Communication is Key

…A house divided against a house falls (Luke 11:17).

 

Everyone has different communication styles. If we want to be effective in our marriage, it is vital to communicate in a way that our spouse can understand and relate with. This is illustrated well by the following story.
 
 
Jack and Ashley began with a good marriage. However, as the years progressed, Ashley found herself becoming increasingly frustrated because she desired to have a weekly date with Jack, but he usually only made time for that every few months after much persistence from Ashley. It wouldn’t have been so bad, but in the evening he normally did a lot of work on the computer, then watched TV and didn’t want to talk during that time. She got only about 10 to 15 minutes of his undivided attention every few nights. Jack also found himself feeling less desire to be with Ashley because she always wanted to discuss problems and he didn’t think they had any, other than wishing she desired intimacy more often.
 
One day Ashley came to Jack and said “Honey, when you watch those car races on TV, why is it that the car driver has a pit crew that changes the tires on their car after so many miles?” Jack responded, “Because the tires would wear out if they didn’t and they would eventually have an accident.” Ashley responded, “I feel kind of like a race car. As the head of my home, you do the best you know how to be a good driver. But I feel like I have to drive on bald tires quite often because my driver rarely gives me a pit stop by having a date with me to keep our relationship going strong.”
 
Jack was surprised by Ashley’s words. He had not realized that regular dates were that important to her. She had told him over and over, but using a different communication method that he could relate with finally drove it home. From that point on, he made an effort to make time for her each week, and he found her desire for intimacy increased as well. 
 
Ashley had decided to stop blaming and start praying for a way to get through to her husband’s heart. Through this, she had come across an important communication technique with men, and an example that her husband could relate with because of his love for auto racing. Word pictures that a person can relate with will often get the point across, just as Jesus used stories to illustrate the truths of God’s kingdom.
 
In the past, Ashley used persistence and nagging to try to get her needs met in their relationship, but it had started to drive her husband away. However, when she realized that she needed to approach communication as Jack being for her rather than against her, she started to communicate effectively. When we approach our spouse as our friend and teammate, reaching for a common goal, we will get our point across in a non-threatening, effective way.
 
Riding home on an airplane one day, we had a wonderful conversation with a businessman sitting next to us. When he found out that we did marriage ministry, he said he had one bit of advice he would like us to give husbands. He went on to tell us that for many years his wife would ask him to have a weekly date so she could have some communication time with him. With their three children, she felt they rarely had any quality conversation together.
 
Even though he loved his wife very much, for years he rarely responded to her request of weekly time alone. If they did go out, he was always looking around the restaurant to see if there was anyone with whom he could make a business connection. Then, with a look of deep appreciation he said, “God somehow finally got through to me and showed me what I was doing to my wife. He helped me see that next to Him, she is the most important person in my life and I needed to start acting like it.”
 
They finally started having a date on the same night each week without fail. Now wherever they go, he has eyes only for his wife. He is no longer looking for business connections and acquaintances and is no longer answering the cell phone or pager during her time with him. He said it has greatly improved their marriage, and his wife is so much happier now. Then, with a look of regret he said, “It isn’t even difficult to take one night out a week for her! I wish I had known sooner how important it was to a marriage.”   
 
Studies show that women have a need to talk at least three times more than men. This need to verbally communicate each day shows why it is so important to a wife that her husband take some time each day to listen to her without doing anything else. It makes a woman feel valued when her husband will just listen. However, it is also important for wives to remember that when a husband gives his wife time, it should not be used to vent all of the problems of the day.
 
When teaching on this topic at a seminar once, a woman from the audience told us the Lord had put it on her heart that the reason He gave her a greater need to speak was so she would edify her husband with those extra words she speaks and meet his need for respect and appreciation.
 

Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it (Matthew 7:13-14).

 

These Scriptures are of course referring to finding the way to eternal life with God in heaven. Yet it is also important to remember that each of our decisions in life also presents us with the choice of God’s way or the world’s way, the narrow gate or the broad way. Our style of communication is one of those daily choices we make. Are we going to communicate God’s way or the world’s way? Are we going to treat our spouse like our friend at all times, or treat them like our enemy some of the time?
 
Once a family member with whom we were visiting for a few days commented that she had been watching us closely to see if we ever gave each other irritated looks. She said “I’ve even been watching you when you didn’t realize anyone else was in the room, and I haven’t found you once looking anything but kindly at each other!” We didn’t realize this was supposedly abnormal for married people. It shouldn’t be. Our spouse should be our best friend, and we should make every effort to make them feel wonderful and accepted when they are around us.
 
It may be the easy thing to just treat a spouse with irritation or frustration after having a challenging day at work. But that is part of the broad gate the Bible talks about that is easy to slip into by the flesh. As believers, we have the Holy Spirit to help us walk in love at all times so we can enter through the narrow gate. Jesus made a better way for us to communicate with each other, which is through His unconditional love. Even if our spouse doesn’t walk in love toward us, we can choose that, as for us, we will live for God and live pleasing to Him. We are accountable to God for our own actions and our spouse is accountable to God for theirs, so as Romans 12:18 says, “…as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men,” and that “men” most definitely includes our spouse and family!
 
We hope this encourages you to always walk in love toward those around you, 
We love you! 
 
Pastors Shaun & Amy

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A Vision with Value

Write the vision and make it plain on tablets, that he may run who reads it (Habakkuk 2:2).

Zig Ziglar once said that when a person has a strong vision and a problem arises, the problem will be like a pebble on the beach they simply kick out of the way. However, if a person has no vision and a problem arises, it will be like a tidal wave washing them into the sea. We have found through working with couples, that this saying is very true. Setbacks and problems are just a pebble on the beach for couples who clearly know their God-given vision together, but for a couple with no clear purpose and plan, problems often seem to become tidal waves. This is most likely why strife in a marriage and lack of a Christ-centered vision often go hand in hand. Without a strong eternal purpose together, believers are often washed into the same tidal wave of marriage disappointment that the world struggles with.
 
It has been recorded that within the first five years of marriage the number one struggle marriages deal with is financial hardship. Although lack of wisdom with finances and lack of self-control in spending are frequent causes for financial hardship, we strongly believe one of the biggest roots to financial problems within marriage is that many couples do not know their God-given purpose for being together, which often results in a focus on things of the world rather than the things of God.
 
In our early years of marriage, we had very little. There was not any extra money for dates, gifts, or extra purchases of any sort. We thank God that as we look back on it, we never had one argument over money. We believe a large reason for this was that our vision together was so strong. We refused to get discouraged by the financial situation we were in because we knew God had a plan for our lives together. We also knew Matthew 6:33 says, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” We trusted God that if we pursued His plan for our life and marriage, He would take care of us and we would experience the goodness the Bible talks about.
 
The Bible encourages us to have a vision and make it plain, so we can run with it. Sometimes couples we encounter have some vision as an individual for their career or maybe parenting, which is good, but more is needed. Unless a couple has a focused, eternal purpose in their relationship together, they often end up just striving after material things as the rest of the world does. However, when a couple has a Christ-centered vision, they are no longer satisfied with the status quo of just going to church on Sundays, reading their Bible on occasion, then living like the rest of the world throughout the week, doing little to nothing of eternal value.
 
God created us as humans with a desire to do something of lasting value and to be a gift to the lives of others. We were created in God’s image, and He does things of eternal value. Therefore we also have an inherent desire to create something meaningful with our lives. Sin has tried its best to corrupt this desire in people, but when a person gives their life to God, the desire for their God-given purpose is renewed in them. Our goal today is to stir up that desire in you if it has been lying dormant or untapped. God has a plan for you to do something to change the world with lasting, eternal impact, not just as an individual but also as a couple.
 
 
How do we create a vision together with lasting value? This first begins with understanding what vision really is. When Habakkuk 2:2 says, “Write the vision and make it plain…,” the Hebrew word used for vision actually means a dream or a revelation that comes from God (Strong’s #2377). So creating our vision together first begins with receiving a revelation or dream in our hearts from God. We can pray and ask God what we are called to do with our spouse.
 
Sometimes people know even as children what they are called to do. God places this in our spirit from the moment we are conceived. The Bible even says, “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you were born I sanctified you; I ordained you a prophet to the nations” (Jeremiah 1:5). This means when He created us, He knew all along what our purpose would be. When we ask God to reveal to us His dream and plan for our life together, we can trust that He will be faithful to show us.
 
Together with our spouse, we can write down each of our gifts and talents and how we believe they are meant to work with our spouse’s gifts and calling. As God reveals His plan for us, we then turn that plan into goals. In Philippians 3:14 Paul states, “I press toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus.” Notice Paul did not say that he pressed toward the prize. He said he pressed toward the goal, which is also translated as “mark” in the King James Version.
 
Paul didn’t aimlessly say, “Boy, I sure hope I’ll get a prize or reward someday for having done something right while I was on the earth!”  No, Paul said he pressed toward a goal. He knew it was a Christ-centered and Christ-directed goal that would please God. God wants each of us in our personal life and marriage to have goals that we plan and attain under His leading, so we can accomplish the purpose for which He placed us on earth. He can also then give us greater eternal rewards when we get to heaven!
 
When we know what God has called us to do, we can make intermediate goals with action plans as a mark to measure our success in moving toward the ultimate goal. Some questions we might ask ourselves are: Do these goals further God’s kingdom? Do our individual goals fit into our ultimate goal as a team in marriage? What do we need to do to prepare ourselves to fulfill each goal? What roadblocks might we need to overcome on the way and how will we overcome them? When do we plan to achieve each goal?
 
Team goals may encompass areas such as financial goals of consistent giving above the tithe to certain ministries each month, having a daily family Bible study time or prayer time together, volunteering together in a certain area of the church, sponsoring children who live in poverty in another country through a trusted ministry, or doing short term missions work together. It is also important to have goals in other areas as well, such as quality marriage time, family time, financial, exercise, and things of this nature. Just remember to keep God first place.
 
We once heard a story about a couple that attended a marriage conference and got a big wake up call. They said the conference speaker mentioned how most Christian couples just want to be financially secure and happy, and then if God is pleased with them, that would be great too. The conference speaker went on to say the trouble with this mindset is that when we make security and happiness our top goals, these things become impossible to attain because we are seeking our own pleasures rather than seeking the kingdom of God first. When this couple analyzed where the majority of their money went and how they spent the majority of their time, they realized they were not seeking the kingdom of God first but, rather, living primarily for personal gain.
 
The couple wrote out new goals and then began to boldly pursue them. They personally and financially began supporting a marriage ministry, a ministry to feed and train the poor, and several pastors. They determined to work with and support the same pastors, churches, and ministries each month, knowing that a consistent, focused effort will produce more lasting results than sporadic involvement. Years later, this couple commented that after they changed their focus from desiring a big house, financial security, and promotion to instead pursuing the furthering of God’s kingdom, all of these former desires had been added to them without their even trying. 
 
This couple is living proof that when we take care of what concerns God, He will take care of what concerns us. God passionately wants to reward you and your family for doing what He has called you to do. He is just looking for avenues through which He can pour out His blessing on you! When we as believers set eternal goals and advance in the steps to His ultimate plan for our lives, this creates wonderful avenues for His goodness to pour out in the greatest measure on our life and the lives of those around us. May you and your spouse passionately pursue and achieve all He has called you to do and may you be rewarded greatly for making an eternal difference in the lives of others!
 
In love,
Shaun & Amy
 

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Praying Together

In Deuteronomy 30:32 we find that through the power of God on the Israelites’ side, one person was able to chase a thousand, and with two people they put ten thousand to flight! We have a covenant right to the same favor the Israelites had and even greater through Jesus Christ our Lord. If we can have the ability to chase ten thousand rather than one thousand spiritually, why would we not take advantage of it?
 
The Bible also says when two or three agree concerning anything it shall be done (see Matthew 18:19-20). A married couple in unity is clearly two in agreement. There is no stronger union between humans than the marriage covenant because it represents our relationship with God. Therefore, the enemy tries to make married couples ignorant of their power in agreement together.
 
We experienced a large challenge in our early years of marriage. There were some inappropriate situations going on at my place of work. Amy and I had discussed that I should start looking for a new job. One day after a situation occurred, I resigned and had to go home to tell Amy I had left my job and we were going to have to move quickly because my work was connected to our housing.
 
As I walked in the door, I wasn’t sure how to give Amy the news, so I just blurted it out, “I resigned from my job and we have to find a new place to live.” To my surprise, Amy got a huge smile on her face and said, “Praise the Lord! It’s about time! Let’s praise the Lord right now for all the great things He is about to do on our behalf.”
 

We praised the Lord with all of our hearts, thanking him for the new job I would soon have and the better home we knew by faith He had already prepared for us. Within one week we found a beautiful new home that was much more than what we had before. Within three weeks I had a new job that paid twice as much! The job also had insurance benefits, which we did not have before, and in addition to all this, they even gave reimbursement for my college tuition! During this situation as well as others, we never became angry at each other nor allowed bitterness to enter, because of our unity through daily prayer and trust that God would continue to keep us in his will.

 

HOW TO PRAY TOGETHER

 

During our prayer time we give God praise for His goodness and we also let our requests be made known to the Lord with thanksgiving (see Philippians 4:6). Daily prayer together should be a time of enjoyment and praise, which builds an atmosphere of peace in the home.
 
There are several suggestions we make for couple prayer time. We advise making time together in the morning if at all possible. Praying together while still snuggled in bed is wonderful because it bonds you spiritually as well as meeting each others need for affection. It will set you both on the same page when you communicate throughout the day, as well as when obstacles may arise.  If morning is not possible, pray together as soon as you can.
 

We also recommend husband and wife each takes turns, going back and forth praying for anything that comes to his or her heart. Some of the things we typically cover in our prayer times are:

 

  • Thanksgiving for what the Lord has done for us and those around us,
  • Positive and uplifting prayers for each others day,
  • Prayer for each other and our children’s protection and wisdom,
  • Prayer for each other’s extended family (parents, siblings, nieces, and nephews),
  • Prayer for those in authority over us: our President, nation, military, and employer,
  • Prayer for our church and the marriages the Lord puts on our heart.

 

There are several things we caution couples of during prayer. First, do not use this as a time to criticize each other. We once had a couple say to us, “This prayer together just doesn’t work.” When we inquired as to why, we found out they ended up fighting every time because they would pray for the other one to grow or change in whatever areas they felt they didn’t measure up. We should leave our prayer time together feeling positive and built-up in the Lord.
 
Second, remember not to criticize each other’s families. Prayer for one another’s extended family should be done with kindness and love. When we pray for family in a positive way, thanking and trusting God to minister to them and meet their needs, we will begin to look at our spouse’s family as our own. We will then see that our spouse loves our extended family as unconditionally as we do, which also builds unity.
 
Third, know that sometimes couples feel awkward when they first begin to pray together. It is just like learning to ride a bicycle when you were a child. Sometimes it was difficult to get up and moving, but you eventually learned to balance and ride smoothly. So it is with unified prayer. Don’t give up! Practice for short periods of time and be patient with one another.
 
As we learn to pray together, we will grow in God’s kind of love. 1 Corinthians 13:5 states, “[Love] does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil…” If we think no evil toward our spouse, then we will be patient as we both grow in our walk with the Lord together. We will choose to believe that they are trying their best and, therefore, we will encourage them when they pray.
 
This is what we were talking about earlier when we compared unified prayer to a tennis doubles team practicing daily. When we make the effort to get ourselves unified in the small things like daily prayer, trials are much easier to overcome when we encounter them.
 
If you and your spouse have had challenges with prayer together, don’t be discouraged! Just start by praising God together each day and thanking Him for the good things He has done in your life and in the lives of those around you. Focus on His goodness.
 
In Love, 
Pastors Shaun & Amy

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We Attract What we Are

Many people are looking for the right person without realizing that they should focus on being the right person. We typically attract what we are. Do you want someone who is educated? You are more likely to find that if you are pursuing growth yourself. Do you want someone who compliments you often? Practice complimenting those close to you several times a day consistently. Most important of all, do you want someone who is committed to God? Then purpose to daily keep your focus on Him.
 
If you haven’t met the right one yet, don’t lose hope! Keep believing. In the meantime, develop yourself. Let that be a lifelong pursuit of all of ours, married or single.
 

The following is a short list of questions we would encourage you to ask yourself while waiting for the right one:

  1. Am I close in my relationship with God? If not, I would be concerned about making a good choice for a spouse. Sadly, we have seen numerous people invest little to no time with God who then marry someone hoping they will be a good spouse. God wants you to seek Him and pray over your future spouse. He can and will help you make the right choice when you stay close to His side and put Him first place consistently (Matt. 6:33).

 

If you have a desperate longing (rather than a healthy desire) to get married, it’s often a sign that you are trying to fill a void that only God can fill. People are notorious for trying to fill the deep need for intimacy with our Creator with other things.

 

Some people think, “If I get married, I will finally be happy and feel loved.” No person is perfect. In reality, the person you marry will not agree with you or please you 100% of the time. They will not always make you happy. Marriage is a union that makes two spiritually and emotionally healthy people even more fulfilled, but it also makes two spiritually and emotionally unhealthy people feel emptier than they did before marriage.   

 

  1. Am I emotionally mature? Are you quick to forgive or do you tend to hold a grudge? Do you take your frustrations out on others by being silent, moody, drinking, cussing, or insulting others? Although a Christ-centered marriage is wonderful, it is not a fairytale. We all have to work on problems, but emotionally mature people learn to work things out without the added drama. This is easier said than done, but it improves with maturity.

 

Are you bothered when you don’t get things your way? Do you become depressed when things don’t work out how you hoped they would? If so, one way to build your emotional stability is to pursue being a more giving person. Purposely place yourself in situations where you have to learn to become selfless rather than selfish. We all have two choices in life: serve self or serve others. Choose daily to serve others and trust God to take care of you. Volunteer and help others who are hurting and less fortunate!

 

  1. Am I financially ready for marriage? Genesis 2:24 admonishes us to leave our father and mother and cleave to our spouse. If you are financially (or emotionally) dependent on your parents after marriage, this will likely be a problem. God gave Adam dominion over plants and animals (a career) when He gave Him a wife. If you are going to have to live with parents after marriage, you’re probably not ready to get married.

 

We strongly encourage you to make sure the one you marry is financially assiduous. If you need help in this area, go through a class such as Dave Ramsey’s Financial Peace University together. Regarding finances, sometimes we’re asked if the wife should work outside of the home. If the wife wants to work, this is the couple’s choice. We understand there are also times when the wife may work and the husband stays home with young children for a season as well. Just remember, if someone is lazy or a poor financial steward before marriage, they will typically be just as much and even more so after marriage.

 

  1. Am I planning for marriage? If you want to be married, plan for the future! Start saving money right now for your honeymoon, even if you haven’t met your future spouse yet. Years ago when Shaun was finishing college, we knew a very gifted doctoral student. Many young women on the college campus admired and swooned after his classic tall, dark, and handsome appearance. He had an amazing voice, with a captivating Spanish accent, a result of being raised by highly respected missionary parents.

 

A friend of his told us that he had been traveling with his parents to other nations for years, and since being a teenager, he had purchased a gift for his future wife in every place he visited. He planned to lavish the gifts on her when they got married. We were told that he had a closet full of gifts saved for her! He met and married a wonderful young woman a couple years later, and she received the blessing of his wonderful foresight. It is much better to be over prepared than under prepared when you meet your dream spouse.

 

  1. If the right one came into my life at this moment, would they be physically attracted to me? It may not be fun to face up to, but this can be a roadblock. We’ve heard people say, “I don’t want to change to attract someone. They need to love me for who I am.” Keeping yourself physically appealing through attractive hair, stylish and modest clothing, and a healthy lifestyle is helpful in the search for the right person.

 

You should continue this after marriage, not just prior to it. We’ve had men tell us that they feel their wife pulled a bait and switch on them. She was physically attractive and dressed nice before marriage, but started overeating, wearing sweats, and rarely wearing makeup after marriage. It really isn’t honest for men or women to make a big effort in their appearance to gain a spouse then let this effort fall to the wayside after marriage.

 

  1. Do I have any addictive behaviors that I need to work through? Obviously people with addictions get married all of the time, so this is not a roadblock to getting married. However, all addictive behaviors will be a hindrance to the health of a marriage in some way, so our recommendation is to deal with these issues now so you can have a strong marriage with minimal barriers. Whether it is pornography, alcohol, drugs, gambling, anorexia, food addiction, or anything else, get help now. When you are single is the very best time to work on getting emotionally healthy.

 

Some of the affairs we have helped people work through have been committed after the cheating spouse had a few drinks. Casually drinking with other people lowered their guard, and they gave into temptation. Many of those who cheated on their spouse without the influence of alcohol had a history of viewing, reading, or listening to some type of pornography.

 

Addictions catch up with us. You may think nobody knows or that you are not hurting anyone, but nothing could be further from the truth. Addictive behaviors are a cover-up for some kind of pain and insecurity in a person’s life. The sooner you seek help, the better off you will be and the better future you can obtain. There are many great books and sources of help to get through addictions.
 
As we mentioned previously, being the right person includes learning to think positively of yourself if you don’t already. Having confidence is vital to building a strong relationship. What you think of yourself right now is evidenced by the type of people you consider for marriage. If you go for confident and secure people, it’s likely a reflection of what you think of yourself.
 
On the contrary, if you date or have interest in people whom you feel obligated to bring up to a higher level, it may be a sign that you have issues yourself. If the majority of your closest friends frequently struggle, or strongly depend on you to feel happy or good about themselves, you most likely have issues of low confidence and insecurity as well.
 
Take a good look at your life. Are you drawn to people who are “need projects” in one way or another? A woman with this issue may be drawn to a man who frequently causes others to say, “No one will ever be able to tame him!” Low confidence also shows up in the form of dating men who don’t treat females with genuine love, honor, and respect.
 
Men with low confidence are often drawn to women who need rescuing. They get to rescue her from all the drama in her life. Needing to be the hero is an especially common trait among men who had an alcoholic parent. They grew up protecting their younger siblings from the alcoholic parent’s behavior. As adults they have a need to find a spouse they can bail out financially or protect in some other way. They look for and attract high-need people rather than healthy people.
 
A truly content person tends to have at least several stable friends. Instead of being a constant need project, they simply enjoy their friends’ companionship, strengthening each other. If the majority of your friends are unstable or if you struggle with emotional issues yourself, find a stable mentor who has a solid marriage or is happily single. With the help of the Word and mentoring, ask God to show you why you have a tendency toward unhealthy relationships. The reason is most likely rooted in insecurity from your earlier years.
 
God wants His Word to renew your mind about who you are and the value you have. Jesus paid everything for you. You are valuable to God. Jeremiah 29:11 tells us, “For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the Lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope.” God wants you to have friends who will strengthen and encourage you and vice versa. Proverbs 27:17 states, “As iron sharpens iron, so a friend sharpens a friend” (NLT). You will become like the people with whom you spend the most time, good or bad. Don’t ever think that you will affect them while they won’t affect you.
 
Sometimes people who were once on a good track with God lower their expectations because they so desperately want to be married. In doing so, they compromise their vision and values. We wholeheartedly agree with ministering to those who hurt, and we value and encourage mentoring those who want positive change. However, dating people with low standards or even maintaining a close friendship with those who compromise integrity will eventually bring you down.
 
Galatians 5:9 warns, “A little leaven leavens the whole lump.” Notice it doesn’t say, “A lot of leaven leavens the whole lump.” In other words, subtle comments and behaviors make a big difference. They will slowly rub off on us while we don’t even notice what is happening.
 
If you choose to hang around friends and coworkers who harbor bitterness or have disdain for the things you value, their attitudes will eventually rub off on you without your conscious knowledge. Rather than becoming sharpened, you could become dulled towards God and His direction over the process of time. Be intentional to invest quality time with people you want to emulate so that their positive behaviors can rub off on you.
 
Make goals for your life and pursue them! Develop a personal growth plan to help you become everything God has called you to be. Rather than investing all of your time looking for the right spouse, make your primary focus to become the right spouse. Then, as you pursue God and personal growth, dare to trust God’s best for you!
 
We love you! 
Pastors Shaun & Amy

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Sowing, Reaping & Prayer

When God created the world, He put into place a spiritual law called the law of sowing and reaping. We will reap what we sow. This law applies to spiritual matters, emotional matters, and physical matters. A farmer sows seed in the ground and eventually reaps a harvest of what he or she planted. A person sows money in the offering to a church or ministry they support, and God sends them increase through multiple avenues. A person sows their time into reading the Bible and reaps the fruit of faith, wisdom, and understanding which directs their life for earthly and eternal good. Let us look at Galatians 6:7-9:

 

Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, that he will also reap. For he who sows to his flesh will of the flesh reap corruption, but he who sows to the Spirit will of the Spirit reap everlasting life. And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.

 

Therefore, when we sow time to the Spirit each day by obeying the Word through practicing and walking in unity, we are building fruit for eternity. This Scripture also encourages us to be diligent about sowing to the Spirit. In other words, don’t practice spiritual unity for a week or two and then forget about it. Strong physical muscles are built steadily and consistently by working out but then must continue to be maintained in order to remain strong. Likewise, strong spiritual unity is built through consistent, daily effort that results in a lifelong bond.
 
We once heard about a study done that showed the divorce rate among couples who pray together regularly is 1 out of every 1,152. This demonstrates great evidence that praying together provides substantial benefit for building and increasing unity. If you and your spouse currently pray alone, why not draw another step closer to God as well as each other by adding unified prayer to build your relationship even stronger.
 
Matthew 6:33 states, “But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” When we give Him first place in our marriage relationship, He will add the other things to us by causing us to reap a harvest of spiritual, emotional, and physical unity. We have found the more years we pray together, the more we grow in the rest of our marriage. We enjoy our relationship more now than when we were first married.
 
Jesus said, “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love one for another” (John 13:35). If we can exercise love at home and walk in peace consistently with those closest to us, the world will see we have love for one another.
 
What a great testimony for unbelievers to see a Christian marriage and home filled with an abundance of love created through spiritual unity. What an excellent testimony it also is for unbelievers to see a marriage healed through a couple turning to God and His Word, building a lasting spiritual bond. As we consistently build marital unity through prayer together, we will find ourselves living in a marital masterpiece more and more.
 
During our prayer time we give God praise for His goodness and we also let our requests be made known to the Lord with thanksgiving (see Philippians 4:6). Daily prayer together should be a time of enjoyment and praise, which builds an atmosphere of peace in the home.
 
There are several suggestions we make for couple prayer time. We advise making time together in the morning if at all possible. Praying together while still snuggled in bed is wonderful because it bonds you spiritually as well as meeting each others need for affection. It will set you both on the same page when you communicate throughout the day, as well as when obstacles may arise.  If morning is not possible, pray together as soon as you can.
 
We also recommend husband and wife each takes turns, going back and forth praying for anything that comes to his or her heart. Some of the things we typically cover in our prayer times are:
 
  • Thanksgiving for what the Lord has done for us and those around us,
  • Positive and uplifting prayers for each others day,
  • Prayer for each other and our children’s protection and wisdom,
  • Prayer for each other’s extended family (parents, siblings, nieces, and nephews),
  • Prayer for those in authority over us: our President, nation, military, and employer,
  • Prayer for our church and the marriages the Lord puts on our heart.

 

There are several things we caution couples of during prayer. First, do not use this as a time to criticize each other. We once had a couple say to us, “This prayer together just doesn’t work.” When we inquired as to why, we found out they ended up fighting every time because they would pray for the other one to grow or change in whatever areas they felt they didn’t measure up. We should leave our prayer time together feeling positive and built-up in the Lord.
 
Second, remember not to criticize each other’s families. Prayer for one another’s extended family should be done with kindness and love. When we pray for family in a positive way, thanking and trusting God to minister to them and meet their needs, we will begin to look at our spouse’s family as our own. We will then see that our spouse loves our extended family as unconditionally as we do, which also builds unity.
 
Third, know that sometimes couples feel awkward when they first begin to pray together. It is just like learning to ride a bicycle when you were a child. Sometimes it was difficult to get up and moving, but you eventually learned to balance and ride smoothly. So it is with unified prayer. Don’t give up! Practice for short periods of time and be patient with one another.
 
As we learn to pray together, we will grow in God’s kind of love. 1 Corinthians 13:5 states, “[Love] does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, thinks no evil…” If we think no evil toward our spouse, then we will be patient as we both grow in our walk with the Lord together. We will choose to believe that they are trying their best and, therefore, we will encourage them when they pray.
 
This is what we were talking about earlier when we compared unified prayer to a tennis doubles team practicing daily. When we make the effort to get ourselves unified in the small things like daily prayer, trials are much easier to overcome when we encounter them.
 
If you and your spouse have had challenges with prayer together, don’t be discouraged! Just start by praising God together each day and thanking Him for the good things He has done in your life and in the lives of those around you.
 
We truly believe this one simple change will make a lasting difference in your marriage! 
 
Be blessed! 
Pastors Shaun & Amy

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