3 Stranded Prayer
Last week, I promised we would give some practical ways to "keep God in your marriage," or as we like to describe it, maintain a three-stranded marriage. When we tie the knot, we have the option to tie a three-stranded cord or a two-stranded cord. Obviously, a three-stranded cord is more durable, but, sheer strength aside, what are the benefits of centering your relationship around Jesus? And how do you even go about doing that?
I'm so glad you asked! This week we are going to look at three different three-stranded activities (Anyone else geeking out on that symmetry? No? Just me? Ok, we'll move on.) Simple things you are probably already doing with your spouse, but that you can do intentionally in a way that recognizes Jesus as the third strand in your relationship.
If you've been around Not Easily Broken Ministries for very long, you've heard us talk about how marriage was designed by God with one primary purpose in mind: to display the message of the gospel to the world around us. Marriage is two people surrendering their imperfect love for each other to Jesus, and trusting that His immense love will show through as they love each other sacrificially. Somewhere in that surrender, His perfect love is made complete, and our weakness is exchanged for His strength. And, in a surprisingly non-legalistic turn of events, Jesus invites us to engage every activity we do as a married couple that way. And what better place to start than with our prayer lives?
For the sake of brevity, I am going to assume you are all praying with your partners, at least every now and again (If you're not, let's talk, ok? No judgement, just a conversation.) For us, praying together seemed like a simple "Jesus" thing to do, but it proved a lot more difficult than we anticipated because our natural rhythms were so very different. I'm a morning person who enjoys starting her day talking to Jesus, Paul is a night person who doesn't start his day talking to anyone. By the time he was ready to engage in heartfelt conversation with God before bed, I was snoozing. I grew up in a family that stopped to pray over every little thing; out-loud, formal prayer was a newer habit for Paul. And... next to sex, I think that prayer is the most intimate activity a couple can engage in together. So at the outset of a relationship it can feel... odd or out of place at worst, and challenging at best.
If you find yourself in a similar situation, never fear. Here are a few ways you can birth, resurrect, or intensify a pattern of prayer for you and your spouse.
1) Practice praying out loud, quickly. In 1 Thessalonians 5 , Paul tells us to "Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you." The only way I know how to do this, is just to speak my rejoicing and my thanks (and my worries and cries for help) as soon as they come to mind. This simple act keeps my mind focused on Jesus throughout the day. Speaking those statements out loud when Paul and I are together keeps us focused on Jesus' provision, supremacy, and action in our lives. When one of us does this, it invites the other to respond with a quick "amen" ("yes, I agree!") or a follow up statement of some kind. It takes us from dinner, into the throne room, and back out again while giving us a quick glimpse into each other's hearts.
2) Pray for the other person in front of them. When we are stressed, there is nothing sweeter than praying together, but for each other. I'll pray over Paul's meetings, his fatigue, ask for strength and blessing, and he will pray that I'll care for our girls well and that my head ache will go away. Listening to the love of my life ask the Love of my Life to meet me in my need is nothing short of intimate and delicious.
3) Intercede for one another. Intercession is a special type of prayer in which you pray as another person, not just for them. When Paul is upset, or we have been arguing, and I feel like I just don't have the words to make him feel better, I'll intercede for him. I actually put myself in his shoes and ask Jesus for what Paul needs, as though I were Paul. Changing the pronouns of my prayer "Jesus, I need (whatever Paul needs). Please help me see You," opens my heart in compassion as I invite Jesus into the place in my heart in which I love my husband the most. A few weeks ago, I spent all day doing this as Paul and I struggled through a bitter disagreement. It was amazing to watch how God so specifically answered my prayer for Paul to see Jesus and feel His peace.
So there are just a few ideas to get you started. But I would love to know... how do you engage Jesus with your spouse in prayer? Post your ideas in the comments!