My husband and I talked with our minister who encouraged us to begin praying together. We were too embarrassed to ask how to do this, so we’re asking you for guidance.
Like all communication, prayer is a vital link that gives meaning to a person’s life and relationships. Couple prayer has been the topic of increasing research. Many couples who address marital problems by relying on prayer report an increased level of satisfaction within marriage. Others report that praying left a constant impression upon their thoughts and actions throughout the day, making their interactions with their spouse more positive. Findings suggest that participation in faith activities, including prayer, decreases marital conflict and stalemates. Research is uncovering what people of faith already know: marriages are strengthened when couples pray.
Benefits of Prayer
Couples who pray together draw closer to God. Once a person chooses to have a personal relationship with God, prayer becomes a natural part of that relationship. Many couples who pray together hold hands and draw close to one another physically. On the emotional level, couples who pray open the door to their hearts as they share inner thoughts and feelings.
Prayer deepens your communication and companionship. Good communication is essential for a healthy, satisfying marriage. When we pray, we express things to God we would most likely never say to our spouse in a casual conversation. Praying together reveals the thoughts of our hearts, providing greater insight into our spouse’s thoughts and feelings.
As couples draw closer to God through prayer, angry feelings are released. Bev and I have discovered that it’s next to impossible to hold on to harsh feelings toward one another when we are praying together. The Bible reminds us not to let the sun go down on our anger (Ephesians 4:26). One of the best ways to follow this godly advice is to pray together as a couple. Prayer has a calming effect and reminds us that sinful anger is not compatible with God’s desires. The result is usually that we come away from prayer ready to treat our spouse differently—more like God would have us.
Suggestions for Praying Together
First, choose a time to pray that works for both of you. The right time may be different for you than for another couple depending on work schedules, children, sleep patterns, and other factors. Bev and I find that bedtime is the best time for us. Even so, we can’t wait too long to pray after we go to bed or Bev falls asleep. She’s not a night person. In the same way you schedule other important activities, do the same for praying together.
Another practical suggestion is to keep your prayer time short. A common mistake couples make when beginning a prayer time together is to think that longer is better. The spouse who is less comfortable praying may complain, “She (or he) prays for everything.” If one spouse prays long and the other is not accustomed to the practice of prayer, the unaccustomed spouse will quickly lose interest in continuing to pray together. So start out with a short prayer time together, possibly just a couple of minutes, and increase your prayer time only when both of you are ready.
As you pray, keep it personal. Acknowledging personal needs to God in the presence of your spouse encourages effective prayer together. Too often prayers are general rather than specific. When a spouse listens in on our prayer, he or she learns a lot about us. I (Phil) have gained much understanding about Bev’s thoughts from simply overhearing her conversations with God. To make it personal, begin by praying about your marriage. We suggest you start by thanking God for your spouse and focusing on his or her strengths rather than zooming in on any problems you may be experiencing. There will be times to bring your problems to God, but it may be better not to do this during your early attempts at praying together.
We’re glad to hear you are considering praying together. The Bible says the “prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective” (James 5:16). As you start praying together as a couple, expect mighty things to happen in your relationship with one another and with God.
Send your questions about family life to Phil and Bev Haas in care of The Lookout, 8805 Governor’s Hill Drive, Suite 400, Cincinnati, OH 45249, firstname.lastname@example.org.We regret that personal replies are not always possible. Phil and Bev Haas are involved in education and family ministry in Cincinnati, Ohio. They are the parents of two children, and they have one grandson.