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Developing Good Prayer Habits

  • Michael Smalley, M.A. Michael Smalley is a marriage and family counselor
  • 2001 10 Jul
Developing Good Prayer Habits
Psalm 69:13 "But I pray to you, O LORD, in the time of your favor; in your great love, O God, answer me with your sure salvation."

What is intimacy? Often we have an unbalanced view of what intimacy is and how it manifests itself in our marriage. There are really two sides to intimacy between a husband and a wife. One side is the physical aspect of intimacy and the other the emotional. Prayer is a great way to build emotional intimacy into your marriage. Many times we don't know how to pray and we allow this to prevent us from a life of prayer, especially with our spouse. I'd like to explain the elements of a healthy prayer life through one of my own experiences.

I'm not like the typical male. I've always longed to be married. Even in elementary school, I wanted to be married before I graduated from college.

But what happened at the end of my junior year in college made me realize how serious I was about getting married. I'd been praying quite fervently to meet my wife, and I had a specific girl in mind.

It was my freshman year at Baylor University when I met my future wife, Amy. She was one of Baylor's cheerleaders and I had met her during her tryout to make the squad. Amy had left such an impression on me that I actually trained to become a cheerleader myself (Baylor had men and women as cheerleaders). The next year I tried out for the squad and made the team. Of course, it had nothing to do with the fact that they needed six guys and only five tried out and I did this just to get closer to Amy, whom I'd barely spoken with!

My personality is such that I don't always check out all the facts. In my zeal to make the team so I could get closer to Amy, I'd forgotten to even check to see if she was dating anyone seriously. And, as it turned out, she was engaged! I was devastated, and spent the next two years of my college life just as friends with Amy, not even seriously dating during that time. Not dating at all, for that matter.

But it was during this time that I developed some good prayer habits. To me, Amy was the ideal woman. She had everything I could have hoped for in a wife, and, quite frankly, I couldn't imagine finding a better woman to marry. Considering that she was already getting married to another man, my prayer went something like, "God, you know who my heart wants to marry. I'm not going to lie or try to feel something different. I want to marry Amy. But (and here was the key to my prayer life) if Amy is not the one, I can't wait to meet the girl I will marry, because I know that she will be even better!"

So the key to a good prayer life is two-fold. First, we must pray for what we desire. God knows all of our thoughts, feelings, and beliefs. Why try to fool God or fool ourselves? Too often we pray for things that we don't actually hunger for. God wants us to be real, and being real means that we must be truthful. I wanted to marry Amy, even though she was still engaged. This did not stop me from praying for her and our potential future together. The second part, and perhaps the most important, was that I was willing to accept God's will, even if it didn't match my own. This is when you add to the end of your prayer something like, "But God, if this isn't what you want for my life, then I can't wait to find out what your plan is." We must wait in anticipation for God's fulfillment of our prayer, and know that God's way is the best way!

My desire for your marriage is that you utilize these simple rules as you pray together. Always keep in mind that a better prayer life together means a better life together.

For more resources for all your most important relationships, please visit my Web site at

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