Writer, editor, stumbler after Jesus

Prayer partners in marriage

AS MARRIAGE enthusiasts (not experts), one thing Marcia and I enjoy sharing with other couples when we speak on the subject is the importance of praying together. Yet according to one survey, it’s something of a rarity: one poll found only around 10 percent of Christian couples pray together regularly.

That doesn’t account for all those who may pray regularly for their partner and their marriage, but separately, of course. However, while that’s good, we are persuaded that there is something special that happens when he and she pray together: you get we. There is more:

Intimacy. In some ways, prayer can be more exposing and revealing than sex. You can go through the right motions physically without really engaging soul to soul, but when you’re being honest in prayer, you’re being welcomed into your partner’s weakness, sin, need, and desire in a unique way. And there is something about hearing your spouse seek God on your behalf that can be humbling, healing, and uniquely holy.

Unity. Psalm 133 speaks of how God loves to see His people unified, and that He pours out His blessing there, like the priestly oil that anointed Aaron for service. The closer we are wound and bound together, the harder it is for the enemy to drive a wedge between us. And the more tightly we fit, the more of the Holy Spirit we are able to hold in the vessel our marriage.

Efficacy. The promise of Jesus being in the midst when two or more are gathered in His name isn’t only for church prayer meetings. Jesus’s assurance that “if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven” (Matt. 18:19) is a promise and protection for every marriage.

Given all the good that can come from it, why do so few couples seem to practice shared prayer? Well, there’s awkwardness; you are revealing yourself in a vulnerable way. Then there’s time—work and family schedules can make it hard to find any meaningful quiet moments together.

However, these are not insurmountable obstacles. The enemy would have us believe we can never overcome these challenges because he knows what the impact could be, and he wants to avoid it. Don’t fall for the lie. If you want to start praying together with your spouse, here are some suggestions:

Start small. If it’s too much to pray out loud to start with, take each other’s hand and pray silently together for a minute or so; agree that one of you will squeeze an “amen” to signal you’ve finished.

Start short. You don’t have to have a long laundry list. Begin with a sentence or two. Thank God for the new day. Pray a blessing on your spouse as they leave the house. Thank God for His provision and care at the end of the day.

“Steal” words. If voicing your own thoughts feels a stretch, find a book of prayers or a devotional you can read out loud, or turn to Scripture. Read one of the Psalms, or some of Jesus’s words.

Stick to it. It usually takes 30 days or so to establish a new habit, but by that time you should begin to notice some of the benefits in your relationship. So even if it feels awkward to begin with, stay with it.

This isn’t all pie in the sky stuff. A rigorous study at Florida State University found that praying daily for one’s partner has been linked to a bunch of positives. Among them are increased relationship satisfaction, greater trust, cooperation, forgiveness, and marital commitment. What’s more, these benefits were found in both the one praying and the one being prayed for.

The bottom line: couples who pray together are more likely to remain that way “till death do us part.”

Photo by josh.greentree on Foter.com/CC BY-SA

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