Start a practice of praying together and experience a new level of intimacy.
One of my favorite topics to speak about or to write about is encouraging couples to pray together. Because it’s one of my favorite topics, I have the conversation with enough people that I have seen a pattern emerge: couples often find the idea of praying together to be intimidating. And, because this was something that God convicted me of many years ago, I usually follow that up by asking them if they have sex. Some couples aren’t shy about answering that question, but others tend to look away and eventually answer, “Yeah, we do…”
That’s when I share what God convicted me about: That we often emphasize the wrong things about our spouses. We celebrate and enjoy each other’s bodies, while neglecting connecting on a spiritual level. And, because as Christians we believe that the spiritual is the eternal part of a person, we’re prioritizing the wrong thing!
Now, before I go on, I want to clarify a couple of things. First of all, I know I’m starting out this article by coming on a little strong. But, I think that sometimes that’s the easiest way to see something that needs to change. And secondly, I am not encouraging couples to de-emphasize sex; I’m just pointing out that many couples naturally value sex and the physical connection much more than they value prayer and the spiritual connection. I want to encourage couples to remain just as sexually active as they already are, but to increase the amount of time that they spend praying together!
For couples who are new to this idea, I want to share a few of the basics to starting a practice of praying together:
Remember that prayer is about connecting with God, and that He wants to hear from us.
I call on you, my God, for you will answer me; turn your ear to me and hear my prayer. (Psalm 17:6, NIV) May my prayer be set before you like incense; may the lifting up of my hands be like the evening sacrifice. (Psalm 141:2, NIV) And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people. (Ephesians 6:18, NIV)
If you misspeak or don’t know what to say, you aren’t going to disappoint God. He isn’t expecting a “perfect” prayer, He’s looking for connection. If you feel uncomfortable praying out loud, you can start by being next to your spouse and each praying silently while you’re together.
Praying with your spouse may feel strange at first, because it’s so intimate.
It’s okay to admit faults and weaknesses and to ask God for help, even in front of your partner. Talking to God will inevitably remind us of His power, perfection, and awesomeness. That will often leave us feeling especially flawed in comparison, and that’s okay! It’s okay to confess your faults, flaws, doubts, and shortcomings to God, and it’s okay to do that in front of your spouse.
Praying together will bring you closer than you are expecting.
As you pray together about the biggest and most important parts of your life, you will probably notice that some of the conflicts between you and your spouse start to feel more like the molehills they are, rather than the mountains they were seeming to be.
Praying lends itself to a “big picture” view, because connecting with God is the biggest-picture thing we could possibly do or imagine. So, it makes sense that some of the other things we were so hung up on will look small in comparison.
There isn’t one “right” way to pray together.
Prayer is about genuinely talking to God and taking time for that connection to Him. When and where you take this time is much less important than the fact that you do take the time. My wife, Jane, and I pray together before bed, and when I’m out of town for a speaking engagement, we pray with each other over the phone. Schedules change how it looks sometimes, but we do our best to make sure we do it every day.
Like anything that is a new habit, there will be times that you feel awkward or uncomfortable. There will be times where you wake up and realize you forgot to pray together the day before. There will be times you’re so tired at the end of the night that your prayer will be a couple of sentences. All of those things are normal, so don’t allow them to discourage you or keep you from sticking with this practice.
I can tell you from first-hand experience that my relationship with God has deepened and my relationship with Jane has deepened as a result of praying together over the years.
If you are ready to take the next step in your spiritual journey and in your marriage, I would encourage you to start this daily practice of praying together with your spouse. When you do, I trust that you’ll see why I’m such a big believer in the importance of couples praying together.
Dan Seaborn is the founder and president of Winning At Home, a marriage and family organization based in Zeeland, Michigan. His practical illustrations and memorable real-life examples teach others how to win at home. He and his wife, Jane, have four adult children and live in West Michigan.