Tag Archives: praying for marriage

Do You Need to Be a Prayer Warrior for Your Marriage?

In Christian circles, this phrase has become very popular: prayer warrior. I’m not sure who first used this phrase, but it’s a reference to the spiritual warfare Christians are fighting. Ephesians 6:10-18 says:

Finally, be strengthened by the Lord and by His vast strength. Put on the full armor of God so that you can stand against the tactics of the Devil. For our battle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the world powers of this darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavens. This is why you must take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having prepared everything, to take your stand. Stand, therefore,

with truth like a belt around your waist,
righteousness like armor on your chest,
and your feet sandaled with readiness
for the gospel of peace.
In every situation take the shield of faith,
and with it you will be able to extinguish
all the flaming arrows of the evil one.
Take the helmet of salvation,
and the sword of the Spirit,
which is God’s word.

Pray at all times in the Spirit with every prayer and request, and stay alert in this with all perseverance and intercession for all the saints.

The apostle Paul describes us as being in a battle against Satan for the salvation of our souls and the glory of our God. His final encouragement is for us to pray at all times. Thus, I presume, the notion of the prayer warrior, all strapped up in her spiritual armor and doing battle on her knees.

But I gotta say — I don’t feel like a prayer warrior. More like a foot soldier.

In fact, I think all the encouragement to be a prayer warrior has sometimes served to discourage me. I’m 100% sure that was not the intent, but rather a genuine desire to see God’s people devote themselves more to prayer.

Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful” (Colossians 4:2).

Yet, “prayer warrior” has always felt a bit daunting to me. I think it’s because:

1. When you decide to stay praying more, it feels like a really high bar to go from not-doing-so-well to being on the front lines of spiritual battle. As if you’re the William Wallace of fearless, persistent prayer.

Let's Pray! with Movie Still from Braveheart

Can’t I just start out as one of those guys a few rows back? Like I’m totally in the battle but not quite ready to lead the charge.

2. It can come across that other people are better Christians and have better marriages because they find praying easier. And I don’t think that’s true. We should all grow in the spiritual disciplines commanded in Scripture, but I suspect we have our favorites — habits less difficult for us to form.

For instance, I’m totally fine with researching biblical passages, their context, Greek meanings of words, etc.; it’s a somewhat natural way for me to relate to God by studying His Word. But somehow, prayer is more of a challenge.

3. Sometimes there’s an underlying message that if God’s not answering your prayer, if you’re still struggling in your marriage or marriage bed, it’s because you’re not warrior-like enough about it. That if only you’d fight harder through prayer, things would work out.

It agree that we may need to pray more frequently and earnestly to break through, but God could also be answering our specific requests with “you first,” or “not yet,” or even “fuhgettaboutit.” Moreover, are we really the powerful ones in prayer that make things happen based on how well we do it?

The more I learn about prayer, the more I think that God just wants us to show up. Maybe it’s less important to reach prayer warrior status (whatever that means) and more important that you don’t go AWOL. We have to keep talking to God, keep listening for His voice, and keep believing He will intervene in our marriage and marriage bed in His perfect way and perfect timing.

But God can’t do anything through prayer if you don’t ever show up.

Now if you consider yourself a prayer warrior and that’s working well for you, great. But I’ve been working through this series on prayer with the idea that there are a lot of people like me, for whom a thriving prayer life has been a challenge at times. To myself and to them, I want to say: You don’t have to be a prayer warrior — just step out on the battlefield.

You don't have to be a prayer warrior -- just step out on the battlefield. Click To Tweet

God’s really good at fighting battles with and for us if we’ll just show up.

The Lord will fight for you; you need only to be still” (Exodus 14:14).

Do not be afraid of them; the Lord your God himself will fight for you” (Deuteronomy 3:22).

And I believe God wants to fight for your marriage — to save your marriage if it’s in trouble, to protect your marriage if it’s being attacked by the enemy, to help it thrive if it’s been ho-hum. He wants to be on that battlefield with us — whether you’re a prayer warrior or a foot soldier.

Just step out and join Him in the fight.

How I’m Learning to Focus in Prayer

Blog post title + woman praying in sunlightI’m terrible at meditating. Here’s a sample of how it’s gone for me when someone tries to guide a group through a meditation exercise:

Guide: Close your eyes and relax.

Relax? Does she know how much I have going on in my life? She might as well ask me to stop breathing.

Guide: Breathe deeply. In…out…in…out…

Okay, we’ve demonstrated we can all breathe. But if I do this deep-breathing thing much longer, I’m going to get lightheaded.

Guide: Your muscles are loosening, your body is sinking into the ground, you’re completely still and relaxed. Let yourself go.

Oh great, now I can’t move. Maybe if I wiggle my toes in my shoes, she won’t see. Oops, I’m tapping my fingers. I need to stop that!

Guide: Now imagine yourself sitting at the edge of a peaceful lake. The sun is setting, the wind is calm, the water is placid.

I can see the lake. Calm, calm… Ooh, a jet ski just went by! Cool, there’s a sailboat passing. Wait, is that a pontoon with a party on it? Geez, it’s a playground out there on my lake!

Yeah, I have a really hard time relaxing, emptying out brain, and staying still. I’ve always been a fidgety person, and my mind is no different—it’s a madhouse in there.

So then I decide I’m going to pray. And you know what happens? I start out really well, getting right through the Dear God and gratitude for His glory parts, but a few minutes in, it’s like that jet ski goes by, followed by a sailboat and a party pontoon. My thoughts diverge into all kinds of rabbit trails that lead me off in wild directions.

It’s hard for me to let everything else fall away and be meditative before my God.

It's hard for me to let everything else fall away and be meditative before my God. Click To Tweet

BUT I discovered something really awesome when I was in France at a recent writers’ retreat. Once again, I was in a circumstance where a leader was guiding us through a meditation. It was supposed to be about our writing specifically, but I used the experience to learn more about how I can better meditate and pray.

For those of you who are fidgety and/or brain-busy like me, here’s what finally worked!

I imagined myself moving in my meditation. That is, once I had that body of water in my mind (it was an ocean actually), I put myself on a horse riding down the beach, feeling the wind whipping through my hair and the ocean waves crashing on the sand. It was an extremely relaxing picture for me, but it wasn’t still. Then guess who showed up? Jesus. Oh yeah, riding on a horse beside me. He and I went galloping down the beach, talking and laughing. It was awesome!

And suddenly I thought, Hey, if I pray like this, I might make it all the way to more Amens!

Hey, if I pray like this, I might make it all the way to more Amens! Click To Tweet

Maybe trying to pray for your marriage and your sexual intimacy hasn’t been effective because you have a preconceived notion of what that prayer is supposed to look like. I know I’ve had one: It involved quietly bowing my head, talking in my head or whispering, and then being uber-silent while waiting for a word from God. I often didn’t make it all the way to “Amen” before 5,000 things came careening into my mind and interrupted my prayer.

Instead, I’m learning that to pray effectively, I have to move. I need to pray while walking, write or type out my prayers, or even imagine myself riding horses with Jesus on the beach. (He was quite the equestrian, I’ll tell you.)

For all I know, when Jesus went off on his own to pray, He traipsed around in circles or strode slowly through the garden. At least sometimes. It’s possible.

Yes, I love the idea of kneeling and praying, and I still do that sometimes. But God wants us to communicate with Him — about our lives, our marriages, and yes, our sexual intimacy — and I believe He’s okay with us inviting Him for a walk or a ride while we chat.

What struggles do you face staying focused in prayer? What have you learned works for you?

Who Are You Praying to Change in Your Marriage?

Blog post title + woman praying with light shining on herI’ve been aiming this year to pray more and encouraging y’all to do the same. Specifically, I’m hoping we can grow into praying more intentionally, more openly, and more fervently for our marriages and marriage beds.

So then I started thinking about how I prayed so often during the worst years of my marriage. In case you haven’t been following me long, let me explain that my husband and I had some bad years of marriage, during which I wasn’t sure we were going to make it. Thankfully, we have moved past those difficult years and are in a season of genuine commitment and happiness that makes every one of those moments worth it.

But the truth is that we really didn’t have to go through all those moments. It took way too long for me to listen to what God wanted to tell me.

Because here’s an example of what my typical prayer looked like during those flailing years:

Dear God, I know that You brought me to my husband and that You believe in marriage. You want us to have a holy, thriving marriage. But we’re in a mess, and I’m so unhappy. I have tried talking to him nicely, then more forcefully, and even pleading with him, but he isn’t listening. Lord, please save my marriage. Help us get back on track. Tell me what I need to say to get through to him. Help him to see what I’m going through and to do what he should be doing to build our marriage. In Jesus’s name, Amen.

Sounds good on the surface, right? I start by remembering that God brought us together and that God Himself is the maker of marriage and wants us to thrive. Then I’m open about my struggle and explain where things are for me. I ask for God’s wisdom in talking to my husband and for a change of heart. I even finish with “in Jesus’s name” (see John 14:13-14).

But read between the lines and you’ll see what I’m really asking: God, change him.

Even when I asked for wisdom on what to do, it was really so that I could get my husband to see my side of things. I wasn’t asking for the ability to hear his side or to view him in a better light or even for the desire to meet his needs.

When I look back now, I think: No wonder God didn’t answer that prayer — it was so selfish!

You know when things started changing in my marriage? When I focused on fixing me. When my prayers sounded more like:

  • God, even though I believe he needs to change, start with me. Point out my faults and help me to fix them.
  • Lord, show me how to love my husband with 1 Corinthians 13 love. Guide me into becoming patient, kind, honoring, selfless, and forgiving. 
  • God … just help me.

Many of you have been praying for your marriage, and specifically your sexual intimacy. You have poured out your heart to God and you’ve begged for help. But, given my own experience, I have to ask: Who are you praying to change in your marriage?

If the answer is anyone but myself, then you might need to rethink your approach.

Jesus told this parable in Luke 18:9-14:

To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everyone else, Jesus told this parable: “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee stood by himself and prayed: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people—robbers, evildoers, adulterers—or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week and give a tenth of all I get.’

“But the tax collector stood at a distance. He would not even look up to heaven, but beat his breast and said, ‘God, have mercy on me, a sinner.’

“I tell you that this man, rather than the other, went home justified before God. For all those who exalt themselves will be humbled, and those who humble themselves will be exalted.”

Are you “confident of your righteousness” compared to your husband? I certainly was. And frankly, maybe you are far more righteous. To this day, I think I was 70% right about what I was arguing my marriage. But I was a supremely self-righteous wife, which made me a sinner in God’s eyes. One who needed to stop looking at the speck in someone else’s eye and notice the plank in my own! (See Matthew 7:3-5.)

As some have said, “You can be right, or you can be married.” You can’t always be both. And since you gave your vow and have that ring on your finger, I think you already picked married.

Now the question is where do you need to change to make things better in your marriage? To reach harmony in your relationship? To improve not only the sex itself, but the intimacy that sex within marriage should have? How can you make your marriage a safe place for your mate to express their concerns and find support?

Even if they are 80% the problem, how can you stop looking at that 80% and focus on the 20% God really wants you to work on? By the way, you’ll often discover by the end of it all, you’re more than 20% of the problem.

I was a 100% wrong. Not in the relationship necessarily, but I was 100% wrong in believing that he was the one who had to do the changing. When I let my prayers become about God working on me, He started answering. In big ways.

I need to do more of that. Because God’s work in me isn’t finished. I still think I’m right more often than I should, and I’m far from having perfect, Christ-like love for my husband. But God has changed me. Because I asked Him to.

Who are you praying to change in your marriage?

And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns” (Philippians 1:6).

A Prayer for Our Priorities (Including Sex)

A Prayer for Our Priorities (Including Sex) with woman praying and light from Heaven shining on herOne powerful enemy of regular sexual intimacy in our marriages is time.

Although we all have the same twenty-four hours in a day, let’s face it: We’re not all at the same level of busy. For instance, while I am swamped with work at times, I get healthy doses of sleep that I could only imagine when I had a toddler and an infant in the house. I readily admit that you stay-at-home parents of young children are busier than I am. Or at least more exhausted.

But the truth is that like space in our houses, we tend to fill our days. We stuff them full of to-dos and tasks and activities. We add volunteering to our work schedules and children’s extracurriculars to their school days. We say “yes” to events, committees, and social invites.

And then we wonder why we don’t have enough energy to rev ourselves up for a night of sexual intimacy with our spouses.

Well, duh.

And I say this to myself as much as I say it to you.

In C.S. Lewis’s inimitable book, The Screwtape Letters, senior demon instructs the junior tempter: “It is funny how mortals always picture us as putting things into their minds: in reality our best work is done by keeping things out.”

Satan doesn’t want you to think about those experiences that will strengthen your bond and draw you closer to one another and to God. He wants you to focus on anything that makes you neglect your marriage bed.

Satan wants you to focus on anything that makes you neglect your #marriage bed. Click To Tweet

As someone else famously said, “If the devil can’t make you bad, he’ll make you busy.” (Often attributed to Corrie Ten Boom, but I was unable to confirm.)

By contrast, God wants us to set the right priorities for our marriage. For our Saturday focused on praying more, I offer this prayer for our priorities (including sex):

My glorious Heavenly Father,

Each day you give me is a blessing. Each morning that the sun rises, the Earth turns, and all the intricate parts of Your creation work together, I am reminded that You are on Your throne. You grant me my hours, my weeks, my years, and I am a steward of the time You have provided me.

I know of Your warnings to be productive rather than lazy (Proverbs 10:413:4, 21:25), to be diligent in work. Whatever my hand finds to do, I want to do it with all my might (Ecclesiastes 9:10). But sometimes I’ve chosen to put effort into so many activities, even good endeavors, that my marriage—and my marriage bed—have suffered. 

Your Son, my Lord Jesus, reminded us that You commanded, “Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh,” and then said, “So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate” (Matthew 19:5-6, ESV). Yet my misguided priorities have separated what You joined together when I’ve neglected my relationship with my husband and the intimacy we should have in our bedroom. Please forgive me.

Help me to remember the example of the noble wife of Proverbs 31, who “watches over the affairs of her household and does not eat the bread of idleness” (v. 27). Sometimes I flip even those priorities, intent on not being idle without attending to the affairs of my household. Give me the right perspective to put my family, and specifically my husband, above my desire to stay busy. Enlighten me on where I have been a poor steward of my time, and lead me onto the right path.

Help my husband to positively encourage and support me toward the right priorities. Bless our conversations about household duties, outside obligations, and personal choices so that we can find unity. Show me where I need to let go, and give me peace about not getting everything done. Instead, bring to mind Your principle that “the one who sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and the one who sows bountifully will also reap bountifully” (2 Corinthians 9:6). I want to sow bountifully in my marriage and my marriage bed, so that our marriage, our family, and our community will reap the rewards.

And above all, that we will experience Your glory and it will be seen by others in the strength and joy of our marriage.

Today, God, I want to begin this journey of re-prioritizing my time. Give me wisdom for where I need to make changes. Infuse me with a desire to invest in my marriage bed, knowing that this one-flesh experience is part of Your perfect plan (Genesis 2:24Ephesians 5:31-32).

In Jesus’s name,

Amen.

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:
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