By Lynette Kittle, Crosswalk.com
Romantic dinners, sentimental gifts, weekends away together, all are said to strengthen our marriages, but what if most couples are missing enjoying one of the most strengthening activities of all for a husband and wife?
While personal quiet times, and women’s and men’s prayer groups, all help to strengthen and encourage our spiritual growth, are they unknowingly keeping us from spending time praying with our spouse?
What if prayerlessness as a couple in marriage is a ploy of the enemy to weaken and interfere with the benefits a husband and wife experience together and in their family, when they pray together?
What Causes Prayerlessness As a Couple?
Although married for decades, it's only been in the last few years where my husband and I have started praying together each morning as a couple.
Even though we led and attended various prayer groups, with my husband even initiating and facilitating area-wide prayer groups along with leading a weekly men’s prayer group, there just didn’t seem to be much time for just the two of us to pray as a couple.
It’s easy for a husband and wife to give everyone around them a higher prayer priority, thinking their spouse will understand. It’s exactly what the enemy wants us to think and to keep us from praying together.
More than most of us realize, the devil understands how empowering it is for a couple to pray together as one. Like Matthew 18:20 explains, “For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.”
Like many Christian couples, our varying work schedules, professional academic and career pursuits, along with caring for our four daughters and their school schedules, left praying together on the back burner.
How Does Praying Together Strengthen a Marriage?
With a willingness and commitment to fortify our relationships, here are seven ways we can strengthen our marriages through praying together.
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1. Praying Together Breaks Down Barriers
Many couples approach and view prayer differently, causing walls and barriers to build up when it comes to praying together, such as feeling inhibited, or even criticized in how we pray, leading to prayerlessness as a couple.
Our varying experiences and thoughts on how to pray can cause division. One spouse may talk to God as a Father and provider, while another as a conquering King of Kings.
In the sitcom “King of Queens” Holy Mackerel episode, Doug (Kevin James) and Carrie (Leah Remini) encounter major differences when praying together as a couple, causing strife, division, and arguments.
Doug believes prayer is reserved for world concerns and Carrie feels she can ask God for anything, including shoes. With Doug seeing Carrie’s requests as petty, their differences leads them to a huge blowout, where he says he’s praying prayers to cancel out her prayers. Ultimately, Doug forbids Carrie to pray at all.
Even if a couple experiences similar differences and conflicts, if they keep coming together to pray, they will grow into a deeper understanding of prayer. Over time if they don’t give up and keep plowing through the rough patches, praying together will bring them closer together rather than farther apart.
2. Praying Together Opens Hearts
Praying together helps to soften and open up hearts with couples, often bringing to the surface deep needs and concerns a husband or wife might not communicate at any other time.
Although romantic pursuits may seem more likely to draw a couple closer together and prime hearts to be softened, praying is one of the most intimate times a husband and wife can share and spend together.
Because Jesus said hardness of heart leads to divorce (Matthew 19:8), it’s vital for couples to keep their hearts soft towards one another.
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3. Praying Together Brings Unity
Praying together helps to unite couples spiritually. Often couples come from varying spiritual backgrounds where differences may cause some to turn away to pray on their own.
Because God views unity as vitally important in marriage, disunity is a key tactic the enemy uses to separate couples. In John 17:21, Jesus expresses His desire for believers to be as one, including married couples. Likewise He says, “Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate” (Mark 10:9).
Ironically, while writing this article, the enemy has been at work to the point where I’ve had to resist feelings of not even wanting to talk to my husband, much less pray with him.
Likewise daily in marriage we need to recognize the father of lies’ divisive ways so that instead of turning away from each other, we turn towards one another and pray through our differences.
A key to having unity in our marriages is found in Colossians 3:14, “And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.”
4. Praying Together Prioritizes
Having a prayer time together, whether it’s daily, a couple days a week, or weekly, sets valuable couple time aside on a regular basis. It gives a spouse a priority with their husband or wife’s time and schedule.
Setting aside time to pray together also speaks to the importance of a spouse's influence in our lives, as well as giving top priority to God in our marriage by focusing on, including in, and recognizing His place in our relationship.
5. Praying Together Cultivates Spiritual Connectivity
Praying together opens us up to one another in vulnerable ways by letting us hear where each of us are in our spiritual walks and growth.
Beginning in our dating years, my husband and I started having theological discussions. Still, praying together brings a deeper spiritual connection between us more than our lively conversations and debates ever do.
Whereas conversations are often about facts and opinions, prayer is about sharing our hearts. Cultivating a spiritual connectivity in marriage helps us to better understand our spouse and their relationship with God.
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6. Praying Together Builds Camaraderie
Spending time praying together sends spouses the message that “we’re in this together.” It also helps to bond them together in a way that doesn’t come through any other activity.
Having a team mentality in marriage helps build camaraderie between a husband and wife, letting them know they are being supported and cheered on by their spouse.
7. Praying Together Brings Results
Most importantly praying together brings results with couples seeing prayers answered because God loves when a couple comes together unified as one, bringing our petitions and requests before Him. When we do, we can be assured He is listening and will answer us.
Likewise 1 Peter 3:7 encourages a husband to be considerate of his wife, to treat her with respect as a partner and joint heir in Jesus, because doing so is key to him having his prayers answered.
Praying together helps a husband gain insight into his wife’s heart in a way he won't discover in any other setting. It helps his consideration and respect to grow for her in ways that cause his prayers to become more effective.
Hearing a husband’s prayers also gives a wife the opportunity to see deeper into his heart; to discover cares of his not disclosed to her in conversation or other situations.
How to Begin Praying Together as a Couple
1. Voice your request. Express to your spouse how you would like to pray together. Ask his or her thoughts on what day, time, and location might work best for you as a couple to pray. If possible, be flexible and rearrange your schedule to do so.
2. Just do it. Rather than just thinking about it, set your time and begin praying together. Be committed to learning as you go in what pace and format works best for you and your spouse. Give yourselves time to adjust and adapt to each other’s way of praying.
3. Keep going. Your prayer time may start out awkward at first but don’t give up. Keep plugging away. Soon you’ll discover how prayer strengthens your marriage and draws you closer together as a couple.
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