Thursday, June 25, 2009
Current Study: First Peter
Today’s Topic: Unhindered Prayer
Scripture Reading: 1 Peter 3:7 Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.
I am fascinated by statements people make that contradict Scripture. On several occasions I have had to confront people who have stated that they were praying for permission to do something God’s Word already forbids. I once had a young woman tell me that she and her new married boyfriend had prayed about their “love” for each other and that God had given them peace that their adultery was not a sin for them. I thank the Lord for the spiritual maturity of the Elders that rebuked her with the authority of God’s Word.
So many people have the wrong understanding of prayer and the wrong motivation for praying. For many, prayer is nothing more than an emotional tool to bring self-assurance. Others believe it is the secret ingredient that, when made public, brings affirmation and praise from others about choices they have made. You’ve heard people say things like, “I prayed about this before I made the decision.” Their expectation is that when we hear they prayed about it, we will accept their decision as God’s will.
But the Bible does not define prayer as a “genie-in-a-bottle” approach to satisfying one’s own desires. In fact, any sin in our lives actually hinders our prayers, and the prideful pursuit of our own desires is sin. If we have unrepentant sin in our lives in just one part of our life, it closes the ear of God to our prayers in every area of our life. King David said in Psalm 66, If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; but God has surely listened and heard my voice in prayer.
In Peter’s inspired writing today, he declares that when a husband does not treat his wife with the consideration and respect she deserves, he sins. As a result, his whole prayer life is affected. Men, the reason many of you are not powerful in prayer is because you’ve chosen to be too powerful in the home. Being in control of your own life is the very antithesis of prayer. Prayer requires submission to God’s control. Pride demands that our own will be done. Prayer seeks to know and do the will of God.
One way that you can be considerate of your wife and show her the proper respect she deserves is to pray with her. Praying together with your wife shows her that you consider her your equal. This is crucial, and yet tragically overlooked by many of us, including me.
Paul Tournier, writing in Leadership, says, It is only when a husband and wife pray together before God that they find the secret of true harmony: that the difference in their temperaments, their ideas, and their tastes enriches their home instead of endangering it. There will be no further question of one imposing his will on the other, or of the other giving in for the sake of peace. Instead, they will together seek God’s will, which alone will ensure that each will be fully able to develop his personality …. When each of the marriage partners seeks quietly before God to see his own faults, recognizes his sin, and asks the forgiveness of the other, marital problems are no more. Each learns to speak the other’s language, and to meet him halfway, so to speak. Each holds back those harsh little words which one is apt to utter when one is right, but which are said in order to injure. Most of all, a couple rediscovers complete mutual confidence, because, in meditating in prayer together, they learn to become absolutely honest with each other …. This is the price to be paid if partners very different from each other are to combine their gifts instead of setting them against each other.
Men, you are at the starting line. Forget what has happened in the past. Don’t look behind you. Look ahead at the finish line, where Jesus is waiting. Your goal is to run the race with perseverance and discipline, and to be found faithful at the end. And the greatest testament to your faithfulness will be when you cross that finish line hand-in-hand with your wife and present her to Jesus as His bride.
On your marks! Take your position in your marriage – the spiritual leader of your home. It’s the position God has assigned you and equipped you to fill.
Get set! Plan the strategies for winning the race. Then kneel down and stretch out so that you start the race from a position of humility.
GO! Run! Keep your eyes fixed on Jesus, and run! Be strong. Be courageous. And when you look to your side to see if she’s keeping up, you’ll discover something incredible. You’ll see Jesus running with you, making sure you stay together.