THE PASTOR WHO TAUGHT MARRIED COUPLES ABOUT PRAYER
Bukari and his wife don’t sit next to each other in Church. They even go to church in different vehicles. Whenever they go in the same car, it is usually a very quiet and uncomfortable ride. Bukari sat at his usual spot in church – the fourth line on the far left row. His wife sat on the center row.
The pastor took to the podium. “Husbands, stop wasting your time praying,” he began.
The congregation became alarmed. After all no one ever expects to hear a pastor say that prayer is a waste of time.
“I am not here to discourage you from praying. I am here to encourage you to pray RIGHT. Husbands, stop wasting your time praying if you are not treating your wife well.
“The Word says that when you treat your wife badly, that hinders your prayers. Men, you claim to be prayerful. You come to church driving your expensive cars, giving your offertory and tithes. You are active in church. Some of you are even church leaders. But how are you treating your wife?
“You may look good to us church members, but it is your wife and children that know who you truly are,” said the pastor.
Bukari turned to face his wife. She looked at him. Bukari could see her eyes. Her left eye was swollen from the blow he gave her last week when she confronted him about his alcoholism, pornography addiction and mischievous behavior. People couldn’t tell she had a black eye because of the makeup she had on, so well done.
The pastor continued, “People have perfected the art of cover-up. Here in church, so many are hurting but you wouldn’t know. People come here wearing their nice clothes, and shiny smiles. They are active in ministry but are hurting a lot in their marriage.
“We have become numb and plastic, brushing things under the carpet. But today we shall heal; we shall address those wounds we hide.”
The pastor cleared his throat and continued, “Many of those who are hurting their spouse are using the church to hide. They think that because they give offertory and tithes, because they make public prayers, because they stand in front to read the Word or because they hold a church leadership position, they are right with God. God is interested in what you do in your marriage and in your family. Your first ministry is your home. Stop trying to blackmail God with your service in church, yet you are mean and hurtful towards your spouse.”
Many members of the congregation got restless and unsettled.
The pastor continued, “Many of those who are being hurt by their spouse hide their pain and want to project an all-is-well image to mislead people into believing that they are blessed and in control. Some of you are active in church to run away from the pain in your marriage.”
There was absolute silence in the church; one could here a pin drop. Some of the men were uncomfortably adjusting their ties, others fidgeting with their Bibles, or adjusting their sitting positions.
This pastor was preaching the raw truth and it was uncomfortable.
The pastor continued, “The husbands are not the only ones guilty. Wives, don’t you know the Word says when your husband found you he found good and you bring favour? Why are some of you then the source of your husbands’ headache and stress? Have you been so toxic that you have turned your prayerful husbands into prayerless men? Do you make them regret marrying you because you bring more complications than they had before marrying you?
“How you treat your husband can be a stumbling block in his walk with God as you feed an environment that frustrates growth. Many of you married your husbands primarily because of their relationship with God? Why are you now destroying that relationship instead of celebrating and nurturing it?
“Why would any of you be a burden to your husband emotionally, spiritually, socially, sexually and financially instead of being a wife who brings him favour?”
Bukari’s wife looked at Bukari. Bukari looked at her. She looked away.
The pastor paused to drink his glass of water, and then continued.
“When I am thirsty, I drink a glass of water. When your spouse gets thirsty, will you allow God to use you to bless him/her?
“You’ve been told many sermons that focus on you as an individual, that God will make you prosper as an individual. I am here to tell you that your blessings are tied to people; you are blessed to be a blessing to others. Our God is not an individualistic God.
“Your blessing is tied to your marriage, your family. It’s not about you, you, you; it’s about Jesus and Jesus is about love. What good is it to prosper and be successful when you have no love? It’s all vanity. God cares about your family, how you treat your spouse and children.”
“Yes, we pray, but what kind of prayer does your spouse pray because of you? When your spouse prays, is it largely to cry to God because of the hurt you bring? Is it to plead with God to change you from the monster you’ve become? Is it to plead for grace to deal with how difficult you are? Or is to give thanks for you?”
“Are you really prayerful? Do you really value prayer?
“Then why is it that many of you find it easy to come to us pastors for us to pray with you as an individual? Why do you find it is easy to pray in public in a church service or Bible study, but find it so hard to pray with your spouse? Isn’t that telling of what is going on in your marriage? Don’t you know that the more you pray with your spouse the stronger your marriage will be?
“But how can you find it easy to pray with a spouse you hurt or who hurts you?”
The pastor paused and looked at the congregation. Eyes were staring at him.
“I challenge you. I challenge you to pray with your spouse and to treat your spouse well,” he said to the congregation.
“Husbands, you are the head of the home. I challenge you to stand up and go to where your wife is and pray with her as a start of a more prayerful chapter in your marriage. Don’t do it because I asked you to but because you want to. Your choice.”
One by one, the husbands present stood up. Bukari stood up too. Bukari walked to where his wife was. Her face radiating with love, she looked on as her husband walked toward her.
She almost stood up but he made hand gestures at her to stay seated. Bukari reached where she sat. Their eyes met. Bukari knelt down. He stared at her, then kissed her swollen left eye.
“I am sorry,” Bukari said. “Can I pray with you?” he asked.
She got up from her seat and knelt down too. There, on the floor as the church service was still ongoing, husbands prayed with their wives.
Bukari prayed kneeling with his wife. They prayed for forgiveness, for thanksgiving, for love, for renewal, for peace, for direction, for their marriage. Marriages were healed.