A Powerful Prayer for Your Marriage – A Couple’s Bible Study

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge.” – Ephesians 3:17b-19a

We just ended a year that seems to have been full of defeats for Christianity here in the United States and around the world.

A list by the Associated Press of the top ten news stories of 2015 included the public broadcasting of Christians beheaded on a beach in Libya by ISIS members and the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that led to the legalization of same-sex marriage in all fifty states.

These sounded like defeats for Christians and for marriage. Many people thought so and proclaimed it.

After a mass shooting in San Bernardino, California in December, many people tweeted their sympathy and prayers for those impacted by it. And the media responded with ridicule of these tweets about prayer.

The cover of the December 3, 2015 New York Daily News had a full front page headline proclaiming, “God Isn’t Fixing This.” The paper stated that these people were “cowards” hiding “behind meaningless platitudes” instead of truly wanting to “end gun scourge.” The article went on to say that those who tweeted about praying could do nothing else so they rushed “to offer their useless thoughts and prayers.

I am not writing this to frighten or discourage you about the current state of our nation or world. And I don’t want you to be frightened about the future for your marriage, your children, or anything else.

I only draw attention to it to emphasize our need for God and our need to seek Him through prayer.

What’s the most important thing you can do this year as a couple?

PRAY.

The world may mock us for praying. But I remember what one of my seminary professors said years ago. He said that telling someone in a difficult position “All I can do is pray for you” is like a general of an army saying to the captain of a surrounded platoon of soldiers, “All I can do is send you a battalion of well trained, well armed reinforcements.”

Prayer is not meaningless. Prayer is needed. And prayer is powerful.

So as you begin this new year, commit to pray together as husband and wife. Pray with each other and for each other, constantly and consistently, throughout the coming year.

Prayer is Powerful | Simply One in Marriage.

A Powerful Prayer

We can learn from a prayer the apostle Paul wrote for the church at Ephesus–people he dearly loved. He was in prison at the time, and He heard they were struggling in the midst of a culture not unlike our own. It was a culture filled with ungodly activities, teachings, and temptations.

Paul wrote a letter to the Ephesian church to teach them how to live in a God-pleasing way and to stand strong in doing so. This included one of the most comprehensive instructions from God on marriage, found in Ephesians 5:21-33.

In the midst of this letter, Paul writes a prayer for the Ephesian believers. It serves as an interlude between the theological truths he had taught in Ephesians 1-3 and the practical application he was about to present in Ephesians 4-6. This practical application includes marriage, as we have already pointed out.

We must remember that this is not just any prayer. It is not only a prayer for the Ephesian Christians, though it certainly was for them. It was written by Paul under divine inspiration. It therefore addresses God’s heartfelt desire for all His people, including us who read it today. It is His earnest longing for our marriages.

“For this reason I kneel before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name. I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge—that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God. Now 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 and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.” – Ephesians 3:14-21

Now let’s break this prayer down and see how we can specifically apply it to our marriages. As we learn what God desires for each marriage, we can pray this prayer together as a couple with confidence.

Three Powerful requests

The prayer can be divided nicely into three clear requests. Each request includes the same Greek conjunction, “hina.” This means “so that,” which indicates the reason for each request.

1 – Our marriage should glorify God and serve Him through serving others.

“I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith.” – Ephesians 3:16-17a

God wants to give us strength and power to have marriages that glorify Him and serve Him by serving others. This will only happen when the Holy Spirit–whom God gives us when are saved through faith in Christ–controls our marriage.

Jesus promised us this power when we give our lives to Him. He said in John 14:16-17: “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another advocate to help you and be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.” And later, after His resurrection, Jesus promised in Acts 1:8: “…you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you.”

2 – God wants us to understand just how much He loves us.

“And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the Lord’s holy people, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge.” – Ephesians 3:17b-19a

John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

God’s deep love for us is found in 1 John 4:10: “This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins.”

This desire from God is founded on His first yearning for us because we can only truly understand it through the help of the Holy Spirit living in us. Comprehending this love will allow us to love each other with God’s kind of love.

John says in 1 John 4:19: “We love because he first loved us.” This is the selfless, putting-others-ahead-of-ourselves love that God has for us. It is a love we can only give to others when we have the Holy Spirit living in us. It is the love God calls us to have for each other as husband and wife.

Notice also that we gain an understanding of this love in fellowship with one another. Paul puts it in terms of “together with all the Lord’s holy people” (Ephesians 3:18). This certainly is true in our marriages as well.

We come to fully understand God’s love when we show it to our spouse and when we see His love expressed to us by our spouse.

3 – God wants us to become like Christ.

“…that you may be filled to the measure of all the fullness of God.” – Ephesians 3:19b

The result of God answering the first two requests in the prayer is that then we become Christ-like. When we are filled with the Holy Spirit, and led and empowered by Him, we are then able to love like Him in word and deed. Only then are we filled to the fullness of God.

Is that not our desire? It should be. Only then can we husbands love our wives “just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her” (Ephesians 5:25). Only then can you wives “submit yourselves to your own husbands as you do to the Lord” (Ephesians 5:22). Only then can we all “Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ” (Ephesians 5:21).

When we love and honor each other in this way, only then will we have the marriage God desires for us. Only then can He use us to serve Him and others with His kind of love.

Now we can see why Paul prayed this before writing God’s instructions for marriage in the application section of this letter (Ephesians 5:21-33).

This year, I encourage you to use this prayer as you pray together for your marriage. God wants to strengthen your relationship and help you love each other with the same deep love He has for us.

Next week we will begin a series about our emotions, how they impact our marriages, and what God teaches us about them in His Word.

Questions for Discussion

 

♦     Read the teaching together. Discuss specific ways God spoke to you through it and ways you might apply it to your marriage.

♦     Spend time specifically praying together the three things discussed in the teaching. Pray with the confidence that as we pray God’s Word, He gladly listens and responds.

♦     Pray that God will fill you both with His Spirit and help you understand His truth. Pray that He will empower you to do what He teaches you.

♦     Ask God to help you understand fully His love for you and the whole world. Pray that this understanding will drive you to love each other selflessly, putting each other’s needs ahead of your own. And ask God to show you how together you can be His instrument to show His love to those around you.

♦     Ask God to cast out any fear or apprehension that keeps you from demonstrating this love to each other and those around you. Base your prayer on this promise from God in 1 John 4:18: “There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear.”

♦     Close this time together by asking God to help you make this a year in which you pray for each other and with each other constantly and consistently.

May God bless you in all His wonderful ways,
David

All Scripture is from THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.
Photo by Godsgirl_madi via pixabay (CC0), cropped/text added.
We need God and so do our marriages. This powerful prayer seeks God's help in learning how much He loves us and how we are to love each other. | A Powerful Prayer for Your Marriage - A Couple's Bible Study | Simply One in Marriage.

About David Penley

A devoted husband and father, former pastor and seminary professor, who longs to grow closer to the likeness of Christ each day and share God's love and truth with everyone.