Saturday, August 14, 2010

The Lord's Prayer and Marriage

Paul Tripp has a great section in What Did You Expect about the relationship between prayer and marriage. Specifically, he looks at how Christ taught us to pray, and what each portion of that prayer reminds us about marriage or does for our marriage.

He opens by saying, "In our marriage, prayer pushes us in all the right directions. It reminds us of the kinds of things we have said are so important to a marriage of unity, understanding and love. Daily prayer reinforces all the commitments we are tempted to forsake but that are vital to maintain. Prayer opens our eyes and our heart. Prayer is a necessary ingredient of a healthy marriage. On our knees is the best posture for our marriage" (WDYE 257)

Then he looks at each section of the Lord's Prayer (and I've included only a few snippets of his comments for each):

Our Father in heaven... "Prayer reminds you that in your marriage, you are never left alone to the resources of your own strength and wisdom ... when you forget God's presence, promises and provisions, either you tend to get overwhelmed and give up, or you try to do God's job. Neither is a workable option... Prayer reminds you that you have been graced with a Father's love and that love will not let you go until it has changed you in every way that is needed."

Hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. "Prayer reminds you that God's purpose for your marriage is always bigger than your marriage ... When there is no larger kingdom to unify a husband and wife, their marriage sadly becomes a war between the kingdom purposes of the wife and the kingdom purposes of the husband ... Prayer reminds you that God gives you his grace, not so much for the purposes of making your kingdom work but to welcome you to a better kingdom. Every time you pray, you are acknowledging God's rule over you and your life."

Give us this day our daily bread. "We were never hardwired for an independent, self-sufficient existence ... Daily prayer acknowledges daily need... If your marriage is to be a place where real unity, understanding, and love shape the character of every day, then there are things that you and your husband or wife need to be and do. But you can't become these things or do these things by yourself."

Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. "As prayer calls you to celebrate undeserved love, it requires you to commit yourself to love others in the same way. There is a direct connection between self-righteousness and an inability and unwillingness to love others... A mutual commitment to give grace daily is the only hope for a marriage of a sinner to a sinner, which is the only kind of marriage there is. Prayer reminds us of God's call to love and forgive, and it reminds us that this call is most needed when it is most undeserved."

And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. "Prayer reminds you that your biggest marital struggles exist inside, not outside, of you ... we are only hooked by the evil outside of us because of the evil inside of us... Change in a marriage always begins with looking within, and that is exactly where prayer calls us to look. The celebration of a Savior, which lies at the heart of prayer, makes sense only when we acknowledge that we cannot escape from the sin inside us."

For yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. "Prayer reminds you that the key to a marriage of unity, understanding, and love is rooted in an allegiance to God's kingdom and not your own. True, heartfelt prayer ends as it begins -- with recognition of God's kingship and his glory. Prayer reminds you that life is not about you. Prayer reminds you that the center of your universe is a place reserved for God and God alone. Prayer reminds you that real peace, satisfaction, and contentment come when you live for a greater glory than your own ... Prayer calls you away from the kingdom of self, which is so destructive to everything a marriage is intended to be, and welcomes you to the kingdom of God, where a God of love rules in love."

(quotes are from pages 257-265)

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