It’s another Saturday where we talk about your marriage bed and your prayer life, and what the two have to do with each other. (Hint: a lot.)
Last week, I shared an excellent post from Black and Married with Kids, and today I want to point y’all to another post that caught my eye. It’s from Bonny Burns of OysterBed7, who just happens to be one of my podcast partners with Sex Chat for Christian Wives.
Bonny speaks specifically to low-libido wives, but her message in this article is one we can all identify with. I particularly love this line: “The best sex starts on your knees in prayer.” Read on for a tease of her article and be sure to click below to read more.
I Love Learning to Pray for Sexual Intimacy
I would have rather slammed my pinky finger in the car door than to have talked about sex. The ‘talks’ my husband and I were having about sex, weren’t really ‘talks’ but anger fueled spats. We didn’t know how to have an actual conversation without it being tied to our anger at neither being understood.
Whenever the topic of sex came out of his mouth, it was like he became Vladimir Putin. All I heard was Russian manipulation. I couldn’t understand a word he was saying and I knew I wouldn’t like it even if I could understand.
I prayed to end the cold war, for his desire to diminish and mine to increase. God didn’t answer.
I was tired of fighting my natural inclination. The old battles weren’t being won with the old strategies. I needed a new strategy, a new understanding but had no idea what to pray.
As you might have heard, I’ve been a bit busy lately, what with old Hurricane Harvey coming to visit my neck-of-the-woods. So when I contemplated what to write about sex and prayer this week, I decided to first go see what I could find online.
Immediately I came upon a post from Black and Married with Kids, which is a good site to follow. I decided to let their words be the ones you read this week, since they walk you through five wonderful prayers you can say for your marriage bed. Here’s a tease, and I encourage you to click the link at the end to read the rest of the article.
5 Prayers for Better Sex and Intimacy in Your Marriage
We pray for many things in our marriage. So why not better sex and intimacy? If the Bible dedicates an entire book to this subject, it must be important and require our attention. It may seem weird at first to pray over sex and intimacy, but God is concerned about every aspect of your marriage.
This past week, protests in Charlottesville, Virginia quickly became violent, and a young woman was run over and killed. In Barcelona, Spain, fourteen died when an Islamist militant plowed his vehicle into a crowd; a hundred more were injured.
In some regions in the world, starvation is still a real possibility. And disease, civil war, and economic hardship are daily challenges. Christians are persecuted in some nations, all the way to their life being taken. Sex trafficking is happening across the world, and each day children are abused emotionally, physically, and sexually.
My heart breaks just writing about these things. So, in the midst of all of the evil and pain in the world, how can we go to God and ask Him for help with our sex life? Aren’t there way bigger issues worth His time and our focus?
When I recently asked on Facebook what my readers wanted me to cover about sex and prayer, this is what one commenter said:
I’ve wrestled with this one a bit, but am slowly getting better at understanding that if something is important to me, and is righteous, than it’s important to God. But there is still a nagging feeling in the background when I ask for help regarding our marital intimacy that says, “this isn’t that big a deal, there are people starving in this world, I know this sounds selfish of me…but”.
I know he’s not alone. And it’s a good question: With people starving in the world, isn’t praying about your sex life kind of selfish?
We exist in time. We check clocks, keep calendars, make appointments at specific times. All of our to-dos are therefore done in a linear fashion: I take out the trash, then I do the laundry, then I write my post, then I have lunch. I can’t do all of those things at once.
We tend to place God in time too, even though He’s not. In fact, of all the ways to explain this, I think a scene in the movie Bruce Almighty did a really good job. Here’s what might happen if we had to deal with prayers.
But that’s not God. He’s infinitely able to hear and address everyone’s prayers at once, from the plea for justice for a sexually abused child, to the prayer for patience of caregivers whose burden is heavy, to your request to find greater unity in the marriage bed.
Your prayer for your sex life isn’t taking any time or effort away from God dealing with the “big issues.” He’s got it all covered. Because He’s, well, GOD.
C.S. Lewis wrote a fabulous, and more thorough, essay addressing the issue of God’s ability to answer many prayers at once: “Time And Beyond Time” from Mere Christianity. Check it out.
God cares about everything about you.
Have you ever listened in on a conversation of moms talking about their infants or preschoolers? They can describe everything from their child’s major personality characteristics down to exactly what they found in the last diaper. If their child gets a splinter in his precious little finger, they stop everything and tend to relieving that little bit of pain. I consider this a helpful mental picture when I think about God, my Heavenly Parent. He’s totally into everything His kids have got going. And He’s far better at it than we are, so He really can attend to all the poop going on in our lives.
Just listen to these descriptions of how God cares for us:
“You have searched me, Lord, and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down;you are familiar with all my ways” (Psalm 139:1-3).
“You keep track of all my sorrows. You have collected all my tears in your bottle. You have recorded each one in your book” (Psalm 56:8, NLT)
“Are not five sparrows sold for two pennies? Yet not one of them is forgotten by God.Indeed, the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows” (Luke 12:6).
If God is familiar with all of our ways, keeps track of all our sorrows and collects our tears, and has numbered the hairs on our head, I think He cares about our sexual intimacy. Especially since He talks about sex quite a bit in His Word.
Rest assured, He wants to be there. He’s the parent who wants to know every detail and to be the one you come to when you have a splinter in your heart or when things are going well.
God cares about our sex lives.
In this section, I almost want to say, “Go read everything else I’ve ever written about God and sex.” Because it’s basically my entire mission to convince people that God has something to say about our sex lives and that it’s really, really good stuff.
So many of us have the view that God is present in all these areas of our lives, except the marriage bed; that’s really a private place between husband and wife, no one else invited — including the Big Guy. But that’s neither biblical nor wise. As you saw in the scripture above, God discerns our going out and our lying down, including when we lie down with our spouse. He’s omniscient, meaning He knows what’s going on in your bedroom!
And I simply cannot tell you enough about the positive impact I experience when I realized that God had something to say about every single area of my life — including the bedroom. Aligning my desires with His in my sex life, a goal I still work on, has made all the difference in how I view sexuality and how we experience sexual intimacy in our marriage. If He cares that much, then of course we can talk to Him about it; any part of our sex life is fair game for discussion with God.
“My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish? My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest.”
That’s how Psalm 22 begins. And look at the start of Psalm 13:
“How long, Lord? Will you forget me forever? How long will you hide your face from me? How long must I wrestle with my thoughts and day after day have sorrow in my heart? How long will my enemy triumph over me?“
The original Hebrew didn’t have punctuation, so sometimes I wonder if passages like these are missing some exclamation points. The psalmist David might as well be knocking on Heaven’s door and yelling, “Helloooo! Helloooo! Is anyone there?!!!”
Some of you could go back and re-read those passages in your own voice with the subject being the sexual intimacy in your marriage. You wonder if God has forsaken you, if He’s forgotten you, if He’s hiding.
But maybe you also wonder if it’s okay to yell at God about how you feel. Perhaps you logically agree that it’s all right — after all, King David, a man after God’s own heart (1 Samuel 4:13), did it — but in practice you feel guilty pouring out your anger to God.
Here’s why it might be a good idea to just go ahead and yell when praying about your struggles:
1.Owning your feelings. A lot of women were raised with Nice Girl Syndrome, where we don’t feel like it’s proper to express anger. Disappointment or sadness, sure. But anger? Isn’t that a bad thing?
We point to scriptures that warn against anger, like James 1:19-20: “My dear brothers and sisters, take note of this: Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak and slow to become angry, because human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires.” But a look at Scripture as a whole shows two different kinds of anger: selfish rage and intolerance of injustice. What James is talking about here is the former, anger that comes from pride (also true in Ephesians 4:31 and Colossians 3:8).
When David expresses his anger toward God, it’s about genuine hardship he’s experiencing and a desire for God to uphold his just cause. By embracing his anger, David aligns His own feelings with God’s feelings about injustice in the world.
I believe that God is also upset when marriages are failing or flailing and when sexual intimacy isn’t everything it could be in the marriage bed. It’s okay to own and express that anger to your Father who cares.
2. Connecting to the Source.
If your car breaks, you don’t ask a physician to look at it; you turn to the mechanic. Likewise, if you’ve been praying or working toward better sexual intimacy and nothing is going right, who will you turn to? Who will express your frustration to?
By going ahead and yelling at God a bit, you’re essentially recognizing that He Is the Source of answers. You can let off some steam in His presence, because He can take it and ultimately He’s the one who can truly rescue you — even if it doesn’t look like what you expect.
The remainder of Psalm 13 is this:
“Look on me and answer, Lord my God. Give light to my eyes, or I will sleep in death, and my enemy will say, ‘I have overcome him,’ and my foes will rejoice when I fall. But I trust in your unfailing love; my heart rejoices in your salvation. I will sing the Lord’s praise, for he has been good to me.”
The psalmist knows that even if he doesn’t understand why it’s taking so long, God is the only one who can truly provide what he needs. He’s not looking in the wrong place, but going to the Source for answers.
If you’re not telling God how you feel and what you long for, maybe you’re ignoring Him. And I feel pretty sure He’d rather you yell and work through your emotional pain with His arms there to comfort you: “The Lord is close to the brokenhearted and saves those who are crushed in spirit” (Psalm 34:18).
3. Opening up to His answer.
You know that God wants to bless your marriage bed, but it hasn’t happened yet. Like David, that creates conflict in your mind and your soul: Do you believe that God will improve your sexual intimacy? Or do you give up? It’s not easy to tell someone who’s struggled for a long time to remain hopeful. As Proverbs 13:12 says, “Hope deferred makes the heart sick, but a longing fulfilled is a tree of life.” Who doesn’t to trade a sick heart for a tree of life?
But this verse and many stories from the Bible show us the importance of letting God have His way. We don’t always understand what He’s doing, but if we come before with honest hurt and open hearts, He can show us a better path to take.
Later in Psalm 22, David says: “But you, Lord, do not be far from me. You are my strength; come quickly to help me.” Although He isn’t sure what God will do for him, David reassures himself that “[God] has not despised or scorned the suffering of the afflicted one; he has not hidden his face from him but has listened to his cry for help.”
God indeed rescued David, though not by the schedule or method David wanted or even expected. Maybe he had to actually go through this anger with God and humble himself before God’s throne to become fully open to how God wanted to work in his life. Maybe we need to do the same.
I think it’s okay to yell at God sometimes. It’s not okay to dismiss God or to hold grudges against Him. Rather, by expressing your deep frustration, you can work through your emotions and grow in trusting your Father to help and heal you.
Have you struggled with feeling angry at God? Have you ever yelled at Him in prayer?
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?
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.
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.
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).