In part I of “How Can Prayer Build Your Marriage,” Pastor Steve Carr shared how prayer unites couples spiritually before God, encourages humility and honesty, and develops and deepens communication in the relationship. Let’s press on together as Pastor Steve continues his series.
4. Prayer establishes deeper companionship. Think with me for a moment. What are the key issues that hinder real companionship with your partner? Are they not independence, pride, and a lack of communication? If you will notice, these problems are naturally addressed by my first three points. As you humbly pray with one another, communicating your needs before God, you will automatically grow in a spiritual unity with one another which results in a deeper companionship. And remember, companionship is the most important reason that you are married. Malachi made this clear when he specifically called your marriage partner your “companion” (Mal. 2:14). If you lack companionship in your marriage, prayer is one very important way to deepen it. If you refuse to unite with your partner in prayer, there will always be a depth to your companionship that will be lacking. Remember, the closer we get to God, the closer we get to each other.
5. Your marriage will be built up because you will be built up. You will never be the loser by giving yourself to pray with your spouse. Scripture makes it clear that when a believer prays he or she will be built up as a result. Jude declared: “Building yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit” (Jude 1:20). As you pray and spend time petitioning and communing with the Father, He will build you up. Jesus promised that the Holy Spirit will come to fill your heart because of prayer: “How much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” (Luke 11:13). If you and your spouse are filled with the Spirit, your lives will manifest the fruit of His Spirit (Gal. 5:22,23). Isn’t His love, long-suffering, and self-control what every marriage needs? As you are built up personally with these qualities, your marriage will be built up too, and your home will be wonderfully strengthened.
Beloved, don’t miss what God wants to do in this area of your marriage because of your independence, pride, or fear. Open your heart and ask the Father to work in you to will and to do of His good pleasure (Phil. 2:13). You won’t be sorry!
How can you make the practical changes needed?
It is not enough to know that you should be praying with your spouse; you must practice it. But you may be thinking, What should I do to begin? Where should I start? Let’s look at some of the practical ways to change things.
1. Find a mutually agreeable time. This is the best place to begin your conversation with your mate. Depending on your work schedule, whether or not you have children, and if you are a morning person or a night owl, you must determine the best time to pray together. Try to determine the most undistracted time of day possible. I often hear, What is that? My life is always distracted. Of course, most of us have very full lives with many daily commitments. But, be assured, you will never find time for prayer, you have to make time. In the same way you set aside specific time for grooming or eating everyday, you will want to set aside time for prayer with your spouse. I would suggest, if you are an early riser, an early morning rendezvous before the kids get up. Or, if you are a night person, pray with each other just before bed. This may entail some sacrifice, getting up earlier or turning the television off in the evening.
2. Keep the prayer time short. I have found that one of the greatest mistakes that people make when beginning a prayer time together is that of trying to immediately pray for an extended period of time. If your spouse is not accustomed to the practice of prayer, he or she can become turned off to praying with you if you insist on a marathon experience. Don’t try to be so spiritual that you end up quenching your partner’s desire to pray.
If you want to successfully change your habits, begin with a short time together at first, possibly just a few minutes. This will keep your partner from becoming discouraged, impatient, or intimidated. Let the Lord slowly and naturally lengthen your prayer time together as a result of the Spirit drawing you forward, not by some external rule you have set up. Simply pray by taking turns back and forth until one partner doesn’t pray anymore. Then conclude the prayer and be thankful for the time that you have had together. Never forget, God wants to bless this time with your mate, so be careful not to force or impose your will upon your spouse. Remember, the “servant of the Lord must not strive but be gentle to all . . . ” (2 Tim. 2:24).
3. Keep your turn to pray short. Keeping your prayers short will accomplish several goals. First, it will naturally keep your prayer time short, as I just discussed. But, it will also keep you more focused on what you are praying about. Think for a moment about the last time you heard someone go on and on with some lengthy prayer. Wasn’t it difficult to stay focused on what the person was praying?
Therefore, get to the point and say what you need to say and then be silent. This gives your spouse the opportunity to add any postscript to your prayer that will bring further agreement together. Remember, if you pray everything there is to pray on any given subject, then why do you need your spouse to pray with you? Often I hear this as a specific complaint from one spouse: He (or she) prays for everything and I can’t even get a word in on the subject!
To solve this problem you must deal with your selfishness and the desire to control the prayer time. Remember, we are to give “preference to one another,” not dominate or control others (Rom. 12:10). This attitude will keep you sensitive to your mate’s needs and encourage effective prayer.
If you would like more information on the marriage ministry of Pastor Steve Carr or his book Married and How To Stay That Way, please come and visit us on the Internet at www.covenantkeepers.org