We’ve been married for close to five decades. And for most of our marriage we have been dedicated Bible-believing, Bible-LIVING Christians. So you would think that we would not “forget” to pray first (rather than later) when we should. But sadly, sometimes we do.
Oh, we usually remember to pray in the morning together before we set off for the day. It’s something we started years ago. And we’re now praying together at 7:14 every evening after we read 2 Chronicles 7:14. This has been a great blessing. Plus, we have no doubt that this has helped us connect better with each other and most importantly with God.
But we also know that we need to pray together before we enter into situations where we’d be tempted to argue in ways that we shouldn’t. A lot of the times it’s in those “off guard” times that we can stumble the worst. We’ll pick at each other and forget to pray first, rather than react first. We don’t even think to pray when it appears to be a “no big deal” time. God wants to help us to be gracious to each other. But we have to ask first.
Pray First, React Afterward
One silly example of this type of situation comes to mind immediately. Last spring we planned to attend an event that we benefit from, and we (usually) enjoy. It was our semi-annual subdivision garage sale. This is where people within a several mile radius sell things they no longer need. But sometimes we (or others) need (or want) them. So, we had a short list of things we hoped to purchase. We were excited about the possibilities. Plus, we were revved up about the discounts and the time we would enjoy spending together.
However, in the past, despite all of our excitement, sometimes these types of outing don’t go so well. We’d end up squabbling with each other over petty things throughout the morning. It doesn’t make any sense as to why this happens. But it does/did. Maybe I’d think Steve is driving too fast or too slow, or whatever. And maybe he is displeased because he doesn’t want to go into a certain neighborhood that I want him to go… On and on it goes. Petty? Yes. Stupid? Yes! Is this the way we should act? No!
Do you and your spouse get into these types of situations? Hopefully you don’t. But sadly, most couples do. And we have joined them.
Pray first Before Going into a Tense Place
But this time, however, God reminded us to pray together beforehand. And we want to tell you that it’s amazing how well the morning went. We still remember it, to this day. Before we left, Steve took my hand and suggested we pray that God would help us to be peaceable with each other. What a novel idea! So we held hands and prayed.
It wasn’t until later in the day that we realized how great we did together. That whole morning, we didn’t argue once. As we realized this afterward, we just stood there amazed. We remarked, “why didn’t we think of doing that before?”
As silly as this may sound, it goes to show you that prayer works, when we remember. We can progress through the day in peaceable ways when we join God in this.
Prayer Works When We Go There
But there is another turn that we didn’t expect to happen. Steve and I spent some time this morning, working together on projects around the yard. And we have to confess; we argued about stupid little things. Our work styles are definitely different. And sometimes being “different” leads to tensions rising up, so we’re tempted to squabble about petty things.
Sadly, we did. And you know the confusing part in all of this? We even prayed beforehand that God would help us NOT to squabble. Grrr!!! So why did this happen today and yet it didn’t happen the last time?
We talked about this. And we realize that we didn’t pay attention to God’s promptings. It goes to show, that even under the best of situations and intentions, we sometimes fail and fall.
There are two lessons from this that come to mind. The first is the importance of praying first. With God leading the way, He can help us to “fall” less than we might have otherwise. But we have to be mindful of approaching each other as God would have us.
And the second lesson — if we DO fall, is what we do next. We pray, rather than nurse, rehearse, justify, and continue to grab onto feelings and behaviors that we shouldn’t. At that point we stop giving into the urge to be contentious. And we confess our own failures (even if our spouse won’t confess his or hers). We then work to reconcile our differences the best we can.
It’s a fact of life that we all stumble and sin. But WHEN we do, we shouldn’t keep perpetuating our sinful ways. Instead, God would have us stop, drop to our knees (or our hearts), confess our wrongs, and pray. We are to reconcile our differences with God and with each other. God tells us in the Bible:
“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16)
Pray First; Prayer Works
There is no doubt that prayer works, as we look to God to help us. Right now, as I’m typing this, I’m looking at my husband as he sits across the room. And we’re doing just fine—actually, better than fine. Squabbles? What squabbles? How I love this man. (And I know he loves me.) And how I love our God! Thank you Jesus for helping us to pray first! Even for small things, pray first. And in big situations, pray first.
“Pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18)
As we close this Marriage Insight, please note: God tells us to pray continually. And then He tells us to give thanks IN all circumstances. He didn’t say to give thanks FOR all circumstances. We are to give thanks IN all circumstances. That’s because God can bring redemption when we approach Him to do so. Even when things are difficult—when we approach God in prayer, and we praise Him in the midst, God does His best redemptive work.
This is our prayer for you (from 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24; 28):
“May God Himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. … And may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.“
Cindy and Steve Wright
— ADDITIONALLY —
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