The Challenges of Intimacy and Prayer

Jeff Munroe

Read: Song of Solomon 5:2-8

I am sick with love. (v. 8)

I mentioned earlier that pastor and author Eugene Peterson considers the Song of Solomon a key to unlocking the secrets of prayer. Now that we are this far into the Song, you may be wondering why he would say that. This passage, reprising themes from 3:1-5, shows why.

In his book Five Smooth Stones for Pastoral Work, Peterson writes that exploring the challenge of intimacy in this passage illustrates the challenge of prayer, and that “it is the task of persevering and patient prayer to keep love ardent and faith zealous” (p. 55).

The bride has already gone to bed when the groom comes to her door (think of the image of Jesus knocking in Revelation 3:20). She doesn’t immediately want to get up, and he leaves before she rises. Realizing she’s missed him, she goes out to look for him and is beaten, apparently for causing a disturbance in the night. Intimate relationships are full of challenge and risk. We aren’t always in sync with the wants of each other, and no one can read another’s mind or fully anticipate another’s needs. Every marriage and close human relationship has moments of disappointment and pain in it. When it comes to my relationship with God, I think of my own attempts at prayer and the ways I disappoint God by falling asleep or drifting off into distraction. Relationships—human and divine—require attention, cultivation, and just plain work. —Jeff Munroe

Prayer: May our love for you, Lord, be ardent and our faith zealous.