“Is prayer your steering wheel or your spare tire?” - Corrie ten Boom
This is an important question to think about. Do you find yourself praying only in times when everything else fails? Then you are only using prayer as our spare tire. Or do you pray all the time, for all things, in constant communication with God? If that is the case prayer would be your steering wheel.
There’s no place in your life where prayer is more important than in your marriage. And yet many couples only make prayer a part of their relationship during crisis times. Allow prayer to be your steering wheel in your marriage. Let it reconnect you and your partner not only to each other but to God.
As you probably know, nearly 50% of marriages end in divorce. But did you also know that for couples who worship together each Sunday only about 20% divorce? For couples who also regularly pray together at home, marital stability is even greater. It’s the glue that helps hold couples together.
Introducing prayer as a foundational part of your marriage can be difficult, though. Getting past the initial feelings of awkwardness or embarrassment is challenge. But an overnight retreat for married couples is an excellent way to break down those early barriers. Sharing the experience with others is empowering and can ease the tension.
If you’re exploring the idea of organizing a retreat for married couples, it will be your responsibility to create an atmosphere of openness that allows couples to begin their prayer journey. Here are some tips and activities to help, that can make that process pain free:
1. Pray silently together. Often couples believe that if they pray together it must be done out loud. This is simply not the case. Here’s a simple format for silent prayer between spouses. First, sit down together and start to talk about some of your mutual concerns as a couple. As you finish the conversation, one of you should say to the other, “Let’s pray about these things.” Finally, spend some time in silent prayer together. When you are finished you can say “Amen” or squeeze their hand to signal you are done. When the other person finishes, he or she can do the signal back. Congratulations! You’ve just prayed together.
2. Write out your prayer. First, write out a short, simple prayer that is meaningful to you. Do this apart from your partner. If you are unsure how to start you can treat it as a reflection of the day or the upcoming week. Then come together and read your prayer to your partner. After you both have finished, you may want to discuss your positive responses to each other’s prayers, and how it felt for you to hear one another talk to God.
3. Say thank you. It is said that gratitude is the highest form of prayer. It is also the one that most people forget because they are too busy getting through their wish list. Thanking God is an appropriate starting point. T hank God for everything good that happened in your day. Or pick three things. Then tell your spouse do the same. In your time of prayer share these things with one another.
4. Scripture reading. One spouse chooses a reading from the scripture and shares it during your prayer time. You can also pick a scripture reading that you found particularly fitting for the day or upcoming week. Below is an example.
I pray all the time that your love will keep on increasing in knowledge and spiritual intelligence. 10 This is so that you will be able to approve the best things. I want you to be free from anything that is not pure. I want you to be without blame until the day when Christ returns. 11 I want you to have the true goodness that only Jesus Christ can give. As other people see this goodness in your lives, they will give honor and praise to God. Philippians 1: 9-11
Sharing a time of prayer with someone--even someone as close as your spouse--can be daunting for many. But these formats for prayer are a great way to warm people up to the idea. They give structure which can be comforting to those who don’t know where to start.