In this Waiting/Working series, I’m trying to present suggestions on what refused husbands can be doing to work on themselves during a waiting period. This “waiting period” may extend from the time that he realizes he is miserable in his marriage and needs to get it right, all the way up to the time said wife decides to **** or get off the pot.
In my last post, I wrote about the need for a refused husband to be in God’s Word in order to transform his mind, cleansing his mind of all the bad teaching that has created Fog in his life. In this post, I want to address the accompanying tool of Prayer. I don’t know if you have noticed this about what I try to do with this blog, but I am big on how-to’s.
There’s an old Native American story of a frog who envied the birds their ability to fly and wanted to learn to fly. Frog was told that the wisest creature in the forest was Owl, so he went to Owl and asked if he, a lowly frog could learn to fly. Owl replied, “Yes, but first you have to grow wings.”
“How do I do that?”, Frog asked. Owl answered, “I don’t know. I can tell you what you must do, but I can’t tell you how to do it.”
Many teachers are great at giving general advice on what a person should be doing, but don’t really tell you HOW. With what I write, I try to give you some ideas on HOW to do what it is that needs to be done. With that in mind, let’s talk about Prayer.
Why am I making a big deal out of prayer, emphasizing prayer as something that refused husbands need to be fervently engaging in? Many reasons, but the uppermost reason in my mind is the need for reestablishing and reinforcing their connections with God. I’m reading a book on prayer that has been a help to me (there are only about 20 million or so, so the title doesn’t matter), and there is a quote or two from it that I want to share that will, I hope, illuminate why I think this aspect is important for refused husbands.
If we do not pray, we fail to realize that we are in the presence of God.
—Karl Barth, Prayer
My first reason: prayer will help lift us from “average” to “normal”. In case you don’t know it, there is a difference between the two. Many Christians live “average” lives, which, unfortunately, is not the way God wants Christians to live. His life, abundant life in the presence of God, is what SHOULD be our version of “normal”. All too often, we settle for “average”, and prayer, being in the presence of God and communing with God, is the act of ignoring the voices that would attempt to negate His voice. If we fail to pray, we get lost in Fog and settle for “average”.
Prayer, we can now see, is communication, in which God’s word has the initiative and we, at first, are simply listeners. Consequently, what we have to do is, first, listen to God’s word and then, through that word, learn how to answer.
—Hans von Balthasar, Prayer
Have you ever seen those charms that are two halves of one coin, and the coin is only complete when the two are joined? Well, prayer is the second half of of the coin that is communion with God. In my last post, I spoke about the importance of Bible reading. von Balthasar nails it when he says that God speaks to us through His word, and by prayer, we answer. This is complete communion; the coin is one.
Since I’m on a roll with my citations, I’ll include one more. One of my favorite speakers used to say that there are only two types of prayer. First, there are the King James prayers: you know, the ones with the “Thee”s and “Thou”s and the “-eth”s and “-ests”.
“O, Lord, Thou knowest, in Thy greateth majesty-eth, that we are-eth but dust-eth,” and so on.
Then there are the real prayers. As this speaker said, real prayers are the one where you hit your knees as soon as you enter the front door, slide to the edge of the bed and yell, “Lord, HELP!!!!” Real prayers, born of real need.
I’m talking about real communion with a real God. My whole purpose in emphasizing prayer is because of a guy’s need to commune with the God Who cares.
Create Prayer Space In Your Life
This past week, our pastor spoke on the need for “prayer places.” And as I listened to the sermon, my heart resonated with the words, because this has been something that’s been ‘percolating’ within me for some time. I have been meditating on, praying about, brooding over and pondering prayer, meditation and how I, CSL, need to engage more with God.
For some time, I’ve been coming to the place where I need to create a conducive atmosphere for meeting God. I do this by creating “prayer places” in my daily life; by adopting attitudes about needing to pray and adapting my daily life and schedule to incorporate prayer, I purposefully create an atmosphere in my heart and my day where I can meet with God.
There are several factors that you must consider, and creating solutions for each will help you create your personal prayer place. The first, simply, is time of day and your energy levels. Are you a night owl, finding that you are most awake in evenings, or are you, like me, one of those annoying morning persons who can wake up cheerful and happy, and make the rest of the world want to shoot you? Maybe you will find that your best time is your daily commute. Look at your day for a clue to finding your best time to meet with God.
Next, believe it or not, is posture: some can kneel at a chair or bedside and pray effortlessly. For others, that would be agony. Some can sit in a chair and meet God, while others are the living embodiment of the saying, “When I sit, I think; and when I think, I fall asleep.” Put them in a chair and it’s “lights out” in two minutes. Guys, you are not restricted to any posture for praying, no matter how many movies you’ve seen of kneeling. If pacing the room helps you to pray, pace; if jogging helps your mind and spirit to focus on God, then jog. Like the song says, “It’s you standing in the need of prayer.” So find the things that help you pray.
Finally, find your own personal ritual that helps you to center your mind and spirit on God. As a former Catholic, I can still recall the focusing of my mind as I genuflected at my pew and made the sign of the cross. Do I do it now? No, as it has no meaning for me today, but then it did. But I do have something that helps me, which I think I’ll hold over to my next post. Others may light candles, whether it be tapers, votive candles or pillar candles, as they begin prayer. To borrow from a quote by Pope John Paul II about praying the rosary, “Do what you want; it’s your prayer time.”
Question At The Back Of Your Mind?
I believe that there is an unspoken question circling around these two recommendations of mine (bible and prayer), and that is, “Won’t the fact that I am spending more time with God, mean that I will be spending less time with my wife? Won’t this mean even less opportunity for intimacy with my wife, even though I’m getting nothing, as is?”
Yes, it does mean that very thing. But as your experience continually demonstrates, closeness to your refusing wife does not produce feelings of love, intimacy and happiness, but feelings of being unloved and rejected. You don’t need more of that message; you definitely don’t need that reinforced. Instead, you need experience the reality of Psalm 27:10
Even if my father and mother [or wife] abandon me, the LORD cares for me.
You need to know and experience the God Who cares.
Next post: Possible Prayer Helps (another how-to post)