Taking Spiritual Responsibility in Your Marriage
Paul and Sarah were young and newly married. We began their premarital counseling a couple of months before the wedding. I told them that if we did not get everything covered before their wedding day, we would pick back up when they returned from their honeymoon. Today was pickup day. They were an amazing couple, and I looked forward to spending time with them. They were both church kids, and their faith had been a part of their lives as long as they could remember. They got the concept of putting God first and not letting anything take second place other than each other. They were way ahead of the game.
With all I have learned about people over the years, I still amaze myself at some of the assumptions I make. Because I knew Paul’s and Sarah’s backgrounds and quite a bit about each of their families, I just skimmed over much of the teaching I do about pursuing God. After all, they were both Christians and had been pursuing God individually for a long time. Pursuing Him together should have been easy. As I finished telling them how important it was for couples to pray together every day, Paul gave me a blank stare. Then he said, “How do we do that?”
So much for my assumption.
After talking with literally hundreds of husbands, I know that one of the most difficult tasks men face is being the spiritual leader of their homes. The reasons why usually fall into one of three areas. First, most men felt inadequate. Second, few had ever had spiritual leadership modeled for them. Third, many felt that their wives were far superior to them in spiritual matters.
As we married, I claimed all three. So on that first night of our marriage as we knelt together by the side of the bed to pray, Nancy looked at me and said, “Would you like to start?” Inside I was screaming no, and I guess my face was conveying the same message. I had never prayed out loud before anyone. Then as I mentally shuffled through my repertoire of prayers (which did not take long), I came up empty. Nancy suggested that we say the Lord’s Prayer together. I had forgotten about that one, but I did know it and was totally on board. So that is what we did. We held hands, bowed our heads, closed our eyes, and said the Lord’s Prayer. We soon added silent prayer to our routine. Each of us would share things we wanted to pray for and about, and then both of us would pray silently.
If you decide to pursue God together through prayer (and I am praying that you will), where would you start?
You may have a good idea. Some of you may have been praying together already, but if you are new at this, let me give you some ideas.
It is important to remember that there is not a right way to pray. I believe God longs to spend time with us. He is more about us coming to Him than about the way we do it. Remember Adam and Eve? The Bible tells us that God would come every day to the garden to spend time with them. There is your picture. That is what God wants with you, and because Jesus has provided a way for us to be reconciled to God, that relationship is there for the taking. Your step one is making the commitment to pray together.
Let me challenge you to commit to pray together every day for the next thirty days. Here are some ideas for you. They are in no particular order. Find one you are both comfortable with, and you are off and running. Here we go!
First, Three Cautions:
- It does not matter how long you pray. Start with a minute and see what happens.
- It does not matter if you pray silently or out loud. God has incredible hearing.
- It does not matter if you are kneeling, standing, sitting, or lying in bed. Just pray.
- Talk together about things you want to pray about. Then pray.
- Hold hands and pray silently together. Squeeze the hand of your spouse when you are done.
- Pray the Lord’s Prayer together (Matthew 6:9-13). This is the prayer Jesus taught us. It’s a good place to start.
- Pick a topic and pray about it. You can pray for your marriage, your kids, the world, or each other.
- Find a Bible verse that fits your current situation in life, and pray it together.
When Nancy and I began praying together, on our wedding night and beyond, we prayed silently and then repeated the Lord’s Prayer together. It worked for me. I could do this prayer. It kept me at a level of praying with Nancy that I was comfortable with, and I truly believe that from the beginning, God honored our faithfulness to pray. Often, it united us and put us on the same page.
Praying together also softened our hearts toward each other in times of stress and strife. It was just really difficult for me to stay mad at someone I was praying with. The two, for me, did not work well together.
Our next step was to share with each other our concerns and things we wanted to take before God together in prayer. The items on our list changed from day to day, week to week, and year to year. We silently prayed for our marriage, other people’s marriages, for our families, for our children, for wisdom as parents, for our pastor, for our church, for the needy, and for the hungry. You get the idea. Whatever was on our hearts we shared with each other and then silently prayed together before God. It was amazing. He heard us, and He answered so many of our prayers. We grew closer to Him and closer to each other.
Then one day Nancy did something she had never done in front of me before. She did not pray silently. She prayed out loud. She took a step I had been reluctant to take. I love my comfort zones, and I was in one with our silent prayer life. Now my wife rocked my boat. I knew that just because she prayed out loud did not mean I had to do the same. Yet there was something special about hearing her take our common concerns before God. God was growing us in our spiritual life together with Him. It did not happen the next night or the one after that, but before too long I was also praying out loud.
Other couples have shared their ideas about praying with me. Some write out prayers and then share them with each other. Some pray specific Bible verses that are applicable to their circumstances. Some couples never pray out loud. In some marriages, only one prays out loud. The bottom line is this:
do not get caught up in the details — just pray.
A few years ago as the Christmas holidays were ending, Nancy and I were talking about some things that we were both concerned about. They were some of those things that you worry about but have no control over. We had three that we could not shake. We made an agreement that beginning the first of the new year we would pray together for God to act in those three circumstances. We knew that if something happened or changed in any one of the three things that it would totally be a God deal.
On January first, we began. We were faithful with this and hardly missed a day. Hold on to your seat. By August of that year, every one of these three prayers was completely answered. In our minds, it was God working three miracles. We prayed, and He did the work.
Now this has not always been our experience. Sometimes we pray, and the answer seems to be no, or later, or wait (which is really hard for me). But I know God always hears our prayers, and I know He always does what is best for us, and I know that He is always good. I can live with that. In fact, I can rejoice in that.
Excerpted with permission from 7 Secrets to an Awesome Marriage by Kim Kimberling, copyright Kim Kimberling, PhD.
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Are you in the habit of praying with your husband or wife if you are married? If not, today is a great day to start! Come share with us some of your prayer tips. We would love to hear from you! ~ Devotionals Daily