It was good for me to take a week off of blogging to let my brain and fingers rest, to pray and listen and consider what will be chiseled out on the screens of Come Have a Peace this year. I admit feeling a little nervous starting a new year. I don't take the opportunity lightly to take a seat beside you and share. The world certainly doesn't just need "more words," so I want to write words that count, words that lift, words that say "truth," words that always point back to the God who gives my life meaning and clarity and peace. Are you smiling at the future today? Do you want to? I really do want to, and I know I'm meant to. Marriage Mondays is one small gift from me to you, in hopes of giving you reason and hope to smile at the future of your marriage. I've been waiting for a Monday to answer the question, "Why won't men pray?"
Jeff gave me the most amazing slippers for Christmas. My feet are so happy. He also gave me a great spatula, a book I've devoured, and a sunset colored shirt, to name a few lovelies. But I'm venturing a guess you would gladly trade your slippers or whatever else your beloved gave you ... if he would only pray with you.
I hear this desire from so many women. Men squirm when it comes up. Before we're married and in many marriage books, we "see" images of kneeling couples in prayer every night, not missing a day together of bowed worship and petition. Husband leading wife, nurturing intimacy through shared prayer. Doesn't Ephesians 5:27-29 say men should care for their wives like Christ cares for the Church, loving "their wives as their own bodies?" But the ideal often falls into the category of Norman Rockwell's Christmas paintings .... lovely, but not always reality.
Why is it so hard for men to pray with their wives? When Jeff prays with me, it does all kinds of great things in me and for me and in our family. I love it. Do you wish you knew what you do that might discourage your guy, so you can avoid it? And what can we do to ENCOURAGE him to pray with us ... and keep our slippers? ;) Let's consider the first part of the dilemma today, and next Marriage Monday we'll look at how we can HELP him want to pray with us.
I asked some men I know why it's so hard and what we (wives) do that makes it harder. The men represent a wide range of ages and marital experiences. I want you to hear what they said:
"I have to play detective most of the time and try to guess those areas in which she'd like prayer. And since I don't often know whether I'm even focusing on areas that are hitting the mark, it's easier (and less vulnerable, maybe) for me to pray for her instead of with her."
One encouraged husband offered ideas of what would discourage him: "Requiring legalistic prayers (...the right 'verbal formulas' etc. A husband who doesn't pray often or much will be very informal. Accept that). Being critical of things he tries to do in general ... If a wife criticizes any attempts he makes of reaching out and extending himself, he will be gun shy of trying anything else new, such as praying."
"Times of prayer with my wife are up and down. I would not say it's connected to anything she's done ... sometimes life and ministry happen and exhaustion prevents it ... if a marriage relationship is under strain, that is a hindrance to praying together."
"One thing that will discourage me is being legalistic about prayer or prayer time. If it doesn't happen on a set schedule or happen at the proper time, then somehow a 'scriptural law' has been violated. This makes me defensive, puts me on guard, and makes me feel like the prayer time is a chore."
"I think some guys quite honestly feel intimidated by the spirituality of their wives. Their pride keeps them from opening up and uniting their hearts with their helpmeets."
"It could be discouraging either way if the prayer time is used to point out personal jabs or disappointment with the other. Timing is also important ... are you both prepared and ready to focus? It can be discouraging if the wife is more spiritually minded and comfortable with praying and prays above the man's comfort level."
"...just get caught up in the busyness of life and it's one of the things that goes by the wayside..."
"What does a wife do that discourages? 1. Ask at the wrong time ... timing is everything. Don't wait until you are in bed, lights out, and he has turned off for the day and is flipped off his mind's switch. 2. Don't jump into it! Don't start with a 'must do schedule.'"
Not a single man said he finds it hard to pray with his wife because he doesn't want to. I hope their insights enlighten you. As I read their thoughts, I know there have been times I've been a source of discouragement for Jeff. There are times I've made it harder for him to fulfill his role of spiritual leadership in my life. NOT what I want!! The beginning of a new year is a great time to see myself more clearly and make adjustments.
If you knew there was a way to encourage your husband to pray with you, would you do it? I can hear you saying yes and shaking your head. You love your husband like that ;) You want to be closer to the Lord and to your guy. Well, next week join me for more words from men who shared what we wives can DO to encourage our husbands to pray with us. Until then, let's be prayerful for our husbands and ask the Lord to show us how we might be discouraging them. After all, they gave us great slippers. :)