The Forgotten Intimacy - Part Two
by Sheri Mueller
(c) 2009 Growthtrac - Used
Does prayer feel uncomfortable? Does it feel awkward sometimes?
Discomfort was my barrier to overcome. I felt Jim was too grandeur and way too mature in how he prayed to God. I felt he needed to impress God instead of simply talk to Him.
Jim would pray like this:
Oh, Holy and Gracious Father, I throw myself down upon Thee. Thou knowest every vessel of mine heart and every thought of my mind. Beseech my heart oh Lord! Carriest me throughout my day and bring me closer to thee...
Oh, gag me! We had different styles of praying, obviously. How do I tell the person I love I don't like how he prays? It was easier and more conversational for me to write my prayers down on an index card and then share them with Jim later in the day. Once I started writing out my prayers, it helped take away my feelings of discomfort.
Remember the conversation after Adam and Eve ate the apple? Do you remember God saying, "Adam where are you?" Adam replied, "I heard you, so I hid."
We still have a tendency to hide because it's a safe place to be. Because what God or my spouse cannot see in me, they will not know about me — and that's a problem!
I know I've hidden things from Jim. I think if he knows the "real me, he won't love me. Only through revealing my heart to him and God in prayer, have I grown to know the depth of love they both have for me.
Jim has shared that sometimes he's uncomfortable praying with me. Saying he's tired or too busy really means he's hiding what's going on in his heart. Often he doesn't want to open up to God or me — there's something he doesn't want us to see.
After getting past this "hiding hurdle", I have been freed up to share more open and creative prayer with Jim — ending my hiding.
"The eyes of the Lord search the whole earth in order to strengthen those whose hearts are fully committed to Him."
2 Chronicles 16:9 (NLT)
Missing Words of Love
Early in our marriage, the absence of Words of Love turned our hearts to stone. We were disrespectful. We swore, put each other down, and yelled during disagreements.
If your spouse consistently irritates you, if you often dislike your mate and use words that tear down — prayer is going to be difficult. Words of Love are essential to building a prayer life together.
It's a heart decision to accept Jim for who he is, who God made him to be. I consciously need to stop trying to change him; he is perfectly created by our Heavenly Father. I don't think God makes mistakes. I praise God and I praise Jim with love when I say words that build him up instead of tear him down.
It's so much easier to look at our spouses' imperfections, isn't it? It's challenging to look inward and see the attitude changes we need to make. We need to look within and honestly ask God, "What repairs do I need to make? Why do I continually find fault in everything my spouse does? What can I do that will change angry words into Words of Love?"
We need to build up, encourage, and love our spouse on a daily basis. If we don't provide this care, someone else will — often leading to an affair or worse. Consider Words of Love to be daily maintenance for your marriage. Simple words such as "I love you", "thank you", "you're sexy" (hope you caught this), and "I appreciate you helping me with the work around the house", can work wonders.
"Don't use foul or abusive language. Let everything you say be good and helpful, so that your words will be an encouragement to those who hear them." Ephesians 4:29 (NLT)
A couple that dedicates themselves to praising each other with Words of Love will grow in spiritual intimacy. The desire to change your spouse diminishes. Even sex becomes better. Don't be shocked by this revelation! I have Jim's permission to share this even though he is hiding under his desk at the moment. Sex really is better since we have invited God to be in the center of our marriage.
In Colossians 4:2, Paul's advice is: "Devote yourselves to prayer with an alert mind and a thankful heart." (NLT)
We should pray at the best part of our day, not when we are too tired to give it our best effort. Try to wake up earlier or go to bed earlier. Ten minutes can amount to a lifetime of change in your marriage and your family.
Activities that can distract you from prayer:
* Computer (Internet)
* Conflict in Marriage
This is the second article in a series of five on the Forgotten Intimacy. In the next segments will discuss Understanding our Struggle, Servanthood and Connecting.
This is the second article in a series of five on the Forgotten Intimacy. In upcoming segments we'll cover Prayer Barriers, Understanding our Struggle, Servanthood and Connecting.
Copyright © 2004 Sheri Mueller. Used with permission.
Sheri is the co-founder of Growthtrac.