Home » ePrayer » Communication and understanding » What’s your e-number?

In the morning, Lord, you hear my voice; in the morning I lay my requests before you and wait expectantly. Psalm 5:3 NIV


E-numbers are substances added to food to enhance flavour, for example. These additives are supposedly not harmful to health – but in relationships, E-numbers can be destructive. I’m talking about Expectations. For example, I may EXPECT my spouse to do the washing up, and be annoyed when greasy dishes are left congealing in the sink. I EXPECT my husband to be able to read my mind and know my needs without my telling him. When the wider family gets together, I may EXPECT quality time with individuals and be gutted when it doesn’t happen.

For me, it helps in these situations to ask, ‘What is my E-number? What was I expecting from this situation?’ I often find that my expectations were unreasonable – or I didn’t state them in advance, so how could others know them? In what situations do you see destructive E-numbers at work in your relationships?

Prayer (as a couple)

Dear Lord Jesus, help us to identify areas in which we have unreasonable or unspoken expectations of each other. Show us how to put our expectations into your hands and handle them wisely.

Prayer (for others)

Father, we pray for our extended family, thinking of those who are often disappointed in their expectations. Help us to handle their expectations in a healthy way, while being honest about our own.


“My expectations were reduced to zero when I was 21. Everything since then has been a bonus.” Stephen Hawking in The Science of Second-Guessing (New York Times Magazine Interview, December 12, 2004)