"T" is for Trust

And the grand finale of them all, the much anticipated (even more so than the Series Finale of Lost-which I hope that at least one of my questions will be answered), the final letter “T” in PRE-HEAT. I will say that this acronym (Staci, thanks for suggesting I do something on prayer) has helped me to be specific and well rounded in my wifely prayers. Though I’ve missed a “letter” here and there, it will serve as a great tool to keep me on track and stay consistent and persistent in prayer.

The final “T” is for Trust.

As for Amy, myself, and probably many of us, trusting the Lord can be a hard thing. Trusting your husband-who is fallible and sinful, yet called to lead-can be even harder. Yet the two often go hand-in-hand, especially for those who’ve had to leave the Great State or any state they consider great.

And don’t forget the trust involved in child-rearing, in leading Sunday School, in discipleship. Is it all a waste of time; will God bless your ministry in some way if the word is going forth? Trust that you made the right decision when it was at best a “gray” area. Trust that He has your sanctification and best interest in mind in His foreordaining all things which come to pass. If you tend to be overly analytical like me, the list of things to trust can go on and on.

Amy gets hung up on details-because she sees them and I don’t. I get hung up on bigger picture stuff because that’s what I see. So know what keeps your wife up at night and pray for her trust to grow; it could be something totally different than what feeds your worry.

So that concludes my PRE-HEAT acronym, which will give you one thing each day around which to center your wifely or womanly prayers. Hope it helps. If it doesn’t, scrap it.

Advertisements

A is for Adored



Now to the “A” of PRE-HEAT. “A” is for “adored.” Men want to be respected. That’s our bag. Machiavelli in his promotional dictatorial work The Prince coined the phrase, “Its better to be feared than loved.” You can see how dictators have adopted this philosophy over the years. But where this really stems from is a man’s healthy desire for respect run a-muck. So in some ways, this is very true for a man. We crave respect.

I’m not saying women don’t desire or even need respect (particularly in areas which are not as culturally respected like child rearing), as Aretha Franklin once sang, but the order seems to be reversed. That’s why Paul tells women to “respect” their husbands and for husbands to “love” their wives in Ephesians 5. It’s not that women aren’t to love husbands and husbands not respect their wives in any way, but this gives us an insight into the “how” of love.

So the “A” stands for adored, which to me, is far more than just respect. It is cherishing, loving, considering someone worthy of your affection. If Amy feels adored by me, then she has less of a need to compare herself with the accomplishments of others. If she feels adored, she won’t need to run to a place of adoration through a romantic comedy or the embrace of another. If she feels adored by her husband, she’ll believe me when I say she’s beautiful even though her clothes are getting smaller and smaller because the baby is getting bigger and bigger. If she feels adored, she’ll feel that sense of intimate connection. If she feels adored, then she’ll be less likely to compare herself with the appearance of other women-folk and find herself lacking.

So the “A” is huge. Don’t leave it out. Martin Luther was a different cat, bolder than I’ll ever be, and did more for Jesus than I’ll ever do. Yet he was not without “warts,” so I in no way deify him.

However, his contribution to the institution of marriage in the 1500’s is just as important, profound, and unfortunately under-realized and under-applied in the 2010’s (or whatever you call this decade.) Here are some “adoring” quotes attributed to Luther regarding his wife Katie.

More proof you can’t judge a book by its cover.

“I would not give up Katie for all of France, because God gave her to me and me to her.

“I love my Katie, yes, I lover her more dearly than myself,”

“Katie, you have a devoted husband who loves you. You are an empress.”

May this kind of adoration be our aim and prayer for our women. That they would feel loved, cherished, and adored.

"E" is also for Envy

Now on to the “E” of PRE-HEAT in wifely prayer. “E” is for Envy. I’ve found Envy at times to be a very powerful stronghold in my life, and one in which can battle even the most godly of woman-folk as well.

The sin of envy destroys any opportunity to be thankful for all the blessings we have and precludes any hope of contentment. Amy and I struggle in different areas of envy, so this is where your 2nd “E” prayers need to get up close and personal.

I can get quite envious of people catching more fish, being better preachers, having bigger churches with different problems, and folks who didn’t buy a home in Bradenton during the worst possible time in the history of mankind to buy.

I’ve noticed with Amy it centers more around familial and relational situations like envying parents who have easier-to-shop-with children, geographically closer families, and various deeper relationships.

While our envy finds different application, the goal for prayer is the same. As you pray against Envy, pray for contentment. Contentment for all that good God has done (and done in Christ), is doing, and the good He will yet do.

And if you can get a few of your friends together to read The Rare Jewel of Christian Contentment by Jeremiah Burroughs, I recommend that. But it might take some community interaction to help you better understand, apply, or even finish this puritan jewel.

"H" is for Heart Idols

Now on to the “H” of the wifely prayer acronym “PRE-HEAT.” The “H” is for Heart Idols. All men have them and all women have them. Even kids have them. Tim Keller explores several big idols like money, sex, and power in his book Counterfeit Gods. But what Keller does extremely well in this book is that he elucidates how money, sex, and power, are really only “surface idols.” Different people may seek the same “surface idol” for a different reason, and until that reason, or heart idol (he calls it a “deep idol”) is addressed, we’re only scratching the surface. In relation to money, Killer writes:

“Surface idols” are things such as money, our spouse, or children, through which our deep idols seek fulfillment. We are often superficial in the analysis of our idol structures. For example, money can be a surface idol that serves to satisfy more foundational impulses. Some people want lots of money as a way to control their world and life. Such people usually don’t spend much money and live very modestly. They keep it all safely saved and invested, so they can feel completely secure in the world. Others want money for access to social circles or to make themselves feel beautiful and attractive. These people do spend their money on themselves in lavish ways. Other people want money because it gives them so much power over others. In every case money functions as an idol and yet, because of various deep idols, it results in different patterns of behavior. pg. 65

So anyone who is shepherding another, whether it’s a husband, pastor, elder, parent, Sunday school teacher, mentor, older friend, will do a disservice to those under their care if we don’t go below the waterline and discern the reasons behind the clearer “surface idols.” It takes time listening and loving, but this is a must in praying for your spouses.

"E" for Enjoy

Now on to the “E” of PRE-HEAT in “wifely” prayers. I guess that’s a word, as it didn’t get underlined in the spell check.

“E” is for enjoy, and is fitting since I no longer have the pain of a kidney stone-though I have no evidence it has actually departed. And I preached on joy this past Sunday, so joy is on the brain.

I pray that Amy would truly find herself enjoying time with the Lord, time with me, time with Connar, time with friends, family, church family, and neighbors. It seems that Amy’s best days (and I would imagine this is true with most women) occur when she thoroughly enjoys all of her relationships. In the marriage arena, I could be wrong here, but I think that intimacy will naturally come when spouses are truly enjoying each others’ presence, conversations, texts (while apart).

Ultimately if Amy is finding satisfaction in her relationship with Jesus, then God is most glorified. So this is ultimately a very God-centered prayer. And once she is fully satisfied in Christ, then she can more easily enjoy the rest of us-since we’re not her ultimate and primary source of joy. We’re not expected to be something we’re not: Jesus the source of true joy (Matt 13:44-46).

Because I think God is also highly glorified when she finds a secondary satisfaction in the husband of her youth (though we got married at 26, so we technically weren’t “youths” or “yutes” like in My Cousin Vinny), I pray for to enjoy being married to me, as hard as that may be sometimes.

But again, keep in mind the prayer for our spouses to Enjoy Christ, as well as His gift of husbands, church family, friends, kids, houses, and even coffee, will result in her thanksgiving and God’s honor. So don’t forget to pray for your ladies joy.

"R" is for RELAX, just ask Frankie

“Relax, don’t do it, when you want to go to it.” – Frankie Goes to Hollywood

Continuing in the acronym PRE-HEAT, I want to briefly look at the “R” now. I can’t speak for all women, but I can speak for Amy (and the same goes for myself). We need to relax. We both believe God is Sovereign and in control of all things. We also believe that doesn’t negate human responsibility. Both are true.

But when responsibility bumps up against sovereignty, sovereignty always wins. What I mean is that you can be completely irresponsible and do all the wrong things, and God can still redeem the situation. And you can be completely responsible, and not see the outcome you so desired.

Amy and I often err on the side of responsibility, so that causes us not to be lazy (and that’s good), but it also keeps us from relaxing (not good). Whether its child rearing, going to work, worrying about children, relationships, family, or whatever, a good prayer is for women to be able to relax. For Amy, relaxing that bills will be paid, Connar will love Jesus, learn to listen, and speak in real sentences some day. Relaxing is hard for someone chasing after a rambunctious 23 month old little boy, and will only get harder when the next child hits the scene.

In Colossians 1:29, Paul speaks of “his (Christ’s) energy, which so powerfully works in me.” That’s why we can hopefully pray for women who are juggling 30 things, to relax even amidst their labors. Now this doesn’t negate the necessity to actually relax, stop working, and take a sabbath rest or even a daily break with a glass of sweet tea or wine. But before that time, my prayer is that Amy feels relaxed amidst her busyness, responsibilities, and concerns.

The "P" in PREHEAT

Now to start with the prayers. The “P” in PREHEAT stands for protection. I want to be regularly praying for Amy to not only be protected (actually) but also to feel protected (existentially). My favorite Psalm is 91, where the psalmists describes God as a “refuge” and “fortress.”

While Amy is driving-which she hates-I pray God to be a refuge and fortress to not only keep her safe, but allow her to feel safe.

And obviously women are more prone to violent attack or rape, so it would be foolish to simply ignore prayers for such protection in today’s world. In addition to physical protection, a helpful paradigm from my Reformed tradition is the “world, flesh, and devil.”

“Devil”

Women, the same as men, are subject to spiritual attack. So it would likewise be foolish to ignore this aspect-though most often presbyterians (and I) do. Satan can easily place little doubts, like “Am I a good enough wife? A good enough Mom? Fit or trim enough? Pretty enough?” To take down a man, Satan will often go after his wife so that he can get a two-for-one deal.

“Flesh”=our tendency to struggle with general and specific sin

A prayer of protection for daughters, sisters, and friends could deal with protection from “settling.” It’s sad and far too predictable how young women settle for dudes who are just too spiritually immature or are unbelievers. So Queen’s “Another one bites the dust” just plays in the background of their lives, but never loud enough for them to hear it. We really need to be praying not just for patience and protection but for the actual provision of godly husbands.

“World” = the specifically sinful cultural assumptions

Our ladies need protection from the world’s depiction of success: career woman, perfect super soccer mom, completely independent, sexy pre-baby bodies even for mothers who’ve had many children. Of course Christian ghettos have their own unhealthy depictions of what moms and women are supposed to be, but I don’t have time to go into those. I would categorize them under “world” just as Jesus categorized the religious and cultural assumptions of his day which were contrary to scripture. But those don’t seem as much of an issue where I’m serving now, so I’ll leave it at that.

One man wisely said, “I’m not man enough to be a woman.” I agree. At the heart level, the only weapons we have against this battle are sacrificial and active love, God’s word, and prayer, so lads, let’s get to it.