Prayer is a vital part of our walk with God, and, therefore, a vital part of our marriage. It’s one important way we submit ourselves and our marriage to Him. And it has a powerful effect on our lives.
Prayer says to God that we understand we are totally dependent on Him. And that we fully believe what Jesus said in John 15:5: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
H.B. Charles in his book, It Happens After Prayer, writes: “Prayer is arguably the most objective measurement of our dependence upon God. Think of it this way. The things you pray about are the things you trust God to handle. The things you neglect to pray about are the things you trust you can handle on your own.”
Prayer is a way to make certain we remain in Christ so that He fully works in and through us.
Let’s look at some elements that God’s Word says are essential in our prayers. These will pave the way for God’s power to have a profound effect on our lives and marriage.
What are the Essential Elements of Powerful Prayers?
One key passage to study on prayer is Psalm 66:16-20: “Come and hear, all you who fear God; let me tell you what he has done for me. 17 I cried out to him with my mouth; his praise was on my tongue. 18 If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened; 19 but God has surely listened and has heard my prayer. 20 Praise be to God, who has not rejected my prayer or withheld his love from me!”
The psalmist says in Psalm 66:17: “…his praise was on my tongue.” And in verse 20: “Praise be to God.”
Jesus taught His disciples how to pray, using a model prayer, in Matthew 6:9–13. He begins with: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.”
Praising God does several key things in our life and marriage. It helps us keep our focus where it should be—on God and not ourselves. When our focus is on ourselves, it always leads to disaster. But a focus on God keeps us headed in the right direction.
Praising God also helps us remember the truths about who God is–truths found in His Word. For example, Psalm 136:1 says: “Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good. His love endures forever.” Remembering God is good, He is love, He loves us and only wants what is best for us helps us love Him more and trust Him more each day.
Honestly Confess Sin
The second truth we learn from Psalm 66 about prayer is that we must confess our sin to Him.
The psalmist writes in verse 18: “If I had cherished sin in my heart, the Lord would not have listened.”
Jesus also spoke to the need for confession in his model prayer, as He said: “And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors” (Matthew 6:12).
Honesty is critical here. We must never try to hide something from God. This type of dishonesty is exactly what David expressed when he wrote about trying to hide his sin in Psalm 32:3-4: “When I kept silent, my bones wasted away through my groaning all day long. 4 For day and night your hand was heavy on me; my strength was sapped as in the heat of summer.”
But read what David said happened when he finally confessed his sin to God: “Then I acknowledged my sin to you and did not cover up my iniquity. I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the Lord.’ And you forgave the guilt of my sin” (Psalm 32:5).
This forgiveness is what we are promised throughout God’s Word. We read in 1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.”
Honest confession is the only way to make sure we have a right relationship with God. It is the only way to make certain God hears us. When we confess our sins, we are then able to hear God clearly so we will pray according to His will: “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. 15 And if we know that he hears us—whatever we ask—we know that we have what we asked of him.” (1 John 5:14-15).
God’s Word also says we must honestly confess our sins to each other as a couple. James 5:16 says: “Therefore 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.”
Yes, honesty with God and our spouse is essential to a right and growing relationship with both.
David states this clearly in Psalm 32:1-2: “Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. 2 Blessed is the one whose sin the Lord does not count against them and in whose spirit is no deceit.”
Honesty with God and each other will bring forgiveness, and our sins will be covered–not by our deceit, but by God Himself (see Psalm 32:1 above).
When we are honest with God as we pray together in our marriage, we will have the same results that David did. He writes in Psalm 32:6-8: “Therefore let all the faithful pray to you while you may be found; surely the rising of the mighty waters will not reach them. 7 You are my hiding place; you will protect me from trouble and surround me with songs of deliverance. 8 I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you with my loving eye on you.”
Ask for God’s Help
The third aspect of prayer that God’s Word teaches us to practice is to admit our need for God’s help in every area of our lives and ask Him to help us.
We should regularly bring to mind Jesus’ words in John 15:5: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
But we must also remember and pray the truth of Philippians 4:13: “I can do all this through him who gives me strength.”
As we take these truths to heart, we will begin to seek God’s help with everything in our lives.
Jesus’ model prayer includes these requests: “‘…your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. 11 Give us today our daily bread’” (Matthew 6:10-11).
Notice that this includes prayer for our spiritual needs–for us to do God’s will. And it also includes prayer for our physical needs–“our daily bread.”
As we can see, God is concerned about every aspect of our lives and marriage. He wants us to come to Him in prayer. And He will answer us.
As we surrender our lives to God in prayer each day—throughout the day—God will bless our marriage in powerful ways we can only begin to imagine.
QUESTIONS FOR DISCUSSION
♦ Read this week’s teaching together. What is God teaching you through it? How will it impact your lives and marriage?
♦ You need to have a regular time together at least once a week when you study Gods Word and pray together. If you need some help getting started on this, Sabra and I have developed a tool we call Couple Connect. We have a free ebook you can download here: Couple Connect – A Simple Weekly Plan to Stay Close for a Lifetime. It includes a worksheet to help you customize your own weekly time with each other.
♦ Praise God together as a couple. You can do this in a number of ways. You can simply pray as the Holy Spirit leads. You can use Scripture such as psalms of praise to read together. You can use songs and hymns to read and/or sing together. You don’t have to be musical or sing well. I guarantee you that God will love it. And that’s who it is for, isn’t it?
♦ What things do you need to confess to God and to one another? Remember, you must do this if you want the relationship with Him and with each other that He desires, and that I hope you want. Remember also that God is pleased to forgive you and help you as you confess your sin and seek His help.
♦ Close your time by praying together. Ask God to provide whatever you may need – spiritually, emotionally, and physically. Remember that that He wants us and tells us to do this. He’s just waiting on us to seek Him and His help.
Next week we will discuss how to make certain our lives and marriage are totally surrendered to God.
Until then, may God bless you in all His wonderful ways,
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