Friday, 1 July 2011

Praying Together - Part II

As a Christian I don’t believe in luck, chance or coincidence. That said the statistical probability of a couple getting a divorce who pray together is approximately ½ of one percent. There is power in prayer.

The husband should be the spiritual leader in the household. However he may feel ill equipped for this role and most likely never saw it modeled. Furthermore most guys don’t like to do something they are not good at. So here are some tips to make it easier.

1. Use the acronym ACTS as an outline. “A” stands for Adoration. Praise God for His unconditional love and the works of His hands. “C” stands for Confession. Agree with God about the sin that needs to be confessed. “T” stands for Thanksgiving. Thank God for all He has provided, etc. “S” stands for Supplication. Ask God for those things that are heavy on your heart.

2. Another approach is to just ask each other how you can pray for them for the day ahead. And simply take a turn and pray for each other in accordance with their request. “I pray that my husband’s nine o’clock meeting goes exceedingly well.” “I pray that my wife will be able to be more patient with our two year old daughter”. This is simple and it takes less than three minutes total.

3. Or take a small section of Scripture and personalize it. For example take verses 23 and 24 out of Psalm 139. “Father I pray that you will search us and know our hearts. I pray that you will test us and know our anxious thoughts. I pray that you will bring to our attention any offensive way that is in us and lead us in the way everlasting.”

4. Lastly take a devotional, read the message for the day and then pray it back in your own words. I highly recommend Jesus Calling by Sarah Young.
God is not impressed by how eloquently we pray. He is more concerned about our heart. He wants a relationship with us; he wants us to depend on Him. He wants us to glorify Him by the way we conduct ourselves. Communicating with God doesn’t require flowery language or the King James English, it requires a humble, contrite heart and the willingness to accept that we are sinners saved by grace.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011

Praying Together - Part I

Give ear, O LORD, to my prayer; and give heed to the voice of my supplications!
Psalm 86:6 NASB

In a recent FamilyLife Moments for You, Dennis Rainy shared on praying together as a couple can be a particularly enriching experience. He wrote:

I heard a wife talking about how prayer had enhanced her relationship with her husband. "When we pray together," she said, "we are communicating with God, but we are also communicating with each other and sharing our common love for our Savior."

I hope this doesn't sound either irreverent or intrusive to you. I hope it doesn't make you feel threatened or bashful to know that part of what is happening when you're praying together is this: Your spouse is listening to you and gaining a deeper understanding for what's going on in your heart.

The truth is, when you actively listen to each other in prayer, you are able to empathize at the deepest, most honest level. You are putting yourself in your spouse's shoes. Prayer becomes a much more significant experience when you are listening carefully to the burdens your spouse is repeatedly bringing to the Lord so that you can join him or her in praying for those same things, as well.

This can only happen, of course, when each of you is willing to honestly verbalize what's on your heart, when prayer is not a routine exercise devoid of real-life substance and content, when prayer becomes your heart's genuine cry before the Father. Only then can you go to the Lord God almighty together--with both humility and confidence--asking the Lord to encourage your wife when she feels like a failure as a mom or asking God to grant your husband increased wisdom when he struggles to be the leader of your family.

From our own experience, Barbara and I can assure you that your times of prayer together will be greatly enriched and more productive if you communicate openly and listen attentively.

Statistics indicate that only half of one percent of couples who pray together get divorced, however only seven percent of evangelicals pray together. These figures would tell me that praying together has huge benefits but must be difficult for most couples to do.

We blame our busy lives for not having the time to pray together. That is a bunch of malarkey; we always find time to do that which matters most to us. The reality is that one or both of the partners is uncomfortable praying together. Don’t expect to achieve the level of intimacy Dennis has outlined until this has become an ingrained habit. Start slowly, and set the bar low.

Monday, 27 June 2011


Mort Fertel’s recent Marriage Counseling Blog entitled “Asking for Help in a Marriage” hit a little too close to home. For a variety of reasons – some altruistic but mostly dysfunctional, I have had trouble asking for help.
He writes:
Some people have difficulty directly getting their needs met. This can lead to complaining, criticizing, and indirect communication that do not yield results. Learning how to ask for help can be very helpful to both partners in the marriage.

Complaining about things without directly asking for help is not likely to be helpful. For example, a wife who wants more help around the house says, “I always have to do everything around here and no one else lifts a finger.” This is not likely to motivate her husband to spring into action and help her clean. However, she could make a direct request such as, “Will you please do the dishes tonight?”

Some people have a lot of difficulty asking for help. It may be a fear of rejection. If you directly ask for help, the other person might say no. Sometimes people struggle to ask for help because they just assume they won’t get any help anyway. Other times, people feel guilty asking for help. Learning how to ask for help can be humbling yet very beneficial.

Complaining or trying to guilt trip your partner with indirect communication is likely to leave both people feeling frustrated and angry. The worst thing that can happen when you ask for help is that your spouse will say no. If so, you can problem-solve how to get the task completed or how to get your needs met. If your spouse is unable or unwilling to help, perhaps the two of you can work together on a solution. In our previous example of a wife feeling like her husband doesn’t help out enough around the house, perhaps the two of them could make a chore list together. Then they could divide up the daily chores and assign chores to the children. Or perhaps they decide to focus on cleaning the house on Saturday mornings. There are lots of possible solutions if you ask for help.
By not asking for help I may be depriving other people pleasers like myself from the enjoyment they would get from helping me. More importantly by asking for help I can stop playing the martyr, and I can stop getting frustrated when my partner fails to read my mind. What a unique concept – plainly ask for help.