We are onto the fourth of seven fundamental habits in great marriages (which tend not to be present in bad ones). I think we can safely say that if you do the things that great marriages do and eventually you will have a great marriage. Last week, we learned that couples with great marriages express the positives every time. If you missed it, check it out here. This week, we continue with habit #4 for great marriages.
The fourth habit is to pray together every night.
Great couples who enjoy the fullness that marriage has to offer do not neglect the spiritual dimension of their marriage – spending time together with God in prayer. Spending a few minutes at the end of the day praying as a husband and wife is one of those hidden practices that can pay rich dividends. It is important to pray separately, but it is crucial to pray together, too, and enjoy the spiritual life of the other person in your presence. Yes, one of you may be much further along in your walk with God than the other, and that’s ok. Just don’t let one dominate the time or make it so long that the other person is bored out of their mind. You want to both enjoy this dimension of marriage.
Prayer doesn’t have to be long (it could be 60 seconds), but it needs to be done to open up this spiritual dimension in the marriage. Plus, it is very easy to schedule. Before anyone goes to bed, pray together. If one person goes to bed before the other, then spend 15+ minutes before they turn out the lights to pray together.
It is important that both people be active participants in the prayer time by suggesting prayer items and/or praying. Both people don’t have to pray out loud but they must both be active in the prayer. This doesn’t have to take long but sometimes it might take a long time. My wife loves to fall asleep with me praying for us, our family, and our friends. After a while, you will become very comfortable with talking with God in front of your spouse and some of the masks will come down. A whole new dimension of who you are will be exposed for your spouse to view. It will make your marriage much more rich and enjoyable.
Add this simple way to the end of your day and watch what happens.
Who do you pray for?
- Your spouse – ask them what they want to pray about in advance
- Your family – pray for the immediate as well as the future
- Your friends – pray for what they need not just what they want
- Those who God has moved into your life that day or week
- Your nation – morality, civility, political courage, leaders, and so on.
What do you pray?
- For protection, that God would surround you and keep the temptations, attacks and obstacles from you. Especially if you know one is coming
- For guidance, that God would make it clear what His will is
- For growth — where do you or your family need to grow?
- For love to overflow into your life as you sleep and throughout the day tomorrow.
- For friends and relatives who have asked you to pray for them or you feel some burden to ask things from God.
- What God puts on your heart to pray for yourself and the people in your family.
Where do you pray?
The short answer is… pray in some place comfortable for you. You can pray in any number of positions… kneeling, standing, sitting, lying face down. Find a common position or place and pray for a few minutes every night as you head off to sleep. Address God and let your spouse also address Him. The opening of your soul in talking with God allows your spouse to experience another dimension of your person.
Many nights, I will sit in one of my favorite chairs and my wife will stand behind me leaning on the back of the chair. We will pray for each other, our girls, and our friends. We always ask that God will cover us under blood of the Lord Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit. We ask that God would strengthen us and minister to us while we sleep. We ask that we would be his agents during the day tomorrow. We ask that we would be discerning and wise in the decisions that we need to make in the next day.
Or, I will often kneel down by the bedside on my wife’s side as my wife will already be in bed and I will pray with her about tonight and tomorrow. I will pray about our kids and the things that they are going through, what we hope is the right resolution of these things. I will pray for our friends and the people who we know who have particular burdens that need to be taken to the Lord. We will pray for specific actions that God can take into the life of these people. We are always open to what God might prompt us to ask Him to do in a particular family member or friend’s life.
The crucial thing is not make this long and drawn out but to make it every night. Don’t let your spouse go to bed without prayer time. Here is an actual suggested prayer if this helps.
Dear Heavenly Father,
I come in the name of the Lord Jesus and I thank you for all the things that you have done for us today. Thank you for (thank God for at least three things that happened that day). I ask that you would inject your love, grace and mercy into our lives while we are sleeping and while we go about our day tomorrow. We need you to pursue us and meet our needs (mention some of your needs). We need you to give us more than we deserve of your power, gifts and direction (mention specifically what His power in you could do). We need you to give us your mercy (this is less than we deserve), we know that we are sinners and we are guilt of pride, envy, anger, lust, sloth, gluttony and greed. Thank you for forgiving us for our sins in Christ Jesus. We ask you for your blessings to enrich our lives (ask God for at least three blessings that would make your life more righteous, loving and kind). We need your guidance on our decisions, show us what to do even if it is different from what we have always done (talk to God about the decisions you are facing).
- I pray for my spouse that you would…
- I ask Lord that you would minister to our children…
- I ask Lord to open the eyes of our friends to see…. and make new choices
- I pray Lord that Bill who I met today is able to see a new perspective or…
- I pray that you would give Dad lots of friends and joy as he lives in retirement…
- I ask that I would have courage and wisdom in my new work assignment
- I pray for the Holy Spirit to fill me with your love for the people of tomorrow
I do ask Lord Jesus that you would cover (names of your immediate family members) under the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ and the power of the Holy Spirit in every part of spirit, soul, and body so that the enemy will not have any means of attacking, oppressing, or afflicting us tonight or tomorrow. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
One of the things that is often missed in marriage reconciliation and renewal is the spiritual dimension. As Christians, our strongest protection comes from the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ and the Holy Spirit sent to guide us. Take advantage of the power we have been given to affect your life, your marriage, and the lives of those you love by praying together every night.
Give it a try then let me know what things you notice as different in your life because you prayed together! Just remember, if you are the one reading this, you can be the one to introduce it and carry it through with your spouse. You can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Join me next week for the fifth habit of great marriages.
You’re reading this here first! This series is an excerpt from Dr. Gil Stieglitz’s upcoming book on marriage.