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PRAY: Prayer for Those Who Need Their Love Renewed

I see the resignation in their eyes. It hasn’t changed. It won’t change. Nothing I do can change it. They feel trapped—cornered in a marriage they think should never have been. They feel angry—bitter and frustrated about things they can’t control. They feel alone. I see it because I remember. I remember the days when I allowed hurt and anger to overshadow love. I remember the days when the outlook seemed hopeless, the future a dull gray. But I pray because I know the One who redeems relationships. I hope because I’ve experienced the power of his touch. If this is you, know that someone understands, and Someone is listening. Let’s run to Him together. Father and Friend, today I come to you on behalf of those who need their love renewed. Their relationships hang by a stretched-out thread, ready to snap at the next point of stress. Or they’ve resigned themselves to a life without true intimacy, the soul-nearness you intend marriage to be. God, I lift up my friends to your care. None of them, Father, has the power to stay married. All, like me, are selfish and want their own way. None has the strength to listen to you or to do what is right. Left to themselves, they’ll say unkind words, do ugly things, and continue to hurt each other in ways that hurt you more.  Grace, our Savior, is what they need. I ask for your poured-out grace to flow its sweetness in, around, and through those relationships. Lend your mercy, Lord. Give each one not only the power but the inner desire to do what is right. Reach through the pain and help them remember. Take them back to the first date, the first kiss, the first moments they realized love’s calling.  And God—take them back to their first love for you as well. If they don’t know you, break through their soul-hardness. Keep pursuing, keep speaking until they listen. If they do know you, God, I ask that you use time and circumstances to draw them close, knowing this first love will guard and guide the rest. Keep them from evil. Keep them from wrong. Help my friends. Come to them in power and victory. Giver of life, breathe your life into their marriages. Let each one become a bright reflection of your love for your children. And Jesus? Help me be the wife and love-giver you made me today. Don’t let me be comfortable. Keep me seeking your best. In your precious and powerful name I...

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PRAY: Love, Honor, and Pray

As a motivator, guilt works—sometimes. As a mom, I’ve used it more often than I should. But I also found that shaming my children into action didn’t work nearly as well as positive words, Scriptural admonition, or honest heart-sharing. Guilt has, at times, seemed like a great way to motivate my husband. And I’ve succumbed to that temptation far too often. But husbands (at least the one I know) also seem to respond much better to respect and loving encouragement than to rants of any kind. Action flows from positive relationship, not negative emotion. If I were going to give one piece of marital advice to newlyweds, it would be to institute early the habit Tom and I now have: praying together every morning and every night. God used prayer to draw me to Himself, and it has remained a vital force in my walk with Christ. As a newlywed, I longed to share times of prayer with my husband, but somehow, it rarely happened. We prayed more when we were engaged than in our early years of marriage. Busy work and school schedules, multiple places of employment, our first two children arriving ten months apart—you name it, we had the excuse. Deep down, I didn’t want to press my husband to pray because I enjoyed the leverage that not praying gave me. He was the “spiritual head,” so if we didn’t pray together, it must be his fault. How’s that for twisted logic of the not-so-spiritual kind? I’m ashamed to admit it, but that’s how my thinking went. Yes, we prayed with our children every night and most morning. We prayed at key times and for particular events. But as a couple, our times of genuine prayer together went begging. It took a time of pain to change us. Several years ago, in the midst of a season of seeming despair, a dear friend shared with us the Scripture I’ve quoted here before, “Neither know we what to do; but our eyes are upon Thee” (2 Chronicles 20:12, KJV). My husband and I made the determination not to allow the enemy to take us down and out. We had experienced deep loss, but we were not going to lose our walks with Christ or our love for one another. Because we didn’t know what to do, we prayed—and cried—and prayed together. Soon, our act of desperation became a habit. And our habit fulfilled a need for new levels of marital intimacy. It’s hard to pray with someone when you’re harboring anger or bitterness. So if we choose to continue our prayer habit, we also choose to resolve any issues between us. We choose not to let the sun...

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