In fact, we have prayed for you every day since we found out that God was gifting us with you. Still, to this day, we never cease to pray for you. We pray about a lot of things in your life: your health and strength, your mind as it continues to develop, your relationships as they form, and your heart as its shaped and shepherded. But we also pray for your future: your future walk with God, your future usefulness in His kingdom, and yes, even your future husband, should the Lord see fit.
But I do not pray simply for a husband. I pray for a specific type. I’m writing you this letter now, while you’re young, so that you can read it when you’re older and know the kind of husband I’ve prayed you would desire and, by God’s grace, find.
So what type of man do I pray that your husband will be? What characteristics should you look for when looking and waiting for a spouse? What is the desire of my heart for you?
I suppose a lot could be said, but I want to be as clear and to the point as I possibly can. I don’t care if he’s five feet or six feet. I don’t what team he roots for (though being a Michigan fan wouldn’t hurt!). I don’t ultimately care what he does for a living, as long as he can provide for you. But what I do care about and pray about is that he be a man with the following three traits: a gospel man, a godly man, and a growing man.
A Gospel Man
The Bible is crystal clear when it says that a Christian is not to be “unequally yoked” with an unbeliever (1 Cor. 6:14). As you interact with young men, guard your heart from being swept away by anyone in whom there is not a clear confession of faith in Jesus Christ.
Yet, by gospel man, I don’t simply desire that he be a Christian. I pray that you’ll wait for a man who has a deep conviction of his own personal sin, joined with a deep-seated joy in the finished and sufficient work of Christ on his behalf.
Sadie, look for a guy who sees his sin and loves his Savior. A humble man. Beware of the guys for whom it seems Christianity is merely a religion of do’s and don’ts, rules and regulations. Wait for a man who gets the gospel, embraces the gospel, and cherishes the gospel.
The more of a gospel man he is, the more he’ll run to the Spirit for the help and strength he lacks and needs to love you with a gospel-driven love. Remember Paul’s words in that great chapter of Ephesians, such a familiar text on marriage, when he writes, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Eph. 5:25).
How do you tell if you’ve found a gospel man? Look for such traits as humility, thankfulness, and contentment. Listen to how he prays. Does he see his own sin, or just the sin of others? Is he thankful for what he has, or wishing he had more? Is he quick to see his own need for grace, or he is always quick to criticize and judge others?
I pray that you would look for a man and who loves the gospel of God’s free grace in Jesus Christ for sinners, of whom your Daddy is chief.
A Godly Man
The second characteristic that I pray for in your future husband is that he would be a godly man. Christians who love Christ and the cross also desire to live obedient lives, that they might make much of Christ.
Look for a young man who is clearly pursuing godliness. Don’t be content with a guy who “just goes to church” but doesn’t seem to have much a spiritual pulse or drive for God’s glory.
This doesn’t mean that you need to wait for a man who has his life perfectly in order and who doesn’t struggle against sin! Part of what makes a godly man godly is his hatred for his ongoing sin, much like Paul speaks about the war going on in his own heart against the flesh.
I pray for a godly man because I know that one of his primarily responsibilities is to lead you to be a godly woman. Says Paul in Ephesians 5:25–26, “Husbands, love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word.”
As Christ sanctifies His bride, so husbands are called to lead their wives spiritually so that they, together, are growing in holiness before the Lord.
Look for a guy who loves the Word of God. Look for a young man who is committed, devoted, and evidences self-control. A man who attends the means of grace regularly and who puts himself under good teaching and preaching. Look for a guy who loves to study the Bible with others. And if you are watching a particular fella, watch how he treats his mom. Godly guys aren’t embarrassed to honor their moms, to treat them with respect and kindness. If he’s not doing that now, what leads you to believe he’ll do that for you?
Sadie, I pray that God would bring you not only a gospel man but also a godly man. A man whose life flows out of the grace that is found in Christ, which manifests itself in godliness and gratitude.
A Growing Man
Well, maybe this all sounds too difficult. Am I being unrealistic? Are my standards too high? Should I be happy just as long as you are?
Perhaps this third desire will be an encouragement. In addition to praying for a gospel husband and a godly husband, I pray that you will look for and marry a growing husband.
I don’t expect, and neither should you, a man without weaknesses and flaws. In fact, what I pray is that your husband would know exactly how flawed he is, and run to the Savior. I hope that he is a man who wants to grow, and seeks ways to grow.
I’m not the man I was when your mom and I got married. By God’s grace, He’s sanctified me. And I pray that in eight more years I can look back and say the same then as I say now.
Marriage is wonderfully sanctifying. When two sinners say “I do,” God will find plenty of ways to expose the sins of each partner. We must be open to His scalpel.
Don’t wait for a perfect guy, because he doesn’t exist. Look for man who can say, with Paul, “by the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Cor. 15:10), and who seeks to keep on growing.
I pray that God would bring you a man who is being mentored by someone wiser, someone godlier, and someone who loves the gospel even more than he does. Writes Paul, “Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us” (Phil. 3:17).
Sadie, my desire for you is that you are given a husband who grows into a mature man, a devoted husband, and a faithful leader in your home. A man who will live with you in an understanding way, “showing honor” to you (1 Peter 3:7). This would make your dad very thankful. This is what I pray for when I pray for your future spouse.
As I write this, you’re not even seven years old. The future is in front of you. You are still so young, and there is so much to look forward to! But by the time you read this, you’ll have grown. And more than likely you’ll have marriage on your mind.
As you look and wait and pray and dream, know that I have been praying for you, and your future husband, all along. But there is something even more encouraging. God has known before the foundations of the world.
May God give you the desires of your heart, and mine.
Rev. Michael J. Schout is the pastor of Grace URC in Alto, MI. He welcomes your feedback at firstname.lastname@example.org