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.
We introduced him to his heavenly Father as we prayed, "Lord, here is our son. Thank you for the gift of his precious life and for the privilege of being his parents. We release him into your healing arms."
Then we cried.
The Bible says that a three-stranded cord is not easily broken. The three of us — Jesus, Ron, and I — were braided together through prayer. As a result, our prayers held us together during a tragedy that might have destroyed us. Instead, our marriage was strengthened. The cord that bound us together that day has grown even stronger as we’ve embraced the power of prayer and learned to ask the Lord to order our steps to accomplish His will.
Every marriage has problems and conflicts, but don’t be discouraged. Through prayer, God can give us His strength and comfort. He wants to build us up and encourage us as couples. Christian marriages have a tremendous advantage. We can call on the majestic power of the Creator of the universe to guide us through the storms and trials of life.
If your prayer life as a couple is less frequent or less powerful than you'd like it to be, make your commitment to pray together the subject of a New Year's Resolution. Perhaps you could buy a book about praying as a couple and begin to read a few pages each day and spend some time praying for each other. Even if it feels awkward at first, persevere. Soon you will experience a deeper knowledge of the Lord's presence in your life and add a new dimension to your marriage.
You’ll have the strength to face uncertain times if you ask for the guidance of your Certain Savior.
Adapted from Avoiding the Greener Grass Syndrome: How to Grow Affair Proof Hedges Around Your Marriage (Kregel Publications 2004)
Author Nancy C. Anderson (www.NancyCAnderson.com) and her husband, Ron, recently celebrated their twenty-seventh wedding anniversary. Together they conduct couples' retreats and marriage seminars to help others to predict, prevent or pardon infidelity.
Read more articles by author Nancy C. Anderson:
Is Your Marriage Malnourished?
The Warning Signs of Infidelity
"Small Stuff" Can Ruin Our Families
Forgiving the Unforgivable: Adultery
Five Creative Dates for Couples
Have You Lost that Lovin' Feelin'?
Can a Christian Marriage Survive an Affair?
Avoid the 'Greener Grass' Syndrome: Water Your Own Marriage
Is Your Home a Danger Zone for Your Marriage?
The Parable of the Coffee Filter