The Christian man who does not read the Bible to and/or with his wife, is a man whose marriage lacks an aspect of intimacy that can be found nowhere else.
The Christian man who does not read the Bible to and/or with his wife, is a man who is failing to lead his wife as the spiritual head of the home.
The Christian man who does not read the Bible to and/or with his wife, is a man who is failing to love his wife as Christ loves the church and gave His life for her.
The Christian man who does not read the Bible to and/or with his wife, is a man who should seriously prayerfully consider how much he actually loves Christ.
These are strong statements, I know. These are questions I’ve had to ask myself during my 26 years as a follower of Jesus Christ.
I make the above assertions fully aware that there might be some Christian men who are married to unsaved wives (or vice versa)–women who might hate God and for whom the thought of reading the Bible is repulsive. If you are such a man, I want to encourage you to try. Try to read the Bible to your bride. Read Psalms. Read Proverbs. Read the Gospel of John. Or write her notes or texts of love and kindness that contain Scripture. Try and don’t quit.
I asked folks on Twitter to make topic suggestions for an encouraging blog post I could write, today. A.J. Millsaps, from Kentucky, wrote:
“You often mention reading the Scriptures with your wife. Perhaps you could blog your system/method/etc. for reading together . . . As someone recently married, hearing your thoughts would be edifying and helpful. Trying to learn to glorify and serve the Lord together, and not just in an individualistic sense.”
Mahria and I live very busy lives. We always have. Whether life as a law enforcement family, life as a church planting family, life as a missionary family, life as an evangelist family, life as a homeschool family–our almost 30 years of marriage has been a non-stop, hold-on-tight, roller coaster ride with extraordinary highs and some devastating lows. Today, Mahria and I are entering into yet another season of life. In 15 days, our daughter Marissa will be the first of our three adult daughters to be married. Time alone for me and Mahria, regardless of the context, has always been at a premium and a challenge.
Fight for the Time
Over the years, Mahria and I have had to fight (not with each other) for consistency in our time together in prayer and reading the Bible. If you struggle with this, too, just know you’re not alone. So, I guess my first piece of advice would be just that: fight for times of intimacy in the Word. Let nothing get in the way: televisions, computers, housework, fatigue, or even children. Bible reading and prayer will never be a priority in your marriage until you make it a priority.
Find a Place
Find a place to pray and read. For you, it might be on your living room couch, or in your bedroom; or if you have a family room or office, maybe there. We live in a small, 1,200 sq. ft. condo. It’s been our home for 25 years and will likely be our home until the end of our days. We are thankful for and content with God’s gracious provision. But living in a small home of five adults (well, soon to be four), presents its challenges when it comes to finding peace and quiet. One of the benefits of having a home now filled with adults is that our daughters understand when mom and dad open their Bibles, only potential death or dismemberment qualify as reasons to disturb us.
Sometimes, however, life happens and Mahria and I have to find a place outside the home for our daily time of prayer and reading. At times, that might mean a trip to Starbucks. I like praying and reading at Starbucks with my bride–not so that our prayers and reading will impress the people around us (Matthew 6:5). I like the witness and testimony it presents to people in our community. I read and pray publicly with the men I personally disciple for the same reason. There have been several times when we have been approached by Christians who tell us they are encouraged. And, from time to time, I catch others, most likely unbelievers, listening.
But, there are times when my bride prefers privacy, so I always defer to her wishes. At such times, when we need to get out of the house but a public place won’t do, we simple take a drive to a quiet place, often where we can watch the sunset, and read and pray in our car.
If you are a family with small children, you may have to engage in prayer and Bible reading with your kids on your lap or sitting at your feet. While not as private or intimate a setting, it is no less beautiful. I welcome our daughters to sit with us, pray with us, and read with us. I’ve never been shy about showing and talking about my love for my girls’ mom in front of them. I want my daughters to expect to be so loved by their future husbands. And I want to model intimacy with their mom through prayer and Bible reading, in front of them, so they will have the same expectations from the men they will marry.
As in any spiritual discipline, consistency is key. There are days when Mahria and I don’t pray and read the Bible together. But we have developed a level of consistency in this area of our marriage that keeps a missed day from turning into a missed week or a missed month. It’s become such an important part of our marriage that we fight together to maintain the level of consistency we’ve established over time. And it takes time to develop consistency. Stick to it. Don’t get discouraged if you miss a day or two. Get back at it. Fight for it. Persevere. Don’t quit.
Since our time of prayer and Bible reading might be the first time of the day when we get to look each other in the eye and talk to each other, I begin our time by simple asking Mahria about her day. I want to give her a chance to defuse and debrief. I begin our time by ministering to her with my ears–simply listening to her as she talks about whatever is on her heart or mind.
We always begin our time in the Word, with prayer. While Mahria is not averse to praying aloud, I don’t make her do so. More often than not, I will take her by he hand and simply lead our time of prayer. It’s another way for me to minister to my bride.
Our reading plan is simple. We read six chapters of God’s Word each day. I let Mahria decide what book of the Bible she would like to read. I shepherd the process by having us read entire books of the Bible, alternating from the New Testament to the Old Testament. We read aloud, with me reading the odd numbered chapters and Mahria reading the even numbered chapters.
I watch my bride closely as we are reading, looking for expressions that might indicate she has a thought to share or a question to ask. Unless the question is critical to understanding the flow of the chapter, we will wait until the end of the chapter, before going back and sharing thoughts or asking/answering questions about the text. These moments are wonderful opportunities for me to teach my bride and for us to encourage each other, as we share what we are gleaning from the Word of God.
I want to encourage you to keep the reading simple. Yes, allow time for reflection, conversation, and asking/answering questions. But don’t lose the intimacy of the activity by making your time in the Word of God a bookish affair. Stay focused on your individual relationships with Christ, your corporate relationship with Him, and your love for one another.
I hope this article is helpful and encouraging to you. Developing a consistent daily time of prayer and Bible reading has been a wonderful blessing to me and Mahria. It has fostered a level of intimacy in our marriage we would not have known without it. It’s special. It’s Christ-honoring. And it’s worth fighting for to develop and maintain. May the Lord richly bless your marriage as you draw close to Him and each other, through intimacy in the Word.