Soul Food: “Six Mistakes Married Couples Make When Praying Together” by May Patterson
The first year my husband Mike and I were married, we prayed together mainly at meals. Our prayers were mostly at the ceremonial level, with lots of clichés and trite phrases. I guess we did it more out of obligation or habit, rather than from heartfelt devotion. Occasionally, we would stammer through a deeper prayer when we had a problem or big decision to make, but we reserved doing that mainly for emergencies.
At that time, deep and worshipful prayer was something that was hard for me to do alone, much less with my new husband. Praying out loud with Mike just felt really awkward, so it was easy to skip doing it.
Why It’s Important
Praying together opens us to each other on a spiritual level, to a place that can be intensely private. Initially, this feels clumsy and revealing, but it is important to do. Marriage is about two becoming one—this occurs on several levels: body, soul and spirit. Becoming one involves sharing not only our physical and emotional lives, but our spiritual lives as well.
Praying together is literally sharing our personal relationship with God, with each other. In prayer we share our deep desires, struggles, victories and hope. This type of sharing bonds a marriage together. It is like spiritual glue that cements a deep and lasting connection.
Over 28 years of marriage, we’ve learned the value of praying together. I believe God honors it. Joint prayer takes effort and sometimes we have neglected it and other times we have clung to it daily. We’ve certainly made mistakes, but praying together has become easier.
Mistakes We Made
Using prayer as a time to teach my spouse. Prayer is not a time for listing helpful hints or to give a theology lesson (I’m guilty of doing both). It is a real conversation with a real God. I often made the mistake of putting in a little comment that Mike needed to hear, but this is fairly obvious and doesn’t promote oneness.
Using “churchy” phrases or clichés. Prayer is a conversation from the heart, not a repetition. We used too many clichés, instead of keeping it meaningful and real.
Saying long, unfocused prayers. Marathon, rambling prayers make it difficult for the other spouse to stay focused. It discourages praying together. Sometimes, I tended to wax on—poor Mike. Selfishly, I didn’t always leave him much time to chime in. No one spouse should dominate the prayer time—being wordy can do this.
Not praising God for who He is. Sometimes, we skipped praising God and went straight to our wish list. But it’s important for a couple to praise and worship God together. This makes Him become our God and it becomes our faith, rather than yours and mine.
Assuming you know what your spouse needs prayer about. I assumed I knew exactly what Mike needed! Instead, I should have asked him what his needs were and why these things were important. This is true sharing. It helps us know and understand each other on a deeper level. It helps us define and communicate our needs to each other and to the Lord.
Not praying together for the marriage. It’s both humbling and honest when you pray for God’s help with your marriage in front of your spouse. It’s an openly admitting that you are not perfect. Prayer invites God’s power and presence into the marriage. It gives us a chance to thank God together for the marriage.
Looking back, I can see that God used prayer to draw us closer to Him as well as to each other. In praying together, the initial awkwardness has evaporated and a comfortable freedom has emerged. I guess that is the gift of sharing on the spiritual level. Growing closer to God somehow helps us grow closer and love others more.
Dear God, please help us to share our faith by praying together. We invite your presence into the physical, emotional and spiritual areas of our marriages. Knit us closer together by the power of your Spirit. Amen.
When was the last time you prayed with your spouse?
What could you do to grow together spiritually?
“The Lord is close to everyone who prays to him, to all who truly pray to him.”
“Always be joyful. Pray continually, and give thanks whatever happens. That is what God wants for you in Christ Jesus.”
1 Thessalonians 5:16-18
“Take this most seriously: A yes on earth is yes in heaven; a no on earth is no in heaven. What you say to one another is eternal. I mean this. When two of you get together on anything at all on earth and make a prayer of it, my Father in heaven goes into action. And when two or three of you are together because of me, you can be sure that I’ll be there.”
Matthew 18:18-20 The Message (paraphrase)
Faith In Action:
Practice praying together often, so that you don’t miss the blessing and power of praying together.
Author: May Patterson
May Patterson, author of the book A Time to Seek, began writing in response to God’s grace. And by His grace, she has written magazine articles, Bible studies, and spoken at a variety of events. Her desire is to help people draw closer to God. May is married to her dear friend Mike and they have three grown children. She has a great love for the outdoors, travel and blogging at http://maypatterson.tumblr.com