My parents have been married for over fifty years, and every morning they pray together. They’ve prayed through the deaths of their parents, the breast cancer that invaded my mother’s body, and the recent stroke that, for months, robbed my father of his vision and balance. The key word is praying through — not over or under or around, but through. Sometimes we have to go through the fire, but as Scripture promises, the fire will not consume us.

When we pray together as couples, we bring a sense of unity to our marriage that will not be easily shattered by difficulties.

Just as your personal prayer life is an indicator of your relationship with the Lord, the prayer life of a marriage is a strong indicator of the health of the whole relationship. Praying together is an intimate activity, and in order for it to be effective, it must be genuine and heartfelt.

My husband,. Ron grew up in a family that didn't pray together, so it was hard for him to understand how important it was to our relationship. Through the years, he’s learned that his prayers nourish me, our marriage, and our relationship with God.

When Ron prays for me, I feel as if I’m covered by a velvety blanket of protection. Even though I still face problems and setbacks, his prayers shelter me from the sharpness of the pain. We have prayed through financial troubles, difficult decisions about careers, and several health issues.

Here's an example of how our prayer life kept us bonded during the most painful event a couple can experience: the death of a child.

After an abnormal ultrasound during my second pregnancy, Ron and I went back to the hospital for the amniocentesis results. The doctor said, as if he were reading from a textbook, "Trisomy eighteen is a genetic disorder that always involves profound mental retardation and severe disfigurements." Then he said the words that still live inside a tiny zipped pocket of my heart.

"Your baby’s condition is usually incompatible with life. Most women in your position, in order to spare themselves unnecessary anguish, just get an abortion. We can schedule yours for tomorrow morning."

I couldn’t speak. I stopped breathing. I felt like I was drowning. I wanted to sink into the dark water and die. We left the office without a word.

We knew that abortion was not an option for us and that this child was the one that God chose for us. We began to fall in love with him. Ron laid his hands on my stomach almost every night and prayed for the baby and our marriage. We asked the Lord to help us to bear this unbearable burden through His unfailing strength.

My parents also covered us in prayer and one day my mother gave us a piece of advice that kept us focused. She said, "Try not to think about the future. Your baby is alive today, be alive with him. Treasure every moment."

Over the next few months, we talked to our unseen baby, sang lullabies to him, and prayed for him. I gave him gentle massages through my skin. We knew we probably had to do our best parenting before he was born.

Four months later, we met little Timmy face-to-face. The nurse covered his fragile, twenty-ounce body with a soft blue blanket and matching cap. His heart monitor beeped an unsteady greeting as she handed him to us.

His beautiful little rosebud mouth surprised me. It was an oasis of perfection. We held our emotions in check, knowing we had to pour a lifetime of love into a minuscule cup. Ron and I took turns rocking him as we repeatedly told him, "We love you, Timmy." He never opened his eyes. His heartbeat got slower and slower — and then reluctantly stopped.