Tag Archives: sex and prayer

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).

Praying to Your Heavenly Father: Do You Have Daddy Issues?

In my blog, I often refer to God as my Heavenly Father. But I have to admit that was one of the hardest names to attach to God.

Praying to Your Heavenly Father: Do You Have Daddy Issues? with PRAY in background

Despite the occurrence of Father as the name for God more than 150 times in the New Testament, viewing Him in the dad role was a stretch for me. You see, I loved my father greatly, but when I was younger, we had a contentious relationship. Chalk it up to us both being strong, opinionated personalities or him being wrong and me being right (see? opinionated! 😉 ), but whatever the reason, it was not smooth sailing for my teen and young adult years. We were often at odds with one another.

Right at this same time, I was coming into my own with my faith. And I looked at this term Father and realized all the baggage I brought with it. How could I view God as my father, my pops, my dad?

I’d love to say that I immediately saw the error of my ways in not honoring my earthly father, made perfect peace with the man who raised me, and skipped off into the sunset praying, “Dear Father, oh my beloved Father…” But I didn’t. I just tended toward other names, like Lord, Savior, and God.

I know — just know — that some wives out there struggle with seeing God as their loving father. So when I talk about how He’s listening to you as a Father would, wanting to give you the kind of gifts that a Father gives (see Matthew 7:9-11), and comforting you like a Father would his beloved daughter, it’s hard for you to relate.

Maybe you experienced not merely an unharmonious relationship with your dad, but an abusive one. Or he was simply absent. How much more difficult is it then for you to pray to God as your Heavenly Father who wants to bless your marriage bed?

Look, I don’t have daddy issues anymore. My father and I long ago made peace and ended up with a beautiful relationship that culminated in my being at his bedside and holding his hand as he left this life last year. But I know wives who will never have that peace with their earthly fathers. And when they try to imagine God as Father, that image brings with it baggage and emotional pain. That difficult experience ends up hindering your prayer life.

So how can you start praying for your marriage and your sexual intimacy? Believing that God will be the loving father who gives beautiful gifts to His children?

Recognize He knows your struggle. God’s not upset that you’re not calling Him Father and seeing Him as the loving gift-giver He is. At least not in a personally offended way. He’s upset that you are going through this struggle and wants to help you understand who He is and what a truly loving Father looks like.

Use another name in prayer. Like I said, for a time I used other names. As I grew comfortable with one, I stretched my comfort zone to add another. There are many, many names of God in the Bible, and He answers to those names too.

Make peace with your father. Romans 12:18 says, “If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone.” Suck it up and go make peace with the man who gave you life. As best you can. No, this doesn’t mean you let anyone walk all over you; rather, you establish a healthy adult relationship with grace, boundaries, and love. Making peace with your earthly father might help you make peace with the idea of God as father.

Find other daddy images. If your father was abusive or absent, consider other fathers you’ve come across who were excellent dads. Was there an uncle or grandfather or male family friend who reached out to you in your youth? Do you have a brother who has become a wonderful father? What about your husband? Some people have even said that fictional images of fathers helped them understand what a good, healthy dad looks like. Whatever the source, think about the great dads out there, because they do exist. And they are hints of the kind of father God is.

Realize that God is the Perfect Father. Your dad is a flawed father, your God is not. While the mental image of father gives us a good sense of our relationship to God, it doesn’t begin to describe His perfection. He’s all the best traits of dads, and none of the bad ones, put together in one person, then amped up to an eleven. He’s Father Knows Best on steroids. He’s in a category all His own. There is one Heavenly Father, and growing closer to Him helps us to understand what that looks like.

Believe that He wants to bless your marriage bed. Going back to my analogy, yes, our Heavenly Father gave a gift to marriage. He said, “Hey, kids, I need to give you a way to reproduce, so I’m creating sex. But you know what? I want it to be different from animals who mate to continue their species. Because you are made in My image, I want your sexuality to reflect the kind of relationship that I value, so I’m going to make this gift even better. It will be for the exclusive, covenant bond of marriage, and it will give you great pleasure and deep intimacy. And children, when you enjoy the gift I’m giving you, I will be smiling like a proud dad.” Okay, He didn’t say that. But I think that’s His intention and His longing for us — He wants to bless our marriage beds.

As I go through this prayer topic on Saturdays, and on my blog generally, when you encounter Heavenly Father, check yourself to see if you have a positive or negative reaction to that name. Open yourself up to what that really means when it comes to God. And what it means for your marriage and your sexual intimacy.

Prayer Challenge This Week: Write down 3-5 different names of God and pray about the sexual intimacy in your marriage with each of those names. Which one or ones are most comfortable? Which ones do you struggle with? Ask God to help you see Him as He really is, without our baggage about earthly father relationships or even men generally.

Related post: What Dads Teach Their Daughters about Intimacy

Do You Pray for Your Sex Life?

Last week, I announced one of my goals for 2017 is to pray more. I admitted this wasn’t the goal for Hot, Holy & Humorous that I personally wanted, but God kept bringing it to the forefront of my mind. And I invite wives to join me in this worthy goal.

Now I write about sex in marriage, so I think the first question we need to ask about prayer is this one: Do you pray for your sex life?

Do You Pray for Your Sex Life? with word PRAY in backgroundWe can get to the how of praying for your sex life later, but the truth is that many wives feel awkward praying to God about their sexuality. Thus, feeling more comfortable about bringing our sexual concerns to the throne of our Heavenly Father has to be Step One.

Philippians 4:6 is often cited as a go-to verse about prayer: “Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.”

Notice those words anything and in every situation? There are no restrictions about what we can bring before God. He’s open to hearing it all. If it’s something we’re anxious about, He wants to know. If we have a request, He wants to listen. If we are thankful, He appreciates our gratitude.

I am guilty — and perhaps you are too — of sometimes feeling that God doesn’t really care about some small thing going on in my life. Or that it’s selfish to talk to Him about my concerns when there are people across the globe suffering far more than I. Shouldn’t I allow God to use His precious time dealing with the starving, the oppressed, the brokenhearted?

But that’s not what Scripture says. God’s time isn’t limited. He’s got whatever it takes to hear everything you want to tell Him, and everything I want to tell Him, and everything every other person bowing their heads wants to tell Him. Do we believe that?

Do we know, really know, that any and every concern we have about our marriage bed is something God wants to hear?

I’ve talked a lot about how sex in marriage is a gift from God. So let’s make this analogy. What if a father handcrafted a toy, gave it to his child for Christmas, and the child didn’t know how to use the toy? Wouldn’t the father take time to instruct the child and show how it worked? Or what if the toy chipped, or a spring broke, or a wheel came off? Wouldn’t that father want the child to come to him right away and ask for the toy to be fixed? What if nothing was wrong with the toy; rather, it worked beautifully and the child wanted to say thank you? Wouldn’t the father want to hear those words?

Yes, I know sex is not a toy. But, like this toy, it is a gift from our Father intended to bring pleasure and intimacy. It is handcrafted just for us, His children. Surely He cares what happens to that gift after it’s given.

In fact, the four words that precede Philippians 4:6 cited above are these: “The Lord is near” (Philippians 4:5). He’s right here, waiting to hear what you have to say, even if it’s about your sex life. For many of you, especially if it’s about your sex life.

Prayer Challenge This Week: Say a prayer specifically focused on the sexual intimacy in your marriage, bringing your anxiety, your requests, your gratitude, or whatever else you have to say to your Heavenly Father.