“Couples who pray together stay together.”
This saying is a variation of the phrase, ”The family that prays together stays together.” This phrase was coined and trademarked in 1947 for the pro-family radio program “Family Theater.” It became a catchphrase to strengthen bonds in families.
Somewhere along the way someone used it to encourage prayer in marriages like yours and mine, “The couples who pray together stay together.” And it’s been on my mind, because last month, on May 13, Danina and I celebrated our 31st wedding anniversary. It has passed quickly and doesn’t seem very long ago that we began our life of prayer together.
Thirty one years is a long time to do anything, and “praying together” is undoubtedly a significant part of us “staying together.” We began our journey during orientation week my first year at The Masters University in the Fall of 1986. It was at a pool party. She fell for my Texas accent. I simply fell for her. Because I’m an introvert, and I was serious about my study, I didn’t think I had time for girls. Yet, Danina is an extrovert and social, and she found me…in the library…where she would sit down at the table where I was reading and talk to me. No one did that. But she did! It made an impression on me, and I couldn’t get her out of my mind. Even when we went our separate ways for a year or so and dated others, she was always somewhere in my thoughts. When I found out that she and her boyfriend had broken up after I returned from a mission trip to Haiti, I believed that I would marry her someday. I knew if God (and her parents) would give her to me, I wouldn’t let her go. A couple of years later we married on May 13, 1989.
I’m grateful for what God was doing in us in those years. We had good Bible teaching and observed many older believers in their relationships with spouses. Our parents loved the Lord and were good role models. So we decided from the very beginning that we would pray together…and this practice has only matured as the years have passed.
Do you pray with your spouse? Regularly? I’m not speaking of mealtime. That doesn’t count. Not that praying at mealtime isn’t important. It is. Rather, I am speaking of prayer together that is personal and vulnerable, and intentional. I’m speaking of prayer that happens once a day, twice a day, even more..much of the time.
Danina and I will both say, if it wasn’t for Christ in us, we might not still be married. Some who just read that sentence will have a hard time believing that to be so. But it is true. We need Christ. He is the One who keeps us grounded. He has helped us through many times when we were hurt or angry or disappointed in our relationship with each other. We are sinners. We know what it is to sin against the other and be sinned against. Thankfully, Jesus is the center of our covenant. And He is the reason why we pray together.
Paul says in Romans 12:12—“Be constant in prayer.” This is also translated, “Be devoted to prayer” and “Be faithful in prayer.” The word means “dedicated to or appointed for a task.” The same word is used with prayer in other places. The disciples, the women, and the other followers devoted themselves to it after Jesus ascended in Acts 1:14. The early converts devoted themselves to it in Acts 2:42. Along with studying the word, the apostles devoted themselves to it in Acts 6. Paul commands it in Colossians 4:2, along with an attitude of thanksgiving. “To be constant” implies that prayer will be a significant part of our life in Christ. So shouldn’t it also be a significant part of our life in Christ-in marriage? A good marriage requires many things—time, communication, intentionality, forgiveness, grace, intimacy. Shouldn’t praying together be at the top of this list? When believing couples pray together, Jesus is able to assume His rightful place as the Head of their marriage. Two have become one, and then share their lives together with the One who holds all things together, including their marriage. There is logic to couples praying together. If marriage is a covenant between a man and a woman and God, then having ongoing conversations together with God makes complete sense. What doesn’t make sense is to leave God out! Are you and your spouse trying to exist in a covenant with God, and never talk to Him together?
Danina and I are normal. We have had seasons where our prayer devotion was minimal. We didn’t always pray together every day. We were much more inconsistent. This is something we have matured in over the years. Now we pray together all of the time. Every day. The consistency really took hold after hearing Tim Keller share about praying with his wife Kathy. I was challenged…we MUST pray together. Not just occasionally. But every day. Not just about what we need, but about everything. Prayer is vulnerable. It doesn’t necessarily feel safe to be vulnerable. This we have found—being vulnerable in front of one another with God is one of our safe places. He can be trusted. Even in those times where hurt or fear causes us to not trust the other. He can be trusted.
If you aren’t doing it already, why don’t you make a commitment with your spouse that once a day you will talk to God…together? Why don’t you be a couple who prays together?
John Piper gives 10 reasons why a husband should want to pray with his wife in “Ask Pastor John” Episode 1429 at https://www.desiringgod.org/interviews/should-my-husband-pray-with-me-more. You can listen there and also read the transcript.
The Couple that Prays Together Stays Together; This article is by Dr. Garret Higbee as a resource from forthefamily.org.
A Praying Life: Connecting with God in a Distracting World; Paul Miller, NavPress, 2009.
Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God; Timothy Keller, Penguin Books, 2016.
Pray with your Husband or Wife Everyday: Make God the Central Person in Your Home; This is a resource on marriage with practical suggestions at (dougbrittonbooks.com).