Whatever Happened To The Tie That Binds?

by Rev. Oliver W. Price, Director of BPF

Whatever Happened To The Tie That Binds?Order Now »


“With all the broken marriages and heartaches, is it worth it to get married?”

A nineteen-year-old girl once asked James Dobson this profound question. Years ago broken Christian marriages were rare. Vows to God to be true to each other until death were made before a minister of the gospel. Friends attended the wedding not just to watch a beautiful ceremony. They came as witnesses who knew they were responsible to hold the couple accountable to keep their vows. In those days divorces among Christians were rare.


Few today remember that such strong marriage ties ever existed. This young woman's fear for the survival of a Christian marriage is based on a sad reality. The rate of divorce in Christian marriages is now higher than in the rest of society. This is shocking because the tie that binds us to God provides supernatural authority and strength for our ties to one another plus resources for forgiveness and reconciliation when needed. Furthermore, our fellowship in the church provides a supporting community to help us unite in drawing on those divine resources.


Consider how the tie that binds us to God provides a powerful bond for our ties to one another. God is our Father and believers are His children. Aren’t fathers supposed to teach their children to love one another?


God is the Father of believers and He loves them the same as He loves Jesus. He is willing and able to empower His children to share the unity of love that He and the Son already have. Our sharing their bond of love is the tie that binds and the key to our witness to the lost world (John 17:20-26).




Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also who shall believe on me through their word; that they all may be one, as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us; that the world may believe that thou hast sent me. And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know thq6t thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am, that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me; for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee; but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it, that the love with which thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them.


Real Ties That Make A Real Difference


Several years ago a group of pastors in the small Nebraska town of Alliance banded together and poured out their hearts to the Lord. For 15 months they earnestly pled for a renewal of God’s love among His people, specifically that His power would heal marriages and bind Christians together.


God began the breakthrough on March 18, 1990 when an evangelistic campaign scheduled for eight days “exploded” and continued for 9 _ weeks! Powerful reconciling love began changing lives. One man had divorced his wife and later re-married. The ex-wife and second wife had experienced eight years of bitterness and sleepless nights. During those 1990 meetings they publicly forgave each other and embraced.


Another woman and her husband were in the middle of a divorce. Their two daughters were distraught over their parents sins. Their father was already seeing another woman. But on March 30 their mother committed her life to Christ and her family was wonderfully transformed! She later testified about God’s intervention: "God has saved my marriage and family and has put a love in my heart and soul, more intense than it ever has been. God gave me the power of forgiveness, compassion, understanding, love and control over my weak human will and thoughts."


God was at work reconciling people to Himself and one another. Faith and love were renewed in congregations and in many individuals. 900 people out of a population of 9,500 confessed faith in Christ! Evangelist Anders says he had never seen anything like this before.


We can see that when God's people humble themselves and pray in one accord they can begin to share the unity of love of the Father and Son (John 17:20-26). And it is earnest persistent prayer in one accord that brings such love down to God’s people.


Weak Ties With Christ And His Church

Multitudes of professing Christians have not found this tie of love with God and one another. Perhaps many are not even looking for it. If they go to church it is not to meet the Lord in prayer to share with the church family the tie that binds Christ’s body to Him in faith, love and obedience. Few ever attend a prayer meeting. Those who do attend rarely pray for the tie that binds us in the unity of love with Jesus and the Father (John 17:20-26). Paul’s passionate prayer for the fullness of God to fill the church has been forgotten (Ephesians 3:14-21).


Most Christians attend church on Sunday morning looking for personal inspiration without any commitment. So weak ties with Christ and the church result in weak ties with one another.


George Barna, the Christian pollster, says what was once known as “the Church Home” has become a temporary “Spiritual Pit Stop” along life's busy highways. “The tenuous connection many people have to their faith community makes most Americans unwilling to be held accountable for their beliefs and resulting behaviors.”


Revelation 3:14-22 describes Christ outside the church of Laodicea. That church had actually developed a form of Christianity without the presence of the living Lord Jesus and they were doing so well without Him they never even noticed His absence!


This description fits today’s church in America all too closely. As author and pastor Tony Evans puts it, “The price tag for this drive-through, ‘McChristian’ spirituality has been weak Christians leading weak families, bringing about weak churches, resulting in a weak nation.”


Christ warned the Laodicean church that their personal comfort and preoccupation with affluence did not make up for their spiritual poverty and nakedness. They had forsaken passionate love and commitment to Him. Even so, Jesus promised that if anyone in the church would listen to His voice and open the door He would meet with him and commune with him (Revelation 3:20).


If you see the desperate need to restore the bond of passionate love and devotion to Christ in our families and churches, then humbly pray and open your own heart to listen to what Christ is saying. Do not criticize or judge any church or anyone else. Instead plead with the Lord to restore us all to complete love and devotion to Him and to one another. The prayers of a small group can make a difference.


For example, wonderful things happened in 1857-58 when Jeremiah Lanphier started a prayer meeting for spiritual awakening with only six people. This was the spark that lit the fires of prayer, faith, love and revival that spread all over the United States in our greatest national spiritual awakening. Hundreds of churches were revived and millions were saved. God can do it again!


Seeking The Tie That Binds


Seeing the great need for a spiritual awakening all over America and the whole world, Bible Prayer Fellowship is teaching Christians to unite in prayer claiming the presence of Christ to reign in our homes and churches as our Head, to change us and to bring us into harmony with our heavenly Father. When Christians have followed this path the Lord has restored the tie of love that binds Christians to Himself and one another. The Lord is at work when we seek His presence and trust Him to actively take charge.


Let me illustrate. In one of our meetings Erwin Lutzer, Senior Pastor of Moody Church, and Bill McLeod of Canadian Revival Fellowship, spoke convincingly on this subject. Afterwards several folks asked “How can we make this type of spiritual dynamic real in our churches back home?”


“I really don't know what to tell you,” I replied, “but I suggest we get together for prayer. We will ask the Lord Jesus Christ Himself to meet with us and actively take charge. Then you can get your friends back home to join you in prayer seeking the presence and leadership of Christ in your church.”


They agreed and we gathered in the pastor's study for prayer. I started by reading our Lord’s promise to two or three who gathered together in His name under His authority, citing Matthew 18:19,20 (see also Ephesians 2:18-22 and Revelation 1:13,20).


Then I asked, “Can we all agree to base our prayers on four basic biblical truths? First, we need to claim the presence of Christ in our midst, expecting Him to be present as He promised. Second, we need to trust Christ to take charge of us because He is the Head of the church. Third, we must be willing to let Christ change us as He sees fit. Fourth, we must be willing to trust Christ to bring us all into harmony with our heavenly Father and with one another.”

They thought over the “terms” for a minute and then agreed. We had barely begun when a young man who had joined us started a prayer that quickly dissolved into tears. For some time, he sobbed as if his heart would break.


Finally I asked, "Can we help you?"


“I’ve been away from the Lord a long time,” he confessed, “and I want to come back to Him. Last night Dr. Lutzer told how Israel had backslidden and became like a marred clay vessel. God had to break His people and mold them into a new vessel. I knew that God was speaking to me and calling me back to Himself.”


The work God began with the preaching of the Word had been completed through praying together with Christ present and actively in charge. We were awed and delighted to see God working in our midst. After encouraging our brother, we resumed our praying with a sense of great awe and wonder. The Lord had remarkably answered our prayer for His presence and leadership; our hearts were softened. Upon leaving, someone remarked, “I've never been in a prayer meeting like that before.”


What made the difference? We had truly heard our Lord's voice and let Him come into our midst and He had communed with us (Revelation 3:20). I have seen church splits healed, weak churches refreshed, and troubled marriages saved by uniting in prayer with a mediator and asking Christ to be present, actively in charge, changing us, and bringing us into harmony with our Father in heaven.


We Need Him Every Hour


We always need the presence of Christ actively in charge of our relationships so He can daily reproduce His own beautiful life and love in the church. Heaven’s life and love is like electricity that brings light and power to a dark house only when it is connected to the source.


Someone wisely observed, “In practical terms, how does prayer help a marriage (we might add, or any relationship in Christ)? When you come together into God's presence, somehow your guard comes down. You gain a new perspective that allows you to hold your spouse and the things in your life a bit more lightly. God reassures us that He’s in charge and that He’s working His purposes out in our lives and in our marriages. And that frees us to let go of our need to control people or circumstances.”


I don’t know who said it but he was right on target when he noted, Praying together is both a solvent and a glue. It dissolves resentments and bitterness, and binds hearts in new and joyous harmony... It is only when a husband and wife pray together before God that they find the secret of true harmony; that the differences in their temperaments, their ideas, and their tastes enriches their home instead of endangering it.


When each of the marriage partners seeks quietly before God to see his own faults, recognizing his sin, and asks forgiveness of the other, marital problems are no more... They learn to become absolutely honest with each other... This is the price to be paid if partners very different from each other are to combine their gifts instead of setting them against each other. Smokey John Reaves is a respected Dallas barbecue restaurant owner whose bold witness has blessed many. He is an example to all who seek the unity of love in Christ.


One night, deeply burdened, he asked his wife, Gloria, to pray with him. She refused. Quietly he knelt down by the bed and prayed, “Lord, I don’t love my wife as Christ loves the church. I don’t know how, but if you will show me how, I will.” Then he crawled into bed and fell asleep. Gloria’s weeping woke him up at 3:00 AM. They have been praying together ever since. Our Savior who died to save us from the wrath to come has commanded us to love one another as He loves us. He gave the world the right to conclude that we are not His disciples if we fail this test (John 13:34-35). Who can say that he does not come short of this high calling? Don’t we all need to confess our need to love as He loves and unite in earnestly seeking the presence of Christ to take charge and fill us with His own loving life? This is the tie that binds us to Christ and one another in love.


Start today. Unite with your spouse, prayer group or church family in praying the following Covenant of Loyal Love. Sign it and keep it where you can take a fresh look at it from time to time as a reminder to abide in Christ's love.


Our Covenant Of Loyal Love


The Basis


We make this covenant together because we share the life and love of Christ. We have confessed our faith in the Lord Jesus Christ: He is our Savior, our Head and our God. We are fellow members of His body, the church, and brothers and sisters in the family of God (Ephesians 5:23-27).


We are bound to Christ and to one another in the union of life and the unity of love. Through the new birth we share His resurrection life. This union of life cannot be broken. The prodigal son still belonged to his father and his family even in the depths of his sin and failure.


The union of love can be broken and bring grief to our Father, to Jesus and to the Holy Spirit. It can be broken by love of the world like the prodigal son in Jesus’ parable or by self-righteousness like the elder brother. They both lost the fellowship and experience of the blessings and joy of their father’s love.


We covenant to pray together because we agree to keep our love relationship with our Heavenly Father and His Son, Jesus Christ. We know we cannot love God without loving one another as Christ loves us (John 13:34-35, I John 4:20-21). We know we cannot live this new life in isolation.


Our Agreement


Therefore, we agree to five steps that bind us together with the Father and the Son in the unity of love:

  1. First, we will seek the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ.
    We ask His presence in this special relationship of love. We delight in Him and we want Him to delight in us. Our love for Him is our supreme passion.
  2. Second, we will ask Him to take charge of us.
    This means that we present our bodies to Him as a living sacrifice to be transformed by the renewing of our mind. We are soldiers reporting to our commander in chief to take charge of us and give us our assignment.
  3. Third, we will ask Him to change each one of us as He sees fit.
    We all need to repent again and again until at last Christ presents us faultless before the presence of God's glory with exceeding joy (Jude 24).
  4. Fourth, we will trust Him to bring us into harmony with our Father in heaven.
    Jesus prayed that we would share His own unity of love with His Father. It is the duty of all believers to share this unity of love with the Father and the Son. Jesus said that this unity of love is essential for our witness to the world (John 13:34-35,17:20-23).
  5. Fifth, keeping these four principles prepares us to pray in the power of Jesus' name (John 14:12-14).
    We trust God to empower us to keep this unity of love no matter what the cost. If we are deadlocked in conflict we will seek the help of a mature believer we have chosen. If this fails, we will submit to the leaders of our church to guide us in restoring our unity using the principles taught in Matthew 18:11-35.

Our names and the name of our chosen helper are listed below.




Date _____________________________________


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