ThinkstockPhotos-99899527Mark: Yesterday, Jill and I went to see the movie “War Room.” It was excellent and such a reminder of the power of prayer.

Jill: It’s so easy to become lax in praying for our spouse, yet doing so always changes our marriage in some way. Sometimes it’s the one who is praying who changes and sometimes it’s the one being prayed for.  If one spouse changes, the marriage can’t help but change.

Mark: When Jill mentioned on Facebook that we saw the War Room movie someone offered this thought, I saw the movie and liked it. Priscilla Shirer did a good job. I do have a problem with movies like this that make God out to be some kind of a cosmic Santa Claus. We have several friends divorcing. In each case there is a strong praying Christian spouse. If these marriages are ending in divorce, the message of this movie is that they didn’t pray right or consistently or hard enough. That just isn’t the case, and it bothers me that this movie portrays prayer like that.”

Jill: I’ve been thinking about that comment a lot and decided we’d address it in today’s #MarriageMonday.

Mark: In a way, the “War Room” movie is our story. My heart grew discouraged and disillusioned and I wandered away from my marriage. Jill became a prayer warrior, standing in the gap for me. It got worse before it got better, the affair moved from emotional to physical, I moved out, and I know Jill had to wonder if her prayers were making a difference.

Jill: I never gave up hope, but I knew that my prayers would not be able to make a difference if Mark’s heart wasn’t the tiniest bit open to God’s touch.  For months it seemed like it wasn’t, but eventually the blinders started to come off his eyes and he started to see things as they were.

Mark: In the same way as the movie portrayed, Jill responded to me with a love and grace I did not deserve. I noticed that. It impacted me. Eventually it was part of what broke me, humbled me, and helped me to get myself back in a right place with God and returning to my family.

Jill: The Facebook comment is correct. There are many times when a spouse is praying and standing in the gap for his or her marriage and nothing changes in the relationship. That’s not because the person praying isn’t praying right or consistently or hard enough. It’s because the person they are praying for isn’t allowing God to touch their heart.  God never forces himself on us, He knocks and gives opportunity and puts the right people in our lives, but we have our own free will.

Mark: We’ve been walking alongside a wife who has had this experience. She has been praying, standing in the gap, and loving her husband. However, his heart is as hard as a rock. He’s running away from God, pursuing the life he thinks he wants, and it appears that this marriage will likely end in divorce. Why? Because this husband’s heart is prideful and hard. He rationalizes instead of repenting. He’s unwilling to allow anyone in his life to speak words of wisdom, hope, and encouragement to him.

Jill: The beautiful part of this situation, however, is the spiritual growth of this wife. She has been a strong prayer warrior. She has drawn closer to God than ever before. Her heart is broken to see the man she has loved for so many years be so influenced by the enemy. Yet, she has discovered that even when it is not well with our circumstances, it can be well with our soul. Her marriage may not make it, but she’s keeping her eyes on the Mountain Mover rather than the mountains.

Mark: The best parts of the movie were seeing the changes happening in both individuals. The husband moved from a place of pride to a place of brokenness and humility. That journey was painful and messy, but it resulted in peace, reconciliation, and a joy they didn’t even know they were missing.

Jill: She was changing too. She was moving her focus from criticizing him to praying for him. She was moving out of the way and letting God do the work. She was learning to submit and trust God in a deeper way than she’d ever experienced. One of the best lines in the movie was, “submission is learning to yield and duck so God can hit your husband.” Their marriage was restored because they were two broken people who allowed God to mold and shape them. It is in this way that we all need a broken marriage.

Mark: War Room may only be a movie, but we’ve seen what was portrayed on the screen happen in our marriage. It’s amazing what God can do with a broken marriage when He has the hearts of two broken, humble people.

What about you? Do you need to turn your criticism into prayers? Do you need to tear down the walls of pride that keep you from being open to God and what He can do in your marriage? 

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