In my last post (Praying Together and Staying Together-Part 1), I encouraged you to pray with your spouse. Let’s think about the following three things in regard to doing this: It is a Mysterious Union; We are Making Room for the Spirit; and We can Meet with God Anytime and Anywhere.
It is a Mysterious Union-
I have officiated numerous weddings and have always emphasized that Christian marriage is a mysterious union which reflects the Trinity’s relationship of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. They exist in perfect intimacy. Pope Francis is correct when he said in a message given at St. Peter’s Square, “When a man and a woman celebrate the sacrament of marriage, God…is ‘mirrored’ in them…God is a communion of the three persons of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, who live forever and are forever in perfect unity. And this is the mystery of marriage: God makes one existence of the two spouses…in a communion which draws its origin and its strength from God (ICN, April 2, 2014).”
Christian marriage is a relationship between three people, not just two: God, husband, and wife. And the Trinity is our model for us to grow in intimacy with God and one another. Some have called this relationship the “Marriage Triangle.” They point out that as the husband and wife draw closer in intimacy with God, they also draw closer to one another.
Prayer is foundational to this intimate growth. Paul Miller helps us understand this in his book, A Praying Life. He wrote, “Any relationship, if it is going to grow, needs private space, time together without an agenda, where you can get to know each other. This creates an environment where closeness can happen, where we can begin to understand each other’s hearts. You don’t create intimacy; you make room for it…You need space to be together. Efficiency, multitasking, and busyness all kill intimacy. In short, you can’t get to know God on the fly.” And I would add: “I can’t get to know God or understand what is going on in Danina’s heart on the fly.” Some of the most meaningful times we have together is when we are praying. This is the case whether things are good or hard. Making space for this time together with God draws us closer to one another and to Him.
We are Making Room for the Spirit-
Again, I quote from Paul Miller when he says, “We don’t need self discipline to pray continuously; we just need to be poor in spirit. Poverty of spirit makes room for His Spirit (A Praying Life, Miller, p. 54).”
I don’t know about you, but I don’t have to look for things that cause me to be poor in spirit. Whether it be my sin, or the impact of sin in general, or just the daily rigors of living in this fallen world, poverty of spirit comes from my ever present need. According to Matthew’s account, God thinks this is a good thing. Jesus said, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:3).” He also said, “Come to Me all who are weary and heavy with burdens and I will give you rest (Matthew 11:28).” Wrongly, we too often want to get things together before we pray with our spouse. Praying with Danina can be a vulnerable experience. It is especially so when we go to the Lord while we are hurting, or frustrated, or afraid. And if either one of us is the cause of these feelings, it can be hard to let the other one see us this way. It can be hard to open our hearts to one another. And yet, when we are like this, praying together is usually what helps us the most. We both become mutually dependent on God for His wisdom, His strength, His love, and if need be, His forgiveness. If we are not helpless before God then we are saying to God that we don’t need His help. Praying vulnerably with our spouse is the safest place we can be when we are looking to Jesus for forgiveness and the Spirit for comfort and restoration. Of course, this requires that we both be humble. God said to us through Isaiah, “But this is the one to whom I will look:he (or she) who is humble and contrite in spirit and trembles at my word (Isaiah 66:2).” Going to God with any sense of self pride or self ability negates our need. When life brings a “poverty of spirit” in both of us, we are blessed to have the Spirit be the One who helps us. As A.W. Tozer said, “When we have the Holy Spirit we have all that is needed to be all that God desires us to be.”
We can Meet with God Anytime and Anywhere-
In case you think the only time to pray together with your spouse is during tough times, it is not. As in any relationship, we want to share the good times and hard times with God and each other. James Dobson said, “There is something special about prayer between husband, wife, and God that can’t be found elsewhere.” Praying together with your spouse should be a way of life. And the scriptures speak of many people who made time with God a way of life. There were people who prayed in the morning, in the afternoon, in the evening, and at night. There were some who prayed while sitting down, others while lying on their beds, and still others who were standing. They prayed when they were happy and when they were sad. They prayed when they felt safe and when they were frightened or in danger. We can meet with God anytime and anywhere.
Because of this, I suggest that you and your spouse be intentional about when and where you pray. You should have a plan to do it consistently, as was the case with Daniel when he faced the peril of the lion’s den and kept his routine of regular daily prayers (Daniel 6:10). Danina and I have a pattern where we almost always pray together before we go to sleep, and then again in the morning before our day starts. We have found this to be helpful because it provides structure to our life with God. And in doing it this way, it keeps us in conversation with Him and one another about the central things in our day. Then, if something urgent occurs in any given day, and we are able, we will pray in our moment of need. Oswald Chambers said, “Don’t say, ‘I will endure this until I can get away and pray.’ Pray now — draw on the grace of God in your moment of need.”
If you are not already doing so, may I encourage you to talk with your spouse about praying together. I firmly believe that “couples who pray together stay together.”