The Forgotten Intimacy - Part Three
by Sheri Mueller
(c) 2009 Growthtrac - Used with Permission
Understanding Our Struggle
In previous segments of the Forgotten Intimacy we've come to understand why we should pray, the benefits to prayer and what barriers may keep us from prayer. So why is prayer a struggle for so many couples?
Author Richard Foster (Prayer: Finding the Heart's True Home) describes our struggle well.
"We yearn for prayer and run from it. We are attracted to it and repelled by it. We believe it is something we should do, even something we want to do, but there is a chasm between us and actually praying. We experience the agony of prayer lessness."
It takes two to make a marriage spiritually intimate. Spiritual Intimacy is a joint effort — It's not a do-it-yourself project.
What if only one of us is interested in pursuing Spiritual Intimacy? That's a problem.
Have you and your spouse ever argued over praying together? Anger or silence is an indicator that something deeper may be occurring within the relationship. Prayer may not be at the root of the argument. It is possible your spouse might be fearful of exposure, afraid of openness, or worried of change in your relationship. How might prayer transform your marriage? Realize that change isn't easy. Go slow, talk about it, and give your spouse space. Remember, it is all about God's timing and not your own.
God isn't asking us to build our marriage alone, but with Him. He wants to know us intimately and help us develop a different level of intimacy as husband and wife.
Psalm 127:1 tells us, "Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain."(NIV)
Also, Mark 3:25 says; "If a house is divided against itself, that house cannot stand."(NIV) In another translation, it says, "A house divided against itself is doomed."(NLT)
How to Pray
Here's something we struggled with for years. How do we pray together? Is there a "correct" way to pray?
In our first couple's bible study, the leader described the acronym "ACTS" as a prayer template. It goes like this:
"A" stands for Adoration. Adoration is simply worshipping God, praising Him. "God, what a beautiful sunset you've created!"
"C" is for Confession. What do you need to ask forgiveness for?
"T" is for Thanksgiving. "Father, thank you for giving me life today. Thank you for my husband and my marriage..."
"S" is for Supplication or asking God for the things we need or want. Yes, it's okay to ask God for things.
While there is no required recipe for prayer, this guide helped us in understanding and finding a way to put our prayers into words.
Remember, prayer is simply a conversation with God. Sometimes prayer is formal, setting aside a specific time during the day for dialog and bible study. At other times, prayer can be less formal
- short conversations while in the car, at work, while exercising, or in the shower. Sometimes prayer contains each of the four ACTS elements, sometimes not.
Where to Pray
Down on your knees, next to your bed, lights out, hands folded, eyes closed and fully clothed. Only kidding! Prayer does not have to be a painful experience. Prayer can be accomplished in so many everyday places and it can be fun! Outdoors in nature, during exercise, in the car, at the office, at the dinner table. Don't limit yourself. Be creative.
Worship music is a fabulous entry to prayer. Jim and I play music all the time — in the house, outdoors, and in the car too. Often, when we hear words that stir us, we'll stop and tell the other, "Listen to the words, aren't they powerful? Don't they fill you up and praise God?" Music has supported us through the most difficult of times.
Several months ago, Jim's mom was seriously ill and not expected to live. While making the seven hour trek to Kentucky, worship music broke the silence and filled us with hope and encouragement. No matter what the outcome, when we arrived in Kentucky we knew God would hold us up. Though she was diagnosed with Alzheimer's, through God's power today she is doing well at home with dad.
Something to Consider
What if today would be your last day with your spouse? It's a real possibility — it almost happened to us. Jim almost lost me during the birth of our youngest daughter; I was only 28 years old. Something a young couple would never expect.
Would there be regrets? What haven't you done together? What did you want to experience spiritually?
Have you ever told your spouse how you see them through God's eyes? What would you miss about your spouse? Would you regret never praying together, that you never worshipped and loved God together?
I would miss Jim's sense humor, his ability to make me laugh, his love of Christ and his passion to share Him with others. His kisses, his smile, his smell. But mostly the love of God that we share together and the times we are so intimate in prayer.
What would you write to your spouse if you knew today was your last day together? Maybe this is something you need to do. Then find a special time to share that letter with your spouse.
This is the third article in a series of five on the Forgotten Intimacy. In future segments we'll cover Servanthood and Connecting.
Copyright © 2004 Sheri Mueller. Used with permission.
Sheri is the co-founder of Growthtrac, an online Christian marriage resource. Sheri is a pre-marriage mentor, has authored several marriage related articles, and teaches at marriage enrichment events.