It’s time for a little brutal honesty from this raised-in-the-church pastor’s daughter: I don’t pray too much about my dating life. Okay, okay. Pick your jaw up off the floor and stay with me here. As Ricky Ricardo often said, I’ve “got some ‘splainin’ to do.” Fair enough.
If a man asks me out on a date, I don’t pray about whether or not we should grab dinner. If someone shows interest in me, I don’t flip open the Bible to see if he meets the criteria of a biblical husband. And if I like a guy, it’s probably not because I heard God say, “Like that guy.” Actually, that has never been the case.
Don’t get me wrong: I pray every day. I try to pray even when I’m not “officially” praying — even when my head isn’t bowed, when my eyes aren’t closed, when I’m not in church. I do my best to pray throughout each day, in the midst of my ongoing thoughts and actions. For me, it’s a constant conversation with my creator. And it’s beautiful, empowering, and sustaining.
But should I be praying more about dating? Has the right guy not come along simply because I haven’t asked in the right way? Am I single because I don’t pray to God hard enough? Does God simply not care about my little, self-involved dating problems?
In preparation for a trip, I recently loaded my Kindle up with a pile of new books. Yesterday, somewhere underneath that heap of digital literary goodness, I uncovered Draw the Circle: The 40 Day Prayer Challenge by Mark Batterson. And I dove right in. Day 2 sparked something in me that I just had to share with all of you. Here’s an excerpt:
It may feel like you are sitting still right now, but you are not. You are on a planet that is rotating on its axis at 1,000 miles per hour. Like clockwork, it makes one full revolution every twenty-four hours. And if that isn’t amazing enough, planet Earth is moving around the sun at speeds approaching 67,000 miles per hour! So the next time you feel like you’ve had an unproductive day, remind yourself that you did travel more than 1.5 trillion miles through space today.
Now let me ask you a question: When was the last time you lost sleep because you were concerned about the Creator keeping the planets in orbit? When was the last time you got down on your knees at night and prayed, “Lord, thanks for keeping the planet rotating. I wasn’t sure if we’d make the full rotation today, but You did it again!” I’m guessing the answer to these questions is never.
We don’t doubt God’s ability to keep the planets in orbit, but we have a difficult time believing He can keep our lives in orbit. You tell me which is more difficult — keeping the planets in orbit or determining our steps? The truth is that we already trust God for the big things; now we need to trust Him for the little things, like healing our cancer, getting us out of debt, helping us conceive, or helping us find our soul mate. I’m certainly not suggesting that any of these situations are small. They are giant mountains to us. But prayer can turn them into molehills!
God is great not just because nothing is too big for Him; God is also great because nothing is too small. The Sovereign One cares about every minute detail of our lives.
Trust me, in my life I’ve heard from others — more than a couple (hundred) times — that I should “pray for my future husband.”
- “Pray for that man! You don’t know him yet, but God does!”
- “Keep a journal, Ruth. Write down all the things you want in a husband. God will give it to you!”
- “Pray that God will prepare you to be the wife he wants you to be!”
- “Ruth, the Bible says he’ll give you the desires of your heart!” (Don’t even get me started on this passage of scripture and how many times it has been twisted and manipulated to relate to my singleness! Lord, have mercy.)
For some reason, in all these (many) years of me being single, something about these prayers just never clicked in my heart… or my spirit. Something felt off. I felt as if I was begging God for a specific list of things in an elusive man, and then asking God to deliver him to me all wrapped up with a red bow like one of those Lexus commercials. Is that what prayer is all about?
If prayer, to me, is a constant conversation with my father, then it includes every aspect of my life. I praise him. I thank him. I intercede for others. And I talk to him about all the things I experience. And, yes, that includes dating. But it’s so much more than that.
You see, when I think of Pastor Mark’s example above of how God keeps the planets in orbit, it gives me peace. I find rest in knowing that he is powerful enough to do all that inexplainable, crazy science stuff, because it means the things I’m going through are things he can handle. And more importantly, they’re things he cares about.
Last month I was interviewed by Emily Miller for RELEVANT Magazine for my take on the current Christian dating scene. During the interview, she asked me for my go-to Bible verse when it comes to dating or relationships. I hesitated, and for this Bible-verse-toting-Sunday-School-valedictorian I was slightly embarrassed. Nothing popped into my head. But I did share this thought about what keeps me going during those times when being single is difficult:
“Jesus really cares. He cares about my stupid dating life.”
I never said I was an eloquent interviewee, people! Just honest. But that’s the way I see it. I can get on my knees every day and plead with God to bring me a husband that meets every biblical criteria under the sun, and also someone that’s funny, and smart, and loves children, and please, God, can he be tall, too?
Or I can continue to pray for God to guide all my steps and be glorified in my life through all things, and find rest in knowing that he — the spinner of the planets and the lighter of the stars — can handle it.