A fresh perspective…
Tobi Layton, married 8 years

We have a "praying chair" at our dining room table. I’m not sure when or how it came to be or what made that particular chair deserving of the honor, but whoever ends up sitting there at any given meal will be the official grace spokesman. Sometimes that person lands there by random chance. Unlike each of our childhood dining rooms, Ryan and I have no unspoken seating arrangement.

Sometimes, one of our plates is placed at the revered spot on purpose. I’m ashamed to admit that a few times I’ve purposely placed Ryan’s plate in the praying spot because I didn’t feel like talking to God. But just tonight, I deliberately set my own salad in front of the chair because I knew Ryan needed a little strengthening.

This game of musical chairs has been a blessing to the spiritual aspect of our marriage. You see, like any followers of Christ, Ryan and I have our ups and downs. We both agree that I was a more mature Christian as we entered marriage. Though Ryan was definitely the "man of the house" in most areas, I often wore the spiritual pants in our family. He was not comfortable praying aloud, so wherever I sat, I was usually in the "praying chair" (though the idea had not yet been conceived).

More often than not, I was the one trying to find ways to serve God with our life together. In fact, when our church youth pastor left an out-of-the-blue invitation to youth ministry on our answering machine, I was excited about the possibility, but felt the need to prepare a "pitch" for my hesitant husband. I was surprised that Ryan was interested, despite the significant time commitment.

Somewhere during the next year, I witnessed a spiritual growth spurt in my husband. He had already begun to feel comfortable praying at our private dinner table, but now his prayers blew me away. He was demonstrating a real strength that can only come from the Lord. And somehow that scared me. I felt like I was being left behind spiritually.

Instead of turning to God for help, I avoided the topic of spirituality or tried to sort through my feelings on my own. Ryan became a frequent inhabitant of the praying chair. But, in a way I think God designs in marriages, Ryan’s strength in Christ eventually "rubbed off" on me as he helped me seek to be closer to God. The praying chair currently receives almost equal visits from each of us.

I’ve come to look at the praying chair as a symbol of our marriage. We each have our peaks and valleys, but God has blessed us with this partnership to help us keep our eyes on the One who is always with us. Sometimes I play the role of the strong one, firmly planted in the praying chair. And sometimes I simply hold my husband’s hand as he speaks to our Savior on my behalf.

A seasoned perspective…

Deborah Raney, married 35 years

At the time we first met, my husband and I had each recently made a new commitment to follow Christ. We believed then, and are more convinced each year we’re married, that God brought us together and intended us for each other all along. Early on, we wanted to honor him and thank him for bringing us together by having a time of prayer and Bible study together each day.

Our intentions were pure. Our hearts were in the right place. But it took us almost twenty years of trial and error to finally settle into a pattern of shared "quiet time." But oh, how sweet the rewards of that time together have been.

In the early years of marriage, our efforts to spend time together in prayer and worship were thwarted by work and activity schedules that left little free time. And probably by spiritual immaturity, too. Sometimes, we were doing well just to have our individual private devotions each day.