Prayer Partners For Life
(Praying Together As Husband And Wife)
By Kim Butts
Christian marriages have been targeted by the enemy. They are failing at approximately the same rate as secular marriages. Statistics vary between one in three and one in two marriages failing today. However, I came across one very powerful statistic from a George Barna survey several months ago: couples who pray together regularly (not just at meals) have a marriage failure rate of only one in over one thousand. This statistic alone is an amazing testimony to the power of prayer.
In Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, we read: "Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!" And in Matthew 18:19: "Again, I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything you ask for, it will be done for you by my Father in heaven." In these passages, we are encouraged to find at least one other person to pray with – a prayer partner! This blessing of prayer would be multiplied many times over if husbands and wives would make a covenant to become prayer partners. Imagine the benefits:
· Committing your marriage to the Lord on a daily basis – what a wonderful way to be reminded of the covenant relationship you entered with your spouse, considering the weakened state of marriage today. To renew that commitment daily in the context of prayer is a powerful way to strengthen your bond and remember that two have now become one.
· Blessing one another in prayer – there are many blessings in the Scriptures! Imagine praying a blessing into the life of your spouse and having him or her pray blessing into yours on a daily basis.
· Praying in agreement for your children, family and friends – when you take Matthew 18:19 seriously, and join together to pray for those who are closest to you, you will know that the Lord is present in the midst of your prayers for them.
· When husbands and wives pray together, it is difficult to harbor unforgiveness or anger towards one another.
There should be one primary goal for husbands and wives as you commit to pray together. That goal is to deepen your relationship with Christ. As you seek His heart in prayer, He will deepen your relationship with one another. Commit to knowing Christ more intimately than ever before--"Come near to God and He will come near to you..." (James 4:8). Someone has said that the most intimate thing a husband and wife could ever do together is pray.
There are some important things that praying together as a couple should never be:
· It should never replace or come before your personal quiet time/prayer time with the Lord. It is most important that this time remains intact. You can’t pray together effectively as husband and wife if you are not nurturing your own relationship with Christ first.
· It should never be a burden for either spouse. If you feel forced to pray together, it will never be a blessing to you; nor will it honor God. Praying together should always be done with willing hearts.
· It should never be done out of guilt. Never pressure a spouse to pray by making him or her feel guilty if they don’t wish to. Just keep praying that the Lord will touch his or her heart to pray with you. Remember, God’s grace is not contingent upon whether or not we always get it right!
should never be a legalistic requirement.
My husband and I subscribe to the practice of praying as we can, not as we can’t.
Our custom is to pray together Monday through Friday...if we can do it on the
weekends, we will. If our schedules just don’t allow for a day, or a short
season – we just get right back into the habit as soon as possible. We never
pressure one another or feel that we are not pleasing God if we miss a day or
two of prayer together.
Reasons Why Most Couples Don't Pray Together
· We never thought of praying together. Remarkably, this is usually the most common reason people give. Most Christian couples pray; however, it is usually individually, with the entire family, or at meal times, etc. Very few actually have a committed time set aside to pray together.
· We can’t seem to find the time. Lack of time has damaged more relationships than perhaps any other reason. There is one undeniable fact – you will make time for what is important to you. You find time to sleep and eat, you find time to go to church, or read to your children, you even find time to shop or watch sports on television, if that is a priority to you. Therefore, if praying together as husband and wife becomes an important part of your marriage relationship – you will find the time for it. Even if you can only manage five minutes a day – it will be time well spent together and you will find yourselves longing for more. As the importance of this simple, vital act grows in your hearts, you will find that the time becomes more readily available to you because it is a priority. Carey Moore in a book he co-wrote with his spouse called What Happens When Husbands and Wives Pray Together, says, "The world’s demands and delights are entirely capable of squeezing all available time out of each day. And if there should be a little time left in our hectic hours, the flesh is by then too weak for anything so demanding as prayer. Add to this the hatred the devil has toward real prayer and it is easy to see why husbands and wives so rarely pray together." In asking whether or not this is a valid reason, he responds, "Not when we consider that many of the busiest people we know make time to pray together – not coincidentally, I believe that is why they are also some of the best marriages we know!"
Could you find an extra quarter or half of an hour in the morning by getting up a little bit earlier? Flexibility and planning are the keys. Find what works for you and stick with it, being prepared to alter your plans from time to time.
· It’s hard to pray together because we have young children who interrupt us. While it is true that some things are harder to do when the demands of children are upon you, it is also true that there are ways around this. Perhaps getting up earlier...or praying together after your children are asleep would be the answer. If they interrupt you unexpectedly, draw them close and let them experience mom and dad praying together. I remember our youngest son quietly climbing in bed between us many mornings and just listening to us pray back and forth. If you have wiggly children, you can pick one up, and walk about the room praying – even with your eyes open! This would be a good time to pray for your children and their day. Can you imagine the legacy you will leave for your children as a praying couple? You will also set their feet on a path to do the same in their own marriages some day.
· We are in different places spiritually. Perhaps one spouse is more comfortable praying than the other, or one has been a Christian longer. You do not have to be spiritual equals to pray together – you just have to be willing. After all, the conversation you carry on with the Lord is not for the benefit of one another, even though benefits come. Prayer is talking with God – not informing your spouse. Praying together is not dependent upon whether or not you are comfortable praying out loud (by the way, the Lord is perfectly capable of hearing your silent prayers), or whether or not you say the "right words." It is instead dependent upon your desire to draw close to the Lord as husband and wife to seek His face and His power through prayer. The main question is, "Are you willing to take time to come before God together as prayer partners, no matter where you are on your spiritual walk?" Praying together can only strengthen your relationship to one another, as well as your relationship with the Lord. Don’t miss out on this powerful blessing because of pride or your own feelings of spiritual inadequacy! God will help you to grow spiritually as you step out in faith.
How Do We Start?
Perhaps it would be as simple as one spouse suggesting it! Otherwise, if there are issues on one or both sides, agree to pray separately about the issue. Ask the Lord to give you the desire and the opportunity to make a commitment to become lifelong prayer partners. Here are some simple suggestions to help you to jump-start the process if you are uncomfortable:
· Find five minutes to start with unless you are able to find a larger block of time. Once you see what a blessing it is to pray together, you will want to increase the time you spend! It is important to pray as you can and not as you can’t. Carey Moore has said, "Prayer that leads a couple increasingly to the heart of God is prayer worth making time for, even in the most demanding and pressed of schedules."
· Find time without adding pressure. Be creative! My husband, Dave, and I have even combined our walking time with our prayer time when our schedules have been demanding. It has been wonderful to walk and pray (of course, we keep our eyes open)!
· Remember Who you are talking with. Be careful not to pass information, instruction or correction to your spouse disguised as prayer.
· Read a Psalm out loud to the Lord together if you are uncomfortable praying out loud. Make it your prayer. Psalm 145 is a good one! Change the pronouns to focus on God.
· Work within your differences. Be patient with one another and don’t focus on weaknesses or criticize the other’s "prayer performance." Remember that prayer is not for your benefit, although you will receive many benefits from it. Prayer is for the honor and glory of the Lord!
· Allow the Lord to restore broken or damaged relationships through prayer. Pray even when you have disagreements or when you are divided on issues. Ask God together to help you resolve these, and to give you wisdom. It is difficult to stay angry or to be frustrated with someone you pray with.
· Pray through crisis times in your lives – often, a crisis can be divisive in many marriages. Praying together can bring you strength and agreement! It is a wonderful spiritual glue that can cement you together through difficult times.
· Intercede together for your children. If you aren’t praying for them, who is? You know them better than anyone else, and know their struggles, their needs, etc. Praying in agreement with one another is a powerful act, as you seek the Lord on their behalf!
· Be aware that the enemy doesn’t want you to pray. Don’t allow him to meddle with your prayer times together, because he will certainly try to drive a wedge between you at every opportunity. If you know that this is a possibility you can be on your guard – "...For we are not unaware of his schemes" (2 Corinthians 2:11).
· Be willing to pray about everything that affects your lives! Pray for one another’s day, and for your children and family. Pray about your struggles, finances, decisions that need to be made, etc. If you have subjects that are off-limits in prayer, then you are effectively shutting out God from working in those areas.
· Keep prayer fresh and vital. Every so often, take a day or a weekend to get away together to plan and pray and to share where you are as a couple, as a family, etc. Look at your spiritual lives as well and share specific needs you have for your spouse to pray for. Change your "habit" from time to time. Maybe you could pray once in awhile as you hold one another close or lay hands on each other to pray blessings on one another’s lives. Go on a "prayer picnic." Try keeping a prayer journal together where you can keep track of prayer needs and answered prayers. This is a wonderful way to watch God at work as you pray!
· Never be afraid of silence in the midst of your prayer times together. Remember, prayer is not just talking to God. It is talking with God – this requires listening as well as talking. If He has things to speak into your hearts, you will need to allow Him the opportunity by being quiet before Him. "Be still and know that I am God..." (Psalm 46:10).
consider making prayer together a vital component of your life as husband and
wife! May the Lord bless and honor your commitment to come before Him together
in prayer, seeking His face. You will enjoy it so much that you will wish to
share it with every couple you know!