In this age when overpromising and underdelivering are commonplace, there is one promise that we absolutely know will deliver: Praying together as a couple will enrich, enhance, and fortify your life, marriage, and family.
Praying together may be the single most important spiritual discipline you and your spouse will ever share. Here's why:
Are you lacking intimacy in your marriage? Praying together will take you to new levels of intimacy far beyond what you thought possible.
Is there conflict in your marriage? Praying together will defuse, disarm, resolve, and prevent disagreements.
Do you want more transparency in your marriage? Praying together is certain to open your hearts to one another.
Do you feel distant from God? Here's a scriptural promise to grab onto and apply: "Call to Me and I will answer you, and I will tell you great and mighty things, which you do not know" (Jeremiah 33:3).
Are you fearful? Disappointed? Discouraged? Worried? Angry? Hopeless? Praying together will calm the storms in your heart, marriage, and family.
Are you struggling against sin? Praying as a couple exposes sin so God can work.
Are you near divorce? Praying as a couple restores unity of heart, mind, and purpose.
If you want your marriage to go the distance and your family to be all that God intended, pray together as a couple every day.
Is praying together the be-all and end-allthe only thing that couples must do to be successful? No. But it is the first step toward experiencing the blessings of having God at the center of your marriage.
Ruth Bell Graham once wrote, "I seriously doubt if there would be many divorces among Christians if they took time to kneel in prayer once a day and each prayed for the other."1
Without the wisdom of a mentor we met years ago, we might never have discovered the power of prayer in our marriage. When Barbara and I married, my boss, Carl Wilson, was a mature, successful Christian leader. Since Carl had been married for more than twenty-five years and was obviously a satisfied husband and father, I thought I should tap into his wisdom on marriage. Not long after Barbara and I returned from our honeymoon, I asked Carl, "What is the very best piece of advice you could give me as Barbara and I start our marriage together?"
Carl didn't even hesitate. "Oh, that's easy, Denny," he said. "Pray every day with Barbara. I've prayed every day with my Sara Jo for more than twenty-five years. Nothing has built up our marriage more than our prayer time together."
The answer seemed simplisticthe kind of response that makes you want to say, "That's nice, but isn't there something else?" Yet the years have shown that Carl's advice was profound and priceless.2
We have followed that wisdom for more than thirty years. In fact, we might not be Mr. and Mrs. Rainey today if it weren't for the humbling guidance and provision that have come as God has interacted with us and responded to our prayers.
Committing our lives to the lordship of Jesus Christ and praying together almost every day since 1972 has brought a peace to our marriage and home. Because of our deep desire for couples to experience the richness of love and life that comes through praying together regularly, we have developed these thirty devotional entries. Why thirty? Studies have shown that it takes just thirty days to forge a new habit. So our goal is to help you develop a good habit that will benefit all aspects of your lifeincluding enhancing, and possibly saving, your marriage.
Praying together throughout your marriage will test your resolve, your perseverance, your humility, and even your courage. And as you pray together, keep in mind that you will meet spiritual opposition. Satan knows the spiritual power available to a couple united in prayer. He will oppose your efforts to come together as a prayer team.
So if for any reason you don't pray together for a few days or longer, don't give up. We understand how humbling it is to begin again after you have stopped praying somewhere along the way. However, we encourage you to look forward to the days ahead when you will pray together instead of looking back at the days when you didn't.
Here are some strategies for beginningand continuingto be two hearts praying as one:
1. Discuss why praying together has been a difficult discipline for you to maintain. Beginning to communicate about this may be the most important action you take toward getting back on track and praying together regularly. Discuss how you can help remind one another to pray together every day.
2. In prayer together, confess any sin related to a lack of praying, first to God and then to each other.
3. Show that you have repentant hearts by again praying together consistently.
4. Establish accountability by having a friend or pastor ask you once a month, "Are you praying regularly with your spouse?"
5. If you stop praying together regularly, repeat steps 14and keep doing so until the Lord calls you home and you can speak to Him face-to-face!
Don't be discouraged, thinking that praying together "just doesn't work for us" or that "God is upset because we broke our promise to pray." Instead, get back in touch with God and His plans to bless you through the discipline of praying together as a couple.
So whether you have prayed together regularly in the past or are beginning to for the first time, now is the time to forge ahead toward establishing a habit of regular prayer together.
Talking to Godeven with your husband or wife listeningshould be as natural as talking to a friend on the telephone or over a mocha at a coffee shop.
When our prayers are genuine, straightforward, and without pretense, our approach to God is childlike. Richard Foster explains it like this: "In the same way that a small child cannot draw a bad picture, so a child of God cannot offer a bad prayer. . . . Like children before a loving father, we open our hearts and make our requests. We do not try to sort things out, the good from the bad. We simply and unpretentiously share our concerns and make our petitions."3
Prayer is not a form of verbal gymnastics. One wife's description of the simplicity of talking to God paints this picture well: "I would encourage any couple to learn to pray together even if it feels awkward at first. My husband often felt that he wasn't good at praying, but I encouraged him to just talk to God like he talks to me."
When we examine the Scriptures, we find that Jesus actually insisted we abandon pretense in prayer: "When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners so that they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you" (Matthew 6:56).
As we have pondered that passage and prayed together faithfully, we have learned that the "inner room" for a couple is the place of intimacy found when they share their hearts in prayer together. When spouses pray together, it is about relationship and intimacywith God and with one another.
But even if praying together seems a bit awkward at first, couples must still enter that "inner room" of praying together. One veteran pray-er wrote, "Prayer is a tool we often carry around but never put to work. It's like we're building a house and keep walking around with a hammer in our hands, wondering why the walls keep falling down. We expect that wishing the walls would form a room will actually cause nails to sink into the wood. But without a hammer and some effort, the walls will keep falling down. God's not asking us to build our house, just knock some nails in." Praying together is essential and must occur regularly if our marriages are to stand strong.
What has kept us from praying together in the past? How can we team together to be consistent in daily prayer?
Note: For the first ten entries in this devotional we have provided suggested prayers. Launching into prayer together may be as simple as focusing on God as you alternately read these prayers for husband and wife aloud. Or you may want to begin there and then continue in your own words. To help you develop a habit of praying together each day, the next twenty days include "Prayer Points" instead of suggested prayers. These points are designed to give you ideas for praying in your own words.
[Husband] Dear heavenly Father, You are the awesome King of all things, including my life and our marriage and family. Thank You for making it possible for us to have such a loving relationship with You that we can come to You simply, like little children, knowing that You are happy to hear what is on our hearts. In Jesus' name, amen.
[Wife] Dear God, as we begin praying together daily as a couple, please protect us from distractions that would keep us from joining our hearts in prayer. Help us to avoid any pride, fear, lack of faith, or foolish thinking that would hinder us from drawing closer to You. In Jesus' name we pray, amen.