Category Archives: Praying for Marriage Bed

Do You Know What You Need to Pray For?

Blog post title, with woman praying (just showing torso & folded hands)I sometimes ask people who know me well to tell me what faults they see in me. They’re always reluctant to speak bluntly about what my flaws are, but I reassure them that I’m pretty sure I know anything and everything they could come up with — that I won’t be surprised. Because I’ve done a lot of self-examination, and I can name most of my sins and struggles in a heartbeat.

Most still pass on telling me what faults they see in me. But the few who do name something hit on a weak area I already knew about. In fact, it’s usually an area I’ve been praying about. For a long, long time.

But now and then, someone mentions an area I hadn’t really thought much about. In recent years, my family has been talking to me about my “tone.” A tone which would mean nearly zero in my family of origin, because we are almost all emotionally expressive, but in Spock World (husband and two half-Vulcan sons), my tone apparently comes across as abrasive at times. While I still don’t entirely get it, at least now I know something else I should be working on and praying about.

What about in your marriage? Or specifically regarding sexual intimacy? Do you know what you should be praying about? What traits you need help from God to improve? Where your sins and struggles are?

After reading hundreds of comments and emails from people about the specifics of their marriage bed, I can honestly say that some of us know exactly what you should be praying about … but a fair number of you don’t. You don’t see where and how you have contributed to issues in your marriage bed, or maybe just where you need God to pour into you with patience, perspective, and perseverance.

How can you know what to pray for?

Ask yourself.

Think about where you feel the struggle. In which moments do you feel frustrated or challenged regarding sexual intimacy? Or what areas are places of potential growth? What changes do you see coming your way in terms of marriage dynamics, external pressures, scheduling challenges, etc.?

Some find that just mulling over such questions uncovers issues they need to pray about. Others find that journaling over the course of a few weeks and then looking back at what they’ve written reveals patterns that should be prayed about.

Ask others.

Start by asking friends. No, really. You don’t have to ask where you need to pray about sexual intimacy, but you can ask what flaws they see in you. If they are willing to answer, you might discover a problem you were unaware of. And if it’s an issue in general life, I suspect you’re carrying it over into your marriage and even your marriage bed.

Then ask your spouse. Now this is tough, because if you ask you have to shut up and listen. This isn’t the time for defensiveness, nor pointing the finger back at your mate. You may not understand what they point out as a problem (like my “tone”), but you’re honoring your marriage partner by accepting this area is a concern for them. So even if they’ve misdiagnosed the reason, they’ve hit on an issue that you need to address. Then you can take that issue before God.

Ask God.

Pray for the Lord to reveal to you where your weaknesses are. If anyone knows where you need spiritual work, it’s God. He knows your sins and struggles, but ask Him to reveal those more clearly to you.

Once again, you then have to listen. Pay attention to the nudges you might feel during the day, the scriptures that pop out to you in Bible study, the counselors God might send your way to advise you of your weaknesses. Once you ask God for help, let Him answer in the way He chooses.

But remember that even if you don’t know exactly what to pray for, God is still listening.

In the same way, the Spirit helps us in our weakness. We do not know what we ought to pray for, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us through wordless groans. And he who searches our hearts knows the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for God’s people in accordance with the will of God (Romans 8:26-27).

Does God Care about Your Sexual Heartbreak?

In the worst years of my marriage, I cried myself to sleep. Not once or twice, but too many times. Sometimes the conflict was so bad that we’d be in the same bed, turned in different directions, not touching in any way, and both feeling lonely, even though our mate was inches away.

Some of you know what I’m talking about.

My prayer life then was fairly active, because I desperately wanted something from God: I wanted Him to fix my marriage. But in the back of my mind, I had this question: Does God really care about my heartbreak?

Because if He cared, why wasn’t He repairing all of our broken places? Like, yesterday?

blog post title + illustration of broken heart

But when I read stories in the Bible of devoted believers, they often spend time “in the pit” where things are tough and faith is tested. I’m not sure we Christians really understand how to live through hardship and wait on God’s deliverance.

Do we really understand how to live through hardship and wait on God's deliverance? Click To Tweet

Now that I’m on the other side, I can tell you three things for certain:

1. God cares about you and your marriage. He is attuned to your heartache, but He also has a point of view that you and I don’t have. He can see not only today, but tomorrow and the future. God’s willing to let us stew longer than we’re comfortable with, because He has an eternal perspective.

The Lord will allow us to endure emotional pain if it motivates spiritual growth.

Evening, morning and noon I cry out in distress, and he hears my voice” (Psalm 55:17).

Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you” (1 Peter 5:7).

The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” ( Psalm 34:18).

2. God is answering, but maybe not how and when you want.

I wanted God to fix my marriage, which — to me — mainly meant fixing my husband. Perhaps you can see how this approach would go awry. But it took me years to understand that God was patiently answering my prayer, by pushing me harder and harder to look in the mirror. It was when I realized how unloving I’d been to my husband that I began to put godly principles into practice in my marriage. And that changed everything: my attitude, my behavior, and my husband’s response.

What if God is trying to speak to you, trying to nudge you in the right direction, but you aren’t truly listening? What if you don’t hear His answer because it’s not how and when you expected? What if the answer means you have to change?

For you, God, tested us; you refined us like silver” (Psalm 66:10).

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance” (2 Peter 3:9).

This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us” (1 John 5:4).

3. You’ll eventually be glad you remained faithful.

Of course, the problem with that statement is the word eventually. Are we talking next year, when our marriage begins an uphill climb to intimacy in the marriage bed and beyond? Or are we talking on our death-bed, feeling good about being faithful to the end but never really enjoying what God meant us to have? I really want to say that it will be next year or, better yet, next week. Especially since I fervently believe that living according to God’s plan produces positive results not just in the afterlife, but immediately in our lives right here.

But I’d be lying if I guaranteed something. I don’t know when it will happen, and you can only control your part of the equation. But I believe God’s promises that we will be rewarded for faithfulness.

Blessed is the one who perseveres under trial because, having stood the test, that person will receive the crown of life that the Lord has promised to those who love him” (James 1:12).

Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving” (Colossians 3:23-24).

Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).

He’s listening, He cares, He’s answering, and He’s preparing a reward for righteousness.

In the midst of tearful days, that may be hard to believe. But continue to pray for your sexual intimacy, and then listen for His voice. Take baby steps in the right direction, putting into practice what you have learned through prayer and study.

Intimacy Revealed CoverTo help you focus on this task, pick up my book Intimacy Revealed: 52 Devotions to Enhance Sex in Marriage, which walks you through Bible study, questions to ask yourself, and prayer time to start making the changes you and your marriage bed need.

(Apology: I changed the cover on the ebook, and it messed up the paperback version. So that’s currently not on sale. It will be up next week—promise!—just as soon as my graphic designer gets back from her weekend with hubby and sends me the correct file. 🙂 )

How to Pray for Sexual Intimacy in Your Marriage

I’m out this week at church camp, where I volunteer one week every summer and teach a writing class as well as Bible content to kids. With my time limited and the internet spotty at my location, I’m re-running a few favorite posts this week. Enjoy!

Blog post title + woman praying (just hands and torso showing)

Yeah, I totally get it. It feels so awkward the first time you pray about your sex life. Perhaps you prayed before marriage about avoiding sexual sin and maintaining purity.

But you’re legit now. God created sex for you — a wife in a committed, godly marriage. So once you’re married, it’s time to shift your prayers to inviting God to bless your sexual intimacy.

So how do you pray for sexual intimacy? Consider addressing the following areas:

Healthy body image. You should feel good about the body that God gave you and the delight that it can bring your husband. If you feel shame about your appearance or unveiling yourself before your mate, ask God to help. Pray something like: “Lord, help me to see myself as You see me. Help me to also see the beauty that my husband sees in me. Guide me to be confident and open in sharing my body with the mate You’ve given me.”

Healing from the past. Many wives bring sexual baggage into the marriage. Perhaps at one time you were molested or promiscuous or taught that sex was a bad thing. Whatever your past hurts, bring them to your Lord and ask for healing: “Father, release me from the faulty ways I’ve viewed sex in the past. Give me strength and peace to trust Your plan for healthy sexuality in my marriage. Help me to replace that painful perspective from my past with Your truth.”

Pleasure. A common struggle for wives is learning to truly enjoy and surrender to the experience and sensations of sex. God made you to be a sexual being in the context of marriage. He doesn’t want you to merely endure sex with your husband, but to discover your mate in an intimate way, to enjoy the physical sensations, to fully embrace the experience. Pray something like: “Lord, help me to surrender whatever mental and emotional obstacles are in the way of my experiencing sexual pleasure. Help me to relax and rest in the security of Your plan and in my husband’s arms. Awaken my senses so that I can delight in the ways that my husband touches me and the way this body you gave me responds. Help me also to give my husband pleasure.”

Communication with husband. If you have problems in this area of your marriage, you may need to communicate with your husband — explain how you feel, what you desire, and discuss how to achieve your mutual goals and God’s design for marital intimacy. But for some wives, talking to your husband about sex can feel even more awkward than talking to God. What will he think? How will he react? Take that concern to God in prayer: “Holy Father, give me the courage and the words of wisdom to approach my husband and discuss our marital intimacy. Give him an open ear and an open heart. Help us to pursue being of one accord in our sex life together.”

Easy peasy, right? Well, maybe not at first. But give it a shot. God is ready and willing to hear whatever you want to talk to him about … including sex.

Post first run September 13, 2013 on Unveiled Wife.

A Prayer for Higher-Drive Wives

Blog post title + female praying handsThose of you who read my blog often know that I have a tender spot for higher-drive wives. They aren’t the majority of wives, but rather represent 15-30% of marriages. However, that’s still millions of women! And unfortunately, a lot of marriage resources presume a higher-drive husband and a lower-drive wife, leaving couples that don’t align with this expectation feeling like abnormalities or even freaks.

Today, as part of my Saturday prayer series, I want to offer a prayer for higher-drive wives to bring their concerns before God. Lower-drive wives, I promise to write a prayer for you as well soon.

Dear Lord,

It’s hard to have a higher libido than my husband. At times, I feel like I’m not good enough or that something is wrong with me.

When I undress, he doesn’t pause and gaze the way I wish he would. When I initiate, he sometimes postpones or even dismisses my advances. While I long to be sexually intimate with him more frequently, he doesn’t feel this burning desire to be with me. And while it leaves me physically feeling empty at times, more often my heart is wounded.  I ache to have all the things You, Perfect Creator, designed sex in marriage to be — experiencing pleasure, deepening intimacy, and expressing covenant love.

Lord, lift me up into Your arms and comfort me. Give me Your eyes to see myself and my marriage as You see them. Help me to feel deep down that I am beautiful, worthy, desirable.

You, Lord, knit me together in my mother’s womb and created my inmost being, which includes a healthy sex drive. I will not denounce or discourage my higher libido, because You placed that in me and Your works are wonderful, including our sexuality (Psalm 139:13-14).

Likewise, help me to accept where my husband is with his sexuality. He is also Your creation. If there are obstacles keeping him from desiring and enjoying sex, please help me to support him in discovering and addressing those issues. Give me wise words and loving actions that unite us in facing our challenges together.

Take away the negative feelings I sometimes have toward him and replace them with Your view of this man, your son. Remind me of all the good in him and the love we share. Strengthen me to be his helper and partner, as you intended me to be (Genesis 2:18).

Soften my husband’s heart so that he can see my desire to support him, to grow closer, and to thrive in our marriage. Help him to overcome his own insecurities about having a lower drive and to pursue a better sex life for both of us and our marriage.

Help me to always communicate that my husband is all man to me — the man I love — and that his sex drive is only one part of him. But let him also see that sexual intimacy is a blessing You want us to have in our marriage, regularly and enthusiastically.

Awaken our physical love for one another and show us both how to drink not only to end our thirst, but to be intoxicated with love (Song of Songs 8:4, 5:1).

Lord, sometimes I don’t initiate well and my frustration can come through in my tone or my facial expressions. Calm my heart, give me Your joy and peace, and grant me the right words to invite him to our marriage bed (see Song of Songs 7:11-13). And in those moments, Father, I ask that you awaken his physical desire for sexual intimacy.

When sex doesn’t happen, keep me from storing up resentment in my heart. For I know that godly love keeps no record of wrongs (1 Corinthians 13:4-5). Instead, help me to trust, hope, and persevere in pursuing the best for my marriage (1 Corinthians 13:7).

Keep me from making comparisons and thus coveting what others have (Exodus 20:7). It’s hard when wives around me talk about their husbands desiring sex more often than they do, when my own husband doesn’t seem to have this strong desire. But You, my God, know the state of my marriage, the secrets of our hearts, the hope of our future. Calm my anxious thoughts and help me to respond in ways that aid marriages, including my own.

Surround me with the support I need — the right resources, the encouragement of others, the wisdom of mentors. Speak through them to me, so that I know what steps to take and remain on the right path.

Lord, above all, bring to mind how Your own son Jesus knew rejection, even from those closest to Him. Yet He always pursued Your truth and your glory, and never His own selfish aims or insecurities. My husband is not rejecting me as the Messiah was rejected, but his actions have brought me emotional pain. Let my response be Christ-like. Mold me into His image. 

When I waver in my resolve, in my positive outlook, wrap your arms around me tighter, dear Father.

In Jesus’ name,

Amen.

How God Answers My Prayers

Blog post title + photo/illustration of Heaven's GateI really wish God had a mailing address. Then we could correspond back and forth, me sending Him questions and requests for guidance, and Him answering me personally with letters that began Dear Daughter.

Yes, I know some of you are going to say: But He already wrote you a letter! It’s called the Bible.

I agree. God made sure His plan was revealed in a form that I can now read from a bound book or even my phone screen (thank you, Bible app!). I’m incredibly grateful for his Holy Word.

BUT wouldn’t we all like to have specific answers to the specific questions in our specific lives? What should I do about the conflict in this relationship, God? Where are my personal blind spots? What can I do to have a healthier marriage? When will things get better?

I’m just saying that if God feels so moved, I’d welcome a postcard.

Backside of postcard, addressed to J. Parker, with message: Dear Daughter. The answer to your question is Choice B. Wish you were here! Someday... Love, God

In the meantime, how does God actually answer prayers. What does that look like?

I could point to stories in the Bible or testimonies others have told me, but today I’m going to stick with my own experience. And then invite you in the comments to share your experience. In no particular order, here’s what I’ve seen in my life.

1. He reminds me of what He has said and done.

Some people say things like, “God told me…” or “God put it on my heart that…” but I think the primary way God speaks to me is just pushing something the forefront of my mind. Suddenly I remember a scripture I read the day before, or a Bible story with a similar storyline as my own, or merely a godly principle (love, patience, perseverance) that I need to pursue.

It’s not a voice. It’s not a gut feeling. It’s more like a nudge in my brain. But I attribute it to God, because oftentimes it’s something seemingly out of the blue. It feels like it could have come from me, but it’s more likely the Holy Spirit prompting me.

2. He places the right people in my life.

When I say that I have friends who have been a blessing to me, I mean that quite literally. God has divinely blessed me with some insightful friends and family. Proverbs 1:5 says, “Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance.” Sometimes, I obtain guidance from others God has placed in my life.

When I have a specific question, I can go to a godly friend or mentor, discuss the issue, and know that I will receive a thoughtful and godly response. They may not know the answer either, but they will have some nugget of wisdom to help me through the situation. In essence, their presence and wisdom is an answer to prayer.

3. He fixes stuff.

I’d actually say this is the least common answer I get from God. Because, as much as we’d all like it to happen this way, when I pray something like, “God, will you take away this problem?” the problem doesn’t go away. Maybe He’s allowing that issue in my life to refine me, as Isaiah 48:10 says: “See, I have refined you, though not as silver; I have tested you in the furnace of affliction.” (See also Zechariah 13:9; 1 Peter 1:6-7). For instance, I sincerely believe that God did not answer my prayer to resolve my marriage’s problems when our relationship was a mess years back, because I hadn’t learned the lessons I needed to learn yet. Things got better when I allowed myself to be refined by Him.

However, sometimes God has fixed stuff in my life. I prayed for healing, and the person I prayed for got better. I prayed for financial help, and money unexpectedly arrived. I prayed for conflict to de-escalate, and it did. Sometimes God will indeed fix stuff for us if we’ll just ask (with the right motives, of course).

4. He changes me.

This is more than the reminders I talked about above. I pray to become a better person in a certain area, and it becomes easier to do just that. Let’s say I’m a young mother dealing with the frustration of two physically demanding preschoolers and my patience is worn thinner than rice paper. So I pray, “Dear God, give me patience.” And then I feel a subtle shift inside me, such that I actually have more patience in the moment.

As I pray to become more like Christ, God’s answering that prayer — day by day, bit by bit, virtue by virtue.

As I pray to become more like Christ, God's answering that prayer. Click To Tweet

Perhaps our prayers to become more like Christ are the ones God most likes to answer.

Now how does all this relate to how God answers prayers for our marriage and/or our sexual intimacy?

  1. We need to know what God has said and done about marriage and sexual intimacy. We need a solid theology of marriage and sex based on His Word, so that the Holy Spirit can remind us as we pray what God desires and how we can be a part of His plan.
  2. We need to seek out marriage-positive people with godly answers. Yes, I want to be one of those resources, but you’ll likely need other marriage resources as well — blogs and books, counselors or mentors, friends and mentors, and church ministries that can support you and give you wise, godly advice.
  3. We need to ask God to fix what’s wrong in our marriages. He might well just fix it. But if He doesn’t, you’re not being ignored or punished. This is a broken world and bad stuff happens, and sometimes God just uses the bad stuff to test and refine us.
  4. We need to pray to become more like Christ. You can start by reading the Fruit of the Spirit in Galatians 5:22-23 and the definition of love from 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. Decide which virtue you’re lacking — you know what it is, or if you don’t, ask a good friend or your spouse and they’ll tell you — and then pray for God to grow you in that virtue.

Now tell me how God answers prayer in your life. (And if one of you says God sent you a postcard, I’m going to be supremely jealous!)