Excerpt from An online Course: Where God puts two hearts in a home.
Why is it that God insists that we talk with Him alone, away from all others? Matthew 6:5-6. It is the communication during our time alone with God that develops intimacy and unity with Him. In our prayer closet, we can tell Him about our heart‘s concerns and listen to His wisdom and hear His tender love for us. We can enjoy our special relationship and come to unity about future plans. Closet time is essential to maintaining intimacy with Christ.
By contrast, the hypocrites mentioned in verse 5 really did not have a relationship with God at all, did they? But they used their appearance of an intimate relationship with God in order to raise their esteem in the community. Their prayers were all directed toward impressing others, not for communing with God. When we refuse to spend time with Him alone, it reveals the real state of our relationship with Him.
The Marriage Closet….Because marriage is a picture of Christ and the church, can you see the correlation between spending time in a prayer closet and developing intimacy alone as a couple? While a marriage that looks good in public is not a bad thing, it is the marriage conversation in private that reveals the true state of the relationship. The closet time determines if the couple is truly in unity, or if they only smile in public to give the false impression that they are close partners. Just as is true in your personal relationship with Christ, closet time in your marriage is absolutely necessary to developing and maintaining intimate unity.
Time alone is the centerpiece of the one flesh relationship described in Genesis 2:24. In the Song of Solomon, the married couple frequently retreat from public life to spend time alone together. It is a chief reason why God said that the husband must leave father and mother in order to cleave. In Leave and cleaving we see that neither Mom nor Dad can be allowed to be a pebble interrupting the close bond of husband and wife. The same could be said for sisters, brothers, children, and church elders! You cannot maintain unity if there is always someone else listening in on the relationship. In marriage, the most intimate of relationships, time alone together allows you to share intimate thoughts that others have no business overhearing.
But in many situations, that closet is not easy to find, is it? There are at least three primary reasons why couples neglect closet time.
- Too busy. Time is your most precious commodity, and fortunately, everyone, rich and poor, old and young, has an equal amount. How you choose to spend time reflects what you value. If you consistently do not have time to spend with your spouse, it is a reflection that whatever else is taking your time is a higher priority. It is time to reevaluate your schedule and your priorities to determine what you will decrease, so that you can allow closet time to talk intimately with your spouse.
- Assuming the marriage can survive without it. Anything valuable that you want to have will cost you in some way, and a good marriage is no exception. Marriage is like a bank account. You cannot withdraw what you have not placed in your account. Many people keep taking withdrawals, but are amazed when they suddenly realize that they are overdrawn. They need to be able to rely on the marriage when life becomes stressful, but they have not made the effort to build up the account. One of the main ways that you make deposits in your marriage account is through intimate time alone spent sharing your thoughts with each other.
- No private space. It is common in most parts of the world for a number of relatives to live together, often in a small space. A young couple may, for economic reasons, live with the parents for a while and take in aging parents when they become incapacitated. As children enter the scene, it is even more difficult to find time alone, because the children need supervision. House walls may be thin, so that even if the children do not sleep in the same room, they can hear all conversation. Is it right to sacrifice marriage unity in order to meet the needs of children or parents?
Each situation is different, but cultural assumptions, such as who will live where, and who has the right of final decision, must always be subordinate to the guidelines of Scripture about unity between a husband and wife. If it is possible for a couple to live separately from parents, that is often easier on the marriage, especially if parents are not respectful of the couple‘s primary allegiance to each other. If it is not possible to live separately, the couple must learn to create closet time in order to preserve the unity in their marriage. Even for a couple who live only with young children, these closet times are necessary to build intimacy.
What makes a good closet? A good marriage-building closet is a place where the following takes place:
- No one who knows you can overhear your conversations.
- You are both comfortable.
- The surroundings are pleasant but not too entertaining (a movie or concert alone does not make a good closet because you cannot talk at length together.
- You can concentrate on each other without big interruptions.
Some ideas that couples have used to create a closet are:-
- Long walks outdoors
- Evening talks after the young one’s have retired to bed
- Time together away from others
At least a couple of times per year, or quarterly if possible, every couple should plan an extended time away alone, an overnight to several days. The agenda is to pray together, plan together, play together, rest and renew yourselves and your enjoyment as a couple so that your relationship can be strong enough to withstand the challenges ahead. It does not have to be in an expensive resort. If you have little money and great stress, pray for creative ideas, …and be on a lookout for an opportunity with limited or no expense.