3 is Better Than 2

“There are three kinds of people in this world. Those who are good at math and those who aren’t.”

My friend recently posted that quote on Facebook, and it made me laugh because I’m a journalist married to a mechanical engineer. Math isn’t my favorite subject.

And while I chuckle because that quote just doesn’t add up, it reminds me of another quote that doesn’t seem to add up either.

Ecclesiastes 4:12 – “Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken.”

The verse and several verses leading up to it seem to be explaining why two is so much better than one. And then all of a sudden it jumps to three and leaves me thinking, “Huh?”

After studying it more closely, this proverb applies to marriages. Companionship makes life better. Husband plus wife equals two, and two is better than one. Two can be more productive in work. One can take care of the other when he or she falls, and together they keep each other warm. (Ecclesiastes 4:9-11) Two is good.

But really, marriage is full of tension with various demands tugging each of us in multiple, sometimes opposite, directions. Children, school, work, housework, volunteer positions, extended family, friends, neighbors, and all the hobbies and activities we want to enjoy — these all can pull us away from each other and cause a marriage to unravel.

So yes, two is good, but two isn’t enough. Two can’t become a strong cord that’s not quickly broken, as the passage suggests, unless another one is added. Three is better than two. But how, in a marriage, do you get two to equal three?

For us, the One that makes our marriage a cord of three strands is Christ Jesus. He is Immanuel, God with Us. He is the third person Who braids our relationship together into something much stronger and much more satisfying.

Weaving Christ into our marriage translates as praying for each other daily. Usually we pray for each other out loud when we are together at the end of the day. Often we pray for each other on our own during the day. This spiritual discipline is something I greatly appreciate in my husband. We have not always done this, but making it a regular habit has truly transformed our marriage for the better.

A few years ago, my husband spent 10 days serving as a short-term missionary in a very remote jungle village in Nicaragua. No e-mail. No cell phone. No texting. Zip. So we had no contact with each other during that time, and it was extremely difficult to be apart. What comforted me most was knowing that Michael was praying for me at a specific time every day, and I was praying for him at that specific time, too. Our prayers for each other connected us when we could not connect otherwise, and that was so powerful.

But I couldn’t just pray for him at that one set time. One by one, worrisome thoughts came to me throughout the day every single day he was gone. What if he is sick? What if he is injured? What if he is in some sort of danger? What if I never see him again? My imagination could so easily run wild with all the unknowns! Those what-ifs were relentless and could quickly make me feel vulnerable and powerless — especially since we were thousands of miles apart and I was home with 5-year-old and 2-year-old in the middle of a cold January in Minnesota.

So one by one as they crept into my mind, I grabbed each of those what-ifs and dragged them to Christ Jesus in prayer. And you know what? He conquered the what-ifs for me. He victoriously and faithfully gave me peace — a peace that passed my understanding and a peace guarded my heart and mind (Philippians 4:6-7).

Prayer is a mighty powerful tool, and it is especially powerful when we pray God’s own words back to Him. His Word is alive and active and sharper than a double-edged sword; it can judge the thoughts and attitudes of the heart (Hebrews 4:12). Praying God’s Word helps me keep my prayers for my husband aligned with God’s will, rather than my own selfish desires.

So how and when do you pray for your husband? Do you use Scripture when you pray?

Whether you are already praying for your husband or not, here are some excellent, Scripture-based resources to strengthen your prayers for him.

Renee Swoope: Praying from My Husband from Head to Toe

Revive Our Hearts: 31 Days of Praying for Your Husband

Also, Ann Voskamp has this exceptionally helpful post on prayer over at A Holy Experience: Seven Ways to Keep Your Home Strong, which includes seven ways to build a house of prayer.

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