It has always been a struggle for my wife and me to pray together. Over eight years of marriage we have never been able to fall into a solid routine. We could string a few days together or maybe a few weeks, but then there would be that inevitable lull where we just stopped.
There is never a great reason. We were too busy. We just forgot. There was a basketball game on. We had a rough time getting our son to bed. We were watching TV.
Do you and your wife pray together? I am talking about more than just before you start eating your meal. Do you take focused time to pray intentionally with each other?
As the spiritual head of our house, I believe it is my responsibility to initiate our prayer time together. This has always been a tough assignment for me. But I am determined to grow.
Dennis Rainey, the president of FamilyLife, is always encouraging married couples to pray together. In fact, he describes this as the best marriage advice he has ever received. One of his mentors, Carl Wilson, told him, "I've prayed every day with my wife Sara Jo for more than 25 years. Nothing has built up our marriage more than our prayer time together."
Dennis wrote a prayer devotional book to help couples called Two Hearts Praying as One. He describes prayer as the single most important spiritual discipline you and your spouse will ever share.
I deeply desire a prayer life with my wife that is consistent, so I decided to try going through Dennis's 30-day prayer journey. My wife and I committed to each other to work through it together. Below I have included some of my thoughts while going through the devotional with my wife, after which I have listed a few tips I learned through the 30-day journey.
Day 1: We actually started the prayer journey with an argument. I was nervous about starting and sabotaged the time by accusing her of feeling uncomfortable with praying in front of me. It didn't help that she made a few comments about how many times we have tried to pray consistently together but have never gotten very far. It was weird. In spite of it, we pushed forward and made it through the first day. I wouldn't describe this day as a spiritual victory, but at least we got started.
Day 5: Hearing each other pray out loud is getting more comfortable. Our prayer is beginning to feel and sound more authentic rather than manufactured. I've always felt we have a great marriage, but we discovered a depth that has never been present. Tonight we were able to voice some of our personal struggles with infertility in a way that has never happened before. Five days in a row!
Days 9 and 10: These days held our biggest challenge thus far. I left town for work and was gone for two days, working long hours. We were finally able to talk and pray on the phone with each other around 10:30 the first night. The next evening we were able to pray together on the phone earlier. Emily read the devotional and I listened over the phone. This was a great accomplishment because previously in our marriage, distance between us usually resulted in a lack of intimate talk and prayer. We are excited for the oneness habits we are building.
Day 17: Not going to lie. We almost missed this day. I left early in the afternoon with some friends to watch a basketball game and was gone the rest of the night. Emily and I had completely forgotten to plan our prayer time. Fortunately, the Lord used our 2-year-old son to remind us. About 10 minutes before I left, he came walking out of our room with our journal. He told us that he was going to read to us. We stopped right there, read the devotional, and prayed together thanking the Lord for the reminder through our son.
Day 18: Going to bed tonight, my mind was preoccupied with watching the weather reports about a string of storms spawning tornadoes coming through our area. Emily gently reminded me of our need to pray together and opened the devotional to read. She then led us in prayer. Afterward, she turned and fell asleep; I continued to keep an eye on the severity of the storms headed our way. I am thankful for the selfless team effort my wife exemplified. I am once again reminded of the beauty of a marriage where both people are attempting to pursue Christ together. Sometimes there is need for one person to persevere when the other slacks. Thank you, Lord, for my wife.
Day 30: We have completed the 30-day prayer devotional. Through the last 10 days of the journal we missed reading the book each day, but we found ourselves disciplined to spend the time praying together even without the devotional. One of the final prayer points from this final day was, "Thank God for helping you establish the pattern of praying together regularly." This journey has benefited us by helping us establish regular prayer together each day. The habit has been set. I am thankful to the Lord for my wife, the one with whom I can pray each day.
Here are some tips I learned through the prayer journey with Two Hearts Praying as One, in no particular order:
- As men, we are called to lead in our marriage. Although every marriage relationship looks a little different, men need to be the ones to lead their family by example, in encouragement, and in prayer.
- Find the time of day that works best for you. This could look different for each couple.
- Read through Scripture and pray the passage out loud. This builds oneness with each other and with God's Word.
- Build oneness through holding hands during your prayer.
- Spend enough time talking about joys, fears, problems, and accomplishments in life before you pray. Make sure you are on the same page with your wife.
- It's okay to use help for your routine. Two Hearts Praying as One was great for us. It forced us into a normal routine with biblically-centered conversation before we went before the throne. It is okay to pray together without the aid of a prayer journal or devotional, but every once in a while it is helpful to use the aid.
- Don't forget to whom you are talking. It helps me to picture myself bowing before the throne with Jesus' hand on my shoulder as we talk to God seated on the throne.
- Pray even when in disagreement. Usually men just need to admit their pride and step away from the argument. This is an opportunity to humble yourself, apologize, demonstrate forgiveness, and be the leader.
- Having your own personal, thriving relationship with Jesus is crucial to leading your wife in prayer. That's just part of leadership.
- When you miss a day, just accept God's grace anew, seek forgiveness, and start again. There's no shame in this game.
If you'd like to make a habit of praying with your spouse but need help getting started, why not join us for FamilyLife's Oneness Prayer Challenge? We'll deliver Scripture and prayer prompts to your inbox or your phone for 30 days for you and your spouse to go through together. Sign up today!
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