It can be an unsettling passage. “Likewise, husbands, live with your wives in an understanding way, showing honor to the woman . . . so that your prayers may not be hindered.” (1 Peter 3:7). I’ve seen the bumper sticker that reads “Life is fragile. Handle with prayer.” It turns out prayer is equally fragile.
I don’t profess to understand all this passage means; how much ununderstanding can I get away with without gumming up all things vertical? Certainly differing over what we have for supper or what we watch on television is not the same as where we invest our life savings. Or is it?
It could be that Peter is talking about the heart. What we might call the attitude. If that’s the case, those minor disagreements suddenly become not so minor. I know couples who finally divorced over far smaller issues.
One of the biggest challenges in prayer is that it’s me praying. That means it will be the scared me, the angry me, the distracted me, or the hypocritical me that shows up at any given time.
In his book, Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer, C. S. Lewis offers a couple of short sentences that serve as a hard reset on praying:
“The prayer preceding all prayers is ‘May it be the real I who speaks. May it be the real Thou that I speak to.’”1
Though Protestants are averse to reciting prayers, this might not be a bad way to begin.
“Pray then like this: ‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name.’” – Matthew 6:9.
- C. S. Lewis, Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer (Mariner Books, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Publishing Company, 2012), 82.