The Marriage Triangle: The Power of Prayer #LoveWins

Please visit TRC to read more of the great articles in this issue!

Devote yourselves to prayer 
with an alert mind and a thankful heart. 

Colossians 4:2, NLT

A couple of weeks ago I went to visit my children who live about two hours away. Before I drove off, Rick and I held hands while he prayed over me. This always makes me feel completely covered by God’s love and care, as well as Rick’s. To me, this is no small thing.

Rick and I also pray together before we leave on a trip, or when we go for a motorcycle ride, asking God to bless us during our travels.

Prayer is so important that Jesus made a point of teaching us how to pray in Matthew 6:9-15, NKJVLet’s talk about different ways we can pray as a married couple.

Let’s first take another look at the Marriage Triangle. If husbands and wives are keeping our eyes focused on Jesus, we will want to pray for His will in our lives. What happens because of that is the more time we each spend focusing on Jesus and His will and plan for both of us, the better and closer our relationship with Jesus will become. And the closer we walk with Jesus, the closer we get to each other. Prayer is an integral part of His plan for us.

Praying together for each other

 Are any of you suffering hardships? You should pray.
Are any of you happy? You should sing praises. 
James 5:13, NLT

I touched on this above. Spouses can pray for each other before they are about to be apart. This doesn’t just mean when one spouse will be traveling and the other one is staying home. How about praying before you each leave for work? Or if the wife works as a stay-at-home mom, her husband can pray for her day with the children as she prays for his day at work.

Is one of you struggling with something in your life? Share it with your spouse so you can pray about it together.

The same holds true when exciting things are happening. Praise God together in prayer. God loves it when we acknowledge the wonderful things He is doing in and through us!

Praying for each other separately

Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other
so that you may be healed.
The earnest prayer of a righteous person

has great power and produces wonderful results.
Elijah was as human as we are,

and yet when he prayed earnestly that no rain would fall,
none fell for three and a half years!
Then, when he prayed again, the sky sent down rain

and the earth began to yield its crops.
James 5:16-18, NLT

Husbands and wives should pray for each other on a daily basis. What great things do you see your husband doing as he seeks to live as the Lord wants him to? It is a nice gesture to let your spouse know how much you appreciate the way they are walking with the Lord, but how about also lifting her up to the Lord in prayer? Thank Him for the blessing of her in your life.

Let’s go back to the idea that your spouse is struggling with something that’s going on in his life. Even though you have both prayed about this together, continue to lift it up to the Lord in your private prayers for him.

He saw that there was no man,
and wondered that there was no intercessor;
therefore His own arm brought salvation for Him;
and His own righteousness, it sustained Him.
Isaiah 59:16, NKJV

Intercessory prayer on behalf of another is an excellent way to seek God’s will for the other person.

“Quite simply, intercessory prayer is the act of praying on behalf of others. The role of mediator in prayer was prevalent in the Old Testament, in the cases of Abraham, Moses, David, Samuel, Hezekiah, Elijah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Daniel. Christ is pictured in the New Testament as the ultimate intercessor, and because of this, all Christian prayer becomes intercession since it is offered to God through and by Christ. Jesus closed the gap between us and God when He died on the cross. Because of Jesus’ mediation, we can now intercede in prayer on behalf of other Christians or for the lost, asking God to grant their requests according to His will.” 1

Praying even when it feels awkward

Pray in the Spirit at all times and on every occasion.
Stay alert and be persistent in your prayers
for all believers everywhere.
Eph 6:18, NLT

I don’t think prayer comes easily to anyone but like most things, the more you pray the more comfortable you become with it. Before you know it, praying becomes second nature to you.

Think of prayer as a conversation between you and God. Talk to Him as if He is right next to you, because He actually is! We cannot see him with our eyes now but we can feel Him in our heart. In fact, the Lord knows what is in your heart but loves to hear you say it to Him. And isn’t that the way marriage is too? We know our spouse loves us but I don’t know anyone who does not like to hear that said out loud.

Pray for specific issues separately and together

When there are big decisions to be made, prayer should always be at the center of those considerations. Pray for what God wants you to do – together as a couple and also separately.

Years ago Rick and I started praying about moving out of California. We didn’t know the when or where of it, but we kept praying about it. During the waiting time, we considered and visited several different places, and northern Arizona seemed to be where God continued to direct us. 

A couple of years later, our prayers were answered as we each finally felt God telling us it was the right time to move. The moving process itself was not easy but we prayed about and followed God’s leading through every step. Almost 13 years later, here we are, still thanking God for planting us in this beautiful area.

If God doesn’t answer your prayers right away, don’t give up! Keep on praying for His direction and timing.

“I don’t know how to pray/I’m not comfortable praying out loud”

Have you ever said or thought this, especially when listening to someone pray a long, moving prayer? Verbal prayer doesn’t come easily to any of us, does it? I still stumble with words when praying aloud as I try to turn my thoughts into prayers.

My initial experience in hearing others pray aloud was at the first Bible study I ever attended. It was a women’s Bible study and there were at least 20 of us seated around a large table. At the end of the study we shared prayer requests. When no further prayer needs were shared, our teacher said she would start us off in prayer and then we could take turns as we felt led to do so.

I listened to one woman after another pray eloquently for some of the needs we had heard, marveling at how easily they expressed themselves. I chose not to pray aloud that day because I couldn’t imagine how to pray like they did. However, a little at a time I learned that each of us has our own way of praying out loud and that we shouldn’t ever feel inadequate about what we’re praying, or for how long ─ or short ─ our prayers are. God hears all of our prayers and appreciates every one of them!

Don’t worry about “proper” prayers!

Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything;
tell God your needs, and don’t forget to thank him for his answers.
If you do this, you will experience God’s peace,

which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand.
His peace will keep your thoughts and your hearts quiet and at rest

as you trust in Christ Jesus.
Philippians 4:6-7, TLB

As you can see, we are not to be anxious about anything, and that includes how we pray. God hears all our prayers, so just pray from your heart and don’t worry about how they sound.

God puts much value in our prayers. If you don’t believe this to be true, check out these passages in the Book of Revelation:

Revelation 5:8: And when he took the scroll, the four living beings and the twenty-four elders fell down before the Lamb. Each one had a harp, and they held gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of God’s people.

Revelation 8:3: Then another angel with a gold incense burner came and stood at the altar. And a great amount of incense was given to him to mix with the prayers of God’s people as an offering on the gold altar before the throne.

Revelation 8:4: The smoke of the incense, mixed with the prayers of God’s holy people, ascended up to God from the altar where the angel had poured them out.

Like almost everything else, our prayer life takes time to develop so don’t give up. Ask the Holy Spirit to guide your prayers. Since God places so much importance on prayer, He will gladly direct you in what to pray about and how to say those prayers.


1 What is Intercessory Prayer?

Thy Will Be Done

A couple of years ago I read John MacArthur’s wonderful book, Alone with God: Rediscovering the Power and Passion of Prayer 1 and learned so much! I was particularly struck by a section in Chapter 6, “Your Will Be Done,” where Dr. MacArthur shares this part of Philip Keller’s A Layman Looks at the Lord’s Prayer

Caution: you will never again sing Change My Heart, Oh God (by Ron Kenoly) without remembering this powerful story.

Author Philip Keller, while visiting in Pakistan, readJeremiah 18:2, which says, “Arise and go down to the potter’s house, and there I shall announce My words to you.” So he and a missionary went to a potter’s house in that city. In his book, A Layman Looks at the Lord’s Prayer, he writes,

In sincerity and earnestness I asked the old master craftsman to show me every step in the creation of a masterpiece …. On his shelves were gleaming goblets, lovely vases, and exquisite bowls of breathtaking beauty.

Then, crooking a bony finger toward me, he led the way to a small, dark, closed shed at the back of his shop. When he opened its rickety door, a repulsive, overpowering stench of decaying matter engulfed me. For a moment I stepped back from the edge of the gaping dark pit in the floor of the shed. “This is where the work begins!” he said, kneeling down beside the black, nauseating hole. With his long, thin arm, he reached down into the darkness. His slim, skilled fingers felt around amid the lumpy clay, searching for a fragment of material exactly suited to his task.

“I add special kinds of grass to the mud,” he remarked. “As it rots and decays, its organic content increases the colloidal quality of the clay. Then it sticks together better.” Finally his knowing hands brought up a lump of dark mud from the horrible pit where the clay had been tramped and mixed for hours by his hard, bony feet.

With tremendous impact the first verses from Psalm 40 came to my heart. In a new and suddenly illuminating way I saw what the psalmist meant when he wrote long ago, “I waited patiently for the Lord, and he inclined unto me, and heard my cry. He brought me up also out of an horrible pit, out of the miry clay.” As carefully as the potter selected his clay, so God used special care in choosing me ….

The great slab of granite, carved from the rough rock of the high Hindu Kush mountains behind his home, whirled quietly. It was operated by a very crude, treadle-like device that was moved by his feet, very much like our antique sewing machines.

As the stone gathered momentum, I was taken in memory toJeremiah 18: 3. “Then I went down to the potter’s house, and, behold, he wrought a work on the wheels.”

But what stood out most before my mind at this point was the fact that beside the potter’s stool, on either side of him, stood two basins of water. Not once did he touch the clay, now spinning swiftly at the center of the wheel, without first dipping his hands in the water. As he began to apply his delicate fingers and smooth palms to the mound of mud, it was always through the medium of the moisture of his hands. And it was fascinating to see how swiftly but surely the clay responded to the pressure applied to it through those moistened hands. Silently, smoothly, the form of a graceful goblet began to take shape beneath those hands. The water was the medium through which the master craftsman’s will and wishes were being transmitted to the clay. His will actually was being done in earth.

For me this was a most moving demonstration of the simple, yet mysterious truth that my Father’s will and wishes are expressed and transmitted to me through the water of His own Word ….

Suddenly, as I watched, to my utter astonishment, I saw the stone stop. Why? I looked closely. The potter removed a small particle of grit from the goblet …. Then just as suddenly the stone stopped again. He removed another hard object ….

Suddenly he stopped the stone again. He pointed disconsolately to a deep, ragged gouge that cut and scarred the goblet’s side. It was ruined beyond repair! In dismay he crushed it down beneath his hands….

“And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter” (Jer. 18:4). Seldom had any lesson come home to me with such tremendous clarity and force. Why was this rare and beautiful masterpiece ruined in the master’s hands? Because he had run into resistance. It was like a thunderclap of truth bursting about me!

Why is my Father’s will – His intention to turn out truly beautiful people – brought to nought again and again? Why, despite His best efforts and endless patience with human beings, do they end up a disaster? Simply because they resist His will.

The sobering, searching, searing question I had to ask myself in the humble surroundings of that simple potter’s shed was this: Am I going to be a piece of fine china or just a finger bowl? Is my life going to be a gorgeous goblet fit to hold the fine wine of God’s very life from which others can drink and be refreshed? Or am I going to be just a crude finger bowl in which passers-by will dabble their fingers briefly then pass on and forget about it? It was one of the most solemn moments in all of my spiritual experiences.

“Father, Thy will be done in earth [in clay], in me, as it is done in heaven.”


1 Copyright © Third Edition, July 1, 2011. Alone With God, John MacArthur Jr. Colorado Springs, CO: David C. Cook.

2 Copyright © 1976. A Layman Looks at the Lord’s Prayer, Philip Keller. Chicago, IL: Moody Press.

Sunday Praise and Worship: Great Are You Lord

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I love the song “Great Are You Lord” by One Sonic Society. No matter where we are, we can always pour out our praise to the Lord through Scripture, prayer and music. 

10 Therefore David blessed the Lord in the presence of all the assembly.
And David said: “Blessed are you, O Lord,
the God of Israel our father, forever and ever.

11 Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power
and the glory and the victory and the majesty,
for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours.
Yours is the kingdom, O Lord,
and you are exalted as head above all.

12 Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all.
In your hand are power and might,
and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all.

13 And now we thank you, our God,
and praise your glorious name.

—1 Chronicles 29:10-13

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Faith vs. fear – what does the Bible say?

Another good one from GotQuestions?

Faith vs. fear –
what does the Bible say?

Answer: Faith and fear cannot exist together. Faith is described in Hebrews 11:1 as being “certain of what we do not see.” It is an absolute belief that God is constantly working behind the scenes in every area of our lives, even when there is no tangible evidence to support that fact. On the other hand, fear, simply stated, is unbelief or weak belief. As unbelief gains the upper hand in our thoughts, fear takes hold of our emotions. Our deliverance from fear and worry is based on faith, which is the very opposite of unbelief. We need to understand that faith is not something that we can produce in ourselves. Faith is a gift (Ephesians 2:8-9) and is described as a fruit (or characteristic) which is produced in our lives by the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22). The Christian’s faith is a confident assurance in a God who loves us, who knows our thoughts and cares about our deepest needs. That faith continues to grow as we study the Bible and learn the attributes of His amazing character. The more we learn about God, the more we can see Him working in our lives and the stronger our faith grows.

A growing faith is what we desire to have and what God desires to produce in us. But how, in day-to-day life, can we develop a faith that conquers our fears?

Read the rest here.

Thankful for God’s Generosity

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It’s been awhile since I shared one of my devotionals that were published in an anthology titled Anytime Prayers for Everyday PeopleSince Thanksgiving is this week, I think this one is particularly appropriate. It is included in the section titled Prayers of Praise and Thanksgiving.

I have so much to be JOYFUL and THANKFUL for. Each day God provides me with exactly enough of everything I need. This year is special to me because He is using a new-to-me medication to keep my migraines away. Since mid-August, I have not had one migraine, and that in itself is cause for much celebration and thanksgiving. 

Beloved, what blessings from God are you especially thankful for today?

When I want to thank God
for His generosity . . .

To him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask
or imagine, according to his power that is at work within us,
to him be glory in the church.
—Ephesians 3:20-21

Generous to a fault,
you [God] lavish your favor on all creatures.
—Psalm 145:16 MSG

All sunshine and sovereign is GOD,
generous in gifts and glory.
He doesn’t scrimp with his traveling companions.
—Psalm 84:11 MSG

Splendor and beauty mark his craft;
His generosity never gives out.
His miracles are his memorial.
 
—Psalm 111:3-4 MSG

. . . I will pray.

Bountiful God,

How can I look at my life and not be thankful for everything You have given me? I’m not referring to material possessions, although I am grateful for all those blessings. I’m thinking of the magnificent ways You help me get through each day.

When I need patience, I reach out to You—and You’re there. When I need courage—I reach out and You’re there. When I need hope, joy, faith—You’re there. You’re always there with all I need to face each day with dignity.

Some people would say that You are generous to a fault! I know You don’t have any faults, Lord, but it’s partly true. You give me so much more than I could ever even imagine, far more than I could ever ask for.

Thank You, Lord, for opening Your generous arms and bestowing on me so many blessings. Thanks for meeting my every need. Show me ways to be generous with others in return. I want to be like You in every way, but especially in this way—I want to be called “generous to a fault” in honor of my heavenly Father.

Amen.

Accustom yourself to the wonderful thought
that God loves you with a tenderness, a generosity,
and an intimacy that surpasses all your dreams.
—Abbe Henri de Tourville


[From Anytime Prayers for Everyday People. Copyright © 2006 Bordon-Winters LLC]

AnytimePrayersForEverydayPeople

The Marriage Triangle: Marriage is Like a Garden #LoveWins

Please visit TRC to read more of the great articles in this issue!

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The Marriage Triangle:
Marriage is Like a Garden

by Anna Popescu

The first marriage took place in Eden, a glorious and beautiful Garden, that was part of God’s creation. God created Adam and placed him in Eden to care for all the trees, plants and flowers. He saw that it wasn’t good for Adam to be alone, so He created all the animals and birds to be his companions, and told Adam to choose a name for each one. But Adam still didn’t have a suitable helper for him.

21 And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam, and he slept;
and He took one of his ribs, and closed up the flesh in its place.

22 Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman,
and He brought her to the man.

23 And Adam said:
“This is now bone of my bones
And flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
because she was taken out of Man.”

24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother
and be joined to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

25 And they were both naked,
the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

Genesis 2:21-25

Initially life was wonderful for Adam and his helper. “And Adam called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living” (Genesis 3:20). The Garden of Eden had everything they could ever need to live an abundant life together.

This is when things get out of hand as the cunning serpent enters the picture. He questions Adam and Eve about the garden, challenging God’s command that they can eat the fruit of every tree except for the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. God had told Adam that if he did eat the fruit from that tree, he would die.

Knowing this, the devious serpent engages Eve (not Adam) in a conversation:

Serpent: 1 “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden’?”

Eve: 2 “We may eat the fruit of the trees of the garden; 3 but of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat it, nor shall you touch it, lest you die.’” [Note that God did not tell Adam he could not touch the fruit of that tree!]

Serpent: 4 “You will not surely die. 5 For God knows that in the day you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

Well, you can imagine how excited Eve was as she heard the serpent’s sly words. Of course, God had not really meant that she and Adam could not eat such luscious fruit!

6 So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food,
that it was pleasant to the eyes,
and a tree desirable to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate.
She also gave to her husband with her, and he ate. 

Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked;
and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves coverings.

And they heard the sound of the Lord God
walking in the garden in the cool of the day,
and Adam and his wife hid themselves from the presence
of the Lord God among the trees of the garden.

Genesis 3:1-8

And that was how sin entered the world. Eve was deceived by the serpent; Adam went along with Eve’s decision. Adam, as God’s first human creation, should have taken the lead to make sure that they obeyed God’s command. Eve was created to be Adam’s helper (ideal partner 1). She should have consulted Adam before making the big decision herself.

God then made three declarations (Genesis 3:15-17):

  • He told the serpent that he was forever cursed to be the lowliest of all creatures and would always have to crawl on his belly.
  • He told Eve that she would give birth with sorrow and great pain, and that she would always be under Adam’s authority.
  • As for Adam, God said that because he listened to Eve about the fruit of the forbidden tree and ate it with her, he would always labor with much difficulty to reap the harvest.

Through this series of events in the Garden of Eden, difficulties entered our lives and our marriages, and that brings me to this question:

How well do you look after your marriage garden?

Husbands and wives, we need to make sure we tend to our marriages as carefully as gardeners watch over their gardens so that weeds don’t have a chance to take over. What weeds am I talking about?

Our marriages will not always be perfect, but we should strive for peace and understanding. Sometimes it is the seemingly little things that begin to irritate us. If we give in to our frustrated emotions, the smaller weeds of discontent begin to take root. That’s when we need to “take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:5). That definitely includes negative thoughts. In other words, we need to pull those newly budding weeds of dissatisfaction before they grow deeper roots.

When we turn our attention and negative thoughts from ourselves
and focus instead on Jesus,
it is easier to see the positive aspects of our spouse.

There can be many weeds in our marriage garden if we allow ourselves to dwell on the negatives. All of us have irritating behaviors. How we choose to react to those annoyances in our spouses will make the difference between a marriage of two people merely existing in the same house to a married couple who share a home by living and serving each other in the love of Christ.

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Marriages, like a garden, take time to grow.
But the harvest is rich unto those
who patiently and tenderly care for the ground.
─Darlene Schacht


1  How was the woman a helper suitable for the man (Genesis 2:18)?

#Faith the Size of a Mustard Seed

Holding a small mustard seed in the palm of a hand.

As long as we have unsolved problems,
unfilled desires, and a mustard seed of faith,
we have all we need for a vibrant prayer life. 

—John Ortberg

Mustard seed faith is sometimes a difficult concept but one that is very important to understand. The mustard seed is one of the smallest seeds found in the Middle East, but that smallest of seeds grows into one of the largest plants. Jesus therefore used this illustration several times to show us that even the tiniest grain of true faith can do very great things.

14 When they came to the crowd, a man came up to Jesus,
falling on his knees before Him and saying,

15 
“Lord, have mercy on my son, for he is a lunatic and is very ill;
for he often falls into the fire and often into the water.

16 
I brought him to Your disciples, and they could not cure him.”

17 
And Jesus answered and said, “You unbelieving and perverted generation,
how long shall I be with you? How long shall I put up with you?
Bring him here to Me.”

18 
And Jesus rebuked him, and the demon came out of him,
and the boy was cured at once.

19 
Then the disciples came to Jesus privately and said,
“Why could we not drive it out?”

20 
And He said to them,
“Because of the littleness of your faith;
for truly I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed,
you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move;
and nothing will be impossible to you.

—Matthew 17:14-20

We see here the central need of faith, without which nothing can happen. When Jesus spoke about removing mountains he was using a phrase which the Jews knew well. A great teacher, who could really expound and interpret scripture and who could explain and resolve difficulties, was regularly known as an uprooter, or even a pulverizer, of mountains. To tear up, to uproot, to pulverize mountains were all regular phrases for removing difficulties. Jesus never meant this to be taken physically and literally. After all, the ordinary man seldom finds any necessity to remove a physical mountain. What he meant was: “If you have faith enough, all difficulties can be solved, and even the hardest task can be accomplished.” Faith in God is the instrument which enables men to remove the hills of difficulty which block their path. —William Barclay

Beloved, having and holding onto true faith is difficult in hard circumstances, but it is possible. In our own physical strength we cannot move mountains. We can’t make something from nothing. We cannot by ourselves change someone’s heart and mind about something. These are under God’s care and control.

What it does mean is that if we rely on the fact that God knows what is best for us, we can rest on the assurance that His ways and means are perfect. And if we believe—have true faith—in that fact, we will be able to pray with a faith that will steadily grow.

Just like that tiny mustard seed.

We will then understand that what we may regard as unanswered prayers are actually part of God’s grand design to mold us into becoming who He wants us to be—completely and absolutely trusting that His ways are best.