Christian divorce can be confusing for everyone. Fellow Christians don’t know what to say and church staff can be lost as to how to help. This means opportunities to support healing may be missed. This series of 4 posts dispels myths about divorce and intends to inspire the church and its members to reach out to those who hurt from divorce with understanding, compassion and the redemptive love of God. This is part 2 of the series.
When a person is facing divorce, it is so easy to tell him or her to turn to prayer. And we should. There’s no better time for ceaseless prayer than during times of trouble.
But, the simple directive that, “You just need to pray more and God will save your marriage,” falls short. Plus, what if you pray, and pray, and pray and God doesn’t save your marriage? What then?
Now, don’t get me wrong, I am a huge believer in the power of prayer. Prayer builds our relationship with God, acknowledges His power, and helps us align our wills with His. Prayer is integral to the Christian life. But, simply saying, “You just need to pray more,” or “pray and God will save your marriage” has at least three problems.
- It can lead to the belief that if the marriage ends in divorce, then God is to blame.
- It feels like a brush off to those who have already prayed and prayed.
- We fail to help hurting people see how God’s word gives them support and direction.
Let’s take these one at a time.
1. If there is Christian Divorce, then God Must be to Blame
It stands to reason that if God is supposed to save a marriage if you ask Him to and He doesn’t, then God is to blame. Okay, you and I may know that isn’t true but if you’re fighting for your marriage and pleading for God to save it and He doesn’t, that’s an understandable conclusion. The huge problem with this is that it often leads people to blame God for their divorces. When we blame God we deprive ourselves of his healing power. We also place responsibility in the wrong place.
2. It feels like a brush off.
When a person has been praying and doing everything possible to save his or her marriage, saying, “pray more,” is well, redundant. If we leave it at “pray more” we are missing the opportunity to connect with the person and help him or her set a positive, prayerful course of action. Is only saying “pray more” going to help the woman whose husband is “experimenting” with other women? Honestly, when spoken by Christians she respects, it is more than likely going to leave her feeling guilty that somehow her prayers haven’t been enough to save her marriage.
3. We Fail to Help them See How God’s Word Gives them Direction
Maybe it doesn’t come naturally to some to associate the Word of God with coping with and healing from divorce. I can understand that. But, the Bible is filled with many relevant scriptures ranging from the comforting words of Psalm to the daily insights of Proverbs to the promises of the Gospels. Guiding people who are hurting from divorce through a cohesive journey of relevant Scriptures can be extremely helpful.
Go beyond “Just Pray”
We can do so much more to help people who are hurting from divorce. We can listen, and we can pray with them. If appropriate, we can encourage them into marriage counseling and recommend Christian marriage reconciliation resources. And, if the marriage is at an end, we can help divorced and soon-to-be-divorced people see how God’s Word offers them healing and direction for life after divorce.
As I said, I definitely believe in prayer. In fact, each reading in the participant book for the Peace after Divorce Workshop group study addresses issues faced by those who are hurting from divorce, and ends with a call to prayer that reads like this:
Talk with God – Ponder this reading and share your thoughts with God. Listen so that the Holy Spirit might fill you with wisdom and peace. What concrete actions do you need to take based on what God is saying to you?
Even more than just telling people to pray, we can teach them to relate to God in a way that creates relationship, discernment, and that calls for action. We miss many of the components of this process of healing prayer when we just say, “You just need to pray.”
As the hands and feet of God, we as the church can do so much more.
Other Topics in this Series on Myths:
- Myth: Try and You Can always Fix Your Marriage
- Myth: Divorced are Second-Rate Christians
- Myth: Accepting Divorce Shows a Lack of Faith
This post is revised from its original October 2, 2018 publication on this blog.
Disclaimer: Posts are for spiritual and life encouragement and informational purposes only. The content is not a substitute for professional counseling or therapy. Reliance on any information provided by this website is solely at your own discretion and risk. This website does not advocate divorce. However, divorce is a reality in our society. Our goal is to bring faith-based hope, and encouragement to those whose lives are touched by its unsettling effects. Life strategies are for personal reflection and consideration. This website does not recommend or endorse any specific products mentioned on the site.
Series Topic: Myths about Christian Divorce