A few months ago, I talked about how I prayed for Ronnie and a little how to prayer guide for dating gals. Ever since, the number one search that brings people to this blog is some variety of "how to pray for your boyfriend."
Now that I am engaged, I still feel like I have a lot to say to you gals that are just dating. Because I have been in some really unhealthy, not pleasing to God relationships, and then I've done it the right way (or at least made a real effort!) and I would've loved to have more resources about dating in a Godly way while I was a dating gal.
Here are some ways Ronnie and I pursued having a Godly relationship while we were dating. Many of these things are still true now that we are engaged, but these specifically were true to us while we he was my boyfriend.
1. Keep Christ at the center of your own life, in order to keep it at the center of your relationship-Ronnie and I both felt strongly on the importance of having Christ at the center of our relationship, and we still do. The only way to do this is for each of you individually having Christ the center of your own life. This means faithful time in His word, time in prayer, worship, rest, and staying connected to a group of other believers. Both parties in a relationship need to individually be pursuing a relationship with Christ and actively seeking to grow in your faith. If you both are doing this, I think it will overflow into your relationship.
"Jesus replied: "Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.This is the first and greatest commandment."" -Matthew 22:37-38
2. Know your intentions-I personally believe that dating was created for the intent to marry. I think it is important to really ask yourself the tough questions before jumping in a relationship and investing your heart. I think the most healthy way to go about dating with the intent to marry is to spend time getting to know one another before dating, and making sure that you both are on the same page about the future. Obviously God's ways are not our ways, and sometimes relationships don't end in marriage, but what I caution girls against is dating guys that they know are not men they do not want to marry just to date and "have fun."
"So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth." -Genesis 1:27-28
3. Set up healthy boundaries for you-I don't believe there are specific, black and white boundaries every couple needs to set up while dating. I believe each couple is different, and that you need to spend time talking about the boundaries you each feel are necessary in your own relationship. Ronnie and I chose to not kiss before marriage, but I do not think that is necessarily the route every couple needs to go. That was our personal choice. Obviously, you want to set yourself up for success and avoid putting yourself in tempting situations.
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law." -Galatians 5:22-23
"Don't let anyone think less of you because you are young. Be an example to all believers in what you say, in the way you live, in your love, your faith, and your purity." -1 Timothy 4:12
3. Have mentors and friends that pour into your life, and hold you accountable-When we first started dating, I was in a young women's bible study who I asked to hold me accountable to keeping our relationship pure. I gave them permission to ask me about it, and promised my honesty. It is helpful to have people in different stages of life who are willing to give you wisdom and wise counsel as you seek the Lord in your relationship.
"Listen to advice and accept instruction, that you may gain wisdom in the future. Many are the plans in the mind of a man, but it is the purpose of the Lord that will stand." -Proverbs 19:20-21
4. Pray for each other-I think you can begin praying for your boyfriend and future husband as early as you want. Many girls pray for their future husbands, even though they haven't met him yet. I shared here how I specifically prayed for Ronnie as my boyfriend, and I think it was one of the most important things I did personally while we were dating. Ronnie and I also prayed together, but I do believe this is something that is different from every relationship. Some couples just pray together before meals, Ronnie used to pray with me at night when we said good night, etc. I don't think praying together at first is for everyone, but as your relationship grows and moves towards engagement/marriage, it may be something you want to start doing to prepare for marriage.
"Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working." -James 5:16
"Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God." -Philippians 4:6
Here is a list of books that I absolutely loved and taught me a lot about dating, purity, and preparing for marriage as a dating gal.
Resources for Dating Gals
1. Boundaries in Dating-Henry Cloud
2. When God Writes Your Love Story -Eric and Leslie Ludy
3. Devotionals for Couples - Samuel Adams and Ben Young
4. Moral Revolution: The Naked Truth About Sexual Purity -Kris and Jason Valloton
5. Captivating- John and Stasi Eldredge
I hope this helps a little! Please feel free to e-mail me if you want to talk more about anything dating or relationship related, I am all ears and love to hear from you!