Married to a Backsliding Husband

By Christy Krenek

Backsliding or falling away from the Lord can happen to anyone: King David (2 Samuel 12:1-13), Jonah (Jonah 1:3-10), or Peter (Luke 22:31-34). The entire nation of Israel repeatedly fell away from God. There are many things that cause backsliding, including the failure to: pray (Luke 18:1); read the Bible daily (Colossians 3:16); attend church (Hebrews 10:25); avoid bad friendships (I Corinthians 15:33); live by faith (Hebrews 10:35-39); reject temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13); respect the rights of others in Christian living (Romans 14); or control one's tongue (James 3).

Jesus understood human nature and the struggles that even His disciples faced with backsliding (Matthew 26:31). Often people fall away from God as they replace biblical principles with the world's values (Titus 2:11-12). The backslider may even realize that they are on a slippery slope that carries them away from God, but their pride gets in the way (1 John 2:16). Eventually, the wayward individual becomes rebellious when approached by other Christians (Hebrews 3:12-15).

When our closest companion heads down a road of backsliding, it is extremely painful for us to watch. Sometimes Christian wives can become so desperate that they attempt to "control" their husbands and "pressure them" back to God. But bringing someone to Christ or restoring a broken relationship with Christ is the Holy Spirit's job, not ours.

While wives do not have authority over their husbands, Jesus promised Christians that they have authority over the attacks and power of the devil (Luke 10:18-19). When you pray for your husband you are demolishing the enemy's plans to destroy your marriage. It is through prayer that a spiritual stronghold or faithful fortress is established around your marriage.

The average male has only two close confidants, including his spouse and a family member. Since most men are overworked, over-committed, and over-distracted, they don't always feel victorious in regards to overcoming obstacles.1 Every man needs to obtain a vision of biblical masculinity that relates to their own lives and issues. What are some specific ways in which you can pray for your husband to have a heart surrendered to Jesus?

To Accept Responsibility for His Actions — "Do not be like the horse or mule, which have no understanding" (Psalm 32). The pardoned sinner does not pretend with God by saying "I have no guilt" but proclaims his repentance and faith in Christ's redemption. PRAY: That your husband will experience true peace as he humbles himself before a merciful and compassionate God.

To Live Courageously Against the World's Influence — "All agreed that the king should issue an edict...that anyone who prays to any god...shall be thrown into the lion's den" (Daniel 6:7, 10). "[Daniel] went home to his upstairs room...Three times a day he got down on his knees and prayed." PRAY: That your husband's character does not permit him to behave weakly when following Jesus by simply hiding behind the pretense of discretion.

To Experience God's Reward for Obedience — "Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my territory...And God granted his request" (1 Chronicles 4:9-10). PRAY: That your husband recognizes and acknowledges God's goodness in his life. Only then will he truly experience God's blessings, protection, and prosperity.

Exiled in Babylon, Israel was in what appeared to be a hopeless condition. Through the Spirit of the Lord, the prophet Ezekiel was given a vision which provided hope and encouragement. A sense of utter despair was transformed into a vision of hope. Your husband's backsliding may cause you to feel that you are facing a hopeless situation. Be encouraged, God takes the dry and lifeless things and breathes life upon them, restoring them to full life again (Ezekiel 37:1-14).

God's "recovery plan" for a backslidden spouse requires patience and understanding from their soul-mates:

Reaching Out and Exhortation from Us (James 5:19-20) — Even if we meet with resistance, we can still pray for the grace and Spirit of God to turn our spouse's heart and change them. The Fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) should always govern our words and actions towards our fallen loved one.

Realizing That God Disciplines in Love (1 Corinthians 11:32) — Christians are never to judge others, but to accept that God punishes the backslider out of Fatherly goodwill to prevent their eternal ruin. It's never easy to watch a loved one struggle, but God's ways are higher than ours.

Recognizing Transformation Which Follows Repentance (Colossians 3:7-10) — The restored believer will gradually begin to put off the old self as they again embrace their new nature, reflecting the image of God. Encourage your husband in this spiritual journey.

Praying for our husbands should be a daily, life-long commitment. I would encourage you to get a copy of "The Power of a Praying Wife."2 Both the book and the prayer/study guide are excellent resources for prayers that will benefit husbands as well as the wives that faithfully support them.3

Additional Resource: "What does it mean to backslide?"

1. John DeMarco. "Live Longer and Prosper." New Man Magazine. Jan/Feb 2007:19.
2. Stormie Omartian; The Power of a Praying Wife; Harvest House Publishers; 1997.
3. Stormie Omartian; The Power of a Praying Wife-Prayer and Study Guide; Harvest House Publishers; 2000.

Image Credit: dominique verstraeten; "separation"; Creative Commons

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