When Prayers Are Hindered – 1 Peter 3:7

The Best, Sure-Fire Way For A Husband To Hinder His Prayers Is…

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.

Doctorate Degree

Peter counsels men to live with their wives as a family, not as a “tyrant” or “lord of the universe”.  Many men believe that because they are the head of the household, that they are the “dictator-in-chief”.  But God says:

Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Rather than taking on the role of “overlord of the galaxy”, men are to love their wives as Christ loved the church.  He DIED for her:

Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her

Men should learn their wives, studying them like a student in post-graduate studies takes the time to learn their subject so well that they are eventually awarded a Doctorate Degree.  In the same way, men should study their wives and know them so well that they know just about everything about her.  If you know your wife, you will be better prepared to understand how she will respond to any set of circumstances, and know her likes/dislikes, hot-buttons (the things that trigger a strong, emotional response that should be avoided at ALL costs), and everything else that she responds to.

In other words, live with her in an amicable way, showing deference to her preference whenever possible…

Radical Respect

Do you like to be treated with respect?  What man doesn’t?  If men want to be respected by their wives, should they not respect their wives as well?  How does a man respect his wife?  He lays down his life for her:

Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

For a man to respect his wife, he must love his wife.  Not the way that he thinks of love, but how she thinks of love.  That’s why men must put in the time and effort to get their Doctorate Degree in their wives.  In order to love your wife, you must first understand how she perceives love.

To be sure, romance novels, television, and culture portrays this version of love in such a way that the man somehow has mental telepathy and is able to discern out of thin air the very thoughts of the woman of his affection and then responds with lavish gifts grand entries, always dressed just right,and always saying just the right words to give her that feeling that she is intimately known and cherished.  Good luck with that.  While ideal, the Bible says:

For who knows a person’s thoughts except their own spirit within them? In the same way no one knows the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.

But that doesn’t mean that a person isn’t able to reasonably guess if they understand how to interpret the clues…  (Ladies, this is a HINT:  Don’t be coy:  Yes means yes, and No means no.  Mixed signals may seem like a good idea to test whether a man truly knows their woman, but is God ever deceitful* to test us?)

Holy Heir

Women are heirs with men in the kingdom of God.  They are to be treated as the weaker vessel, not as inferior.  Silk is strong, soft, luxurious, and great for making sheets, shirts, and other items.  Steel is strong, hard, durable, and bright.  However, most people would never consider wearing steel wire braided into cloth for underwear (except as body armor, and only with something a little more soft underneath that…).  In the same way, silk, although strong (spider silk is at least as strong as steel cable in the same diameter…), is not as durable.  Femininity (not militant feminism, as defined in culture) is to be treasured for its soft, supple, warm embrace.  To despise it because it is “weaker” is foolish.

Gracious Gift

God has given His gracious gift of salvation to both men and women, and makes not distinction of separation between them (with regards to respect, for God is not a respecter of persons):

There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

Since God has done this, should men not treat women as equal but different?

Powerful Prayers

And here is the consequence.  For men who are married, do not expect that God will listen to your prayers if you are not “being considerate as you live with your wife.”  God will not tolerate a man who professes that he knows God, and then treats his wife in a disrespectful, unloving way.  That is the surest way to slam close the doors of heaven for prayer.

Husbands, if your prayers seem to be hitting the ceiling and bouncing right back down, consider that you may need to re-evaluate your relationship with your wife.

Wives, if your husband is trying to reconcile and show you love, will you forever despise him for his mistakes, never forgiving him for his errors?   Will you spurn him to punish him because you are hurt?  Do you want his prayers to be answered by God (what if he is praying for you…)?  If so let God work in him to change him, and take it upon yourself to help your husband to know you better.  Men are terrible guessers.  Be direct; it may not feel romantic, but it certainly will help your husband to better understand your needs.  (And remember – just because every other woman in the UNIVERSE can understand your needs and desires merely by the way that you ask questions with nuance doesn’t mean that your husband has the God-given ability to discern these things [even if the men riding in shining armor on horses in books and movies appear to be able to do so]…)  Also remember, once your husband starts to submit to you and love you like Christ loves the church, God will answer his prayers, especially if they are to reconcile you to him

A Qualifying Question

Husbands, let’s ask a question:  Am I loving my wife as Christ loved the church?

Wives, let’s ask a question: Am I communicating my needs and desires clearly and concisely in such a way that my husband will be able to  clearly understand them?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You have made men and women different yet equal.  Each have a unique perspective with strengths and weaknesses.  Help me, Father, to fulfill my role in every relationship in a way that shows both love and respect.  Help me to submit to one another in Christ, displaying before the world the peace and servant’s heart that Jesus Christ displayed when he washed the disciples’ feet.  Show me how to better serve and communicate with my family, and the family of the church body.  Help remove any stronghold of thought that the world, the flesh, or the devil has placed in my head and heart that has taken root that may be hindering my relationships with others.  Help me to put Your love on display for all to see.  This I ask in Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?


Notes: This blog has been edited for spell errors and clarity

*Here is a hypothetical situation in the form of a conversation:

Wife: Do you feel like eating out tonight?

(What she REALLY means: “I have had a tough day.  The last thing that I want to do is slave over a hot stove for the next hour or so in order that we can have a morsel of food.  Why don’t we get out and have a romantic night on the town?  I’m going to play the Romantic Guessing Game with you now.  Be on guard – you are being TESTED!  And you better pass if you want me to be affectionate with you later…”)

Husband (response 1):  Not really

(What he REALLY means: “I had a long day at work.  The last thing that I want to do is go home, shower, drive for an hour, wait for an hour, then eat at a restaurant that is over-priced with so many people talking and distractions everywhere…   All I want to do is go home and relax my brain…”)

Husband (response 2): Sure, where would you like to go?

(What he REALLY means: “Sure.  Where would YOU like to go?” BTW, most men won’t turn down the opportunity to eat at a restaurant unless there is something dire going on in their life that is sucking the very life out of them, or they are financially destitute at the time…)

Wife: Oh, anywhere will be fine.

(What she REALLY means: “You know perfectly well where I like to eat.  Pick the romantic restaurant with flowers, music, entertainment, and coziness that I have already picked out in my mind, [restaurant q], so that I can feel loved and appreciated by you.”)

Husband:  OK, how about [restaurant x]?

(What he REALLY means: “OK, how about [restaurant x]? [Wow!  She is letting me pick!  How very gracious of her!]”)

Wife: No, I don’t really want to go there

(What she REALLY means: “OK, it’s time to flex those romantic muscles.  Think REALLY hard, and empathically sense which restaurant I have already picked out in my mind, because we are so emotionally tuned together, and I know you will be able to guess it right because YOU LOVE ME SO MUCH…”)

Husband:  Uh, OK. How about [restaurant y]?

(What he REALLY means: “Uh, OK.  How about [restaurant y]?”)

Wife: (sounding a little dejected) No, I really don’t want to go there.

(What she REALLY means: “I can’t believe you didn’t empathically guess right!  Maybe we aren’t as emotionally close as I thought we were…  I’ll give you another try [deep sigh…]”)

Husband:  All right.  How about [restaurant z]?

(What he REALLY means: “How about [restaurant z]?”

Wife: (Sounding depressed) Never mind.  Let’s just whip something up here at home.

(What she REALLY means: “How could he be such an unfeeling oaf?  Could I have been ANY MORE OBVIOUS that I wanted to go to [restaurant q]?  Does he even know ANYTHING about me?  He NEVER picks the right restaurant when we play Romantic Guessing Game.  He must not really care about me.  I guess I’ll just be the dutiful wife and slave over the oven to feed him, the unromantic buffoon…”)

A better way this conversation could have gone…

Wife: I have had a tough day today.  I would really like to get dressed up and go the that nice, fancy restaurant, you know, [restaurant q].  That would really make me feel loved and appreciated.

(What she REALLY means: “I have had a tough day today.  I would really like to get dressed up and go the that nice, fancy restaurant, you know, [restaurant q].  That would really make me feel loved and appreciated.”)

Husband: Gorgeous, I love you so much!  Of course that would be fine with me!  Let me get showered, shaved, and spruced up for you, my beautiful buttercup!  AS YOU WISH

(What he really means: “I love you so much that I will offer my body as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God as my spiritual act of worship.  You have shown me your preferences, and given me a deeper understanding into your heart, which I am trying to learn and discern as part of my Doctorate Degree training that I am deeply engaged with you.  Now that I know exactly what you want, I can act on that and make it happen, for I know that it will bring great joy to you, even if I am tired and exhausted.  I want to submit to you, and am willing to make the necessary sacrifices to ensure that you feel loved by me.  I look forward to meeting your emotional, relational, and physical needs as you reveal them to me clearly.  Thank you so very much for letting me know!”)

 

 

Family Living by God – Ephesians 5:25-33

Husbands Have Great Responsibility

25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her 26 to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the word, 27 and to present her to himself as a radiant church, without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless. 28 In this same way, husbands ought to love their wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. 29 After all, no one ever hated their own body, but they feed and care for their body, just as Christ does the church— 30 for we are members of his body. 31 “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.” 32 This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church. 33 However, each one of you also must love his wife as he loves himself, and the wife must respect her husband.

Lavishing Love

Christ poured out His love for the church by devoting His life to it.  He gave His life up for her in that He allowed Himself to be crucified on the cross for her.  Jesus poured out His life in ministry through teaching, healing, and preparing the disciples in what we would call “training the trainer” lessons.  In all of this He gave up any desires that He had for His own life, and devoted Himself to preparing and helping the disciples to be effective in their ministry.

In the same way, husbands are to lay down their lives, goals, ambitions, dreams, and whatever is part of self to devote himself to his wife.  Yes, husbands need to work (all Christians should be in some sort of labor, whether it is in the workplace, or in the home.  Anyone who says that working in the home is easy hasn’t really tried it by giving their full devotion to it…), but they should be doing their very best to ensure the success of their wives in what they are doing.

If you want to see your wife put a smile on her face, watch what happens when she realizes that you are devoting yourself to her success.  She thrives on love.  Study her to see what makes her feel most connected to you and emotionally engaged.  Then,give her so much of it that she is bursting!

Proper Preparation

All of God’s people are called the bride of Christ.  His job was to make us holy.  He did that through His death, burial, and resurrection, offering His sinless blood for our sins, His righteousness for our shame. He washed us through the living water that springs out of the Word of God.  He transforms our minds as we read the Word of God.

In the same way, husbands are to prepare their wives as well, being the spiritual leader of the organization that is the family unit.  Husbands do that through love.  When husbands love their wives, their wives are more open to their leading.  The only way that this will successfully occur is if their wives feel loved (emotionally engaged and connected).

Consider the Context

Husbands are to take into consideration that it would be hypocritical to love their wives less than they love themselves.  When the two became one flesh, this does not only mean physical intimacy, but also spiritual intimacy and oneness.  It is a unity of minds, direction, purpose, and intent.  Selfishness – the deficiency of showing love to others – is unthinkable in this context.

The husband now should put as much care and maintenance into helping his wife as he does himself.  Without that, there is an imbalance in the relationship that is like driving a car with one front wheel out of alignment.  As you try to drive straight ahead, the car will pull to the side that is out of alignment.  In order to go anywhere fast and safely, that wheel has to be put back into alignment so that both front tires are working together in unison for the purpose and direction they are instructed to go by the person behind the wheel.  And the person behind the wheel should be Jesus Christ if both spouses are Christians.

Husbands need to remind themselves that it is just as important to see to the needs of their wives as it is to see to their own needs.  The only way that this can happen on a regular basis and in an appropriate way is for husbands to die to themselves, pick up their cross, and follow Christ.  Following means walking alongside shoulder to shoulder, step for step.  And how did/does Christ love His bride?

Total Togetherness

And the two shall become one flesh.  This is an amazing thing.  Two people who have different backgrounds, interests, likes and dislikes, habits, ways of thinking, and physical needs, come together for the purpose of changing, unifying, and sanctification.  They begin to change from the mental state of taking care of self to taking care of another.  They morph from two separate identities into a more singular identity, where they consider themselves extensions of each other.  The process can become so complete that they even begin to look like each other – their facial expressions become nearly identical, they may even wear the same color clothing when they go out, they smile the same way, they become a singular unit in a singular purpose in a singular direction.  That is very powerful.

Mighty Mystery

What a delightful thing!  That the family – the relationship between husband and wife – is to be considered a reflection between Jesus Christ and the church, His bride.  Paul takes the opportunity to remind us that the relationship between husband and wife is indicative of the relationship between Christ and the church.  We can draw many parallels, but in the spiritual realm, there is this melding as the bride is drawn out of her shell and begins to fully blossom as a beautiful flower as love is poured into her and she draws close to him.  She becomes confident and strengthened, emboldened by the support of her husband.  As love is poured into her, her fears diminish, she is overwhelmed with security, and love begins to overflow out of her heart.  It blesses everyone that she meets as they are the recipient of that magnified love.

Delight and Deference

Oh, the key to every successful marriage! L O V E and R E S P E C T.

  • Husbands need to feel RESPECTED
    • When a husband feels respected, he draws out of his shell and performs to the best of his ability.  His internal need – respect – is fulfilled, and he is able to perform and respond in the maximum capacity that God has provided to him. He will be able to engage his wife emotionally, and he will feel that he is able to open up to her more.
    • When a husband does not feel respected, he will withdraw, and may not be able to engage emotionally.  His thought process may be, “Why should I open myself up emotionally and be vulnerable if all I hear is criticism?”  Since he longs to be respected, he may even pour all of his time into whatever activity provides that (usually his job, where he is respected by his peers and superiors).  If he then encounters a woman who is respectful, compliments him on his prowess at work, and lets him know he is doing well – not criticizing him – he may be at great risk for moral failure.
    • Wives, do you want your husbands to open up to you and engage you at every level in every aspect of your life?  Show your husband respect, whether or not YOU feel he deserves it.
  • Wives need to feel LOVED
    • When a wife feels loved (even if husbands are loving her to death from their perspective, unless she FEELS it, it really isn’t going to have any effect…) she will begin to come out of her shell.  She will engage her husband, and be able to show him the respect that he greatly desires.  She will be more forgiving, smile more, do more – even desire to please him – and be better prepared to engage her husband physically.
    • When a wife does not feel loved, she will withdraw, and will not be able to engage physically.  Since she longs to be loved (feel emotionally connected), she will be like a flower that hasn’t been watered, and is drying up.  If another man begins to water that flower – engage her in conversation, compliment her, say and do things that lift her spirits and engages her emotionally – she may be at great risk for moral failure.
    • Husbands, do you want your wives to open up to you and engage you in every aspect of your life?  Ensure that your wife feels loved, whether she deserves it or not.
  • The negative cycle where men feel disrespected and women feel unloved can be broken by just one person making the decision to act counter to how they feel.  Someone has to start.  It might as well be you!

A Qualifying Question

For husbands, let’s ask the question:  Are we loving our wives as Christ loves the church?

A short prayer of preparation:

Father in Heaven, You are perfect in all of Your ways.  Everything that you do is righteous, and You can do no evil.  Help me to better understand Your plan and purpose for marriage.  You have declared me to be Jesus Christ’s bride, and You pour out Your love on me all the time.  Your mercies renew every morning.  You never leave me nor forsake me.  I am more than a conqueror through Christ Jesus.  I have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ.  Help me to truly understand all of these things, and to comprehend the depth and width and height of the love that You have for me.  Help me to show your love to others, especially in my family.  Guard and guide me in this that I may reflect Your love and my responsibilities in the role that You have called me.  This I ask in the precious name of Jesus Christ, Amen.

Want more?  Why not try A. B. Simpson or A. W. Tozer?