Tuesday, January 29, 2019

Headship and Prayer (1)

Husbands and wives are required to submit to each other (Eph 5:21). A husband who loves his wife will often need to submit to her will.

When they submit to each other, they give each other authority in their lives. This means that their prayers for each other are extremely effective. This is why mutual submission is so important.

A man who controls his wife makes her prayers ineffective because she has no authority in his life. Given how women pray for their families, that is a mistake.

I am always uneasy when a man says, “A husband has authority over his wife” because it goes beyond what the scriptures say. It often means that the husband is imposing his authority on his wife by moral force. In the biblical model, a man only has as much authority as his wife gives to him. Therefore, it is meaningless to say where the balance of authority lies. If the husband is imposing his authority over his wife, her prayers are nullified, because he denies her authority in her life. If he is imposing his authority severely, then 1 Pet 3:7 says that his prayers will not be answered because his attitude is wrong.

If a wife is fully submitted to her husband due to love, and he loves her and sacrifices his life for her, as required, they will be operating by consensus. Their wills will be one. In that situation, it does not make sense to say that one has more authority than the other. Their prayers are strong, because they have authority over each other, and two people have agreed.

In his letter to the Corinthians, Paul confirms the power of mutual submission.

The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife (1 Cor 7:4).
These are strong words. A wife has authority over the body of her husband. This allows her to control his actions because he acts through his body. The wife cannot control what her husband thinks. People are free to think as they choose. But a wife can constrain the way that her husband acts because she has authority over his body. In the same way, the husband has authority over his wife’s body.

Mutual submission makes prayer powerful.

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