Monday, April 2, 2012

A Couple's Voice of Prayer

On March 17, 2012, Mark Frost (who has preached at the Trenton Church of Christ in Detroit for over 30 years) lost his wife of 40 years, Cheryl, to pancreatic cancer.  I only knew Cheryl briefly, but was privileged to be a guest in her and Mark’s home for a weekend last winter.  Cheryl’s hospitality and graciousness were abundantly evident, as well as her conviction that Christ could make a difference in people’s lives.  Among other avenues, she lived out this conviction through her work with Children’s Outreach, an organization that she ran which serves families in the Detroit area.
With Mark’s permission, I want to share a portion of a post he put on Cheryl’s CaringBridge site just a couple of days before her death:

This illness has brought Cheryl and me into a closer prayer relationship. She and I have always had different approaches to prayer. For many years I would have said (pridefully) "different," as in "mine was better." I was the one who tried, with varying success, to set aside a quiet time each day. I had a written prayer list, kept a journal and developed a set routine for Bible reading and meditation. Cheryl did none of the above, despite the fact that all the books on spiritual disciplines recommend doing it my way, not hers. We prayed together at meal times, but seldom at any other time. I had always had a vision of the ideal Christian couple spending hours each day in intense prayer together. I doubt that I could have ever pulled that off, but it was a moot point, because Cheryl never showed much interest in that kind of communal prayer. 
In recent years, however, I've come to appreciate Cheryl's unique expression of prayer. She is not a contemplative soul; she is a "doer" to the core. Her spirituality is expressed through action, and that action is intimately tied to her relationship with God. So while I was struggling—and frequently failing—to set aside an hour each day to be with God, she was engaged every day in a continual conversation with God as she worked in partnership with Him. Now, you tell me whose way was "better." 
Being unable to do anything is frustrating to Cheryl. But she still values prayer. She is unable to respond to a lot of "yes or no" questions, even ones that affect the quality of her care. But every time I ask if she would like me to pray with her, I get an enthusiastic nod. And I'm discovering an intimacy with her in prayer that was probably available to us all along if I had been ore aware of and sensitive to our differing spiritual temperaments. 

In a Christian marriage, shared prayer is a priceless connection that helps bring husband and wife closer together and centers their marriage in Christ.  In prayer, each spouse can hear his/her mate’s most intimate voice; whether it is praise, pain, or something else altogether.  Listen for your mate’s voice of prayer.  Always pray for your spouse, and as often as possible, always pray with your spouse too.

Father, bless our marriages to honor you.  May every couple find a joint peace and a joint purpose in You.  Walk with Mark through his grief, and thank you for the blessing Cheryl was to him and to Your Kingdom.  In Christ, Amen.

Marriage Enrichment Weekend
Fall Creek Falls State Park Inn
August 31-September 2
Limited to 25 couples
Call 615-631-2511 for more info or to reserve a spot

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