The Gift of Prayer in Your Marriage
Have you ever stumbled upon something that completely changed your perspective?
For me, this happened on an unsuspecting morning as our one-year-old plundered a stack of books and notecards next to the chair in our room. My wife uses those items for her morning devotionals, so it seemed prudent to keep this “exploration” from becoming pure destruction.
As I reordered the chaos, I noticed that several of the cards contained hand-written prayers. “How sweet and thoughtful is that?” I said to myself. I was not prepared for what I noticed next: my name written on the notecards. These weren’t generic prayers—these were written for me. In that moment, I experienced a crescendo of feeling both known and loved. I realized that God was answering these prayers over the course of our life together. They were not just sweet and thoughtful. They were intentional and powerful—a testament to the gift of prayer in marriage.
Do you believe that prayer is a gift in your marriage?
It’s easy to slip into seasons of stagnation or thoughtlessness when it comes to the life of prayer in our marriages—especially when we aren’t cultivating it as a gift. What does it look like to cultivate the gift of prayer in marriage?
Praying For Your Spouse
If you’re like many people and you find it difficult to pray with your spouse, consider first how you can pray for your spouse. You can do so by growing in these three categories:1. Conversations
It’s hard to pray with specificity for your spouse if you aren’t having honest conversations about how life is going—the good and the bad. To kickstart this, consider asking the simple, profound question: “How can I pray for you?”2. Context
Find a sweet spot (time, location, and posture) for prayer that flows well with the rest of your day. This makes your prayer as expected and important as eating a meal. For some, kneeling for prayer in the morning and evening is helpful. Others prefer praying while walking or sitting in a special chair. The important thing is that you create a context that works for you.3. Scripture as Structure
One of the best ways to enrich your prayer life is to use prayers withing scripture as the structure for your prayers. The themes and priorities of these prayers will reshape the way you pray for your spouse. If you need a starting place, consider Ephesians 3:14-21.
Praying With Your Spouse
Praying for your spouse can create pathways between the two of you—and God—that spur you on to pray with one another. While there’s no set formula to use here, these two paradigms can help grow your prayer life together:1.The Rhythm of Prayer
This is the proactive work of cultivating an active dependence on God in your marriage. This may involve praying for God’s grace and provision at the beginning of a day and thanking him for those things at the end. This rhythm can happen at meals, before big conversations, or as you prepare to leave for work.2. The Reflex of Prayer
This is the reactive response that comes about as you grow in praying together. A prayer reflex arises when you receive hard news or are overcome with unexpected anxiety. When you’re reminded that you’re not in control of your life, you can respond by turning to your Creator together in prayer. Even the shortest prayer together can catalyze a shift that turns your eyes to Jesus.
Praying for the Mission of Your Marriage
If you’re like me, you may constantly wish that your prayer life with your spouse was better. That’s a good desire, yet it’s also good occasion to remember that marriage is not about your performance—it’s not a means of manicuring a “perfect” life together.
Your marriage is a picture of the gospel (Ephesians 5:31-32). That means praying for and with your spouse is an invitation to believe and respond to the gospel.
One way to embody this gospel-rooted reality of marriage is to pray for the mission of your marriage. You can even craft a “mission statement” that becomes the basis for your marriage and your prayers.
For example, our mission statement is based on 1 John 4:19—“We love because he first loved us.”
This truth overflows into the prayers of our marriage:
“God, help us to not be motivated by fear or performance, but love. Help us to not seek the allure of comfort, but the sacrifice of love. Let your love flow through our marriage into a love for others.”
As you cultivate a life of praying for and with one another, you’ll find that you’re growing in the gospel together. That’s the gift of prayer in marriage—it points us beyond marriage itself to the one who holds our lives together in perfect love.