A Missing Ingredient in Most Marriages
- Barry R. Leventhal, Ph.D. Two Becoming One
- 2007 20 Jan
Here’s a riddle for you: It is one of the first ingredients to disappear in a marriage and while most married couples readily admit that it should be one of life’s top priorities, they also confess that they just cannot seem to squeeze it into their daily schedules. What is this missing ingredient in most marriages? Prayer. Prayer is the lifeline that keeps a married couple personally in touch with the God of heaven and earth. A marriage cannot survive without personal fellowship with the living God and drawing from His inexhaustible wisdom and resources.
Why Couples Don’t Pray
Why is it that most married couples find it so hard to pray? There are four reasons:
1. Couples may not sense their need for prayer. Early on in most marriages things seem to go so well that we often don’t sense our personal need for God. Therefore, the lifeline of prayer is ignored. But life has a way of tweaking this unrealistic view. For as we move onward in our marital journey and life throws enough curves and trials at us, we are ever reminded that we are truly a needy people.
2. Couples sometimes feel like they really don’t know how to pray. It is, therefore, somewhat embarrassing to pray in front of one’s mate. “I’ll sound stupid.” “My mate will think that I am trying to act superspiritual.” The solution for inexperienced prayer couples is to hang out with some older prayer warriors, just to listen and enjoy their prayers, as well as to silently enter into the chorus of prayer. And then try a few short prayers to God on your own – nothing lengthy or fancy – something like, “Dear Father, we need you in our marriage today. Thanks. In Jesus’ name.”
3. Couples think they need a lengthy quiet time to really meet with God. But this is not so. Maybe later in a maturing marriage a couple may feel the need to schedule in periods of extended prayer. But when starting out on the journey of prayer, brief but significant prayer times are more important than no prayer times at all.
4. Some spouses find it hard to pray because they may feel like a “spiritual midget” next to their mate. “After all, she has been a growing Christian so much longer than me. There is no way that I could ever pray like her.” The solution to this dilemma is for the more experienced prayer partner to leave some room for the less experienced partner and to encourage prayer times that include both spouses, prayer times that are short, real, and to the point. All of us can grow in our personal prayer times with God. As someone has once said, “The problems of prayer yield to the practice of prayer.”
The Nature of Prayer
What is prayer and how does it work? Prayer is simply talking to the Lord. It is a response to God’s invitation to come into His presence for fellowship, instruction, and encouragement. As we grow in our journey of prayer, we will discover that there are several aspects to prayer. Someone has coined the acrostic ACTS to lay out the basic elements of prayer:
A - Adoration
C - Confession
T - Thanksgiving
S - Supplication (Petition)
And while it is not necessary to include each of these elements each and every time that we pray as a couple, ACTS is a helpful guide for beginning prayer couples.
In light of the absolute necessity of prayer for a growing marriage, prayerfully consider the following suggestions:
• Begin by praying before every meal. Grace lifted up to God before a meal has always been a Christian tradition. Keep this tradition in a brief, real, and sincere way. Take turns as a couple.
• Always close your prayers “in Jesus’ name.” Jesus taught us to pray in His name and authority (see John 14:12-14; 15:15-16; 16:22-26). Our prayers are always to be centered on Him and on the basis of His name.
• Try to set up a short but real time to pray as a couple on a regular basis. Don’t forget the ACTS procedure. Short and regular is better than long and irregular.
• Try keeping a prayer journal. Record your requests to God and then when and how He answers them. Seeing God’s personal hand in your marriage can become a true source of strength.