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.).
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.
- 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).