Prayer For A Christ-Centered Marriage
A Sample Christ-centered, Gospel-focused Wedding Sermon and Vows | Prince on Preaching
[All words spoken by the Pastor unless otherwise indicated]
We gather here this evening in the sight of a sovereign God, whom the Bible describes as holy, holy, holy, and in the sight of these assembled witnesses to a ceremony honoring the holy institution of marriage.
Marriage is not the invention of man; it is the invention of God. The purpose of marriage resides within the purpose and plan of God. Your marriage is to honor God because it was created by God and for the glory of God. As in all of life what matters most in marriage is God.
I would also remind those who have been invited here today, that you are not here as spectators but as witnesses.
You have been invited by this couple to witness them be charged and give vows in the sight of God, before you, and before one another.
You have been summoned here to hear vows and you have a responsibility to hold them accountable to those vows. This beautiful wedding party, the guests, and the beauty of this moment is not mere formality and ceremony.
Something fundamental is changing today. We gather for worship because we believe this moment of change has been ordained and designed by God. Joe and Tina, as you hear the charge that you will be given today and make vows know that these witnesses have assembled to hold you accountable.Joe and Tina stand here today to declare that they believe that it is God’s sovereign and providential will that they commit to one another and become one flesh. They believe that God has directed their steps in such a way to put all of you in their lives and to bring them to one another.
They believe that they gather here today according to the providential will of God.
Joe and Tina, I am honored to be leading this service. We have spent much time in these months leading to today, talking about marriage and working through issues related to your preparation for marriage. I understand that you both have struggles and that you both have incredible strengths.
We have been honest about these things and we have tried to work through them together. I have seen within both of you a desire to submit yourself to the word of God. I have seen within you a desire to change according to the truth of God word and the truth of the gospel.
And thus, I am honored to be here today as your pastor, as the one leading this service, but also as your friend.
I have known Joe since he was in High School and you have changed a great deal, most of it is for the good. I have known Tina a short time but it has been a blessing to get to know you. I am thrilled that God has brought you to this moment and that I get to have a part in it.
We live in a world that often ridicules marriage. You will hear people say things to you , “Oh no, your freedom is over now. You are trapped in marriage.” That voice is from Hell itself. Marriage is a gift that brings a new freedom to your life.
A self-centeredness focus on rights and privileges does not bring freedom; it brings bondage.The Bible says that God gives a woman to a man, to complement him. I stand before you today to give personal testimony that before Judi was in my life, I was not free as I have been since God graciously gave me a wife.
Marriage brings a new liberty according to the wisdom and design of God. What a blessed and glorious reality. You are not perfect and you are not here because you are compatible puzzle pieces that just fit together.
You are people who believe the gospel and have committed your life to the word of God and with that you can live married to the glory of God.
II. GIVING OF THE BRIDE
Dear family and friends we assemble here because of our great love for Joe and Tina in the presence of God to witness the uniting of this couple in the holy institution of marriage. The Word of God tells us,
Genesis 2:21-24, And the Lord God caused a deep sleep to fall on Adam and he slept and He took one of the ribs and closed up the flesh in its place.
Then the rib which the Lord God had taken from man He made into a woman and He brought her to the man. And Adam said, “This is now bone of my bone and flesh of my flesh. She shall be called woman because she was taken man.
” Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and they shall become one flesh.
I ask, who gives this woman to be married to this man?
Father of the Bride answers: “I do.”
Pray with me. Lord, we thank you that you have brought us here to this moment on this day. We love Joe and Tina and we are excited about you bringing them together.
We pray, Lord, that this covenantal commitment being made today would be one that would honor you and glorify you for their lifetime.
May the gospel be clear in this marriage and may this marriage preach the glorious reality of Christ and the church to anybody who is willing to watch. Oh, Lord, we pray these things in Jesus’ name. Amen.
IV. WEDDING SERMON
Perhaps the most familiar verse in the entire Bible is,
John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son.”
For God so loved, He gave. For God so loved, He self-sacrificed. For God so loved, there was a bloody cross on behalf of guilty sinners.
The Bible describes the Son as the groom, and the church is described as His bride. The Son expresses His love for His bride in self-sacrifice—absolute self-sacrifice, self-sacrifice to the uttermost, love that knows no end, love that goes to a cross and is resurrected.
The church expresses her love to the One that gives everything for her. The bride joyfully submits to her loving head, acknowledging him as her leader and following gladly where He leads. This is the marriage to which all other marriages are to point.
This is the marriage to which your marriage is to point.
Joe, I want to say to you today: This is your bride. As her father walked away moments ago, that was no mere formality, and it wasn’t just simply symbolic. Something is changing here today. You have a new responsibility, a responsibility that you have never had before. This is your bride. You are to love her to the point of absolute self-sacrifice.
Your love is to know no end. You are her provider and her protector. Her father has taken care of her and brought her to this point, but he should be able to lay his head on his pillow each night, knowing that you will do whatever it takes to protect Tina and to provide for Tina the rest of your life.
She should be able to sleep with a sense of peace that God has given her a provider and protector.
And Tina, I want to say to you today: This is your husband. No one has forced you to be here. You are to joyfully submit to him, to trust him, to follow his leadership.You are making a choice today that Joe will be your provider, that Joe will be your protector and you are to love him through submitting to his leadership, supporting him, caring for him, and through being the complement that God has provided him.
I would remind you as well today, when your father walked away, something really changed.
As you look at one another: Joe, this is your bride. Tina, this is your husband. Here and heed the words of God in Ephesians chapter 5, verses 22-32:
Wives, submit to your own husbands as to the Lord, for the husband is the head of the wife as also Christ is the head of the church and He is the Savior of body. Therefore just as the church is subject to Christ, so let the wives be to their own husbands in everything.
Husbands, love your wives just as Christ also loved the church and gave himself for her that he might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the Word. That he might present her to himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing but that she should be holy and without blemish.
So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his wife loves himself. For no one ever hated his own flesh but nourishes it and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church, for we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones.
For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife and the two shall become one flesh. This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.
The marriage between a man and a woman is to be living testimony of the relationship between the Lord Jesus Christ and his chosen people, his bride, whom he purchased with His own blood. The bride of Christ was, specially chosen by the Father, from sinful humanity for the Son. His love for her knows absolutely no end.Therefore to be unfaithful to this marriage covenant will not just bring shame upon you personally and lead to negative consequences in your life.
To be unfaithful to this marriage covenant will be to lie to the world about Christ and His church. It would be for you to say that Christ is not faithful husband, does not keep His promises, and that the church does not trust Christ.
To walk away from this marriage covenant would be to trample the blood of Christ under your feet.
You are beautifully adorned as a bride today, Tina, may it remind you the reality that the Lord Jesus Christ has clothed his church. He has adorned her in the robes of his righteousness. The bride of Christ had nothing but filthy rags but she is now clothed forever with glorious robes of righteousness.
Joe and Tina, your marriage exists because of the gospel, and it must be built upon the gospel. Your marriage is not to say to the world, “Look at a perfect couple.
” But your marriage is to say to the world, “Look at two people who are sinners and are needy of grace, who have found that grace in Jesus Christ.” He is our Lord. He is our Savior. He is our only hope now and forever.
He is the great promise keeper and his promises will all be fulfilled. Every promise in Jesus Christ is “yes” and “amen.”
When you deal with one another in all of you weaknesses and your struggles, may you remember that you yourself are needy of grace and may you show grace to one another. The difficulties you will face in marriage are no reason to walk away.
The more difficult it gets, the more opportunity you have to show love. Remember that Christ died for the ungodly, and the commitment that you make here today is regardless of whether the other person holds up to their end of the commitment.
In Hebrews chapter 13, verses 4 and 5:Let marriage beheld in honor among all and let the marriage bed be undefiled, for God will judge the sexually immoral adulteress. Keep your life from the love of money and be content with what you have. For He hath said, I will never leave you nor forsake you.
Joe and Tina; be content with what you have. I want you to know that through all your weaknesses, Jesus Christ is perfectly content with you. Be content with one another. Joe and Tina; do not forsake one another.
The Lord Jesus Christ will never forsake you. Finally let me remind you that in choosing each other, you are choosing never to pursue any other.
You are uniquely God’s gift to one another, to become one flesh, physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
Lord, this charge has been received in the sight of these assembled witnesses and in your sight as well. Lord, I pray that this charge would be lived out for your glory.
Lord, as these vows are made, may it be obvious to all who are gathered here, that these are not just words and that this is not simply religious formality. This is a commitment.
Lord, we pray that these vows will never be broken. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
VI. PRESENTATION OF RINGS AND VOWS
I want to ask you both a very important question.
Joe, Do you totally commit yourself to Tina to be all that God and she needs you to be?
Tina, Do you totally commit yourself to Joe to be all that God and he needs you to be?
Joe, Do you possess a token of your love and affection to give to your bride this day as a seal of this holy covenant?
Joe, as I hold this ring before you. I want it to always remind you of your commitment to love Tina to the uttermost.
May every time you look upon this ring, you not simply see a piece of jewelry but you see the commitment that you’ve made in the sight of God and these witnesses to love Tina without end.
Your love for her shall never end. May this ring always remind you of that sacred commitment.
If you will place the ring on the wedding finger of your bride and repeat after me:[Groom repeats the following vow after prompts from the Pastor]:
Marriage and weddings
Christians believe that marriage is a gift from God, one that should not be taken for granted. It is the right atmosphere to engage in sexual relations and to build a family life. Getting married in a church, in front of God, is very important.
A marriage is a public declaration of love and commitment. This declaration is made in front of friends and family in a church ceremony.
The history of marriage
Marriage vows, in the form “To have and to hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part”, have been recited at UK church weddings since 1552.
But before the wedding service was written into the Book of Common Prayer, marriages were much more informal: couples could simply promise themselves to one another at any time or place and the spoken word was as good as the written contract.
In this audio clip, three academics – Janet Soskice, Reader in Modern Theology and Philosophical Theology, Cambridge University; Frederik Pedersen, Lecturer in History, Aberdeen University; and Christina Hardyment, social historian and journalist – discuss the history of and the role of state and church in marriage.The Catholic Church teaches that marriage is God's doing: “God himself is the author of marriage”, which is his way of showing love for those he created. Because a marriage is a divine institution it can never be broken, even if the partners are legally divorced: as long as they are both alive, the Church considers them bound together by God.
Catholics are encouraged to marry other Catholics in order to attain a “perfect union of mind and full communion of life”, but it is also the priest's duty to remember that marriage is part of God's natural law and to support the couple if they do choose to marry.
Today in countries throughout the world it is common for Catholics to enter into a 'mixed marriage' (a marriage between a Catholic and a baptised non-Catholic).
Couples entering into a mixed marriage are usually allowed to marry in a Catholic church provided they have embraced the following principles:
- They have chosen to marry of their own accord with no external pressure
- They intend to remain together for life
- They intend to be faithful to each other
- They intend to have children if the bride is of childbearing age
When one member of the couple is not a Catholic, a dispensation is required for a mixed marriage to take place. This is normally granted by the priest who is conducting the marriage.
If one of the partners is not baptised (they belong to a non-Christian religion, or to none) a dispensation for 'disparity of the cult' is required. This must be granted by the bishop. It is usually a straightforward matter as long as the dispensation is applied for in time. The priest will usually take care of the paperwork.
Catholic teaching on marriage to non-Catholics
The Catechism of the Catholic Church recognises that mixed marriages can pose difficulties but it also points towards the importance of growing together through dialogue and a common faith in Jesus Christ.
The Catechism also makes a distinction between a mixed marriage and a marriage with 'disparity of cult' (a marriage between a Catholic and non-baptised person).
Priests are required by the Church to ensure that such marriages will not endanger the faith of the Catholic partner. In practice, priests will judge each situation on a case by case basis.If difficulties arise, it is the pastoral duty of the priest to raise questions and initiate a frank discussion with the couple.
He would use the same logic as any other situation in life where the faith of a Catholic could be in jeopardy.
While the Church urges caution in the case of marriages between Catholics and non-Catholics, it does not prevent a Catholic from marrying the person of their choice.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church sets out the position:
Before a marriage takes place, a couple must spend time with the priest to talk about the sanctity of marriage and their role within the church in preparation for their life together. Questions concerning family and children, money issues, lifestyle choices and religion will be asked.
These marriage preparations are known as pre-Cana. It is an educational and maturing process for married life. Pre-Cana can take place over six months or an intensive weekend course and is mandatory for Catholics wishing to get married.
Whilst a couple is engaged but not yet married, they are expected to refrain from sexual activity: “They should reserve for marriage the expressions of affection that belong to married love”. This is because the Church teaches that sex is part of the procreation process and should only happen within the right framework, which is marriage.
A Catholic wedding ceremony
There are two types of Catholic marriage ceremony. One is with Mass and celebrates the Eucharist, which lasts for about an hour. The other is without Mass and only takes about 20 minutes.
The ceremony including Mass is as follows:
- Entrance rite: there is a procession, which may include a hymn. The priest greets the congregation then the Penitential rite and opening prayers are said.
- Liturgy of the Word: Bible readings, one from the Old Testament, a responsorial psalm, a New Testament reading, a Gospel acclamation, a Gospel reading and a homily (a practical sermon, not a theological one)
- The rite of marriage: questions are asked about the couples' faithfulness to one another and their willingness to bring up children. Then the vows are made and the rings are exchanged.
- Liturgy of the Eucharist: gifts are presented and the altar is prepared. Then the Eucharist prayer is said. Then the following are sung: Sanctus Sanctus, Memorial acclamation and Great Amen.
- Communion rite: The Lord's Prayer is said which is followed by a nuptial blessing. Then follows the Sign of Peace, Agnus Dei and Communion Hymn (sung).
- Concluding rite: The final blessing is made, there is a dismissal and the couple kiss. There is a recessional hymn which accompanies everyone the church.
In a wedding without Mass, the Liturgy of the Eucharist is missed out.
Official Catholic doctrine regarding marriage
Is Yours TRULY a Christ-Centered Marriage?
There is a big difference between two Christians who are married and a Christ-centered marriage. (Gary Oliver)
I was going through some papers, deciding what to keep and what to throw away. I came across some notes from a seminar my husband Steve and I attended a number of years ago where Gary and Carrie Oliver were speaking.
Carrie has since gone to be with the Lord after losing her battle with cancer. But what a lovely couple they were together and what rich advice they gave, especially in that seminar. I thought I would share a few of the things I was able to write down.
The main reason I want to share this information is because it spoke deeply to my heart. You see, I used to think that if two Christians married each other, that meant theirs was a Christ-centered marriage. How very naïve I was!
We receive emails and comments are posted on our web site where a spouse starts off saying, “We are both Christians.” And then they say, “But our marriage is in serious trouble and we are headed for divorce…”
That statement gets to me because I don’t understand how you can have a relationship with Christ and yet stay conflicted with your spouse—particularly if your spouse claims to have a personal relationship with Christ, as well. I understand having conflicts, but staying conflicted, I don’t understand. And I probably never will. Obviously someone or both are not living for the glory of God.
Falling In and Love
It’s what Carrie Oliver said, “When we marry, what we’re often vowing to is, ‘I choose you to make me feel better about myself.”
I certainly can relate to that because I can see that I approached marriage that way. I wasn’t a Christian at the time, but I sure thought I knew what “love” was. And I sure thought I was in love with Steve.
After our marriage started unraveling I started to entertain the idea that I had fallen love. Actually, I now know that I loved who I thought Steve was and how he made me feel when we were with each other.Once the shine and newness started to rub off of our relationship, things began to look different. So as quickly as I “fell” into love, I “fell” out again.
After the Lord came into my life, He spoke to me and helped me to see that I had made a vow. It wasn’t a wedding wish that I made. It was a marriage vow.
And even though Steve was different than I thought he was, I needed to lean upon the Lord to help me to fall in love with the REAL Steve —not some figment of my imagination.
After all, even though I didn’t feel I loved him and even though we fought all of the time, I could certainly see that he was basically a good-willed person.
Steve wasn’t crazy or anything and wasn’t totally narcissistic. (And yet at the time I thought he was. But in thinking about it, he probably thought I was too. That is because we both had “gimme” attitudes thinking we deserved better.)
Giving Love, and Living Love
I’ve learned a lot about love since those days and keep learning more. 1 Corinthians 13 and many other parts of the Bible explain love in it’s truest form. Scripture explains what God requires of us, concerning how we are to give love and live it. The principles for loving each other in marriage are the principles we see for living, as written about throughout the Bible.
In the talk that Gary and Carrie gave, they said the following, concerning a Christ-centered marriage. This is opposed to a marriage where Christians may reside, but not necessarily abide in deep fellowship with Christ.
The Christ-Centered Marriage
• “In a Christ-centered marriage, I/we choose to find creative ways to serve. But in a regular marriage, the focus isn’t as much on serving as it is on wanting to be served.
• “In a Christ-centered marriage, I/we work to understand. We assume the best in our spouse (even though sometimes that is extremely difficult). In a regular marriage the worst is often assumed about the motives behind the other spouse’s actions and words.
“If our sensitivity levels are set too high, we can take offense when none is intended. We can look for slights when they aren’t really there. We can assume the worst when it may not be true.”
It’s what Gary and Carrie Oliver told of their own marriage in the earlier days.
“It seemed as if one morning we woke up more aware of each other’s weaknesses than strengths. We were more aware of what each other did wrong than right. And we were more negative and critical of each other, our kids, our friends, and even God.
“…It used to be that we were MADLY IN LOVE. But eventually, we were JUST MAD.” The Lord worked on us BIG time to change that attitude around.
• “In a Christ-centered marriage, I/we will seek opportunities to pray together and individually for each other. But in a regular marriage, praying together is sometimes done. It is hit or miss at the best.”
• “In a Christ-centered marriage, I/we will pray that the Lord searches our individual hearts to ‘see if there be any wicked way in me and change me in the way ever-lasting’ as David prayed in the Bible.
In a regular marriage, the attitude is more of, ‘please change my spouse.’” And if we pray for our spouse, it is more on the line of wanting them changed so our life together is easier.
This is opposed to grieving over what this sin is doing in their life.
• “In a Christ-centered marriage, I/we seek to forgive and be forgiven. That is absolutely essential. In a regular marriage, it is not. It is a continual struggle of tug and pull.”
9 Powerful Words
Gary and Carrie said a lot more in that talk, which I wasn’t able to write down to be able to relay it to you. But one thing they did share is “9 Powerful Words” we should say more in marriage. They are:
“I was wrong.”
“I am sorry.”
“Please forgive me.”
Very, very important words, indeed! And this was a very important message for us all to prayerfully consider. Please know that just because you and your spouse are both say you are “Christians” it doesn’t mean that you have a Christ-centered marriage. You must both love Christ and follow and live by the teachings of Jesus.
We all go off-track at times. Those who are Christ-followers are “sinners saved by grace.” So sometimes we don’t do what we should at all times. But over-all, Christ needs to be held at the center of your relationship if you truly do have a Christ-centered marriage. You aren’t to just be Bible-reading Christians, but also to be Bible-living Christians.
We are told in the Bible:
“Do not merely listen to the word and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says. Anyone who listens to the word but does not do what it says is a man who looks at his face in a mirror.
After looking at himself, he goes away and immediately forgets what he looks .
But the man who looks intently into the perfect law that gives freedom, and continues to do this, not forgetting what he has heard, but doing it —he will be blessed in what he does.
“If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless.” (James 1:22-26)
May God minister to your marriage by the message written above.
Cindy Wright of Marriage Missions International wrote this blog.
: Christ centered marriage, Christ marriage, Christian marriage
Filed under: Marriage Blog
Powerful Prayers for Marriage and Restoration [Quotes + Verses]
Do you feel your relationship is in trouble? Perhaps your better half has left, your marriage is on the rocks, or you simply feel place with the person you are with. You value the relationship that you have with your husband or wife, and you honor and respect the vows that you took in front of God and witnesses.
Despite the best of intentions, there are times when even the most perfect relationship has problems and issues. It is common for a member of the relationship to run-away from those problems, or refuse to face them by trying to leave the relationship and the home you’ve made together.
Do not despair, there is hope, you just have to find faith and encouragement from our gracious Lord above.
Prayer can repair the most damaged marriage. The power of God can bring two people, who are intended to be together, back into a love filled marriage. Your union will know the love from the blessings of God if you keep your eyes on Him in all things. Through prayer, anything is possible.
God is all-powerful and all-knowing, He can mend any bridges that may have been burned by conflict, clear away any confusion, and give you the power to forgive when needed most. If your relationship is in need of a blessing and you have nowhere to turn, always consider the power of prayer.
God is always there to listen, and his followers on earth are always ready to assist in having your prayer requests heard.
“And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.” Ephesians 4:32
Prayer for Restoring Marriage
Lord, I come before you today with a heavy heart; my marriage is in grave trouble, and I need Your help and closeness. Please make changes in my spouse's heart. Make us compatible again, and bring us closer together as we were before.
Fill us with Your love and give us the strength to love one another, care for one another, and fulfill your life long wishes for us. Show us the harm caused by careless, uncalled for words, and the pain caused by emotional distance. Heal the division between the two of us.
Make us one again. In Your precious name I pray, amen.
Prayer for a Loving Soulmate
I seek a partner who enhances me by his/her very being.
who brings more love, joy, peace and prosperity to my life, Who I can love fully and who can fully receive my love, Who loves, honors and cherishes me completely, and always.
May my heart be open and my head be clear. May my life be ready to welcome True love. May I be embraced in a circle of your love An uplifted by your grace. And so it is.
Prayer for a Marriage In Need
My heart cries out to You, my Maker of Heaven and of Earth! Please bring healing to our broken hearts, bring restoration to our relationship, ignite lost passion, and inspire forgotten intimacy. Please transform the two of us from the inside out, and lead us in Your way. We trust in you, Precious Jesus. Always. Amen.
Prayer for a Lost Love/Partner
Precious Savior, please pray that my heart's desire be granted, and the return of the love of my life would come to fruition.
I pray that my spouse/partner may have healed his/her wounds from the past, and forgiven all that has gone wrong between the two of us.
Lord, help my lost love be able to follow his/her heart to their desire and love me for me. I ask that we be forever reconciled as one, from this day forward.
Prayer for a Friends’ Troubled Marriage/Relationship
Heavenly Father, I come before you and lay this troubled marriage/relationship in your hands. I ask that you would revive this couple, and draw them toward happiness shared together.
I ask that you would renew their love and passion for one another, and that you would untangle the conflicts and strife that has damaged and angered them towards one another. Please bring understanding and tenderness of heart to both of them.
May they both embrace the miracle that you desire to do for them, and within their spirits. Amen.
Prayer for Financial Peace In Marriage
I lift up my heart to You today, my precious Lord. Please help us to rely on You more in our marriage when it comes to our finances. We can be easily distracted by the amount of money in our bank account, or even by the jobs we currently have.
Help us not to trust in the matter of money itself, but more importantly, trust in Your economy and Your word. May Your Holy Spirit fill us with wisdom in how to manage our finances, give us generous hearts to give to those in need, and teach us to not worry about money so much.
We pray there would be peace in our marriage, especially over finances, at all times, and in all ways. May Your presence keep us grounded, keep us calm, and keep us in Your will always.
Prayer for Clear Communication in Relationships
Lord, I feel my partner and I have had a difficult time clearly communicating with one another lately. We are both lacking in our compassion and understanding towards each other.
I pray we would be better than this, and that You will open our hearts to You. Holy Spirit, please help us be better communicators with each other.
I pray that we would live with understanding for what the other person is going through, and that we are thoughtful in our words and actions. Amen.
Bible Verses about Marriage:
“Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” Mark 10:9
“Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers a multitude of sins.” 1Peter 4:8
“Enjoy life with your wife, whom you love, all the days of this meaningless life that God has given you under the sun—all your meaningless days. For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the sun.” Ecclesiastes 9:9
Grow in Christ, Marriage, & Prayer
November 7, 2013
Meaningful Relationships must have Life!
Some relationships simply do not grow. They are static, limited, predictable – they involve persons “kept at a distance” – they are the less important relationships in our lives. Relationships that really matter, the meaningful, important ones, must be growing and developing. They must have life.
Meaningful relationships have life – vitality, ever new, ever fruitful, always more somehow than the mere sum of their parts. The relationships I want to consider here are the relationship of spouses in Christian marriage, and the relationship of a Christian with God which is known as the Christian’s life of prayer.
The two relationships ought to be ever growing, ever deepening in intimacy, ever full with life and ever fruitful.
Marriage must be, by its very nature, a relationship of great importance and priority.
Christian marriage in particular is ordered to be a covenant communion of the spouses in Christ, ordered to Christ and His mission by virtue of the spouses’ Baptism into Him, and by virtue of the meaning and the mystery of Matrimony itself. Christian marriage must have life – fertile, fruitful, growing and maturing life.
Because Christian marriage is sacramental, a supernatural reality, it is in its essence fertile and fruitful. It is based upon more than human love; it is based upon holy divine charity. Of the unique presence and empowerment of God with the spouses in this sacrament, the Catechism says,1624 … In the epiclesis of this sacrament [Matrimony] the spouses receive the Holy Spirit as the communion of love of Christ and the Church. [Cf. Eph 5:32] The Holy Spirit is the seal of their covenant, the ever available source of their love and the strength to renew their fidelity.
1639 The consent by which the spouses mutually give and receive one another is sealed by God himself. [Cf. Mk 10:9] … The covenant between the spouses is integrated into God’s covenant with man: “Authentic married love is caught up into divine love.” [GS 48 # 2]
A good and natural marriage (a non-sacramental one) in itself calls persons into a bond that is alive, growing and rich in human fruitfulness. But how much more does the supernatural covenantal bond in Christ, of a sacramental union of spouses in Him, call forth supernatural life? A marriage in Christ calls us beyond the natural to a holy union in Him. Paul wrote:
Eph 5:31 “For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.”
Eph 5:32 This mystery is a profound one, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church…
Among natural relationships, that of a man with his father and mother is profound. It is fundamental, it is foundational to his personhood, his very being.
Yet Christian marriage calls the man to leave that foundation of a natural relationship with father and mother, to one that is supernatural and sacramental.
Christian marriage – the mystery of the conjugal covenantal communion of human persons – prophetically proclaims the even more profound mystery of Christ and His Church, as Paul observed.How can a Christian marriage truly have the supernatural life to which it is ordered? The marriage union must be, truly and actually, in Christ. How can the marriage truly be one in Christ? The spouses must be, really and truly, in Christ.
When the spouses personally live the life they were given first at Baptism in Christ, their marriage will be a marriage in Christ. When the spouses are personally growing in Christ, their marriage will be growing in Christ.
When the spouses personally are experiencing the fruitfulness of the life of Christ in their individual souls, then the marriage will bring forth the fruitfulness of the life that Christ came to give us all.
Growing in Christ Means Growing in Prayer
And so how does a Catholic Christian truly and personally grow in Christ? How is his personal relationship with Christ nurtured, that it may grow – that he may grow, and mature to the fullness of the stature that God has intended for him from the beginning? Well, we grow through the sacraments that bring us grace, we grow through Holy Scripture that brings us truth, and we grow through prayer which in itself is our relationship with God. Prayer is relationship. The Catechism teaches:
2564 Christian prayer is a covenant relationship between God and man in Christ. It is the action of God and of man, springing forth from both the Holy Spirit and ourselves, wholly directed to the Father, in union with the human will of the Son of God made man.
2565 In the New Covenant, prayer is the living relationship of the children of God with their Father who is good beyond measure, with his Son Jesus Christ and with the Holy Spirit…. Thus, the life of prayer is the habit of being in the presence of the thrice-holy God and in communion with him.
The key is prayer. Prayer unlocks and ignites fruitful life in Christ, which then empowers and nurtures fruitful sacramental marriage. And because prayer is relationship, we begin to see the thread that unites these subjects: our relationship with Christ is our life of prayer; our relationship in marriage is dependent upon our life in Christ, our life of prayer with Him.
“The life of prayer is the habit of being in the presence” of God. We need to develop a life habitually in prayer-communion with God. We need to grow in prayer, until by habit we live dwelling with Him. By habit, when we remain in Him, we remain prayerful. We become persons of prayer, we become persons with whom relationships matter, and are fruitful for Christ.
This ends part one of a two-part series on Growing as a Christian. Part two will focus on prayer. Prayer is both an art and a science. We will consider both the art and the science of prayer: we will find that the journey of prayer is a journey traveled in stages, each one leads into the next, for those willing to grow.
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