Laws for a lasting marriage

And Jesus said to them…“from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate” (Mark 10:6-9).

The Great Architect of Marriage

If you’re willing to turn to God for marital advice, you’ll soon see that His Word says a lot about your marriage. After all, He invented it and joined you and your spouse together in the first place (Mark 10:9). God doesn’t just care about your prayers, going to church and reading your Bible. His command to ‘love your neighbour as yourself’ tells us that every human interaction, including every interaction with our spouse, is a spiritual matter. After all, isn’t my spouse my nearest neighbour? (Mark 12:30-31Deut 6:4-5).

So then, how I treat my spouse and take care of my marriage, reveals how seriously I take God’s character and his commands. Marriage cannot be separated from the command to love God. It isn’t just some pesky problem that can be zipped up in a sleeping bag and put in the cupboard, while we get on with our lives. In fact, the way we love each other is a window into our relationship with God (1 John 4:7-12).

The good news is that the God himself gave us foundations to build a lasting marriage at the very beginning of the Bible:

18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him….” 20 The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field. But for Adam there was not found a helper fit for him. 21 So the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall upon the man, and while he slept took one of his ribs and closed up its place with flesh. 22 And the rib that the Lord God had taken from the man he made into a woman and brought her to the man. 23 Then the man said,

“This at last is bone of my bonesand flesh of my flesh;
she shall be called Woman,
because she was taken out of Man.”

24 Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. 25 And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.”

Just as the earth is subject to the laws of physics, this amazing text lays out God’s Laws which govern Marriage. He is, after all, the Architect. Here are two of them:

Law of priority

‘Leave and cleave’.

On the sixth day of creation, a comfortable rhythm is disturbed. “It was good” is replaced by “it is not good”. Why this sudden break from the pattern?

God is deliberately stressing something important about marriage here: Apart from Eve, nothing in all of creation can fill the unique role of a marriage partner. None of the animals were fit to be Adam’s true companion or helper. Only the woman was suitable. When Adam finally meets the one, he bursts forth with a love poem! “This is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called woman, for she was taken out of man’ (Gen 2:23). He is enamoured with her! She is utterly different, and yet made from the same stuff as him. It is the first glimpse we get of the beautiful unity in diversity of God’s creation.

But verse 24 is the punchline of the story. Did you notice the little word, “therefore”? Some versions translate it as ‘this is the reason’ or ‘for this cause’. This verse explains what marriage is all about. Marriage solves the problem of aloneness. And the moment we choose to marry, our spouse should become the most important human in all the world to us. We leave everything else and cleave to each other, emotionally, physically and geographically. That is God’s design.

God is intolerant of rivals (Ex 34:14), and so is our spouse! This is not the sick form of jealousy that seeks to control and manipulate, but passionate, protective, healthy jealousy of our spouse’s heart. When something or someone else takes first place in your wife or husband’s affections, it is appropriate to be jealous and to fight for that affection. That’s why marriage often slides downhill when children appear on the scene. If children become all-important to mothers, men often turn to work, affairs or other interests. And if their husbands take them for granted, women often turn to children, friends or other interests.

The traditional marriage vows are beautiful in expressing what it means to leave and cleave: ‘To have and to hold,’ ‘to love and to cherish’, ‘forsaking all others, to be faithful to him/her as long as you both shall live’. This is God’s law of priority.

Could this be what’s gone wrong in so many marriages? Marriage only works if our spouse is our top priority. Above our hobbies and friendships. Above our work and leisure. Above our community projects, ministry and children. Above our personal dreams and desires. Above our duty to our parents and extended family. Our spouse deserves more than our leftovers. When this priority becomes disordered, the foundations of our marriage will start to wobble. After many years of distorted priorities, our marriage will eventually implode.

So, the first law of marriage is the Law of Priority. The second is the Law of Intimacy.

Law of Intimacy

One flesh.

They shall become one flesh” forms the foundation of the Bible’s understanding of marriage and family. Jesus and Paul assume this basic law of marriage (Matt 19:5Eph 5:31Mark 10:9).

Remember how Adam and Eve were naked and not ashamed? But after they rebelled against God, they clothed themselves in fig leaves to cover the most intimate parts of their bodies. Sin alienated them from each other. “If I really want to impress this person, I have to fix myself up”. None of this feeling was there with Adam and Eve when they were naked…and not ashamed.

As husband and wife, we naturally drift towards this alienation, unless we take steps to cultivate intimacy. You can be living in the same house as your spouse, but this doesn’t guarantee intimacy. You can be married to the man or woman of your dreams, but this doesn’t guarantee intimacy either.

You have to nourish intimacy through love, honour and respect. It’s like caring for a delicate plant which can easily shrivel up. You have to be willing to help your spouse grow. You have to be willing to learn from him or her. These are the ingredients to nurture intimacy. But sarcasm, criticism, ridicule, refusing to say sorry, resentment and manipulation—these are just some of the poisons that some spouses pour daily over the little sapling of intimacy. And then they wonder why they have no affection, no sex life and ultimately no marriage.

Here are two letters to remind us how to practice the Laws of priority and intimacy in our own marriages. (Since men are from Mars, I asked Pete to write the letter to wives!)

Dear husband,

Husband, if you want to nourish intimacy in your marriage, it’s not good enough just to say “I love you,” or to bring home your salary or the odd bunch of roses. Please show your wife how much you delight in her! Every woman needs to know she’s desirable and valuable, because we often don’t feel those things about ourselves, especially our bodies. Maybe you’re not a poet like Adam, but please continue to pursue your wife with all your energy. Cleave to her, (even if she’s got three children cleaving from her and baby food cleaving to her shirt!) Even when she’s saggy and grey, don’t stop pursuing her and touching her cheek gently with your hand. She is bone of your bone, flesh of your flesh! Look into her eyes and tell her that she is God’s gift to you. Protect her and build her up. Together, you are better than alone and can face anything.

Invent ways to show her that she’s beautiful to you, and be especially careful not to wound or ridicule her with your words. Help her with ordinary everyday things. Show her that you value her by sharing your emotions– even fear, hurt and shame. She won’t think less of you, just more. Be willing to listen and share in her emotions too, even if they’re through-the-roof crazy! Pray and read the Bible together often. Your hearts will bind together as one, when you turn to the One who bound you together.

Husband, don’t allow your extended family to encroach upon your marriage! Your wife is not you, nor is she your mother, and never will be! Don’t let your children mistreat their mother or take her for granted. Instead, thank her for being the heart of your home, even if this can’t be quantified in money. Let them see how much you love her. They will take great security from this.

Husband, don’t ever treat your wife like an object whose sole purpose is to give you what you want. Encourage her to use her gifts and make close friendships. Allow her to point out your blindspots. Take the lead in resolving conflicts biblically, before they become too big to talk about. Trust her to help you with decisions and problems. Don’t hide anything from her and stay faithful to her in mind and body. Say “I love you” often!

Dear wife,

Our society teaches men to put up a veneer of being bullet proof and impenetrable. As a result, we sometimes give the impression that we don’t have feelings and the last thing we do easily is share our hopes and fears. That’s why we stand around the braai and talk passionately about impersonal “out there” things like sports teams and politics, while wives will be talking about relationships and family: things that really matter.

Wives, don’t think that that is really us and that we are shallow and superficial. We aren’t, BUT we usually open up to the closest of our friends only. People who trust, respect and appreciate us. A wife is a man’s closest friend, but looking back, this takes time, patience and care on your part. We don’t know ourselves very well. I’ve realised that the more I put into loving you, the return I get back from you is exponential. That’s a business deal worth investing in! We want to be thanked, appreciated and loved: we certainly don’t get that in society at large, and certainly not at work! We are often thought of as the bad guys.

There are many other men who are faster, stronger, brighter, wealthier, better looking, more athletic (the list is endless) than your husband. However, your husband (well this one anyway!)
loves you more than anyone else and can truly say “you are bone of my bones, the one absolutely right for me in every way (sounds like Goldilocks!)”. I love you.

Whatever happened to marriage?

Series: Marriage East of Eden

If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. (Mark 3:25)

“Sorry, but I just don’t love you anymore. I’m not sure I ever loved you.”

“I must have married the wrong man. We bring out the worst in each other.”

“If only I’d married that fun-loving girl instead of my wife!”

What’s gone wrong in so many marriages? That’s the question I’ve been asking myself lately. There seem to be more households divided and devouring each other, than couples who cherish each other. For so many, the dream wedding has turned into a nightmare of blame and shame, erupting rage and simmering resentment. Conversations about money, sex, children and in-laws are landmines to be avoided at all costs. The idol of self sits smugly on the throne while self-sacrifice is out the window. Control and criticism; sarcasm and shame; manipulation and aggression are ruling the roost in many homes. What’s more, lockdown has aggravated troubled marriages, even Christian marriages. It seems that marriage is in a dangerous ditch.

The war between husband and wife may be passive and silent, or aggressive and loud, but in either case, it’s a war with no winners, only losers. And the collateral damage of this war goes far beyond husband and wife, to the bystanders who parrot the pattern for generations to come. Divorce may seem like a necessary truce, but it creates its own special legacy of destruction.

So, what happened to the husband who once took delight in his wife and thought, “This, at last, is bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh?” (Gen 2:23) Why is it that the marriage vows, once spoken so eagerly by a man and a woman in love, now seem archaic and disconnected from the harsh reality of married life?

The vow

Remember the day you said these words:

“I, take you to be my lawfully wedded wife/husband, to have and to hold from this day forward, for better or for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish; from this day forward until death do us part”.

If a mere reminder of this vow pierces your heart with wistfulness for a marriage that is far short of your expectations, perhaps now is the moment to diagnose what has gone wrong and get back to God’s pathway for a godly marriage? Perhaps today is the day to ask the Lord to help you and your spouse build the kind of marriage He intended for you “until death us do part.” Perhaps it’s time to seek godly counseling.


Here’s a candid disclaimer about this series: I’m no marriage guru! In a fit of rage, I once hurled a pot of mashed potatoes at Pete, and we spent the next hour cleaning up the buttery mess, complaining about how mad we made each other! At times, we thought it was a most unsuitable match. In fact, when we first got married, I don’t think I resolved a single problem without throwing something in Pete’s direction! But, after 26 years, there’s no one in the world I’d rather be with than him. Apart from salvation, our marriage is truly the most treasured love gift that God could have given us. It keeps getting better.

The truth is that the best marriages are made, not born.

Marriages are made not born.

Our marriage has grown through trusting the Lord together, through raising four children, through sickness and miscarriages and death, through a fire and financial crises, through walking together as brother and sister in Christ. We have personal experience of those pesky little ‘foxes’ that can kill a marriage (Song of Solomon 2:15). We’ve also counseled couples over the years, not as experts, but as beggars showing other beggars where to find food.

Bit by bit, we are learning how to approach tricky conversations without losing love and respect for each other (or throwing mashed potato)! And we are learning how to prioritize our marriage above other good things, like children, ministry, friends and entertainment. We’ve by no means arrived, but we’re opening up the gift of marriage one wrapping at a time.

With all my heart, I believe that the Lord has given Christians everything we need to build fruitful, faithful, loving, lifelong marriages, which are a blessing to ourselves and those around us. After all, if God invented marriage, He surely intends for us to have success in marriage. And He’s offered us the blueprint to build a house that is not divided against itself– A house that will stand strong when the storms come. But first we must go to Scripture to diagnose why our marriages are under such siege. Unless we deal with the sin in our own hearts, we will never build a good marriage.

Marriage East of Eden

Since the moment Adam and Eve rejected God’s words and defined what is good and what is evil for themselves, marriage has been under fire. The house has been divided against itself. This is how Genesis 3 describes part of the curse:

To the woman he said,

“I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing;
in pain you shall bring forth children.
Your desire shall be contrary to
 your husband,
but he shall rule over you.”

17 And to Adam he said,

“Because you have listened to the voice of your wife
and have eaten of the tree
of which I commanded you,
‘You shall not eat of it,’
cursed is the ground because of you;
in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life;
18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you;
and you shall eat the plants of the field.
19 By the sweat of your face
you shall eat bread,
till you return to the ground,
for out of it you were taken;
for you are dust,
and to dust you shall return.”

20 The man called his wife’s name Eve, because she was the mother of all living.21 And the Lord God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them. 22 Then the Lord God said, “Behold, the man has become like one of us in knowing good and evil. Now, lest he reach out his hand and take also of the tree of life and eat, and live forever—” 23 therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. 24 He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life” (Gen 3:16-24).

Genesis 1-3 is an astonishing explanation of why marriage is in such a sorry state. Nothing is as it should be, not even in a Christian marriage. We are living outside of God’s ideal for relationships, and it’s no paradise. We may have thought that getting married would solve all our problems, but every husband and wife soon discovers that we take our sinful, selfish, prideful self with us wherever we go. Everything in God’s original plan has slipped into dysfunctional chaos:

The first dysfunctional marriage

Instead of listening to God and leading his wife in godliness, the man listens to his headstrong wife. Then he blames her (and God), refusing to accept responsibility (Gen 3:1217). Instead of listening to her husband, the wife falls for Satan’s lies and leads her husband into sin (Gen 3:1). She blames the snake for her conduct (Gen 3:13). Nancy Guthrie paints an accurate picture of the original dysfunctional marriage,

“Eve should have run screaming through the garden to report this rebellion against God to her protector, Adam. Adam should have protected his wife and defended God by confronting Satan’s twisting of God’s clear word…Instead, Eve listened to the Serpent. Adam listened to Eve. And no one listened to God.”

And so, instead of husbands and wives enjoying one-flesh intimacy (Gen 2:23), sex is abused, neglected, used outside of marriage and replaced with pornography. Instead of being naked and not ashamed (Gen 2:25), a husband and wife naturally hurt and hide from each other, and from God. We try to justify our guilt (Gen 3:7). Instead of nourishing his wife as he would his own body, a husband is aggressive and domineering towards her. He treats her harshly, or he passively stands by and allows her to control him like a lapdog.

Genesis 3:16 reminds us that unless the Spirit of God breathes new life into our hearts and our marriages, they’re hardwired for disaster. ‘Shame and blame’ will inevitably replace ‘leave and cleave’. It’s our default position in relationships.

“If only Eve had stood up to Satan’s lies”, we say! “Why did she not just listen to God and trust what He told her?”

Instead Eve “took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate” (Gen 3:6). These are terrible words to read, but is this not the very same temptation that faces us in our own marriages? Is it not easier to take and eat whatever we want, rather than to ‘have and hold’ our spouse, come what may?

Same temptation.

Listen to the echoes of the first temptation in regard to our own marriage:

Did God actually say I shouldn’t marry an unbeliever? (2 Cor 6:14-15; 1 Cor 7:39)

Did God actually say I should be faithful to my marriage vows when we’ve fallen out of love? (Mark 10:9)

Did God actually say I’m supposed to forgive her when she’s hurt me again and again? (Col 3:13)

Did God actually say that I should respect and submit to him? (Eph 5:23-24; 1 Peter 3:1)

Did God actually say that I should love, lead and lay down my life for her? (Eph 5:25-28)

Did God actually say that ‘love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things’? (1 Cor 13:7)

Did God actually say I shouldn’t go to bed angry? (Eph 4:26)

Did God actually say that our bodies belong to each another? (1 Cor 7:5)

Surely not, Lord! You obviously don’t know who I’m married to!

Same destroyer

Let’s remember that Satan, our culture, and our natures are assaulting marriage from every side, from inside and out. Can you hear Satan’s cunning deceptions behind these trendy slogans and book titles?

You’re you own moral compass! Find your truth! When you love yourself first, life will take care of the rest! Untamed! Fierce, Free and Full of Fire: The guide to being glorious You! Love is love!

The sad thing is that no amount of love and fire and ‘glorious You’ can set you free from the consequences and power of sin in your life. Only Jesus can set us free from its prison cell (John 8:34-36). And even if yours is a Christian marriage, you may be eating the bitter fruit of turning away from God and being ruled by your own wants rather than what God has said. It’s never too late to turn back. It’s never too late to be a godly spouse or to build a godly marriage.

Today, the real question I want to leave with you is this: Are you going to allow God to define what is good and what is evil in your marriage, or are you going to hold the reins and decide these matters for yourself? This is no small thing. It was Adam and Eve’s response to this very question that changed the course of the whole world. It is our response to the same question that will determine the course of our marriage.

Join us next week as we look at God’s laws for a healthy marriage.

Let’s pray together.

Lord Jesus, thank you for dying on the cross to break the penalty and power of sin in our lives. We don’t want to live as slaves to our own desires anymore. Show us the hidden sin of self-righteousness knocking at the door of our hearts. Teach us to forgive as you forgave us. Help us to obey your word instead of deciding for ourselves what is good or bad for our marriage. May your love spill out of our hearts, so that we may cherish each other. Soften our hearts, so that we may learn ‘to have and to hold one other’ until death parts us. Amen.

The weakest saint upon his knees

Series: P.P.E for the Christian life, By Rosie Moore

Through prayer, even the weakest Christian gains renewed energy and strength for the battle.

“…praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints, and also for me, that words may be given to me in opening my mouth boldly to proclaim the mystery of the gospel, for which I am an ambassador in chains, that I may declare it boldly, as I ought to speak (Eph 6:18-20).

Knowing our enemy and putting on Christ’s armour are not enough. The Christian soldier is also an ambassador of the Lord Jesus, and we need to declare his gospel boldly and fearlessly. Paul was doing it from prison even as he wrote this letter to the Ephesians. We need the energy to face the Enemy and use the equipment we’ve been given. Prayer is the power behind all the Christian’s armour. When we neglect to pray, or when our prayers are sporadic, meaningless or self-obsessed, we will never have victory in our battle with Satan. That’s why, straight after Paul’s list of the spiritual armour in Ephesians 6, he appeals to Christians to pray, including to pray for himself and other saints. He set us a wonderful example of how to do this, even in chains, in a cold prison cell (Eph 3:14-19). Today let’s look the vital energy behind the armour as we wrap up our series on spiritual warfare.

Satan trembles when we pray

William Cowper, who lived in the 1700’s, is remembered today for his theologically-rich hymns and poetry, which have blessed countless Christians with hope and comfort. Ironically, Cowper himself struggled with mental illness and severe depression for most of his life. With the help of his faithful friend John Newton, Cowper was engaged in a fierce spiritual battle over despondency for most of his life. This is what he wrote about the power of prayer for the Christian soldier:

Restraining prayer, we cease to fight;

Prayer keeps the Christian’s armour bright;

And Satan trembles when he sees

The weakest saint upon his knees.

The weakest saint upon his knees

The way that Paul writes Ephesians 6:18-20 in the Greek, tells us that prayer is the mechanism by which we put on all the armour of Christ. In other words, in order to put on the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, gospel shoes, shield of faith, helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, we must pray in the power of the Holy Spirit. Prayer is how we get dressed for battle!

There is nothing inherently strong about a soldier of Christ. To the contrary, each and every Jesus follower is weak and vulnerable, while the devil is a devouring lion (1 Peter 5:8). But Paul reminds us that when properly equipped, we can “be strong in the Lord and His mighty power” (Eph 6:10). Through prayer, even the weakest Christian gains renewed energy and strength for the battle. And the most potent prayer is the kind that perseveres, like a nagging child that won’t relent. It is the kind of prayer that “keeps on praying, on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests”, even when answers seem delayed or impossible (Eph 6:18).

We dare not venture out even a single day without prayer, thinking to ourselves:

“I don’t have time to pray. I’ll just let go and let God today. I’m sure He’s got this covered.” Or, “I’ve had victory over this battle once before. Surely I’m strong and experienced enough to do it again?”

No, we are never strong or wise enough to have victory over Satan’s schemes without prayer. We will never do God’s work without prayer. Nor can we ever sit back and expect God to work out his purposes and show us His will, without prayer. Paul is emphatic that we are personally responsible to pray:

“Continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (Phil 2:12-13).

The habit of prayer

Prayer is vital to working out our salvation each day, over a lifetime. Prayer is how we respond to what the Holy Spirit has taught us in the Bible. Prayer is our daily surrender to Christ as Lord, where we offer Him every nook and cranny of our lives to be re-calibrated. When we pray, we invite the Holy Spirit to convict and shape us into godly people. That is how we ‘pray in the Spirit’.

As a child growing up, the most vivid picture I have of my parents, is them kneeling together and praying at their bedside, every morning. I knew that they were praying for me and my siblings and for all the concerns of the day. Before breakfast and all their important duties, I knew that my mum and dad had met with the Lord. I knew that they were on the same page in their marriage and that God was the centre pivot of their lives and our family. Seeing this daily habit of prayer gave me great security and showed me how to dress in Christ’s armour in the real, everyday struggle of life.

When we pray as a daily habit, we don’t just babble or recite a prayer, or ask God to bless us or others in some vague way. We say something, not nothing! We speak directly to our heavenly Father, about real and specific details.

The posture of prayer

We don’t have to kneel when we pray, but kneeling is a posture of reverance and awe. Kneeling says that we understand the greatness of the Holy, wonderful God we are addressing and our own sinful, frail humanity. Using heartfelt but ordinary words, we remember who God is, and then place our little story within the big story of His kingdom and reign. When we pray, we forget about worshipping ourselves and nursing our grievances. Instead, we direct our praise and thanks to the caring Creator who made us and gave his life for us. And as we show Him gratitude, our vision of the world becomes clearer. We begin to see ourselves and our neighbour through a different lens. Through prayer, creatures practise humble surrender in a world that we cannot control. We learn to say to God, “Thy will be done, not mine.”

Thankful prayers produce perspective and peace in us (Phil 4:6-7).

When we pray, we offer the Lord our opportunities, gifts, struggles and responsibilities, to be used for His glory. We lay down our loved ones, our sins, questions, doubts, temptations and troubles, which weigh heavily on us. We entrust to God the groaning world in which we live. We ask the Lord to re-align our emotions and ambitions, to make them more accurate and less selfish.

An Ambassador in chains

When we pray, we remember that we are not masters of our fate after all, but rather, as Paul puts it, ‘an ambassador in chains’. Paul was literally stripped of all his rights, freedoms and personal ambitions in a prison cell when he wrote this. But if even Paul knew his dependency on prayer, how can we possibly rely on our own experience, eloquence and training to “fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel” (Eph 6:19-20)? You and I are never strong or wise enough to be Christ’s faithful ambassadors, but even the weakest saint upon his knees can make Satan tremble.

It was what Daniel did, as an old man in Babylon, when “he got down on his knees three times a day and prayed and gave thanks before his God, as he had done previously” (Daniel 6:10). Daniel had built a habit of prayer over a lifetime. He had a relationship with Yahweh. That’s why, when his great test came, he could defy the King’s edict by continuing to pray, as he’d always done.

Through the practice of prayer, God equips and prepares us for battle one day at a time, over a lifetime.

All kinds of prayers and requests

In the NIV, Paul says to “pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests…be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints” (Eph 6:18 NIV).

Apart from habitual prayer, we must also ‘pray continually’ (1 Thess 5:17). That means anywhere and everywhere, because our prayers are urgent and necessary. It means we make quick, brief prayers our automatic response to every situation throughout the day. We silently pray before we read the Bible or talk to someone about Jesus. We spontaneously pray for wisdom when we face a hard choice (James 1:5), or when we need to demolish an idea that sets itself up against Christ (2 Cor 10:5). We are alert and prepared to pray whenever a friend calls for help. When we can’t sleep at night, we get up and pray like David prayed throughout the watches of the night (Ps 63:6). When I was at boarding school, I learnt to pray in toilet cubicles because there was no other place to be alone! Prayer is just speaking to God silently wherever we find ourselves, even on a busy taxi, along a noisy street, or in prison as in Paul’s case.

We should also pray “for all of the saints” (Eph 6:18), because all God’s people around the world are fighting the same battle we are. If they fail to resist Satan and his evil forces, it affects us all. Denominations don’t matter to the Lord, as the invisible Church of Christ transcends nations, time and space. So, if a fellow soldier falls, the devil gains one more foothold. But if a fellow soldier stands strong and declares the gospel fearlessly in spite of opposition, it advances the kingdom of God.

Potent prayer

Don’t doubt for a moment that the prayers of a righteous person are powerful and effective (James 5:16). Prayer is a fearsome weapon against the fury of Satan who “has gone to make war on those who obey God’s commandments and hold to the testimony of Jesus” (Rev 12:12; 17). Our prayers are like incense that rises before God, with powerful reverberations on earth. The symbolic language of Revelation is stunning: And the smoke of the incense, with the prayers of the saints, rose before God from the hand of the angel. Then the angel took the censer and filled it with fire from the altar and threw it on the earth, and there were peals of thunder, rumblings, flashes of lightning, and an earthquake” (Rev 8:4-5).

Flashes of lightning and earthquakes! That’s how God regards our prayers and that’s what the prayers of the weakest saint can produce! Let’s stay alert and keep on praying, for “Behold, I am coming soon!” (Rev 22:12)