As the title of this blog indicates prayer is like glue for a couple’s commitment to the marriage and love for one another. It’s no guarantee of an enduring marriage because why and how you pray matters. Prayer can be rote and shallow, but intimate, desperate, heart filled prayers together pretty much cements a life long bond that is not easily broken. Tammy and I had Ecclesiastes 4:12 engraved on our wedding album, thinking we knew what the verse implied.
“And though a man might prevail against one who is alone, two will withstand him-a threefold cord is not quickly broken.”
It was not hard to leave our parent because we were older, it was harder to cleave because we were pretty set in our ways but weaving into one was impossible without adding prayer together into our rhythm of disciplines. While I am taking some liberty to interpret this verse in Ecclesiastes as a husband and wife praying together it is consistent with the general inference of the text. Think of prayer as talking with God. As you grow in communion it becomes like a dialogue. You pray and then you listen. God brings Scripture to mind, comforts you, convicts you, and confirms His love for you. Then think of prayer together with your spouse. It is now a trialogue (like weaving a trifold cord). You get to ease drop on your spouse taking with the Creator of the universe, the most intimate communication known to man. You also get to agree in the Spirit and share in it. Whether it’s about your marriage, the kids, work, life, or your walk with God it is precious and holy. As you both go to the throne of grace, and because of the blood shed on your behalf you can ascend toward God vertically with your prayer and supplication. Think of it like a triangle whose apex is the Lord. You grow closer to Christ as you go to Him for all things and in turn get closer to each other.
Marital intimacy increases as you draw nearer to God, hear from God and agree together as one in God. So, if that is true why are we all praying together? I have the privilege of being a biblical counselor. So I get to ask couples how often they pray together all the time. What would your guess be? Well if you are like most couples you only pray when something is really troubling you both. The average couple might pray at church, or at a meal but rarely do they pray intimately and in the same space. I believe there are some reasons for that. Before I explain how to start this amazing habit let look at a few obstacles that will have to be overcome.
- No real prayer life on your own
- A lack of honest and open communications with your spouse
- A fear your prayers will be judged or inadequate
- No margin in your life so by the time you could you are too tired
- No role models so you are not even sure what it looks like
- Your flesh, Satan, and the world’s distractions
No wonder most couples don’t pray together. But God wants us to become one in marriage, He calls us into communion with Him as we reflect Christ and the church (Eph 5:22-33). He will help us overcome all these obstacles if you just ask Him. I learned a while ago that some things are worth doing poorly at first. I have shared in previous blogs the embarrassing stories of trying to do family devotions or have the sex talk with our kids. The first attempts were so bad…but I knew it was right to try and to keep trying until they were effective. You must start somewhere. I would like to share a few tips that might help as you get started. Men ask your wife to forgive you if you have been neglecting the regular rhythm of ask her how she is doing and praying for her. Ladies ask you husband to forgive you if he feels you are scrutinizing his spiritual maturity or showing frustration for a perceived lack of attention. Give each other grace so this new habit can be planted on more fertile soil. Here are few other tips:
- Start praying alone every day for 5 minutes (use ACTS as a model: Adoration, Confession, thanksgiving and Supplication…so worship Him, admit your sins to Him and ask forgiveness, thank Him for all He is and is doing, and Ask Him for what you need)
- Tell your spouse you want to pray with them, but you are nervous it might be awkward
- Prayer out loud in a private place
- Start small (a few minutes before going to work or after the kids are in bed)
- Pick a minimum frequency (if you have never done it 2-3 times a week is a great start)
- Start with things you both agree on (concern for kids, a closer relationship with Christ)
- Ask your spouse what is burdening their hearts (what is keeping them up or on their mind)
- Commit to pray for each other between couple’s prayer time
Over time you can venture into praying for things that are more sensitive or go for longer prayer times. We like going on prayer walks that last 20 minutes 3 times a week. We pray with our kids all together before the youngest’s bed time. It took years to make this a habit. I wish I would have been more intentional sooner. You might even decide to pray with other family friends or couples, but nothing is as intimate as praying with your spouse. In fact, it prepares you for even deeper emotional and physical intimacy that would not otherwise be possible. That’s as whole other subject 😊. I believe praying together may be the single most effective way to preserve your marriage, protect your family, and deepen your walk with God. I hope you will get started today.
Dr. Garrett Higbee