Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows. - James 1:17
In life and marriage, our expectations don’t always align with reality. I think often times, single ladies, dating ladies, engaged ladies, and married gals alike have expectations for the spiritual life of their future marriage that just might not be realistic.
We assume the moment we say, “I do,” our spiritual lives with our husbands automatically reset to be exactly in sync. We have this spiritual high of the wonders of a wedding and assume we’ll be a “super on fire for God couple.”
The reality is that both spouses are still just as selfish and sinful as they were the week before the wedding. They still operate on their own timing. And they still have their own spiritual struggles. Just as when you were single, sometimes the only interaction you seek out with the Lord in a whole day might be a goodnight prayer. Just like during your single life, sometimes Sunday is the highlight of your time with the Lord and the rest of the week falls flat.
This isn’t a relationship problem - it’s a heart problem, that just so happens to involve two hearts.
But it is possible to pursue the Lord hand-in-hand with your spouse. In fact, that’s what God desires for us. My husband and I haven’t done this perfectly. For a while, the only way we joined our spiritual lives together was by a goodnight prayer and a Sunday morning church service.
But after a year and a half, we’ve been learning and growing, and finding a rhythm in this area. So here are my 3 simple tips for making more room for God in your married life.
1. Invite Him into the everyday routine.
Just like God was always with you as a single gal, the Lord is always with you and your spouse. He wants you to be aware of Him in the everyday moments, and He wants you to include Him. Think about how you would invite a friend into your life - talking to her and spending time together, right?
Prayer is our way of talking to God.
Spend time praying with God at meal times and invite Him to bless and guide your conversations. Pray to Him before bed, thanking Him for your days and giving Him your requests. Pray to God when you and your hubby have a big decision to make, or when you’re about to have a difficult conversation.
Study God’s Word together.
Pick a topic or book of the Bible you and your spouse want to learn more about, and study that each day together - even if it’s only for 10 minutes. Talk about Sunday’s sermon together and hear what each of you is learning. My husband and I have been reading through the book of John at breakfast and it has been so life-giving and the perfect way for a non-morning girl like me to start her day - with my two favorite guys, my favorite type of food, and my favorite book! Seriously, how good is that?!
2. Be a part of Godly community together.
When two become one, sometimes it can be tempting to just stay as “one” in your own little world. But the truth is, married or not, we were created for community. God created His people to be together so that we can spur one another on in our faith, learn more about God’s character through the unique giftings of others, and bring restoration to a hurting world together.
Join a local church with your spouse.
And don’t just show up on Sunday mornings either. Find a place within your church where both of you can serve. My husband is a musician, so he is able to serve on the worship band. I’m not musically gifted, but I have found other areas that I can serve in our church, like preparing the communion trays, and helping people get plugged in at our “next steps” area.
Join a small group together.
I initially assumed my husband and I would be in separate small groups, because that was all I had ever known - being in an all-girls group in college. After some time, and my husband’s leading, I realized that I could still be in a girls’ small group if I wanted to, but it was also important for my husband and I to be in a small group together. This has helped us grow into the same community together, and learn alongside one another. By being in a small group together, we are developing some of the same friendships and learning from other couples and single people in different seasons of life than us. These will be the people who know you deeply and pray for you fervently. They’ll be your support when life knocks you down, and they’ll celebrate God’s blessings with you! And you have the opportunity to do the same for the other members of your small group.
I hinted at this when I mentioned church. Find ways you can serve the Lord together. Maybe this is financial serving - finding some missionaries to support in prayer and finances. Sponsoring a child through an overseas ministry. Making a meal for a sick friend and delivering it together. Going on a mission trip together. Working on a Habitat Home together. Or serving somewhere in the church as a couple. When we act as the hands and feet of Jesus, we grow so much spiritually. How sweet would it be to have that experience together?
3. Invest in your own, single relationship with the Lord.
This is so so important, regardless of relationship status. We’ve got to be connected with the Lord on our own if we are ever going to sharpen another person. One of God’s plans for marriage is to sharpen your spouse, making him become more like Jesus and more of the man God intended for him to be. But it’s difficult to help another person grow if you aren’t pursuing personal growth.
It’s also important to invest in your own walk with the Lord because, frankly, you are broken. We all are! How will we ever display the fruit of the Spirit (kindness, gentleness, patience, etc.) to our husbands if we aren’t in step with the Spirit?
Marriage is hard. Relationships of all kinds are hard. So how can we expect to push through and show Jesus to one another if we are depending on the other for our spiritual strength?
God is and will always be your first love. Every good quality and trait that your spouse loves about you came from the Father. Keeping your personal love for the Lord on fire is what will keep your marriage burning strong. Study the scriptures on your own. Pray on your own. Serve on your own. Worship on your own. And by doing so, you and your spouse will be even stronger together.
Pursuing the Lord in your marriage won’t be easy. Our personal sin, the culture of this world, and the enemy who prowls around, ready to destroy all make it a challenge for us. But it is so worth it. Making room for the Lord in our marriage is the wisest decision we can make - after all, He created marriage.
1. How can my personal relationship with God set the tone for my marriage, family relationships, friendships, and all other relationships in my life?
2. What is one step I can take this week to invite God into more areas of my life?
3. How can I encourage someone else (my husband, friend, coworker, classmate, or family) in their faith this week?
Dear Lord, help me to never forget that You are my first and one true love. Grow a desire in my heart to make our relationship my number one priority, regardless of my other relationships. If marriage is what You have in my future (or in my present), prepare my heart to make me a good wife who sharpens her husband and loves him from a place of personal sharpening and deep love with You. If marriage is not in my future, Lord help me to spur on the faith of my girl friends and to be so in love with You that I already feel complete. Thank You for being in a relationship with me. Please help me to never take it for granted and to let it set the pace for all of my other relationships. In Your name, Amen
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