Category Archives: The Bible and Sex

When You Don’t Know What to Pray for Your Marriage

On Saturdays, I’m encouraging us all to pray more for our marriages and marriage beds. But yesterday, I was in a chat window with Chris of The Forgiven Wife and said: Will you write my post on prayer for tomorrow morning? I got nothing.

Yep, as much as I have to say and love to write, there are still times when I stare at the blank page and what comes out is a big fat zero. Thankfully, Chris is a smart and encouraging friend who wrote back: No, I won’t write it. But that’s exactly what you can write about: how to pray when you got nothing.

Well, there is this scripture: “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” (Romans 8:26). So I guess groaning is an option. 😉

But as I chatted more with this friend, we discussed one of the best approaches for when we don’t know how to pray: Just pray the Scripture.

Title with woman praying, sunrise in background

For instance, you can open up the Psalms, find a relevant chapter, and simply make the words your own as you pray to God. But I also want to show you how this is easily done with marriage and intimacy verses.

Let’s take verses from the “Love Chapter,” 1 Corinthians 13:4-8:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

How do you make that into a personal prayer to God? Here’s one example:

Oh Lord, please help my love to be patient and kind. God, I know that love does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. But I struggle with these things. Love does not dishonor others, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Yet, I have done all of those in my marriage. Please forgive me and help me to love more perfectly. Never let me delight in evil but rejoice with the truth. Help me to welcome honesty and truth in my marriage. Guide me to always protect, always trust, always hope, always persevere in my marriage. Give us a love that never fails — a love that resembles Your love for us. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

You can leave some of the language as is, change other wording around to apply directly to you, and insert your own thoughts as you go.

What about a scripture that applies directly to your sexual intimacy? Let’s look at the oft-cited 1 Corinthians 7:3-5:

The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

And here’s my rendering of a prayer with that passage:

Dear Father, I pray that my husband will fulfill his marital duty to me, and I will fulfill mine to my husband. Help me to embrace that I do not have authority over my own body and to yield my body to my husband. In the same way, remind my husband that he does not have authority over his own body but should yield it to me. And help us to be responsible and loving with that authority You’ve given each of us. May we never deprive each other except by mutual consent and for a time, so that we may devote ourselves to prayer. Then bring us together again and keep us from Satan’s temptation. Strengthen our self-control. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

These aren’t the only ways to pray the Scripture — just my examples. I used this approach somewhat in A Prayer for Your Sexual Intimacy and A Prayer about Sexual Temptation. For other scripture ideas, here are some that work for marriage:

Ephesians 5:21-33

Proverbs 5:15-19

Philippians 2:3-8

Psalm 128

If you have other scripture suggestions, please leave them in the comments.

Also check out my devotional book, Intimacy Revealed, which includes 52 prayers for the sexual intimacy in your marriage.

Intimacy Revealed Book CoverWhat does the Bible say about sexual intimacy?

Quite a lot actually. From marriage-specific scriptures to biblical principles, Intimacy Revealed: 52 Devotions to Enhance Sex in Marriage guides Christian wives through weekly devotions that shed light on God’s gift of marital sex.

Each week includes a Bible passage, application, questions, and a prayer. These short devotions will deepen your understanding of God’s design of sexuality and encourage you toward a holier, happier, and hotter marriage.

Ebook:
Amazon / Kindle | Barnes & Noble / Nook |
Kobo Books | Scribd | iBooks

Print:
Amazon

Praying for the Right Words

There’s been a theme in my head this week: Using the right words.

Not only was it the topic of my Thursday post (Q&A with J: “What Should We Call Persistent Porn Use?”), it’s also been on my mind because of a disagreement I had with husband (yes, we have those, just like you do) and because of hours of conversations with customer service representatives about a mobile phone issue. It’s easy to become careless with our words and say something we shouldn’t or to choose words that trigger the reactions in others that we didn’t intend.

Doesn’t this happen to many couples when they try to talk about sex in marriage? We get careless and rattle off something we shouldn’t, or we settle on a word that means something different to our husband than it means to us. And then we’re trapped in a Word War, both of us sparring with language in ways that don’t bring resolution or unity.

How can you make sure your words convey what you mean? What can you say that will get your spouse to understand what you want them to know about sexual intimacy for you? What words will open up the doors of communication and promote well-being in your marriage bed?

What words will open up the doors of communication and promote well-being in your marriage bed? Click To Tweet

title with woman praying

The Bible has a whole lot to say about our words. It’s really pretty amazing how concerned God is with how we use language. Or maybe not, since He’s the one who spoke the world into existence (“Let there be light…“). Perhaps He knows best how words hold power. Here’s just a sampling of what the Bible says about our words:

Those who guard their lips preserve their lives, but those who speak rashly will come to ruin” (Proverbs 13:3).

The tongue has the power of life and death, and those who love it will eat its fruit” (Proverbs 18:21).

“But I tell you that everyone will have to give account on the day of judgment for every empty word they have spoken. For by your words you will be acquitted, and by your words you will be condemned” (Matthew 12:36-37).

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen” (Ephesians 4:29).

Given how important our words can be, do we pray about them? Before we verbally react to our spouse’s rejection or requests in the sexual arena, or before we even say not now or ask for something different in the bedroom, do we ask God to guide our words?

When God tasked Moses to lead His people to freedom, the first step was talking to Pharaoh. Moses prayed about it: “Moses said to God, ‘Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, “The God of your fathers has sent me to you,” and they ask me, “What is his name?” Then what shall I tell them?’” (Exodus 3:13). The rest of the chapter is God answering that prayer with specific guidance to Moses on what to say.

Speaking to your spouse likely isn’t as worrisome as speaking to a murderous Egyptian king, but we should definitely take great care in how we speak to our beloved! In Song of Songs 2:14, the husband says, “Let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet.” I’ll be the first to admit that my voice hasn’t always been sweet in my marriage. At times, I might have resembled Pharaoh more than Moses in how I spoke.

James 3:2 says, “ We all stumble in many ways. Anyone who is never at fault in what they say is perfect, able to keep their whole body in check.” Preach it, James! We need God’s guidance to keep our words loving, effective, and Christ-like.

We need God's guidance to keep our words loving, effective, and Christ-like. Click To Tweet

That doesn’t mean that our words will never be strong or insistent. If your spouse is in the midst of sin, you need to speak up with loving firmness. But those are times when you need God’s guidance for what to say even more.

How about we pray for our words? Pray that we use the right words that can get through to our spouse? Pray that we listen to our spouses in how they hear us and adjust our speech accordingly? Pray that we guard our lips, avoid empty words, and build our spouse up?

Let’s pray for the right words.

Praying for Grace in Your Marriage

Praying for Grace in Your Marriage with woman's hands holding heart

I talk a lot on my blog about how to address sexual issues with your spouse, how to speak about your longing for physical intimacy, how to pursue a stronger bond in the marriage bed. It’s often about making sure your interactions with your spouse are calm, unselfish, well-considered, loving, and respectful.

If only I took all of my own advice. Rather — like you — I have those moments in marriage when the stress of the day and the frustration of the moment and the pain of my heart all come together and I blurt out something completely unhelpful. Even though I know that “a gentle answer turns away wrath, but a harsh word stirs up anger” (Proverbs 15:1), I opt for the harsh word.

Or maybe I keep the words in my mouth, but they come out in an eye roll or a snort or turning away. I’ve also been known to mutter to myself, the tone of which could hardly be mistaken for anything but complaints.

This is not my pattern, but it is a failing of mine from time to time. And probably for you too. Likely you say something in a way you didn’t mean to say it, or you just lose your composure in a bad moment and declare something like, “For heaven’s sake, I need sex and you owe it to me!”

Or maybe it’s your spouse who does that.

In marriage, sometimes we blow it.

We shouldn’t be surprised. Romans 3:23 says that “all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” And 1 John 1:8 says, “If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us.” As my father used to say, “Even perfect people use pencils with erasers.” Because we all make mistakes. We all fail. We all sin.

And so, we all need grace.

Grace can be defined as “the unmerited favor of God toward man” (Baker’s Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology). But we have in our Christian vernacular begun to talk more and more about giving one another grace, that unmerited favor. Certainly, as we seek to be more like Christ, we would want to approach people as Christ does — with an attitude of grace.

How do we adopt an attitude of grace? We pray for it.

Hebrews 4:16 says: “Let us approach God’s throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.”

Our time of need may be grace we need from the Father, or grace we need to give to our spouse. But when we approach God’s throne, we come there in prayer.

We ask God to help us show favor toward our spouse, even when they blow it. Just as we’d like our spouse to show favor toward us when we blow it.

So instead of immediately reacting to what your spouse says, or does, or how your interpret the words and actions, you take a step back. Feeling a sense of peace as you let God’s grace fill you, you can then ask questions about what your mate really meant. Or simply consider the possibility that their day went badly and they’re super-stressed. You can stop taking everything personally, like how he left things out that you would have put away. You begin to see better interpretations. You remember that your beloved chose you, loves you, and is still here with you — and that counts for something.

Looking at this in terms of your marriage bed, even a sexual rejection is often not personal. It’s not about you. It’s about the bad day he had, the exhaustion and stress he’s feeling, the testosterone that isn’t working quite like it used to, or maybe even the insecurity of feeling he can’t satisfy you completely. It could be about sexual baggage your spouse still carrying. Or that wayward glance at a pretty woman in the restaurant, while a poor choice, might have been a momentary lapse back to his pre-devoted-to-you days and he might be internally kicking himself for that one. Even in that heated argument when he finally erupts and says what you think he really believes deep down — that all he really wants from you is sex, sex, sex — it might not be what you think. It might just be his foot-in-mouth, we-all-sin moment.

How about we give each other some grace?

How about we pray for grace for our spouse?

How about we give each other some grace? How about we pray for grace for our spouse? Click To Tweet

One way to start is simply to ask God to help you see your beloved with the same unmerited favor God gives His children: Lord, help me to see my husband the way you see him. Help me to show grace in this situation and in our marriage. Give me your eyes, your heart, your love for my beloved. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

When your spouse blows it, try something like that. Pray for grace. You might be surprised how that will help you see things in a different light.

♥   ♥   ♥

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A Prayer for Your Sexual Intimacy

When I started this series on Praying More for your marriage and your sexual intimacy, I admitted that I didn’t know exactly what it would look like. How would have a whole year of blog posts about praying? But God kept nudging me that this was the direction to take, so I stepped out in faith. Okay, okay, I shuffled out in faith, but I’m lengthening my strides week by week.

Today I have this strong sense that I just need to write a prayer. One that you and I can both say for our marriages and our marriage beds. I hope you’ll join me.

A Prayer for Your Sexual Intimacy with PRAY in the background

Dear Heavenly Father,

I really didn’t know what I was getting into when I got married. Yes, of course, I prepared in some ways, and even tried to figure out some things ahead of time about what sex would look like in our marriage. But, as You know, Lord, it’s different going through the experience and dealing with my unique husband. Also, I couldn’t have foreseen the seasons we’d go through — times when sex was good, and times when sex was a struggle.

I want to bring my concerns, my hurt, my longings all before You and lay them at Your feet. I cast all my anxieties on You because I know You care for me (1 Peter 5:7). Guide me to the path I should take and teach me Your way (Psalm 25:9).

Now let’s start with this body You gave me. It’s an amazing creation, able to accomplish so much automatically and at my will. I thank you for all the workings of my body that allow me to go through my days and do what I need to do. But when it comes to sex, it’s not always been an easy road. At times, getting aroused with my husband can be difficult, and at other times, my body is ready to go when there isn’t a chance in the world that we can have sex. How fair is that?! Orgasms can be like my best friend, eager to hang out with me, or my nemesis, avoiding me at every turn. I don’t adore every inch of my appearance, my body does weird things in certain angles (like why is my stomach hanging down like that? — blech), and flexibility feels like a thing of the past.

I need to see myself how You see me, how You designed my body, and how You blessed me to be with my husband. I also need more understanding of my body and how to help it cooperate with the sexual intimacy I need and want to have in my marriage. Help me to identify real issues that need addressing through medical assistance or counseling or exercise, and to have the purposefulness and persistence to follow through. Place before me the right resources to deal with those concerns.

Help me to feel beautiful. Give both me and my husband an acceptance and appreciation of my body’s own sexuality and help us learn how I can experience both pleasure and intimacy in the marriage bed.

My God, I also struggle with my background. I brought baggage into my marriage — teachings about sex that weren’t in line with Your Word, experiences that colored my perception of sexuality, and labels that I carried in my mind about myself and about men. Please wash away all the debris and replace it with truth.

Help me step by step to replace the negative self-talk in my mind with messages that align with Your design for sex in my marriage. Help me to demolish every argument and pretension against Your will for my marriage bed, to take captive of every thought and make it obedient to Christ (2 Corinthians 10:5). Transform my mind so that I will know Your will for me, even in the bedroom (Romans 12:2).

You are a God who heals, so I also pray that You will heal any rifts between me and my husband. It is indeed good and pleasant when Your people live together in unity! (Psalm 133:1). Where my husband and I do not see eye-to-eye on sexual intimacy, I pray that we can move toward unity. Help us to listen to one another, to communicate about difficult issues, and to make the personal changes we need to make to find common ground.

And this weekend, today, even now, I pray that you’ll open up my heart and my body to taking even one step in the right direction. While I long for a Red Sea moment, when You perform some great miracle that makes my marriage and marriage bed a perfect reflection of Your design, I recognize that more of my Christian life is walking faithfully with You. With Your Word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path, showing me only the bit of road ahead that I need to see (Psalm 119:105). Help me take my next step in the right direction, and the one after that, and the one after that. Until I am striding along on the road You want me to be on, and my husband and I are moving toward greater intimacy and more honor to You, our Father.

Lord, what I haven’t said here, You already know. Where I don’t know what to pray, the Spirit intercedes for me (Romans 8:26). You are, and will always be, my Savior.

In Jesus’s name, Amen.

Praying for Unity in Your Marriage Bed

On Saturdays this year, I’m talking about praying for your marriage bed. One of the first questions is How can we pray for their marriage bed? What do we pray for?

Immediately, it popped into my mind that we should pray for what Jesus prayed for us: unity (see John 17:11-23.).

Praying for Unity in Your Marriage Bed with word "PRAY" behind the title

Not ironically, this is the biggest problem I hear about from couples who write me and comment on the blog. Husband and wife simply do not see eye-to-eye on some issue of sexual intimacy, or maybe even the whole kit-and-caboodle. For many couples, if they could just come to some kind of agreement, a plan to move forward in the right direction, they would experience both relief and hope.

Instead:

  • One spouse sees a problem, and the other ignores it.
  • One spouse pursues selfish pleasure in the bedroom, and the other feels neglected.
  • One spouse engages in sexual sin (e.g., porn), and the other feels powerless.
  • One spouse continually refuses sex, and the other feels devalued.
  • One spouse continually demands sex, and the other feels used.

You could probably list other scenarios, but all these are marriages at odds on what’s even going on. The opposite of unity is happening: frustration, resentment, anger, conflict, stonewalling, and shutting down altogether.

And yes, all this happens over sex.

Not because we’re selfish beings who want our fleshly pleasure, but because God specifically designed sex to be a physical, emotional, and spiritual bond between husband and wife. He said it was for unity: ” ‘And the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh” (Mark 10:8). Consummation, and continuation of that practice, are integral to covenant marriage.

How can we achieve unity? How can our marital bedrooms become places of peace? How can we live into the design of one flesh?

We’re told to seek and pursue peace (1 Peter 3:11, Romans 14:19), to strive for it (Hebrews 12:14), and to let it rule in our hearts (Colossians 3:15). Those all require intention and action on our part.

We should also follow the example of Jesus, by praying for peace, for unity, for one mind.

And not just “my mind.” Let’s be honest: This is how we often pray for unity regarding our sexual intimacy. Please, God, let him stop asking for sex so much. Or Please, God, increase his sex drive so he’ll want sex as much as I do.

Look, I’m not opposed to your spouse making changes. Odds are, they need to. But once we start praying for unity, it’s quite possible — rather likely — that God will want to change us. He might want us to do more to seek, pursue, and strive for peace. He might start working on our hearts so that peace can rule there, instead of the mountain of frustration we’ve hoarded over the years. He might expect us to speak up, reach out, seek help. He might need to smooth over our rough edges so that we can better fit into the one-flesh design He created.

So when we pray for unity, our prayer should be: God, guide me to know what I can do to pursue true peace in my marriage and unity in our marriage bed. Give me the right attitude in my heart, righteous wisdom in my mind, and the courage to take action when needed.

Mind you, “true peace” is not absence of conflict. You don’t have conflict with lots of people in the world, because you don’t have a relationship with them. So simply avoiding conflict doesn’t make for unity or peace. You might need to friction upfront to get to unity on the other side. But the Bible emphasizes the word one. Pray for that.

How good and pleasant it is when God’s people live together in unity!” (Psalm 133:1).