In Search of the Proverbs 31 Man: The One God Approves and a Woman Wants
By Michelle McKinney Hammond
Several years ago I worked for my cousin, who was a bishop from Africa. He was a great man of prayer who spent hours in the presence of God daily. I knew he had Gods ear. When I had a need, I was quick to ask him to pray for me. When we traveled, sometimes upsetting circumstances would arise, but I always knew things would work out because I was with a man who was securely connected to God. I felt safe. His life changed mine. His devoted example convicted me to pursue a deeper prayer life myself. As I did, I found my level of faith rising, because I was experiencing true intimacy with God. I felt linked to Him.
The Proverbs 31 man knows his God because he is a man of prayer. His prayer life affects the security of his loved ones.
Let me give you the backdrop of one of my favorite portions of Scripture. On the cusp of entering the Promised Land, Moses sends his spies to check it out before invading. The men come back with an evil report: There are giants in the land. The Israelites cannot possibly go in to occupy it-no way, no how.
God is rather upset with the people s lack of faith and basically regards it as rejection of Him. He asks Moses, "How long will these people treat me with contempt? How long will they refuse to believe in me, in spite of all the miraculous signs I have performed among them? I will strike them down with a plague and destroy them, but I will make you into a nation greater and stronger than they" (Numbers 14:11-12).
The exchange that ensues between God and Moses is profound, illustrating the kind of intimate relationship we are all invited to have with Him. Now, here is the portion of Scripture I love so much:
Moses said to the LORD, "Then the Egyptians will hear about it! By your power you brought these people up from among them. And they will tell the inhabitants of this land about it. They have already heard that you, O LORD, are with these people and that you, O LORD, have been seen face to face, that your cloud stays over them, and that you go before them in a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. If you put these people to death all at one time, the nations who have heard this report about you will say, 'The LORD was not able to bring these people into the land he promised them on oath; so he slaughtered them in the desert.'
"Now may the Lords strength be displayed, just as you have declared: 'The LORD is slow to anger, abounding in love and forgiving sin and rebellion. Yet he does not leave the guilty unpunished; he punishes the children for the sin of the fathers to the third and fourth generation.' In accordance with your great love, forgive the sin of these people, just as you have pardoned them from the time they left Egypt until now."
The LORD replied, "I have forgiven them, as you asked." - Numbers 14:13-20
Another translation says that God said He would do what Moses asked because he was His friend! They had a unique friendship. That God would share His emotions and His heart with a man, listen to his response, and consider his words is incredible. They had a two-way conversation; Moses spoke and God answered! As a matter of fact, God did what Moses requested! This is the influence that can only be wielded in a secure relationship. Oh for men who can bend the ear of God and get results not only for themselves but also for their wives and loved ones, for their communities and nations!
A praying man is a powerful man. A man who touches the heart of God is desirable to a woman. His relationship with God is evident in the sensitivity he exhibits toward her. The sense of protection she feels under his prayerful care cannot be articulated.
Only through prayer will a man fully know how to meet his wife's needs. She will never be able to vocalize all that she needs from him, and at times, she herself will not even know her own needs But through his interaction with God and instruction from the Holy Spirit, he will be equipped to respond to the secret desires of her heart. This will not occur if he merely goes through the motions and prays formularized monologues. Real prayer involves a transparency of the heart and an openness to Gods response.
How does God respond? Sometimes He responds Spirit to spirit; you just have a deep sense of knowing the answer to your heartfelt questions. He also speaks through His written Word. As you turn the pages, a scripture will come alive to you, speaking the answer you seek. He speaks through others. In our conversations and interaction with them, a word, an encouragement, or an answer is given that settles the issues of our hearts. Sometimes God speaks to us in our dreams. God speaks in many ways, but He definitely seeks to speak to His men. He also seeks men who will respond to His words, blessing their families as well as others.
One of the most beautiful things I ever heard a wife say about her husband was: "It feels as if God is loving me through my husband. He is so sensitive to my needs. It's almost as if he anticipates them and meets them before I even say a word." Only a man who prays and hears from God can do such a thing for his wife.
Of course, prayer doesn't just affect a man's relationship with his wife and her perception of him. It affects his standing in the workplace. The time a man spends in prayer, worshiping God and consulting His wisdom, is a time of gathering priceless insight that equips him to be excellent in the marketplace. Since the Proverbs 31 woman's husband was well thought of in the gates (verse 23), we can conclude he had a significant amount of integrity, wisdom, and success at work; after all, these are the character traits that men admire in other men. These are also evidence of a man who follows after God and heeds His direction.
Daniel, whose story is told in the book of Daniel, is a great example of this. He was known in the kings court as a man of prayer and extreme wisdom. Here was a religious man who survived four administrations of ungodly leaders! His gift of wisdom made room for him, so much so that the fourth king intended to promote him to be vice-king, in a sense.
The other underlings became jealous and plotted his demise. When they could find no dirt to smear Daniels character and ruin him, they manipulated the king into making a decree that would require Daniel to stop praying, which they knew he would not do. They set Daniel up for a fall they knew he would take. The king was not a happy camper when he found out that he'd have to put his favorite worker to death, but he could not go back on his word. Into the lions' den Daniel must go.