I bet you normally do not use these two words–sex and prayer–in a sentence. There was a time when doing so would have been considered scandalous or irreverent. I hope that that time had passed.
Here is a verse in Scripture that talks about the relationship between sex and praying effectively in marriage.
Stop depriving one another, except by agreement for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer, and come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. (1 Corinthians 7:5 NASB)
The usual interpretation of this verse is that couples may agree to set aside sex in order to devote some time to prayer. The New Living Translation reflects this interpretation in its rendering of the verse. However, there is an alternative, albeit unfamiliar, interpretation: regular, frequent sexual relations between a husband and his wife will help them pray more effectively. Or, in plain language: “Do you and your spouse want to grow in prayer? Have sex regularly!”
There are two commands in this verse: “Stop depriving one another” and “come together again.” Both commands emphasize the fact that engaging in sexual intercourse on a regular basis is both natural and important for married couples. In fact, to withhold your body when your spouse seeks sex is to cheat him or her of what is rightfully his or hers. “Stop depriving” literally means “do not rob” or “do not defraud.” It is easy to understand this part of the verse.
However, when Paul said “so that you may devote yourselves to prayer,” what did he mean? Well, I read the verse in the original Greek. There are no punctuations. The sentence construction is different. Therefore, the interpretation can be challenging. But, I think we could interpret the verse in at least two ways: (1) The husband and the wife may agree to abstain from sex so that they could devote a specific period of time to prayer. (2) The husband and wife are to stop robbing one another of sexual pleasure, and by doing so, they enable themselves to share a spiritual focus (like prayer, for example) in their marriage.
I think the second interpretation makes more sense as I consider the context of 1 Corinthians 7. However, regardless of the way you interpret this verse, you cannot deny the correlation between sexual intimacy and effective praying among married couples. As a husband, it is my responsibility to make sure that my wife and I would grow in both areas. So, if Dahl and I will be faithful to the commands of Paul in this verse, we already know how our marriage would look like in 2015: lots of sex and lots of prayer!
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