Grow Towards Spiritual Intimacy in Your Marriage
- Thursday, July 26, 2007
Editor's Note: This is Part II of a two-part series on spiritual intimacy in marriage. To read Part I, click here.
As I have mentioned, intentionality is the key. There isn't anyone reading this that would not begin with a plan if he or she was starting a business. Yet most couples not only do not have a plan to grow together toward spiritual intimacy ... they don't even talk about it. Often it is a back-burner topic at best.
Yet when I discuss this topic in conferences or on my radio program, many people say with almost a far-off yearning look, “I wish my spouse and I were closer spiritually.” It’s not going to happen without a plan. To quote one of my favorite movies, What About Bob?, it will best be done with “baby steps.” It is very rare for a relationship to move from lacking spiritually to strong growth overnight. It takes nurturing and pruning over time to have a beautiful garden; in the same way, it takes time and careful cultivation to grow toward spiritual intimacy. And it won’t happen by osmosis. It will happen when one or both of the spouses start by planting the seeds of spiritual growth.
You can start the process by praying daily for your spouse and your relationship. Paul’s advice to Timothy was to “discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness” (1 Timothy 4:7). I’m not talking about hours of prayer, but simply a daily time (however short) to pray for your spouse. Give your relationship to God. Pray for your spouse’s needs and seek God’s will for how you can serve your spouse. Even this one simple act of daily disciplined prayer for your spouse will make a difference. As you pray, look for an opportunity to create a plan. The old adage “Fail to plan, plan to fail” is so true when couples desire to experience spiritual growth together.
If your spouse is open to it, pray together daily. If your spouse is not very spiritually motivated, then keep prayer very short and do it at a meal or another time that seems less intimidating. I know one couple who started praying together every day with the wife simply saying, “God, thank you for our food. Thank you for the children. Thank you so much for Jack. Help us to be a God-honoring couple and family. Amen.”
One day, after months of that prayer, Jack said, “Let me pray, too.” He said, “God, I’m not much of a pray-er but I agree with Janet, and thanks for Janet’s heart for you. Amen, again!” After a while the kids got involved too. After a year Jack and Janet were feeling more comfortable praying together.
Our pastor made an amazing statement one day in church. He said, “I have never seen one couple go through with a divorce after praying together, on their knees, every day for a month.” Praying together is the glue that binds our hearts together and focuses us on God’s power in our marriage and family. The mistake some couples make is that they start with goals that are too high, and they expect too much too soon. Praying together is a bit like going to the gym. We may be excited about getting started on a physical fitness program, but the long-lasting results happen only after time and discipline.
The Swiss psychiatrist Dr. Paul Tournier wrote,
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. When each of the marriage partners seeks quietly before God to see his own faults, recognizes his sin, and asks for the forgiveness of the other, marital problems are no more. 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.
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