It was a pleasant Sunday and five college students were sightseeing in London when they decided to hear the famed C. H. Spurgeon preach. Arriving at the huge church they sat on the steps and waited for the doors to open. While chatting among themselves a man from the congregation came by and greeted them and engaged them in pleasant conversation. After a while he asked, “Gentlemen, let me show you around. Would you like to see the heating plant of this church?” The young men were not particularly interested, as a heating plant was not on the top of their list of things they wanted to visit. Besides it was fast becoming an extremely hot day in July. But they didn’t want to offend the stranger, so they consented. The young men were taken down a stairway, a door was quietly opened, and their guide whispered, “This is our heating plant.” Surprised, the students saw 700 people quietly bowed in prayer, seeking a blessing on the service that was soon to begin in the auditorium above. Softly closing the door, the gentleman then introduced himself. It was none other than Charles Haddon Spurgeon.
If you’re a regular at St James, you will know that we have been spending a great deal of the past few months focusing on one of our core values, prayer. Amongst other things we have been encouraging you to pray the Bible – in particular the promises of God. Another key focus area has been marriage. With the help of Paul Tripp’s excellent series ‘What did you expect?’, many of us have had the opportunity to give more tlc to this precious gift of marriage.
I would like to, for the purposes of this article, ‘marry the two’ (if you’ll excuse the pun;). In other words, what should we be praying for marriage? If you’re married, what should you be praying for and with each other? If you’re not married, what should you be praying for other people’s marriages? What a vital, ‘church family’ activity to be constantly engaged in together in the midst of a world full of broken, painful and strained relationships. How we need many filled ‘heating plants’ of people praying for each other in these matters!
Here, then, are some things I want to encourage God’s community to pray for, in the light of that most well known passage on marriage, Ephesians 5:15-33. Take time to read and reflect on it, and draw out specific things to pray for. I have purposely started from v15, to remind us that Paul has set these examples of specific relationships (husbands and wives -5:22-33; children and parents-6:1-4; slaves and masters -6:5-9) in the context of mutual love and submission that God calls us to display as His people.
Here are some prayer priorities I have drawn out from the passage:
WE MUST PRAY:
- And give thanks to God for his gift of biological and Christian family
- That we will all be a people passionate to walk in love and holiness, and not be afraid to hold each other accountable
- That Christian couples recognize how crucial it is to serve and be served in the local church
- That wives understand and model Christ’s submission, and not be persuaded by the world that biblical submission is archaic, sexist or unenlightened
- That husbands understand and model Christ’s love more and more, and that they not allow the world’s idea of love to ‘squeeze them into its mould’
- That husbands will stand up, be bold, and work hard at their role as godly, loving heads, and lead their family’s walk into holiness and Christ-likeness
- That Christian husbands and wives will ‘fight on their knees’ before God, and guard their oneness
- That Christian married couples embrace more deeply the implications of their marriage being a picture of Christ and His church.
- For the witnessing opportunities that marriage brings both inside and outside the home
- And give thanks for how God leads and nourishes His church