Sunday, June 11, 2017
"On Fire": How to Handle Prayer Concerning 'Him'
"God has no use for the prayers of the people who won’t listen to him."---Proverbs 28:9(Message)
If you're on the devotional list...
Then you know that I talk about marriage, sex and the Sabbath A LOT. Those are my "calling lanes" (Romans 11:29). And, within those messages, something that I sometimes mention to spouses is how it is of the *utmost importance* to adhere to this particular set of biblical instructions:
"Now as to the matters of which you wrote me. It is well [and by that I mean advantageous, expedient, profitable, and wholesome] for a man not to touch a woman [to cohabit with her] but to remain unmarried.
But because of the temptation to impurity and to avoid immorality, let each [man] have his own wife and let each [woman] have her own husband.
The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights (goodwill, kindness, and what is due her as his wife), and likewise the wife to her husband.
For the wife does not have [exclusive] authority and control over her own body, but the husband [has his rights]; likewise also the husband does not have [exclusive] authority and control over his body, but the wife [has her rights].
Do not refuse and deprive and defraud each other [of your due marital rights], except perhaps by mutual consent for a time, so that you may devote yourselves unhindered to prayer. But afterwards resume marital relations, lest Satan tempt you [to sin] through your lack of restraint of sexual desire."---I Corinthians 7:1-5(AMPC)
Sex not taking place in marriage (when two people are physically able) is JUST AS TOXIC as people who have sex when they aren't married (Hebrews 13:4)! Just because it's not stated, that doesn't make it any less so.
And, what we see here, is that the ONLY TIME when it's biblically-permissible to *not* have sex in marriage is when a husband and wife *both agree* to fasting and prayer (as the New King James Version states) or unhindered prayer as the Classic Amplified states.
As far as what the purpose of prayer and fasting are, this article sums it up pretty well:
In Scripture we see several purposes for fasting. It’s part of the discipline of self-control; it’s a way of sharing that we depend on God alone and draw all our strength and resources from him; it’s a way of focusing totally on him when seeking his guidance and help, and of showing that you really are in earnest in your quest; it’s also, at times, an expression of sorrow and deep repentance, something that a person or community will do in order to acknowledge failure before God and seek his mercy.
We tend to think of fasting as going without food. But we can fast from anything. If we love music and decide to miss a concert in order to spend time with God, that is fasting. It is helpful to think of the parallel of human friendship. When friends need to be together, they will cancel all other activities in order to make that possible. There’s nothing magical about fasting. It’s just one way of telling God that your priority at that moment is to be alone with him, sorting out whatever is necessary, and you have canceled the meal, party, concert, or whatever else you had planned to do in order to fulfill that priority.
Amen. I really like the second paragraph because if you're not big on eating or you tend to manipulate fasting as a way to lose weight, you're actually missing the point of doing it at all. Fasting is about sacrificing the flesh; that looks different to different people.
Anyway, usually when I'm dealing with couples who are in dire conditions, the commonality is that they A) are not having sex and/or B) are not having devotionals together and/or C) THEY ARE NOT PRAYING TOGETHER. And fasting? Most look at me like I'm crazy when I even mention that (Matthew 17:20-21)!
Yet look at all of the things praying and fasting does! And when you add to that the following Scripture, it's no wonder that prayer and fasting should be made a TOP PRIORITY: "Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven. For where two or three are gathered together in My name, I am there in the midst of them.” (Matthew 17:19-20--NKJV)
Sex is EXTREMELY godly and intimate...
So is prayer and fasting.
The article "Our Wedding Night Changed Our Marriage" co-signs on this point:
Of all the things we did wrong, there is one thing we did right. I wish I could say I brought it to the marriage, but I didn’t. Nancy did.
Let me paint a picture for you.
On our wedding night after we left the reception and finally made it to our hotel room, Nancy made a request of me that God has used in our marriage since that day.
As we got ready for bed, Nancy went into the bathroom to change. I changed in about 30 seconds and waited for her sitting on the side of the bed. An eternity later, she emerged from the bathroom looking like an angel. She walked over to me, took my hand, sat beside me on the bed, looked into my eyes and said, “We need to pray.”
In case you were wondering, that was the last thing I thought my new bride would say to me in that moment. But the real surprise was that I looked her back in the eyes and said, “OK.”
We knelt by the bed in our hotel room, held hands and prayed a prayer we both knew and were comfortable praying together: The Lord’s Prayer.
Since that first night many years ago, we have prayed together almost every day. Through all the ups and downs of life and marriage, praying together daily is the glue God has used over and over to keep us close to Him.
In fact, while in the grocery store today, I "ran into" (Proverbs 16:33--AMPC) an older married couple who were so cute that I got why the Holy Spirit wanted me to talk to them. They've been married (whew!) 69 years and when I told them I was a marriage life coach and loved seeing people like them, the wife smiled and casually said, "We just talked to Jesus a little while ago."
Random? I think not.
So, what does this have today's post?
A HUGE MISTAKE that singles make is 1) acting married before they actually are and/or 2) not praying nearly enough for their future spouse and about their future marriage. Yet there is another article that I checked out that brings up some pretty stellar points about how to do that *responsibly* (Galatians 6:5--Message).
The article "3 Cautions Before You Start Praying Together" shares these awesome points (excerpts):
I don’t think there is anything wrong with quick prayers over meals or in public. What I’m talking about in this post is couples that spend long periods of time praying together alone.
If you are in a newer dating relationship, here are some cautions to think through before you start praying together alone for long periods of time.
Praying together can build spiritual intimacy before your relationship is ready.
Praying with someone you are dating can be a powerful way of building spiritual intimacy. After praying together alone, many couples will feel a deeper connection to each other. Early on in a relationship this could make a couple feel like they have a deeper connection than they really do.
For the same reasons couples should avoid physical intimacy before the right time, they should avoid spiritual intimacy. It can muddy the waters and lead you to see the wrong things in each other at the wrong times.
Praying together can be used to deceive, manipulate and even woo.
Is your prayer life the same in public and private? Hopefully so. But for many Christians it can be a struggle to keep a regular private prayer time. This is a hard truth, but God is more interested in our real, authentic relationship with Him than how well we’ve learned to keep up appearances. And at the risk of sounding like Judgy McJudgerson, let me warn that some people use the trappings of spiritual depth to win a person’s heart.
Beware of people who seem to be proud or boastful about their own spiritual life. They may be showing you what they think you want to see.
A person’s private prayer life is much more important than their public prayer life.
Like children eager to do adult things, sometimes in relationships we feel like we are ready for more before we are. We sometimes need wisdom and counsel from others to determine what we are ready for. We simply can’t trust ourselves to make decisions in a vacuum.
I recommend saving prayer together until later in the relationship. Let your spiritual intimacy from praying together grow with your relationship, not be the reason your relationship grows. Praying together could build spiritual intimacy before you’ve had a chance to determine if this is a person you want to build that intimacy with.
Prayer is precious. It's sacred. And, it's *extremely intimate*.
If you are beyond just getting to know someone and YOU BOTH are interesting in cultivating a long-term future together, when should you start praying together? Like *seriously praying together*? I discern when YOU BOTH receive confirmation from the Lord that it is within *his will* that you be together (I John 5:14-15, James 1:14-15). When YOU'RE BOTH putting forth the *intentional effort* to build a future TOGETHER (translation: when he mentions wanting to be with you in the way that you want to be with him), praying together should be a part of the foundation.
Yet *before* then?
Intimacy, in this manner, doesn't need to be created *with* him...
It needs to be strengthened between you and God *concerning* him.
The author of the prayer caution article is so right that so many people can use prayer as a way to manipulate. Real talk? There are people who struggle enough doing that by praying to God period let alone praying with someone they are attracted to!
As a single woman, as it relates to your future beloved, you need to use your time of prayer to:
Seek God concerning his will for your life
Ponder how "he" fits into your purpose/destiny (or not)
Ask God for revelation about if "he" is a part of it (or not)
Petition him for wisdom about the Lord's divine timing
Desire strength to let "him" go if he's not God's will for you
See, a part of the beauty of being single (and there is A LOT of it!) is that intimacy with God can grow in an uninterrupted way. We can devote this time to hearing from God about what he wants for you *and you alone*. That way, you can discern things better (I Corinthians 2:14)...once "he"---and the counterfeits (Matthew 24:4)---comes along!
So, don't choose to see this as a time of being lonely...
See it instead as an opportunity to strengthen your relationship with God...
So that you can know how GOD wants your spiritual intimacy to look like with your FUTURE MAN.
Pray *for* "him"...
Even fast as led...
Yet be *extremely cautious* about the intimacy of praying *with* "him".
United prayer between a man and a woman is very special...
Only GOD'S CHOSEN MAN for you is truly worthy.
And you'll know that by hearing from GOD first...
His Purpose, His Presence, His Peace...