Years ago when we were on a family vacation in Yosemite National Park, we were fascinated and awed by the magnificent redwoods. As we walked among the forest giants, we came to what appeared to be a huge redwood tree about 40 feet in diameter.
We were puzzled, however, by the sign at the base of the tree, which read, "The Faithful Couple." This looked like it was a single tree, not two.
A ranger explained that some 1500 years ago, two trees had sprouted as seedlings on the forest floor about 15 feet apart. For several hundred years, the two trees had grown individually, but as they got larger, their trunks grew closer and closer together. Sometime around the age of 800 years, the trunks literally touched, and they began fusing together as one tree. There they stood throughout the centuries—the Faithful Couple.
I thought to myself, What a perfect symbol of a godly marriage that knows oneness in Christ and spiritual vitality! As two people sink their roots deep by following Christ, studying Scripture, and responding to the leading of the Holy Spirit, they also grow together as one—a faithful couple.
Marriage first and foremost is a spiritual relationship. It works best when two people are connected individually to God, walking with Him, obeying Him in the Scripture, and praying as individuals and as a couple. If you push the spiritual dimension to the side, you are ignoring the very God who created marriage and the One who can help you make it work.
Founded on the Rock
Jesus spoke about two different foundations for a life. His statements are equally applicable to a couple building a home together:
Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock. And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock. Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand. The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell—and great was its fall. (Matthew 7:24–27)
Jesus was talking about the need to build your spiritual house on solid stuff and the way to support your life through increasing obedience to God and His Word. When you build your house on that Rock, you can withstand the cultural storms and the "currents" of your selfishness and shortcomings.
How do we help each other set Jesus Christ apart as Lord and Master in command of our lives? We must know Jesus Christ personally and diligently follow in His steps, growing toward Christian maturity. Paul wrote, "... we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming; but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him, who is the head, even Christ" (Ephesians 4:14–15).
Is there an insider's secret on how to make the most of time and build a marriage on the solid-rock foundation of Jesus Christ? Many people in our "do your own thing" world may not care for the answer, but followers of Jesus for centuries have recognized its critical importance: discipline. Certain spiritual activities contribute to the training of a growing disciple. I am not proposing a lifeless list of legalistic tasks that will turn the Christian life into a graceless, joyless religion based on works. No, these are basic exercises that will change a flabby, weak faith into a strong one.
Growing together in Christ
These disciplines are as important to develop as a couple as they are as individuals. As you seek God together as a couple, you will also draw closer to each other as you develop a deep, close spiritual intimacy.
The problem is that most Christian couples wish they spent time together praying and encouraging each other from the Bible, but they just don't do it. They let other priorities crowd out what should be the most important aspect of their marriage relationship.
That's why Barbara and I have developed our devotionals for couples—Moments With You and Moments Together for Couples. These one-page devotions give couples the opportunity to read Scripture, pray together, and discuss biblical topics relevant to their marriage and family.
Couples who have used these devotionals have reported that this daily time together has taken their relationship to a new level of oneness and intimacy. Art and Jen Powell wrote,
God has used this devotional in a mighty way in our lives. It opened up communication between the two of us. It got us talking about important issues that we had never had the courage or the idea to discuss in the past. We were fairly new in our faith at that time. In the spring of 2002, we went through a major medical crisis resulting in financial distress and serious life changes. God had prepared the way through this book. We knew how to pray together. We knew we could turn to Him. We learned we had Scripture to "hold on to."
The Powells' words confirm Jesus' warning in Matthew 7 about the storms of life. Many couples never stop to consider that floods, wind, and the like will assault their marriage. They aren't prepared spiritually, so these elements overtake them.
Spending time in prayer and in the Word as a couple helps you anticipate what will come in your next seasons of life. It helps you make prayerful, thoughtful application of Scripture—for example, to prepare for a child, or for a child leaving the home. It helps you work on your values as a couple and what you want to build into children, and it helps you determine your priorities in the final years of life.
Spiritual intimacy will draw you closer as a couple … and it will help you stand strong in every season that comes.
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FamilyLife is a donor-supported ministry offering practical and biblical resources and events to help you build a godly marriage and family.
1. Before you begin to pray with your spouse, be sure that your relationship with God is right. Read “Proud People vs. Broken People.”
2. Listen as David Delk, president of Man in the Mirror, helps FamilyLife Today® listeners get out of their “get along” ruts. He encourages them to change the way they think about their husbands or wives by intentionally praying for them every day.
3. If you are married to an unbeliever, read “10 Ideas: Prayers for an Unbelieving Spouse.” Then choose the prayers in this article that apply to your particular situation, and pray them regularly for your spouse.