There must be something powerful about a husband and wife praying together. Why do I say that? Why else would it be so difficult to do – at all, or consistently?
Married for over 35 years, my wife and I have found our prayer life together consistently sporadic over most of that time. Only in the past few years has that changed. As a Christian counselor, working with mostly Christian clientele, I have observed that most couples struggle with this issue. Many couples report no prayer life together, except perhaps mealtime prayers or bedtime prayers with their children. Most couples have reported a lack of consistency in their praying together. They are hit and miss – and a lot more misses than hits.
As a young Christian, I remember hearing my pastor admit in a sermon that praying with his wife had been very difficult, whereas he could pray with church members in the church services, in his pastoral office, or in their homes rather effortlessly. I remember being surprised at that little peek into the parsonage. I had never really made the effort at that point; when I did, however, I understood what my pastor had said. It was hard.
Again, the difficulty of this exercise suggests to me the importance of it. My interpretation: Satan, our spiritual enemy, must fear this spiritual tool and craftily oppose it. If you are inclined to overcome in this matter, I have three suggestions that have helped my wife and me.
First, you have to decide you want to pray together. You each need to decide this. It will not work for one of you to decide this and nag the other into compliance. This is incredibly important: You’ll never take next steps until you take this one. Unless you really believe that praying together is a part of God’s plan for your life and relationship, you will not have the necessary passion to overcome common obstacles.
Before I go on, let me argue from Scripture that a married couple praying together is part of God’s will. Jesus said, “if two of you [believers] on earth agree about anything [you] ask for, it will be done for [you] by my Father in heaven” (Matthew 18:19). This, of course, considers that what the two are asking is within the will of God. If any two believers should be praying about the will of God in their lives, should it not be the leaders of a Christian home? Now, please consider the Apostle Paul addressing married couples in his letter to the church in Corinth. He was encouraging them to not neglect their sexual relationship. He said, “Do not deprive each other (sexually) except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer” (1 Corinthians 7:5). Obviously, the apostle expected Christian couples to be sexually and prayerfully engaged.
My second suggestion is this: Form and implement some organization to your prayer life. If you want to succeed, find a time that will work and a plan of prayer that can work for both of you. My wife and I found that there was so much that we could pray about that it was very difficult to cover those things consistently; we found ourselves praying about some things often and other things we would hardly ever address. We set up a prayer schedule that goes like this:
Sunday – We pray for our ministry, for clients who come for counseling, for contributors who help us help, and for opportunities to serve.
Monday – We pray for our country. This includes lifting up leaders, our military, law enforcement, and any big current issues in our city, state and nation.
Tuesday – We pray for extended family, our parents (when they were still living), brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, nieces and nephews, etc.
Wednesday – We pray for missions and ministries and servants in these.
Thursday – We pray for our local church, for the leaders, preachers and teachers. We pray for our church to be healthy and strong. We pray for members that are struggling.
Friday – We pray for friends. We have friends who are battling illnesses, difficult family situations, or have prodigal children.
Saturday – This night we pray specifically for each other. Sometimes we know ways that prayer is needed; sometimes we just need to ask, “how can I pray for you?”.
Besides all of these different daily emphases, we pray for our children and grandchildren every day. Not only do we want to bring our family before God, we feel it is a parental family duty. We should “have their backs” in prayer.
If you construct a prayer plan, it will probably look different from ours. I provided ours only as an example. I would also want you to know that we do not serve this plan; rather, it serves us. Thus, if we have friends facing some special trials on Monday, we don’t wait until Friday to pray for them. Likewise, if something serious is going on in a mission work we support, we don’t have to wait until Wednesday to intercede. This bit of organization to our prayer life together has helped us to have focus and direction and productivity in prayer together.
My final suggestion is to create some tangible accountability. Not until we did this were we able to string together several months without failing to pray together. How did we create the “tangible accountability?” We took an extra wall calendar (we get several of these at year end from different organizations) and put it in a prominent place in our kitchen. On this calendar, we document daily with a letter “P” that we prayed together. Thus, seeing days with missing “p’s” discourages a missed day or two from turning into a week or two.
We would love to hear from you if these ideas have helped you improve your prayer life together. An email contact is available on our ministry website for your use.
(Scripture citations in this piece are from the New International Version.)