the prayer of martyred missionary Jim Elliot: "God, make [Greg's] way prosperous, not to achieve high station, but that his life would be an exhibit to the value of knowing you." When the company started tracking the hours billed to clients, not the hours worked, Greg won an award for his efficiency — producing the most revenue while working significantly less hours.

Here are five suggestions on how to pray specifically for your spouse:

  1. Pray for your spouse's spouse. That means you. "[Your heart] must be clean before God in order for you to see good results," wrote Stormie Omartian in The Power of a Praying Wife. "If you have resentment, anger, unforgiveness, or an ungodly attitude, even if there's good reason for it, you'll have a difficult time seeing answers to your prayers. But if you can [confess and repent of] those feelings to God in total honesty, and then move into prayer, there is nothing that can change a marriage more dramatically."  

  2. Pray for your spouse's relationship with God. Pray that your spouse would know God, trust God, and remain in him. Jesus says in John 15:5, "I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in me, and I in him, he bears much fruit; for apart from me you can do nothing." Nothing means that without Jesus, your spouse can't be patient, unconditionally love you, nor be the mate you need. Rather than nagging about a growing "honey-do" list or an area of weakness in your spouse, "pray before you say." Openly communicate with each other, but pray that your spouse would spend time listening to God. Trust the Holy Spirit to provide ultimate correction.

  3. Pray for your God-given responsabilities as a couple. Wives, pray for your husband's responsabilities. Husbands, pray for your wife’s responsibilities. Ask God to give you strength to carry them out and to help you prioritize time with family. The Lord has entrusted many things to you both — money, time, a home — so pray to be wise stewards of God's gifts. Ask God to remind you both to pray about your worries so you'll experience Christ's peace. Pray that your day will go smoothly and you would accomplish much.

  4. Pray for strong friendships. Same-sex friendships are vital. If a person looks to their spouse to meet all their friendship needs, chances are their spouse will eventually crumple under the pressure. But remember, those whom your spouse spends extra time with will shape them as a person. Pray that they would be surrounded with followers of Jesus Christ.

  5. Pray practically. Good intentions don't naturally lead to good results. You have to have a plan. Pick Scripture to pray for your spouse, then put it on your dashboard and pray while on your morning commute. As you fold your spouse's laundry or mow the lawn, pray for them or use your lunch hour once a week to pray. Resist the temptation to turn this into an obligatory checklist. Instead, you can use this article to remember how best to pray.

Your spouse is God's gift to you; take time to speak with him about that gift. I wish I could say I prayed for Aaron for hours each day, but that's not the case. Some days, as I drift off to sleep, I just ask God to bless his work tomorrow and keep him safe. Recently, a Tuesday deadline approached too quickly and I was in knots by Monday night. To my delight, I finished writing the magazine article the next day with time to spare. It felt like my hours had multiplied — a specific answer to Aaron's prayer for my workday.

Other than the Lord, no one knows me better than my spouse. When the two of them get together on my behalf, I'm blessed.

Used with permission of Worldwide Challenge magazine. Copyright © 2003, Campus Crusade for Christ International.