Pastor Steve Carr concludes his insightful series on discovering how prayer can build your marriage.
4. Keep it personal. One thing that greatly encourages effective prayer together is acknowledgment of your personal needs in the presence of your mate before God. So often in group prayer meetings I hear people using very impersonal words such as we and us, never confessing personally I need. Yet, what happens in your heart when someone does confess a personal need? Doesn’t your heart go out to that person as you agree with his or her request? Don’t you sense a knitting together with this individual? The same result will occur if you will become very personal with your spouse by acknowledging your individual needs.
Remember the difference between the prayer of the Pharisee and the publican in Luke 18:9-14. The publican humbled himself and confessed his need and the Pharisee did not. Don’t be like the Pharisee or you may end up praying by yourself. Intimacy in prayer encourages others to be honest too. Don’t wait for your spouse to start before you open up. You can start by asking for the most important things in your life. Then watch what happens to your mate as he or she prays. You will sense an immediate change.
5. Pray for your marriage. To encourage more honest and open prayer with your mate, take the next step of praying for your marriage. However, you must be careful here so as not to offend. Don’t pray for a specific problem your mate has or where he or she has offended you. This, of course, would be perceived by your spouse as very condemning and arrogant. The best way to handle praying for your marriage is to first thank Him for your spouse and request God’s help in the areas where you are personally failing. This is the “remove the plank from your own eye” principle that Jesus taught in Matthew 7:5. When you begin asking God for a greater love or a willingness and sensitivity to be a servant to the needs of your spouse, he or she will sense your humility. This can only draw two people closer.
In addition, ask God to bring healing and growth to your relationship. Regularly thank Him for the mate He has given you, stressing his or her strong points. By doing so, you are recognizing the value you place on your mate as you offer your praise to God. This is how prayer can build your marriage in a way nothing else can.
What are some other issues you should pray about?
The subject matter to be prayed over is also another issue that some struggle with. This is a subject that Jesus also covered in His ministry while He was here on earth. In Matthew 6:9-15, Jesus taught His disciples the manner in which to pray. The word manner means “to pray in this way” or “in this fashion.” By teaching them this prayer, He revealed some of the most significant things that we should pray about and He placed them in an order of priority.
As you read this model prayer you first realize that Jesus wants us to pray directly to our Father in heaven. He doesn’t want us using another person as an intermediary, but to come directly to Him. The Lord spoke through the prophet Jeremiah: “Call upon Me, and I will answer you, and show you great and mighty things, which you do not know” (Jer. 33:3). Therefore, come directly and boldly to His throne of grace.
As you pray, make it your primary motive that His Name be glorified and that His will be accomplished here on earth as it is in heaven. Begin by worshipping Him together, being thankful for what He’s already done and is doing in your lives. Let this be your priority before you ever begin asking for anything.
Then ask Him for His provision for all your needs ranging from your daily bread to forgiveness for your sins, both in general and in your marriage. Lift up to Him areas where you sense yourself being tempted and ask for strength and deliverance.
Remember throughout all your prayer time that it is His kingdom and power that rules and reigns over all. Fix your eyes upon His ability to work in your life and in your marriage to answer all of your needs. Never forget Paul’s exhortation, “Now unto Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us…”(Eph. 3:20). When you pray with your spouse with this kind of assurance and boldness, believing that He is able, you will get answers. The answers you receive will also bring you into a closer and more intimate companionship with your mate than you have ever had before. What are you waiting for? Share this publication with your loved one and may you both be encouraged to begin a prayer life together. Be assured that “the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man (or woman) avails much” (James 5:16). He has much to give if you will but ask. Begin today by taking your partner’s hand, go before the Father’s throne together, and watch the fruit of effective prayer abound. Your marriage will never be the same!
This publication may be reproduced without change and in its entirety for non-commercial purposes without prior permission from COVENANT KEEPERS © 1997
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 visit us on the Internet at www.covenantkeepers.org
Click here if you missed part II of Pastor Steve’s series How Prayer Can Build Your Marriage- Part II.