Praying While Single: Four Verses to Help You Fight for Joy

The shrieks still echo in my ears: glee unleashed in the girls’ dormitory as yet another newly engaged bride-to-be came back from a date with a ring on her finger. I haven’t forgotten four years of high school and four more of college without ever being asked out by a guy. 

I know what it’s like to earn a bachelor’s degree with no prospects of marriage, then moving across the country, away from my family and to a community of strangers to begin a career as a single teacher. For ten years I attended my current church, which seemed hopelessly bereft of any eligible men, hearing one sermon illustration after another about marriage and parenting, while I sat there, unattached. 

I don’t say these things from a place of bitterness. Even as I lived them out, I tried hard to fight against that temptation. I tell you these things because I want you, single sister, to know that I understand what it’s like to be unmarried longer than you’d like. 

Praying Scripture is powerful, so today, consider these few verses to pray for yourself in your singleness. And while the illustrations are directed specifically at unmarried readers, these passages are not for one subset of the Church only. Married friends, we need these reminders for ourselves as well. And maybe we also need some fresh requests to pray over our single sisters. 

1. “Rid me of my selfishness. Give me the mind of Christ.” 

Do nothing out of selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility consider others as more important than yourselves. Everyone should look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others. Adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus. (Phil 2:3–5 CSB)

One of the greatest dangers in singleness—particularly if you live alone as I did—is selfishness. It’s inevitable. You pick what’s for dinner, what’s on TV, when the alarm goes off, which movie to watch on Saturday night, how clean the house (apartment) needs to be, which way the toilet paper goes on the roll, and at what temperature the thermostat is set. Of course, it’s not necessarily selfish to choose those things: if you don’t, no one will. But beware, a single life makes a cozy home for selfishness. 

Our Lord, however, has called us to die to ourselves. Therefore, we must recognize the temptation to selfishness and ask the Holy Spirit to empty us of ourselves. Because this is His will, we can have complete confidence that He will accomplish it. But beware! He may use circumstances that we (in our selfishness) wouldn’t choose for ourselves. He may ask you to live with a difficult roommate or collaborate with a pushy coworker. Maybe he’ll place you in an uncomfortable ministry or call you to minister to a “less-than-lovely” member of your church. 

God’s lessons for you won’t look like mine, but for all of us, learning selflessness doesn’t come easily. If we really want the mind of Christ, we must trust our Father to lovingly conform us to the image of His Son. 

2. “Teach me to be content in whatever circumstances You give.” 

I don't say this out of need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I find myself. (Phil. 4:11 CSB

Maybe you’ve heard a once-single-but-now-married woman say something like this: “As soon as I found contentment in my singleness, God gave me a wonderful, loving husband.” I have, and while I don’t want to impugn the women who made such claims, I also want to recognize the danger in such a statement. Friends, we must beware of using our prayer as leverage. We can’t play “quid pro quo” with God, as in “I’ll be content if You’ll just give me a husband.” 

For a long time as a single woman, I fought hard against this lie and learned the definition of true contentment: trusting God in whatever circumstances He may bring along: singleness, dating, marriage, divorce, widowhood. Praying Philippians 4:11 required me to say, “Teach me to be content, even if it means being single for the rest of my life.” Believe me, that prayer did not just roll off my tongue!

In the final chapter of Philippians, Paul tells his readers that contentment didn’t come naturally for him either. He says he has learned to be content in “whatever state” he finds himself. Just a few verses later we read his famous words, “I am able to do all things through Him who strengthens me” (v. 13). When read in its context, we see this verse teaches that contentment, whether with singleness, a crummy marriage, a dead-end job, or a chronic illness, doesn’t come by mere willpower. Christ strengthens us to find true contentment and peace in Him—no matter what. 

3. “Don’t let me waste my singleness.” 

"But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be provided for you.” (Matt. 6:33 CSB)

Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. (Col. 3:2 CSB)

You’ve probably heard singleness called a “gift.” And perhaps when you did, you rolled your eyes and thought, “Yeah, the gift nobody wants.” Been there. Maybe the word gift isn’t quite right. Instead, think of it as capital to be invested and stewarded. 

The capital of singleness comes primarily in the form of time and resources. Because there’s not a husband to care for or kids to help with homework, a single person typically has more discretionary time. And because she probably doesn’t have dependents needing new shoes and field trip money, she usually has a more flexible budget than a married mom her same age. These things may not be true in every case, but often they are. Whenever God entrusts us with capital, whether literal money or children or singleness, He expects that we invest it wisely. 

The question is, how will you invest your capital? 

Will you spend your extra time and money at the mall? On an exotic vacation? At a pricey salon? At clubs or online trying to meet men? Will you devote your extra time to getting ahead in your career? Or to living vicariously online? Or will you spend it with teenagers, mentoring them spiritually? Or shopping for groceries for elderly people from your church who can no longer get out? Will you spend it getting to know your God and His Word? 

Because of our natural inclination toward selfishness, Satan will tempt us to default toward squandering our capital on ourselves and the advancement of our own “kingdoms.” Instead, fight against that temptation and make it your prayer that God would help you steward this season—however long it lasts—to the glory of His beloved Son. 

5. “Don’t let me lose my joy.” 

You reveal the path of life to me; in your presence is abundant joy; at your right hand are eternal pleasures. (Psalm 16:11)

Singleness for me lasted for thirty-two years. Maybe that seems like nothing to you, or maybe it seems like an eternity. I don’t know your story, but I do know that if you’re single and would like to be married, the temptation toward bitterness will come looking for you, probably when you least expect it. 

As a self-professed social media monk, I have a few accounts that lie totally dormant about 99% of the time. The primary reason for being an online hermit is knowing that my heart can so quickly turn toward jealousy at seeing someone else’s Instagram-perfect family and all the fun things they’re doing while I’m at home in my pajamas. The temptation continues today, but it was especially strong before I was married. My heart can go from content and joyful to jealous and angry in about three seconds. How about yours? Maybe for you the trigger isn’t social media. What about rom-coms? Or romance novels? Or the latest cover of Cosmo?

Friends, the enemy is out to rob us of our joy. And that will be true whether you ever walk down the aisle or not. Don’t buy the lie that joy will come with a wedding dress and a diamond ring. As David tells us in Psalm 16:11, abundant joy is found in God’s presence. 

That promise is yours regardless of your marital status!

Single sisters, there is nothing wrong with praying that God will allow you to marry a godly, good-looking guy and that you would meet him at Starbucks this afternoon. However, you have no idea whether that’s His will or not. Spend time praying things that you know He desires and will accomplish in your life. As He shapes you in Christ’s image, the romance (or lack thereof) will take care of itself. 

Did you discover God’s Truth today?

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About the Author

Cindy Matson

Cindy Matson

Cindy Matson lives in a small Minnesota town with her husband, son, and ridiculous black dog. She enjoys reading books, drinking coffee, and coaching basketball. You can read more of her musings about God's Word at biblestudynerd.com.

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