Worth Another Look, Vol. 1

I tend to be skeptical of most marriage books. You can probably safely add to that books on parenting as well. Rather than leading the reader to evaluate what is broken with the self in order to enable a releasing of burdens on one’s spouse, instead much of what is written is guised manipulation. Not getting what you want? Is your spouse not meeting your needs? Follow these simple steps to make your partner happy and they will, in return, give you what you want.

In reality, how long will that advice last? Probably until you consistently do not get the response you desire. Make no mistake, since we all tend to fall into focusing on ourselves that will happen probably sooner than later.

While I am a skeptic of the marriage book genre, out of interest in the subject I still have a number of these books in my reading queue. It is within the last one I read and put on the bookshelf that I found this nugget. In the midst of discussing 1 Peter 3:7,

Husbands, in the same way be considerate as you live with your wives, and treat them with respect as the weaker partner and as heirs with you of the gracious gift of life, so that nothing will hinder your prayers.

the author espoused the view that if a husband’s prayers were not being answered, then it was likely because he was not loving his wife properly. Just to say this another way, the man who was interpreting this passage was saying that consequence for a husband not loving his wife in the proper way was that God would stop answering that man’s prayers.

That assessment strikes me as driven by performance. Rightness before God being determined in this interpretation by the husband’s works. Beyond that, it implies God can be manipulated – by doing the right things you can get God to answer prayer. The grace and mercy of God seem to be absent until the man gets his act together.

Yet, grace is not earned or deserved, meriting another look at what my be implied by the hindrance of prayers. It is interesting that the author focused on a hindrance in the answer to the prayer rather than the delivery. Maybe Peter is reminding husbands that if they are not considerate, if they do not respect their spouses relative weakness, then that is going to lead to a house filled with strife. Strife that will be the direct result of the man’s actions. It is hard to pray during relational conflict. Anger can harden our hearts, hence the warning not to sin in it. So instead of the two being one, each feels isolated and alone, and quite probably isolated from God as well.

That may be the hindrance to prayer that Peter is envisioning. Strife creating chaos and lack of desire to seek out and connect with God. Or maybe if we are inclined to turn our face to God, it is with the intent of manipulation (“God please change my wife!“) instead of repentance and gratitude.

The hindrance being in our desire to offer the prayer rather than in God’s ability to answer it.
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