What Happens When Couples Pray
Seven stories of couples who decided to make prayer a daily discipline.
Before Richard and Mary Jane Long married back in 1951, Mary Jane’s grandfather told them something they never forgot: “You should always pray together.” Married more than a half-century, they were glad they followed his advice.
Richard compared his relationship with Mary Jane to a triangle—with God at the peak. “As we draw closer to God, we draw closer to each other,” he said.
Prayer strengthens marriages like the Longs’ in multiple ways. In fact, couples who regularly pray together say they feel more connected and are better able to work through difficult issues.
When Jane Fowler’s husband, Emmitt, leaves for work in the morning, she follows him out to the car and prays a simple prayer of blessing over him. “We don’t know what the day may hold, but it is comforting to know that if at the end of the day one of us doesn’t come home, our last memory would be praying together,” she says.
We asked other couples about the difference prayer makes in their lives. Here are some of their stories:
I Didn’t Want to Pray With My Wife
by Jerry McCartney
When my wife, Naoma, first suggested that we pray together each day, I wasn’t for it. At the time, we had been married for about 25 years and I liked the idea of “you do your prayer and I’ll do my prayer.” Occasionally we prayed before dinner.
Naoma must have been praying about my decision, because several weeks later I agreed to give her idea a try. And we both knew the only way praying together would work for us would be to get up early in the morning.
We’d get up at 6 a.m., sit in a couple of chairs in the living room, and begin our prayer time by discussing various Scriptures or topics. After doing this, we took turns praying.
That worked so well that we’ve now followed this same pattern for about 15 years. It’s made a big difference in our marriage.
Naoma prays on the even numbered days and I pray on the odd ones. We begin praying for each other and our family. Then we pray for our closest friends and for our stewardship. We pray for our work. We pray for our church and its leaders and our country and its leaders and then we ask that God help us be yielded to His service in that given day.
Of course we have coffee during that time.
The great thing is I get to hear my wife’s heart and what she’s concerned about and she gets to hear things that I’m concerned about. Prayer has kept us connected that way.
Once when our son was home from college for a visit, he happened to get up early one morning and passed through the living room and saw Naoma and me praying together. He still mentions how blessed he feels knowing that his parents pray together.
It’s Hard to Stay Mad
by Tom and Robyn Scott
In 2004 Robyn and I attended our first Weekend to Remember getaway® in Fort Wayne, Indiana. We walked away from that weekend with several items to remember, one was the obvious lack of prayer within our marriage.
I had been a student pastor since 1997 but the habit of praying together as a couple had not been a thought, let alone a practice. We prayed for our meals together and with our girls. We prayed together with other people when they brought concerns to us, but we had rarely, if ever, prayed together for our marriage and family.
When I heard that weekend, “You need to be praying daily with your spouse,” it hit me like a ton of bricks. I knew that we needed to begin praying together. The Lord placed on both of us a great deal of conviction in this area.
Since that night in November 2004, we have worked hard to continue praying together. We have not been perfect and there are many times, even still, where I would rather turn over and go right to sleep than to initiate praying with Robyn. But the Lord has been gracious to us.
This practice of praying together each night (that is when we decided it would work best for us) has and continues to shape our marriage. There have been numerous times when we have had arguments yet, through the practice of praying together, God has settled our misguided hearts to refocus on Christ and His desire for our marriage. It’s hard to stay mad when you pray with and for each other before your Creator.
A Bond of Understanding
by Kris Weaver
As a young wife, I used to pray that my husband would come to know Christ as his personal Lord and Savior. I really wanted to raise our children in a home where both parents were believers.
I was overjoyed when God answered that prayer and I knew it was real when my husband came home from his first men’s retreat and said he wanted to start praying together. Wow!
Looking back over the years there has been a definite connection between our prayer time together and the quality of our relationship. Raising three very busy children, having a driven sales executive for a husband, and being a local elected official myself, our few minutes of prayer has often been our only connection during the day.
During seasons when we were really busy and neglected prayer, we saw a significant difference in our interactions, our sex life, and our compassion for one another. We were more independent in our thinking and our living. As each of our relationships with the Lord grew, we realized more and more the value of praying together.
Praying together every day creates a bond of understanding. It is a gift that I give my husband, and he gives me as we lift each other up in prayer, acknowledging the events of the day and asking for God’s blessing over the other.
Spiritual Intimacy and Sexual Intimacy
by Jennifer Walker
My husband, Nathan, and I were challenged to pray together during FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember marriage getaway. Now we had both prayed before, on our own, or as a family at the dinner table. But praying just the two of us, out loud—that seemed intimidating.
I remember sitting in the hotel room that night, both of us a little nervous. We even argued teasingly, “You go first” … “No, I insist you go first.”
I remember our prayer being short and a little awkward. But as the days and weeks went on, we became more and more comfortable with praying together.
Nathan is a bit on the reserved side. He does a lot of his processing internally, and so it was not very often that I got to hear what was really going on in his heart. Through our prayer time together, I started to see a new side of my husband. I felt more connected to him than I ever had before. I was finally hearing his heart on a regular basis.
A funny thing happens when you connect as a couple through prayer. Not only does your spiritual intimacy grow, but your sexual intimacy gets kicked up a notch too! I felt so connected spiritually that it just naturally spilled over into our sexual relationship.
Now that Nathan and I know about this direct relationship between spiritual and sexual intimacy, it has helped us in times when our sexual relationship runs dry. We very quickly realize, “Oh we are not connecting sexually, because we have not been praying together lately.” It certainly has been good motivation for us to stay spiritually connected!
Praying Together Revived Our Marriage
by David and Joanie Stineman
We had been married for 17 years, were parents to three children, and active in a local church. David’s job provided well, and Joanie was a homemaker and volunteer extraordinaire. We were living the Christian life and everything was hunky-dory, right? Wrong!
Perfectionism, demanding work responsibility, busyness to the nth degree, unreasonable expectations, critical spirit, selfishness, etc., were all symptoms of a marriage in isolation, ready to explode. That all changed when we experienced praying together after attending our first Weekend to Remember marriage getaway nearly 24 years ago.
Praying together revived our marriage by …
- Revealing our hearts: We soon discovered that the true intentions of our hearts were not to hurt each other. God exposed our sin, which led to mutual confession and forgiveness. We are not each other’s enemy.
- Transforming our minds: When sin was recognized, we were no longer separated from the Father. The Spirit changed our perspectives and responses. We became cheerleaders for each other. As our trust in God grew, our faith in Him increased.
- Experiencing oneness: As our faith increased, we began experiencing oneness as a couple in parenting, intimacy, finances, activities, and more. When we pray with oneness we are blessed with His peace.
A good place to begin praying together is using a daily devotional, such as Moments With You, that guides and keeps you grounded in Christ and His Word. Praying becomes a natural response to honor God.
Praying together has brought us through job changes, living overseas, triple adoption, health issues, caring for aged parents, and raising six children.
A marriage in isolation is revived when we pray for Christ to be the cord that binds us together (Ecclesiastes 4:9-12).
A Picture of Oneness
by Jim Larmoyeux
For as long as I can remember, my wife, Mary, and I have prayed together. When I wasn’t at home due to overnight travel connected with work, and in our early years of marriage, that didn’t happen every day. But generally, we always pray together not only at meals, but at night before we go to bed. The only exception to that in recent years has been when one of us is exhausted and has fallen asleep before the other could turn in for the night.
I believe strongly that there are two primary benefits to this: First, in the spiritual realm both of us are in harmony with Christ. Second, in the physical realm we are side by side as a picture of oneness.
Reading a daily devotional in the morning as a couple, My Utmost for His Highest, and praying together in the evening, there is a bond and a sense of unity that isn’t always possible during the remainder of the day. This puts an “opening statement” and a “closing paragraph” on God’s chapter for that day in our lives. It also makes it much easier to dispel outside influences that can distract us from our purpose—to glorify God and reflect His glory through our marriage.
Two Broken People, Asking God to Help Us Make It Through the Day
by Bob Anderson
Normally we pray for about 10-15 minutes in the morning before I head off to work. I start by asking my wife what her big issues are for the day. Then I share mine. These are usually things that are bothering us or worrying us. It could be our kids, job, finances, families, friends, health, or whatever. We thank God for answered prayer and for each other too.
My wife and I pray together perhaps seven out of 10 days. I travel, and so am not always home. Then sometimes life causes our schedules to become so complicated that we just don’t take time that day to pray.
Of course, there are those days when we have conflict and we really don’t want to pray with each other. It is curious, though, that when we have conflict and are not praying, I feel tension (conviction from God?), that I need to be praying with this woman. This adds to the desire to resolve conflict.
I am not sure that we would say praying together has brought us more intimacy. Prayer is hard work and usually we are just broken people asking God to help us make it through the day because we are a mess. Certainly we do have a better understanding of what each of us is stressing about, though.
We have seen God answer our prayers in wonderful ways and that brings us great comfort. But we have also seen Him not answer some prayers that have dragged on for years.
Is praying with your spouse a magic bullet that will keep you from getting divorced? Probably not since all of us are just a couple of steps away from making selfish choices. But for us it is a way of fertilizing the soil in which our love for each other and for God grows. That’s something we want to do.
A great way to experience the power of praying with your spouse would be to participate in our 30-Day Oneness Prayer Challenge. You can sign up to receive a daily email or text message with a short devotional with Scripture and a suggested prayer to go through with your spouse.