Summary: Paul compares the Christian life to a marriage and just like a marriage men will nevery have the intimacy that they desire without communication (prayer).
This morning’s message is perhaps much more of men and prayer, but I hope that it will have impact on all of us. I want you to take some time today and consider why scripture describes our relationship with the Lord in the context of a marriage. Both men and women need to develop a longing for relationship with Jesus, a passion for prayer as the method of communication that draws us near to Him. However, it is far more likely for women to step out and be identified as prayer warriors and intercessors than it is for men. I want to issue a personal challenge to the men of the church this morning. Over the next three months I want to see more men become involved in regular prayer and intercession than we have ever had before.
To better understand the need for deeper communication and lasting relationship with the Father, Paul writes concerning the functions of a husband and wife within the context of marriage. He actually says to you that when he speaks regarding the husband and wife in Ephesians 5, he is speaking concerning Christ and the church:
Ephesians 5:22-33 (The Message)
22-24Wives, understand and support your husbands in ways that show your support for Christ. The husband provides leadership to his wife the way Christ does to his church, not by domineering but by cherishing. So just as the church submits to Christ as he exercises such leadership, wives should likewise submit to their husbands.
25-28Husbands, go all out in your love for your wives, exactly as Christ did for the church—a love marked by giving, not getting. Christ’s love makes the church whole. His words evoke her beauty. Everything he does and says is designed to bring the best out of her, dressing her in dazzling white silk, radiant with holiness. And that is how husbands ought to love their wives. They’re really doing themselves a favor—since they’re already "one" in marriage.
29-33No one abuses his own body, does he? No, he feeds and pampers it. That’s how Christ treats us, the church, since we are part of his body. And this is why a man leaves father and mother and cherishes his wife. No longer two, they become "one flesh." This is a huge mystery, and I don’t pretend to understand it all. What is clearest to me is the way Christ treats the church. And this provides a good picture of how each husband is to treat his wife, loving himself in loving her, and how each wife is to honor her husband.
This is of course an amazing passage, but if it is a mystery, how are we supposed to understand what it means. Well, thankfully we have a helper who is knows the deep and mysterious things of God and who desires to share them with us. In this case, I believe that the Holy Spirit wants us to understand the significance of men’s becoming engaged in a deeper level of intercourse with God through prayer.
I want you to image something with me for a few minutes. Men, in particular I want you to think very seriously and picture the images we are going to be discussing for the next few moments.
Imagine as a man that you have just laid eyes on your true love for the first time in your life. You are dumbstruck by her beauty and you know instantly that this is the women of your dreams, the one destined to be your bride. Immediately, or as may be the case for some of the more timid of those among us – over the course of the next few weeks – you approach her and begin the process of wooing her and building a relationship with her. As days pass into weeks you spend every possible moment together and you do everything within your power and ability to prove to her that you love her. Finally after weeks or months of relationship building the time has come to ask for her hand in marriage and the two of you are soon united as one by the bonds of holy matrimony.
I think that some of what Paul was speaking to in Ephesians 5 can be seen in the foregoing illustration. This is the wooing and winning that takes place when we first accept Christ as our savior. Think back on that season in your life and consider what it was like. There was an intense season of wooing and drawing together – a recognition of your need for a lasting, eternal relationship – that continued and intensified until at last it was sealed by repentance and salvation.
Now begin to imagine again what it was like following the wedding. The honeymoon period had begun and though there are bumps in the road, little things that you just didn’t expect, your infatuation with one another is sufficient to keep your relationship strong and it grows a bit more each day. For most of you, you took time away from work and the other things of life to spend a week or two alone, just getting to know one another. This is where the first glimpse of intimacy should have begun, as it is here for the first time that the two of you would have made love together as husband and wife. There is a longing for one another that cannot be quenched and you are inexplicably drawn to one another at every opportunity.