What struck me is that all three teach us not that praying helps us live right, but that living right helps us pray. There are ways to live that hinder prayer and there is a way to live that helps prayer. The first one in 1 Peter tells us husbands that there is a way to live with our wives that can clog our prayers, and a way to live with our wives that will help our prayers.
If you want your prayers to be helped and not hindered you have to live with your wife in a certain way. There has to be an effort to understand her so as to know her needs. There has to be a special solicitousness of her weaknesses and what she especially needs from you. There has to be a recognition that she is a fellow heir of the grace of life and an accompanying bestowal of honor rather than any belittling or demeaning.
When we husbands live like this with understanding, tender care, and honor , our prayers will not be hindered. If we do not live like this, our prayers will be hindered. No Christian husband should presume to think that any spiritual good will be accomplished by his life without an effective ministry of prayer.
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Wayne Grudem, 1 Peter , There is a way to live with our wives that clogs our prayers and ruins our spiritual impact. And there is a way to live with our wives that frees our prayers and helps empower our spiritual impact. Second, Peter goes on in verses 8 and 9 to call all of us, not just husbands, to be sympathetic, and brotherly and kindhearted and humble, and not to return evil for evil but to bless those who are unkind to us.
Then he gives a reason for why we should live like this. God listens to the prayers of those who live like this: keep the tongue from evil, refrain from guile, seek peace, do righteousness. So here again Peter is telling us how to keep our prayers from being hindered. Not forgiving those who repent will clog our prayers. There is a way to live that hinders our prayers and a way to live that helps our prayers. Third, in 1 Peter he says, that there are special endeavors we can make so that our prayers will be helped and not hindered:.
The end of all things is at hand; therefore, be of sound judgment and sober spirit for the sake of prayers. Two things: first, be of sound judgment for the sake of your prayers; second, be sober for the sake of your prayers. In other words, there is a way to think and live that will hinder your prayers and there is a way to think and live that will help your prayers. So there is a doctrine — a biblical truth — that we can now state with great confidence from these texts: Christians must endeavor to live in a way that does not hinder their prayers.
To Be Like Jesus
It has three parts:. What blocks prayer is often our lives — the way we live, the way we relate to wives or husbands or kids or parents or colleagues or neighbors. Opening the way of prayer to God involves a conscious endeavor. In each of these texts Peter is telling us to resolve to do something so that our prayers will not be hindered. In other words, a free, open, real, satisfying life of prayer is not automatic. If it did, these three texts would be pointless.
Your prayer life in depends in part — under God and his enabling grace 1 Corinthians — on how you choose to live at home and at work and in your private life of solitude. Form the resolution right now in your heart while I am preaching that you will not be passive about your prayer life this year; that you will take some active steps to make it good. Let me ask a question that might increase your incentive to do that.
Why does it matter that your prayer life not be hindered? There are a lot of tremendously important answers to that question. All those things must be taught, and childhood is a time for learning them. It is a long process as they gain strength and coordination.
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At first they must be fed, changed, and burped. They can't fend for themselves or make it in the world alone. It is their parents' responsibility to protect them. The most dominant thing you notice about a child when he comes into the world is that he is totally selfish. He wants what he wants immediately, and he thinks everything in reach belongs to him.
It is difficult to teach a child how to share, what to say at appropriate times, and how to be humble. None of those things come naturally to any child.
Finally, children need spiritual maturity. A child doesn't naturally grow to love God. Scripture suggests that even little children do have some innate knowledge of God Romans , but without proper instruction, they will drift away. Their own depravity will draw them away. It is the parents' responsibility to steer them the right direction. Proverbs says, "Train up a child in the way he should go, even when he is old he will not depart from it. Not all parents desire to raise their children in the way of truth.
But when Paul writes "Children, obey your parents in the Lord," he is saying that obedience is in the sphere of serving, pleasing, honoring, and worshiping the Lord. The command for children to obey their parents is absolute—except where the parents' commands are counter to the clear commands of God's Word. If a parent asks a child to violate a clear commandment of the Scriptures, the truth of Acts comes into play: "We must obey God rather than men.
And he should accept the consequences of his disobedience patiently and without a display of defiance or anger. Ephesians says, "And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord. It won't. Parents are the key to each child's spiritual growth. Every person is born with a bent to sin, and depravity will take over, unless its grip on a child is broken by regeneration. The child must be "born again, not of corruptible seed but incorruptible, through the word of God which lives and abides forever" 1 Peter Scripture's instructions to parents suggest that the best environment in which to nurture the seed of God's Word for our children is in a loving environment of discipline.
In a study conducted several years ago, sociologists Sheldon and Eleanor Glueck of Harvard University identified several crucial factors in the development of juvenile delinquency. They created a test that can, with about 90 percent accuracy, predict future delinquency of children years old.
They listed four necessary factors in preventing juvenile delinquency. First, the father's discipline must be firm, fair, and consistent.
Second, the mother must know where her children are and what they are doing at all times, and be with them as much as possible. Third, the children need to see affection demonstrated between their parents, and from their parents to them. And fourth, the family must spend time together as a unit. Similar studies suggest that right parent-child relationships normally occur in contexts where the parents genuinely love one another, where discipline is consistent, where the child senses that he or she is loved, where the parents set a positive moral and spiritual example, and where there is a father who leads the family.
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The bottom line is this: the example you live out before your children is what most affects them. Many parents make the mistake of being overly concerned about how they are perceived in the church and in the community, while completely disregarding the way they live before their children.
Nothing makes the truth more distasteful to a child than to have a hypocritical or spiritually shallow parent who affirms the truth publicly but denies it in the home. Parents, ours is a solemn and awesome responsibility, but it's also a wonderful privilege. One of the most fulfilling experiences in all the world is to have children committed to following the Lord no matter what the cost, because they have seen the same commitment in us. Marriage for two Christians is first of all a commitment to Jesus Christ and then to each other.
Satan loves to destroy marriages, and the best insulation against his attacks is a deep, profound, mutually shared relationship with Jesus Christ and a commitment to obedience of God's Word. In the presence of that kind of commitment, I don't believe a marriage can fail. But to expand on that, here are two principles that strengthen a marriage.
First, concentrate on being who you should be on the inside, not just on what you say, what you have, or even how you look externally. Peter gives this principle to wives in 1 Peter , but it surely applies to husbands as well: "Do not let your adornment be merely outward; arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel; rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God. Everything you own will decay.
Even the way you look continues to deteriorate with age. But "the hidden person of the heart" matures, develops, and grows more beautiful as we become more and more like Christ. If that's where the focus of your marriage is, your love for one another will grow stronger, too. A second principle is this: concentrate on learning who your spouse is.
I have counseled many people whose marriages were faltering simply because they had never taken time to get to know each other. It's important to realize that no person, and no marriage, is perfect.