Praying and Staying Together: The Power of a Prayer-Focused Marriage
A wedding is a beautiful event to witness. Traditionally, the setting is ornately decorated with an array of splendid accoutrements. Formally attired bridesmaids and groomsmen fill the platform. Then the bride and groom, with hearts filled with love, stand together before God, a minister, and a company of family and friends and pledge their devotion to one another, “till death do us part.”
After the wonderful ceremony and honeymoon, life happens as the uniquely individual man and woman embark on the challenge of becoming one. In the process of that challenge, couples face the huge tasks of establishing a home and career(s), becoming parents, dealing with finances and family relationships, and so much more. Added to this is the constant allure of temptations and distractions in the media and culture that war against healthy marriage relationships. Regrettably, many marriages cannot withstand the pressures and expectations, and, even among professing Christians, become dysfunctional or end in divorce.
So, what is the answer for couples today? It’s profoundly simple: Pray together! Though profoundly simple, there is a no more powerful relational dynamic than a husband and wife regularly spending time in prayer for and with one another. It helps couples handle life’s ups and downs with its mistakes and misunderstandings like nothing else can. It’s hard to stay angry with someone you pray for every day.
In a recent meeting of the Pentecostal/Charismatic Churches of North America Prayer Commission, Chairman Doug Small cited a statistic from a Gallup poll indicating that among married couples who regularly pray together, the divorce rate drops to one out of 1,153 marriages.
“Praying together pulverizes divorce!” Small declared.
Why does praying together make such a difference? Prayer is more than communicating intellectually or emotionally on a human level. Prayer signals the need for God’s help and invites His presence. The dynamic of His presence impacts hearts and minds on a spiritual level. When God is invited into the relationship, and into struggles, couples are not left to their own devices or understanding, but are able to tap into His help and guidance.
In seeking God’s help, spending time both in prayer and in God’s Word is especially beneficial. Prayer and the Word are powerful antidotes to influences that negatively impact marriages. Yet, investing time in prayer and the Word does not have to be lengthy or complicated. There are no required parameters. It is a matter of simply taking occasion to read a passage of Scripture, discussing what it means, perhaps incorporating the Bible passage into a prayer, then expressing praise and adoration to God and praying for special needs or concerns. It is amazing how perspective on needs and concerns can change when God’s help and guidance are sought. Scripture invites us to cast our anxiety on God because He cares for us (1 Peter 5:7).
Praying individually and together as a couple also has a powerful impact on children. I still remember a special evening some 60 years ago when I was a young boy growing up on a small farm in Idaho. As I passed by the curtained doorway to my parents’ bedroom, I momentarily caught the shadowy figure of my dad kneeling in prayer at the bedside. I couldn’t hear what he said, but the image of Dad kneeling in prayer was forever imprinted in my memory. Though I was too young to process it at that time, I somehow knew that praying was important to Dad and Mom.
Another well-known adage says, “The family that prays together stays together.” Husbands and wives are more inclined to stay together regardless of the challenges when they pray; families are knit together when time is spent in prayer and the Word.
My prayer for newly married couples always has been that, after decades of marriage, they can look at one another across the breakfast table with eyes filled with ever-deepening love and devotion. How can that happen? By seeking God’s help, inviting Him into the center of their relationship, that can be a reality. There is staying power in prayer!