I Peter 3:7, "Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered."
One of the paramount problems in any society in the world – and especially the United States – is the crumbling values of marriage and the home. With rampant fornication and divorce rates, the "norm" is rapidly becoming that which is contrary to the tenets of God's word. Eventually, generations will live where the idea of the Biblical family will seem unusual rather than commonplace. With such a subversive trend-line, a Bible student can see that nothing pleases Satan more than families to either break apart or exist in amalgamations that are alien to God's institutions. Therefore, kind reader, let us be on our guard to earnestly contend and guard the most time honoured natural institution of the Almighty: marriage and the family.
There are many thoughts within our study verse, and while there are many beautiful jewels that could be examined, it is our intention to focus on the last phrase of the verse: "that your prayers be not hindered." It should be noted first, however, that everything in the context that seems to point to an "inequality" of the man and woman is indeed correct. God got it right, and society would do well to take heed of it. In the preceding verses, the wife is referenced as having a place to reverence or obey her husband. In our verse, the husband is told to honour the wife as the weaker vessel. In expressions such as these, one spouse is honouring the "superiority" of the other. Much to society's dismay, God did not make or create men and women equal. He created both of them as superiors and at the same time inferiors. Men are superior to women at some things, while women are superior to men at other things. It is simply the way that God made us.
The point of making a marriage and subsequent family work according to God's design is not to shoot for equality. Rather, it should be to work within the roles and responsibilities that God has given to each one. Why is it that God gave men the responsibilities that He did? Why is it that God gave women the responsibilities that He did? The answer is the same to both questions. Because He made each of them better than the other at their given jobs. Simply put, if men and women act like the men and women that the Bible instructs, marriage will be a whole lot easier, and parenting will have less potholes and bombs to deal with. Now, having laid that groundwork, let us examine that phrase that brings both of them together completely and totally.
In the phrase before ours, Peter says that husbands and wives are heirs together of the grace of life. By inference, the thought of togetherness should also apply to our verse. That means that the husband should be regularly and consistently leading his marriage in prayer with his wife. She is there present with him, and the prayers go up together with two people offering up one prayer as a singular unit for mutual needs, benefits, comforts, and thanks. One of the things that has continued to slide in recent years – which is one of the reasons for family ruin – is the concept of "family worship." No, this is not on par with public, church worship. Family worship cannot supplant or replace regularly going to the house of God, but it is a daily need for the family's health and survival.
In olden days before the rise of the hustle and bustle of life, families spent much time in the evening in one another's presence engaged in worship together. Whether praying around the fire or reading the Bible together, they were together and busy thanking God for His continued presence, grace, and blessings. Where does such a mindset and habit start? It starts with husbands and wives praying together. What will hinder this (as Peter says that such can be hindered)? What hinders this is thinking our own thoughts and doing our own things. If the wife is too busy with her own ideals and individual goals, she will not obey and respect her husband like she should. If the husband is too full of his own thinking and putting his career or hobbies first, he will not love (sacrifice for) his wife or honour her like he should. When men stop sacrificing for their wives and wives stop respecting their husbands, "together" prayer time will soon cease or never begin.
Before we move into a spiritual application of this in the kingdom, let us briefly consider that by and large today there is little sacrifice in the world by husbands. Too much time is spent on hobbies, careers, etc. There is equally a problem with wives respecting their husbands. They are too concerned with either their own careers, what they want, etc. One of the most memorable quotes from my youth actually came from my mother. She said, "Son the reason the women's lib movement years ago was so successful is because there was a two way street going on. Too many women wanted the man's job, and too many men were willing to give it to them." When a man does not want to sacrifice and love his wife like he should, he will willingly relinquish the role as head of his house and spiritual leader in the home. When a woman does not want to respect her husband as her head, she will strive to fill a position that God neither authorized nor built her for. Brethren, we are not equal. May we engage according to God's word as He built and designed us.
Now, in a spiritual sense, the Bible is replete with references to Christ and His church functioning like a husband and wife (Ephesians 5 is a plain example). Now, if the natural husband and wife should be praying together, what about the Husband and His beloved? Consider that we are never alone. Every time the church offers up prayers to God, her Husband is present and praying with us. Yes, He petitions for us. He beseeches His Father in our room and stead as an advocate and intercessor. However, He also prays with us by bringing our thoughts, cares, needs, and thanks before His Father in love. Just as the husband should lead his family’s prayer, Christ handles the “heavy lifting” in our petitions and leads the prayers to the majesty of God’s throne room.
In all the senses in which a husband should function for his wife, Christ fulfills them to a jot and tittle. He never neglects to give honour to His wife as unto a weaker vessel. He considers that she is an heir together with Him of the grace of life. He loves her as He loves His own flesh. He loves her to the point of laying down His life for her. Nothing in the Husband's role and job goes unfulfilled. However, our prayers with Him can be hindered if we fail to perform the responsibility of the wife in obeying and respecting our Husband. One of the simplest explanations of the love of the husband and the respect of the wife came from an older minister when I was a youth, "Men are supposed to love their wives, and the more lovable a wife makes herself the easier the husband's job is. Wives are supposed to respect their husbands, and the more respectable a husband makes himself the easier the wife's job is."
Our Husband is the most respectable one could ever find. He is fairer than 10,000. He loved us, though we were unlovable. How easy should it be to respect Him! Consider something else about our prayers that should make us respect Him even more. It should also fuel us to never allow our prayers with Him to be hindered. In Revelation 5:8, John is in the middle of describing the heavenly portal. He is given access to see the great majesty surrounding God's throne with the saints, the angels, elders, beasts, and most importantly the Lamb and Lion. While seeing these things, John's mentions seeing something else: golden vials. These golden vials are declared to be the prayers of the saints.
When surrounded in absolute beauty, God still reserves room for our prayers. Though He is surrounded by an absolute cacophony of perfect praise, song, and voice, He still takes time to pull the lids off those golden vials to fill the throne room with the aroma of our prayers, thanks, and supplications. Why should God reserve such holy and respectable space around Himself for our seemingly feeble efforts? Because friends, we are not nor are we ever praying alone. Christ Jesus our Husband prays with us, and His voice makes the seemingly feeble efforts worthy of the most holy and eternal ground. While listening to the grand, new song of redemption, the prayers intertwine with the scene to present us with the praise. Friends, no matter how feeble you feel or unworthy the efforts seems, remember the love and sacrifice of your Husband. He still cares for you enough to pray with you so that your thoughts are heard amidst perfection and IN total perfection before the face of our Heavenly Father. What a loving and respectable Husband! May our prayer together with Him include absolute obedience and respect unto such a One!