For some reason, church-going couples have compartmentalized their religious life and their marriage life. The two may never meet. So if we are having marriage conflicts, often the last thought is, “Have we prayed about it together?”
But praying together is in fact a balm for many of our problems, and an inoculation for many others. Many of the problems we are having may be the result of neglecting prayer together. Besides the effect on God, praying together has the mystical effect of binding hearts together. Something happens when two individuals go to the throne of grace together.
How to start?
Be careful lest you become overly ambitious. Five minutes of regular prayer beats 30 minutes that starts and then stops. Ideally, prayer should be initiated by the priest of the household, the man. But there is nothing wrong with a wife’s gentle prodding, “Can we take a couple of minutes and pray together?”
How to pray?
Let’s be careful here. It is easy to preach while praying. “Lord, help my husband become the man he should be,” is more preaching than praying. The prayers must be a real beseeching of God and not preaching to God or the other person in the form of prayer. “O God, make my husband/wife the person he/she should be,” is not an acceptable prayer to pray together.
Instead the focus of our prayer should be thanksgiving to the Lord, personal confession (again, don’t confess sin for the both of you), personal prayer for yourself, and prayer for the both of you as you face this struggle together.
Let’s look at each of these.
Thanksgiving: Prayer, like Paul’s prayers, should start out with thanksgiving. When Paul mentioned his prayers in his letters, they started with thanksgiving. The recipient of the letter, who was about to be corrected by Paul, saw in writing Paul’s genuinely thankful heart. There is something heart-changing in us about lifting prayers of thanksgiving to God for a person who is causing us pain. There is always something for which you can give thanks for them.
Personal Confession: Since you are holding yourself to a standard of perfection no matter what the other person does, there is probably sin that you can confess and renounce. Genuine confession in front of the other person is powerful. Do not confess the other party’s sins or your mutual sins unless there has been previous agreement. Prayer is sacred communion with God and should be directed on gaining ground with him, not with the other party.
Personal Supplication: Confession of your own failures leads naturally into prayer for personal transformation. There is a natural flow to asking God to ease the consequences of your sin. Again, the focus of prayer is upon changing you.
Mutual Supplication: Lastly, this is a time there can be prayer for the family decisions that have to be made that are causing disagreement. There can be genuine asking wisdom that God could show you what to do. It is always good to echo Jesus’ high priestly prayer for protection from Satan, unity, and holiness by the word (See John 17). And if we pray then we need to expect God to answer. Part of the expectation of faith filled prayer is listening to the Spirit and looking for answers.
Keep on Starting!
Why don’t you pray together? Too late? It is never too late to do what is right. Too busy? You’re right you are too busy. He won’t take the lead? Nothing wrong with a wife’s gentle and humble suggestion. We don’t know how? Ask another couple to mentor you.
Let’s keep our families well-nurtured by praying in the Spirit on all occasions, especially as husband and wife.