Category Archives: Praying for Marriage Bed

Praying Before, During, and After Sex

Some time back, a reader challenged me to cover praying about sexual intimacy right in the middle of the act itself.

I thought it was a great idea! Unfortunately, I didn’t think I was the right person to write it, because Spock and I don’t do that. In fact, while some people apparently talk quite a bit during their sexual encounters, others of us have difficulty forming coherent sentences while in the throes of passion. I feel pretty sure that any attempt to pray aloud during sex would merely result in something like Romans 8:26 describes: “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words” (ESV).

However, I have at times imagined God’s presence in the room. That more meditation than praying, but it helped me to view the physical experience of making love as having a spiritual component that delights our Heavenly Father. So I appreciate the importance of acknowledging God in our moment of sexual intimacy.

With that in mind, let’s cover some ideas for praying before, during, and after sex.

Blog post title + husband and wife hands clasped on bed

Before.

Praying beforehand is often the easiest sell, because many spouses understand how prayer could help them have the right mindset going into the sexual encounter. If you’re struggling with getting in the mood, you can pray for God to awaken your desire. If you’ve experienced difficulty connecting recently, you can pray for unity in your pleasure and intimacy. If you’ve had a hard time sharing your body, you can pray to see your nakedness in the marriage bed as God and your spouse see it — that is, beautiful. You can also simply thank God for this opportunity to express and nurture intimacy.

It could be worthwhile to pray specific scriptures, adapting them to what you’re about to do. Here are a couple of brief examples:

Husband: Lord, how beautiful is my wife, my darling!
    Oh, how beautiful!
    Thank you for the beauty she displays inside and out.

WifeHow handsome is my husband, my beloved!
    Oh, how charming!
    Lord, may our bed be verdant.

Together: Lord, we ask you to rejoice and delight in us as we engage in sexual intimacy. 

Song of Songs 1:15-16, 1:4

We know that at the beginning of creation You made us male and female. For this reason a man leaves his father and mother and unites with his wife — as we did — and the two become one flesh. Indeed, we are no longer two, but one flesh. Bless our physical union tonight so that we both express and foster that deep intimacy You gave to marriage alone. Your Son said, “What God has joined together, let no one separate.” Join us together physically, emotionally, and spiritually in Your sight and take pleasure in our sexual intimacy.

Mark 10:6-9

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During.

It might be easier to pray during early foreplay than when things get more hot-and-heavy. One lovely idea I’ve heard is praying over one another’s bodies; that is, as you view and touch one another, stop at various places to thank God for how He crafted that body part. Such an exercise might mimic the passages in Song of Songs chapter 4 or chapter 5 in which the husband and then the wife praise one another’s bodies, but instead directing those thoughts to the Creator Himself.

Another reader wrote me and shared that after he enters his wife, they pause and give glory to God before continuing. Such a prayer would certainly focus your mind on embracing this act in marriage as one of God’s good and perfect gifts (James 1:17). You can pause at penetration or any other time during lovemaking to thank God for His provision of physical intimacy in marriage.

Finally, let me just note that screaming, “Oh my God!” in the middle of an orgasm doesn’t technically count as praying. Though I suppose one could tag on a thank you or some such statement to make it qualify. 😉

After.

Lying in one another’s arms, enjoying the afterglow of sexual intimacy, you could pray for the encounter you just had. Thank your Heavenly Father for the pleasure you experienced, the vulnerability you showed one another, the connection you felt, and the overall blessing of one another.

Consider Ephesians 5:31-32 and how this illuminates what you can pray about:  ” For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church.”

The sexual intimacy you have mirrors the relationship of God to His people, which He often compares to a husband and wife. This comparison appears not only in Ephesians, but in other places like Isaiah 54:5, Hosea 2:19, and 2 Corinthians 11:2. Keeping that in mind, it’s good not only to give God gratitude for the lovemaking act but for this glimpse at the intimacy God desires to have with us.

So what do y’all think? Have you ever prayed before, during, or after sex? If so, how have you approached God in prayer and how has that experience impacted you and your marriage bed?

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A Prayer for Those in Sexless Marriages

Thank goodness for the Houston Astros being in the World Series! Or this whole month might have just been me brooding about the sad state of our world. (Sorry, Yankees fans, but again…you’ve been FORTY times in the World Series, and this is our SECOND. You can take it.)

In the world of sex, however, I’ve been struck the last several weeks by the many #MeToo stories and how those have negatively impacted how wives view their bodies, men in general, and sexual intimacy. Indeed, this is the topic of an upcoming podcast episode of Sex Chat for Christian Wives which we recorded last night.

And here on my blog, we’ve been talking about sexless marriages and what to do, along my personal struggle to provide answers that actually help a tough situation.

So many spouses are in a state of deep anxiety, and this verse really hit me today:

Anxiety weighs down the human heart,
    but a good word cheers it up (Proverbs 12:25).

I really want to give y’all a “good word.” Today, I thought the best thing I could do is offer a prayer for sexless marriages. I hope you’ll pray with me.

blog post title + woman praying outside with sunrise in back of her

Lord, Father,

We know that You desire spouses to be one flesh that no one should separate, even a spouse within the marriage (Matthew 19:4-6). But some spouses have stepped away from sexual intimacy, leaving their mate feeling sad, frustrated, and lonely.

Your Word that You are close to the brokenhearted and save those crushed in spirit (Psalm 34:18). So many in sexless marriages are brokenhearted and crushed in spirit; Lord, be near to them now. Make Your presence known in the midst of their hardship.

Although understanding is elusive, we affirm that You are present and will walk with us in the worst of circumstances (Isaiah 43:1-2). Indeed, Your Son and our Lord Jesus Christ experienced the deepest of sorrows, abandoned by others and suffering on a cross, and You brought Him through. When it seemed hopeless, You resurrected our Savior. We pray for that same power of resurrection to bring a reawakening of sexual intimacy in marriages where it’s been lacking (Ephesians 1:19-20).

Surround these couples with believers who can speak into their situation, who can provide wisdom for pursuing reconciliation. Give Your Church the yearning and the resources to speak not with timidity but with power and love in favor of Your design for sex in marriage — for regular, mutually satisfying physical intimacy (2 Timothy 1:7). Help those of us who can minister to sexless marriages to mourn with those who mourn (Romans 12:15) and offer godly wisdom (Colossians 3:16).

We pray for those called to minister and teach on marriage and sexuality, for we are imperfect and stumble in our words (James 3:1-2). Help Your message come through, despite the flaws of Your messengers. Humble us to understand that we don’t have the answers so much as You are the answer. May all our “solutions” ultimately point to You.

Open the eyes and the ears, the heart and the mind of the refusing spouse (Isaiah 32:3), so they truly see the emotional pain of their spouse and be convicted of the significance of sexual intimacy in their marriage. Guide them to see that sex isn’t just for their spouse, but for their own heart and soul. Help them to see the beauty of being fully known and valued in the marriage bed (Song of Songs 2:3-5). 

Give the refused spouse compassion for their spouse and what they’ve been missing out on as well. Give them the right words to express their emotional pain and to break through the emotional barriers. Help them to be peacemakers as they pursue sexual intimacy for their marriage (Matthew 5:9). Refresh them in their weariness (Jeremiah 31:25).

Lord, above all give us love for one another. Help us in our marriages and in our churches to bear one another’s burdens (Galatians 6:2). And give us Your ultimate rest in Christ Jesus (Matthew 11:28-29). Let Your love show through us (1 John 4:11-12).

In the name of Your Son and through the Holy Spirit, we pray.

Amen.

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How Should You Pray for Your Spouse?

In my last post on prayer, My Biggest Problem with “Pray for Your Marriage”, one wife left this thoughtful comment:

Another problem I have when people talk about praying for one’s marriage is the advice that you shouldn’t pray for your spouse to change, you should pray for God to help YOU to change. This may be right in many cases, but if one spouse is cheating or abusing, or addicted to something, or I could go on, the other spouse SHOULD pray for the one in the wrong to change (along with taking appropriate action, like you said). I get sick and tired of the the burden of needing to change being put on the spouse who is already faithful, committed, and trying so hard.

True. I’ve written about how you’re the only person you can actually change in your marriage and how we shouldn’t focus prayer on our spouse doing all the changing. But I also believe it is very important to pray for your husband.

Now if we’re not supposed to be just praying for God to change our husband, yet we should be praying for him, what does that look like? How should you pray for your spouse?

close-up of woman praying + blog post title

Gratitude.

How about thanking God for your husband? In Ephesians 1:16, the apostle Paul says this about his friends in Christ: “I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.”

Marriage author Gary Thomas had a wonderful post recently sharing how he kept a gratitude journal about for a year and how it changed his approach to wake up each day thanking God for her. When you make gratitude a focus of prayer, your perspective of the person you’re praying for alters: You tend to see them in a better light.

Thanking God regularly for your spouse — with specifics about why — means you’ll focus on your beloved’s positive aspects, you’ll look for the blessings of being married, and you’ll find less to complain about.

If you’re in a rough patch, you might find this a tall order. But I bet you can find something, no matter how small, about your husband that you can show gratitude for. Start where you are, and let your thankfulness and positivity grow.

Wisdom.

Oh, this is where my prayers about my husband have lived for a long time. When I stopped praying, “Hey, God, could you fix my husband while I sit over here with a front-row seat for the transformation?” I replaced many of those prayers with, “Hey, God, could you give me the wisdom to understand my husband better? To communicate effectively with him? To show him Christ-like love?”

Now, this is praying for myself, but it’s also praying for my husband. Because as part of those conversations, I ask God that my husband will be open to what was happening with me — that my efforts will be received in a positive manner. I need wisdom and guidance from God, but I also want God to pave the way with my husband.

Pray for wisdom in how to love your particular husband the way he needs to feel love. Pray that your husband will be open to the love you express through Christ.

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His life.

I distinctly recall going through a small-group study of the popular book, The Power of a Praying Wife. The author, Stormie Omartian, walks participants through praying for different areas of their husbands’ lives, such as His Work, His Finances, and His Sexuality.

Since I went through the study around the second half of The Worst Years of my marriage, I’d like to revisit that study and see what it would reveal about myself, my husband, and my prayer life now. But I remember enough to believe that it was a great idea to go to God specifically with concerns about your husband’s life and ask for His divine guidance.

Think about what issues your husband faces and pray for his protection and wisdom in those areas.

His heart.

Yep, it’s perfectly fine to pray for your husband to have a change of heart. Paul said in Romans 10:1: “Brothers and sisters, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved.” That’s an apostle praying to God that people’s hearts will be changed.

What’s important about this prayer is to make sure you’re wanting God to change your husband for his sake. That is, your prayer shouldn’t be that God make your husband into the image you want him to be, but into the image of God. “And we all, who with unveiled faces contemplate the Lord’s glory, are being transformed into his image with ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit” (2 Corinthians 3:18).

And we must heed Christ’s words about confessing our sins and asking God to change us as well:

 Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye? How can you say to your brother, ‘Brother, let me take the speck out of your eye,’ when you yourself fail to see the plank in your own eye? You hypocrite, first take the plank out of your eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother’s eye” (Luke 6:41-42).

Pray for a change of heart, especially when your husband is steeped in sin, but also recognize that God will not force that change. In Revelation 3:20, we have this promise: “Here I am! I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in and eat with that person, and they with me.” Pray for God to knock (hard) on your husband’s door, but recognize that God won’t wrench the door open — as part of his free will, your husband must open that door.

So keep praying for his heart, but also pray for those other things. And especially pray for God to show you where you can change for the better, where you can have a positive influence, where you can wisely pursue intimacy in your marriage.

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My Biggest Problem with “Pray for Your Marriage”

It’s October, and I’m still talking about prayer! That’s because my goal this year has been to pray more, especially for marriage.

I’ve encouraged you to be praying for your marriage and your marriage bed as well, including unity with your spouse, sexual temptation, and perspective. And I’ve been encouraged by you sharing your prayer habits and thoughts. But today I want to tackle one of the problems I see with the ongoing appeal to “pray for your marriage.”

blog post title + black-and-white image of woman praying (close-up)

Sometimes prayer is touted as the cure-all to every ill in marriage and life. You’re arguing with your husband? Pray for unity. You’re struggling with your sex drive? Pray for its awakening. You’re battling a porn habit? Pray for release. You’re two steps away from divorce? Pray for restoration of your marriage.

And all of that is great. You definitely should “pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests” (Ephesians 6:18). The problem is when we stop there and make it sound like prayer will resolve all of your issues.

But prayer is communication with God, and we have to also listen to what He says in those moments and in His Word and then apply it to our lives.

I know this from experience, because in the pit-dwelling years of my marriage, I prayed. A LOT. Everything from quiet reflection with God, to Scripture-focused prayer, to yelling and crying at Him for help. It felt like He wasn’t answering my prayer, because hadn’t He promised to deliver me? Psalm 91:14 says it this way:

“Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
He will call on me, and I will answer him;
I will be with him in trouble,
I will deliver him and honor him.
With long life I will satisfy him
and show him my salvation” (Psalm 91:14-16).

I was acknowledging His name regularly, loudly, desperately, yet my marriage slipped further and further into a black hole of despair.

Ah, the power of hindsight! It frankly makes me want to kick that younger me who expected God to fix everything while I continued to hold on to my mistaken viewpoints, my poor habits, and my selfish plans.

Let’s flip a couple of pages further in Psalms and learn more the character of God:

Blessed is the one you discipline, Lord,
  the one you teach from your law;
you grant them relief from days of trouble,
  till a pit is dug for the wicked (Psalm 94:12-13).

Wow, that doesn’t sound nearly as awesome as Superhero God swooping in to rescue me with little effort on my part — just holding on to His caped person while He flies me away from trouble. But that ignores that God wants us to be a part of the plan.

Or rather, that IS the plan. Our Lord longs to rescue us, but He won’t swoop in when He knows that we need to grow more through the experience.

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Imagine God like a father with a toddler learning to walk. If the dad grabs his daughter every time it looks like she might fall, she won’t ever take those first steps. Instead, He’s there the whole time, listening to us, teaching us, scooping us up and comforting us when we stumble, and helping us learn to walk and then to run.

Prayer is inviting God into that experience. It’s reaching out your arms, looking directly at your Father, and walking toward Him. And then, applying what you’ve learned to the life you lead.

You have to act. What actions you need to take depend on your situation. But let’s take the issues I mentioned above:

  • You’re arguing with your husband? Pray for unity. And take an in-depth look at what changes you need to make, speak candidly and calmly with your husband, and consider attending a marriage course or getting marriage counseling.
  • You’re struggling with your sex drive? Pray for its awakening. And see your doctor to determine if there are health issues involved, check out a low libido resource like the online course from Sheila Gregoire or the devotional study from Bonny Burns, and listen to our podcast for regular tips on improving sexual intimacy.
  • You’re battling a porn habit? Pray for release. And confess your struggle to your spouse and a trusted mentor in your church, install filters on your computer or get rid of devices that tempt you, and seek out ministries that can help you break free like XXX Church.
  • You’re two steps away from divorce? Pray for restoration of your marriage. And see a counselor, either with your husband or without, to figure out what you can do to actively work toward reconciliation, and tell a church leader what’s going on and invite their intervention.

Also, let me add that the times when this advice to “just pray for your marriage” make me crazy are when:

  1. A spouse is serially unfaithful. If your spouse doesn’t give a hoot about the damage they’re doing to your marriage with their infidelity, you don’t cower in your closet and simply pray. Yes, you pray mightily, but you also set boundaries and leave if they don’t change their behavior.
  2. A spouse is abusive. You can’t just pray that a spouse will stop smacking you or calling you every name in the book. Jesus Himself said that He was sent here in part “to set the oppressed free” (Luke 4:18). Get out, and if he wants to stop being abusive, he can change, win your heart back, and renew the marriage covenant.

Should you pray for your marriage? Absolutely! Just don’t stop there. Also actively work toward resolving the problems you face.

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This shift started me on the path to healing and happiness in my own marriage: I stopped expecting God to swoop down and fix it all and started applying Scripture and the insights He showed me to my daily life. I continued to pray, but I also got off my butt and put real effort toward making our marriage better. Or rather, making me better, since I was the only one I could change.

Then you will call on me and come and pray to me, and I will listen to you. You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:12-13).

blog post title + black-and-white image of woman praying (close-up) - sized for Pinterest

Praying for Perspective in Your Marriage Bed

Blog post title + redhead woman bowing and praying

This past week, Chris Taylor of The Forgiven Wife posted this question on our Sex Chat for Christian Wives Facebook page:

Image with "What advice would you give a new wife about having a good marriage?"

My answer? “Don’t assume thoughts, feelings, and motives; ask, and listen.”

My marriage experienced some truly terrible years, and one of the reasons we came out of that fog into the sunlight is because I changed my perspective. I realized I was making assumptions about my husband that weren’t true. Things like:

  • If I said/did that, it would mean X. But it didn’t mean that for my husband, because he’s a different person.
  • If he loved me, he would X. Except that his love language is not mine, so he didn’t always express love the way I expected him to.
  • If he does something I don’t like, it’s personal. Except that his irritating habits would exist no matter who he married, so it’s not personal.
  • If he says or does something hurtful, it shows he doesn’t care. Yet a lot of times, it was about the bad day he’d had, the stress he was experiencing, or not feeling physically good.
  • If he doesn’t do the things I long for when we make love, he’s selfish. But when that happened, it was about him not knowing what would feel good for me and what I needed.

When I dropped those assumptions — when I changed my perspective of my husband and our interactions — several problems went away and I knew better how to tackle the ones that remained.

However, the light bulb didn’t just go on one day and stay lit. Rather, I prayed quite a bit for God to alter my thinking. I needed His help to clearly see who my husband really was and how our relationship needed to change.

That’s why I think it’s important to pray for perspective regarding your marriage and your marriage bed.

Too often, readers ask questions or make comments about the sex in the marriage that shows they’re making assumptions about how their spouse thinks and feels. Maybe you’re right, but maybe you’re wrong. Do you know for sure that your perspective is accurate?

I guarantee God knows what the truth is. You can ask Him.

And the reason I start with God, rather than your spouse, is because some of the issues just dissipated once I saw them more clearly. That is, things I thought were problems with my husband were really problems with how I saw him, and once my vision cleared, I didn’t need to address that issue with him because it was resolved.

But with the problems that remain, it’s still worth praying for perspective so that your conversations with your spouse will go well. Ask God to help you see your husband accurately and to respond with a longing to understand him better.

Let’s try this out with a common scenario: You believe that your husband (or wife) says no to sex because they don’t love you like you love them. But as you pray for God’s perspective, you realize that sex is the primary way you express love, but it isn’t the primary way they express love. So you now recognize the problem isn’t a matter of their love for you. Of course, the problem still remains that you’re getting rejected in the marriage bed. But now that you have a clearer diagnosis, you can tackle the underlying issue.

So then you pray for an accurate perspective as you go to your spouse to talk about your feelings on this topic. You find yourself more willing to ask questions and listen to the reasons why your beloved isn’t up for sex. Maybe they don’t even give you clear reasons, but you make a positive impression on the subject (a first step) by simply being there and listening. Instead of arguing to get your point across, you find yourself listening with a calm that could only be provided by God and a willingness to sort through the information to discover the real problem.

Does the epiphany come right then? Are the problems solved by next Tuesday?

Nope. Not in my experience. But do you know how you climb a mountain? You don’t stand at the bottom grousing about how steep the incline is. You take the first step, then the next, and the next.

But if your perspective is all wrong, your path will be off, and you’ll end up on another mountain, screaming over at your spouse standing on the one you should be on.

Pray for perspective. Start today. Take the first step. Let God work in your marriage.

“[Love] does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth” (1 Corinthians 13:6).