This post on Sacred Marriage: Good Marriage Can Foster Good Prayer was written by Jeffrey Chen, who is pursuing a Masters degree in Marriage and Family Therapy at Fuller Theological Seminary. Jeffrey has a passion for sharing God’s love with those around him. He blogs at The Wayvy Life.
Hi everybody! Welcome to Week 6 of our series on “Sacred Marriage” by Gary Thomas. This week we will be looking at chapter six of the novel titled “The Soul’s Embrace: Good Marriage Can Foster Good Prayer”. When we think about prayer and marriage, it is common to jump to the notion that an improved prayer life can lead to an improved marriage. While this isn’t necessarily false, Thomas wants us to look at the interaction between marriage and prayer differently. He wants us to consider and understand how marriage can actually improve our prayer life.
Thomas’ argument comes from 1 Peter 3:7, in which Peter calls husbands to be considerate of and respect their wives “so that your prayers may not be hindered”. Thomas believes that once we are married, our partner becomes an integral part of our ministry and our community through which we serve God. When we marry, our ministry is no longer just about our own purpose and agenda, but instead should become a mutual kingdom service. Thomas is adamant that if we only pursue our own agenda and ambition (even to serve others), at the detriment of the amount of attention we give to our partner, our prayer life will become a sham.
While this is a strong stance, Thomas pleads us to not dismiss the importance of our relationships, especially in our marriage. After all, if we are unable to show our love and care for the person we know best, how are we genuinely able to love others around us? I don’t think we can. As such, it is important to ensure our marriage and family is a priority as we seek to glorify God. So, how do we instead allow marriage to foster prayer and therefore push us to grow closer to God?
One example Thomas provides is the relationship between prayer and dissension. Thomas writes that, “If we want to maintain a strong prayer life as married partners, we must learn how to forgive.” After all, marriage is not without conflict. It is inevitable that you will fight and disagree with your partner countless times during your marriage. What is important is how you deal with the friction when it comes up. If you want your marriage to last, you must learn to reconcile as opposed to holding on to dissent. You must realize why you were angry or upset at your partner. Often, it is because they do not meet our expectations or desires or needs. They don’t bring us the fulfillment we are seeking.
This is when our prayer life comes in. If we recognize that while our partner ought to be respected as they are God’s daughter or son, they will not “complete” us. As such, instead of directing our dissatisfaction with life towards them, we should instead appreciate what they do provide us with, while ultimately turning to God and prayer for complete nourishment. Marriage should hopefully cause us to learn at least two things. First, God has provided us with a partner who is a tremendous gift that we should respect and cherish, praising God for his wonderful generosity in giving us somebody to serve His kingdom alongside with. Second, our partner (like any other human being) is not God, and thus it is critical we pray to and have a relationship with Him in order to be best equipped to serve God, our spouse, and those around us.
As always, please feel free to reach out to me for feedback, questions, suggestions on topics, or anything else. I’m happy to chat about anything and everything. I hope you can take away something helpful form this post. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org!
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