The lives of families today are often busy to the point of being nearly frantic. Husbands and wives work, maintain the house, care for children and aging relatives, exercise, pursue further education, and try to squeeze in the occasional dinner together. Sadly, the discipline of prayer may creep to the bottom of the list—or slide off entirely.
Though the specific activities may have been different in the first century, no doubt early Christians struggled to focus on righteousness as much as modern believers do. Peter’s instructions in today’s passage return our scattered energies to the marital priorities of greatest importance: mutual love, humility, and prayer.
Wives are to submit to their husbands, husbands are to be considerate and respectful to their wives, and all believers are characterized by compassion and sympathy. As Peter will later summarize: “All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another” (1 Peter 5:5). This, of course, is the way of our Lord who was rich and yet became poor (see 2 Cor. 8:9), who made Himself nothing (Phil. 2:7), and who washed the feet even of those who would later deny and betray him (see John 13:1–17).
One way we express humility is in prayer. Peter warns husbands that if they do not act with Christ-like humility and love toward their wives, their prayers will be hindered (v. 7). Bringing a spouse before the throne of God is an act of love for them and a testimony of our mutual need of the Lord’s help. Prayer should be as central to our married life as anything we do. As theologian Robert Leighton commented: “[Peter] supposes in Christians the necessary and frequent use of this; takes it for granted, that the heirs of life cannot live without prayer.”