Husbands and Prayer1
Husbands and Prayer
Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman as the weaker vessel, since they are heirs with you of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.
1 Peter 3:7 (ESV)
In marriage, the role of the husband is different from that of the wife, but the perspective and attitude are the same. Peter’s use of “likewise” or “in the same way” is common to both his instructions to the wife and to the husband and is probably referring to 2:13 where believers are exhorted to place their explicit trust in God by properly submitting to his delegated authority structures.
While the focus for the wife is showing due respect for the role of her husband, as she trusts God for her fulfillment and protection, the husband is to love his wife with the knowledge that she is both equal and different. She is a joint heir in the grace of life, and she is weaker (possibly referring to physical strength but the image is of a piece of fine china). She is designed to need the husband’s protection, and yet just as she is essential in the procreation process, she is integral to the mystery of two becoming one. This includes the emotional, physical, missional, and spiritual intimacy God had in mind at creation.
Interestingly, Peter connects the husband’s role in marriage to his prayers. The implication is that a believing husband is aware that his greatest privilege and strongest power is in prayer. Therefore, at all costs, he must not let anything hinder that. If he can’t or won’t pray, he can’t manage his domain. He is alone in trying to accomplish his assignment, and he can’t win. What about a husband’s behavior with his wife could hinder prayer?
1. Guilt and condemnation in his own heart (regarding his failures in life as well as toward his wife) will stop his prayers or distort them wildly. The shame of his failure to put her before himself, if not cleansed by faith in the shed blood of Jesus, will cause him to retreat from the battle before him, and ultimately be captured by the roaring lion looking for such a wounded prey.
2. When she is not enjoying him or marriage, distraction will take his focus off the larger picture and he will be consumed with trying to please or appease her.
Both men and women who have embraced the launched kingdom of God have new perspectives and new powers with which to navigate the wonderful thing of marriage. When things go awry, they are aware that there is a solution in the finished work of the cross and resurrection. They can live as forgiven and empowered people who long to serve rather than be served. They have abandoned the idolatry of marriage and received it as God’s gift to enjoy.