Prayer: The Secret to a Lasting Marriage
- Tuesday, December 03, 2002
Maybe you've had a similar experience with your own spouse:
One night, my wife Barbara and I ended up in bed facing in opposite directions.
Since early in our marriage, we have prayed together each night before we go to bed. But that night, I didn't want to pray with her. In my conscience, however, Jesus Christ was asking me, "Are you going to pray with her?"
"I don't like her tonight, Lord," I replied.
"I know you don't," He said. "But you're the one who tells people that you pray with your wife all the time." Slowly, the Lord turned me over, and I said, "Sweetheart, will you forgive me?" And Barbara and I talked and prayed.
I thank God for that tradition of prayer He has helped us build early in our marriage. I am not exaggerating when I say that Barbara and I might not still be married had it not been for daily prayer.
If there is one simple ritual I would urge couples to begin adopting in their marriages, it is this one -- the habit of praying together every day.
When I was still a newlywed in 1972, I asked my boss and mentor, Carl Wilson, for his single best piece of marital advice. He and his wife had been married 25 years and had four children.
"Denny, that's easy," he said. "Pray daily together. Every night for 25 years we have prayed together as a couple."
Since that day nearly three decades ago, Barbara and I have missed daily prayer fewer than a dozen times. That discipline has helped resolve conflicts, kept communication flowing, and, most importantly, acknowledged our utter dependence upon Jesus Christ as the Lord and Builder of our family.
Surveys at our FamilyLife Marriage Conferences indicate that less than 8 percent of all couples pray together on a regular basis. I suspect that less than 5 percent of all Christian couples pray together daily.
Let's bring back a popular slogan from the 1950s: "The family that prays together stays together." I believe that if every Christian couple would pray together regularly, our nation would experience a spiritual renewal of historical proportions, including a dramatic drop in the Christian community's divorce rate.
And when the divorce rate drops within the church, we will see a spiritual and moral awakening in America.
I want to challenge you to something today: to commit to praying with your spouse for one week before you go to bed each night.
Please don't say you're too busy for this. Don't let time in front of the TV watching a ball game or a sitcom keep you from praying together. The average American adult watches 30 hours of television a week -- and there has to be a little time in there to pray!
By the same token, don't let hobbies, singing in the choir, or working at the church keep you from praying together. It's easy to get busy -- we all have a lot going on in our lives. But don't get so busy that you can't make the time to pray together with your spouse. Avoid living independently of one another. God gave you your spouse, and your marriage is the single most important relationship you have on this earth.
Of course, you'll have interruptions when you pray together. Anyone with a telephone, children, or even pets can be guaranteed of that! But I encourage you to go past the interruptions. Time for devotion and prayer with your wife or husband is just too important.
When you pray together, you multiply your joys, divide your sorrows, add to your experiences with God together, and help subtract your haunting past from your life. During the rugged times of your marriage, you can share your burdens. Prayer can also take away the desire to get even and replace it with a willingness to work things out.
I urge you to make this commitment with your spouse. You may be afraid to start, and let me assure you, you are not alone. Many people are hesitant to start praying with their spouses. If this is the case, try saying this prayer: "Lord, teach me how to pray with my spouse. I'm afraid."
I can promise you; it will be one of the most rewarding things you will ever do for your marriage and for your family.
About the author: Dennis Rainey is the executive director of FamilyLife, an organization founded in 1976 with the goal of effectively developing godly families, one home at a time. Parents of six children, Dennis and his wife, Barbara, have written numerous books, including best-sellers Moments Together for Couples and The Questions Book for Marriage Intimacy.
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