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“Someday,” said the little girl to her aunt, “My Prince Charming is going to come bounding up on his white horse. He’s going to pick me up, and we’ll ride off together… and live happily ever after.” Gazing off into the imaginary distance of her bright, romantic future, the little girl’s eyes fell then to her aunts “ringless” left hand. “Um,” she said to her young, single aunt, “Where’s your Prince Charming?”

“Well, sweetie,” the aunt said, “My Prince Charming’s out there, but he’s mounted a turtle instead of a steed, and he’s more than likely taken a wrong turn… and he’s probably too stubborn to ask for directions.”

I heard this silly, short story a long time ago and related to the aunt on many levels. I’m still young and hopeful of marriage, but it seems that every year I get further from 18, still single, I feel less hopeful for that dream. Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful. There’s so much to be grateful for as a single adult—like unhindered family time, commitment to my job, freedom to minister with everything I have, fewer travel constraints and so much more.

Singleness is awesome. Except when it’s not.

Singleness, much like married life, is a balance of scales. On one end of the scale, there is the Hannah that desires more than anything to be married. She dreams of having a home and children to tend to and raise up. She knows, deep down, that she craves marriage and a family, knowing they are gifts from the Lord.

On the other end of the scale is the Hannah that desires autonomy and exploration. She can’t be bothered with anything that might nail her down. She believes God is truly all that she needs. She’s courageous and bold, fast-paced and effective.

Both sides of the scale are acceptable versions of myself when in balance with each other.

When one weighs heavier than the other, there are unhealthy obsessions or vast amounts of pride that can seep in. To keep this balance maintained, there is only one solution that has worked for me: prayer. Specifically, prayer for my future husband.

I don’t bank on the day that my tardy Prince Charming, atop his noble tortoise, will arrive, but I do look forward to it. He won’t complete me, but he will love me. Because of this, I can pray for him, whether he’s out there or not. Here are three things I pray for my wandering groom…

1. Increase in wisdom. I pray the whole of Job, Proverbs and Ecclesiastes over my future beloved. I ask the Father to teach him wisdom, to give him discernment, and to impart holy knowledge to him. Education and wit are attractive in a man, but wisdom is far more handsome.

2. Decrease in pride. I pray that my man is humble, not self-depreciating, but humble. I pray that the Lord would bless him and grant him eyes to see the way that his Heavenly Father sees, producing in him a humility beyond his years and a hate for sin.

3. Fall in love. I pray that my future husband’s eyes are so lovingly glued on the Lord, that it takes the Father’s hands to usher me into his gaze. I pray that he is deeply driven by and devoted to God’s Kingdom, building it and increasing it. And I pray that, when I come along, he’ll offer me his hand in joining with him in his pursuit of the Father. My prayer is that he would fall in love with God long before he ever falls in love with me.

Balance is hard, and I’m not a graceful person. I trip a lot and have stumbled more times than not.

But God is so faithful (Lam. 3:22-23). He’s more than enough to sustain me (2 Cor. 12:9). He’s gracious and kind (Joel 2:13), and He tips this single’s scales as He wills (Prov. 19:21).

If this man whom I pray for does not exist, I can pray knowing that in it all, I am drawing near to the Lord regardless of what He has planned for my marital status.

And if this turtle-mounted, map-deprived Prince Charming whom I pray for does exist, then I can pray knowing the Lord is doing a work in him that will increase the joy of our marriage and ministry.