Praying with your husband can be challenging.
Many of us aren’t comfortable praying out loud, and so we’re not sure how to bring prayer into our marriage. In fact, I had a man email recently saying, “you have lots of articles on initiating sex, but how do I initiate prayer?”
Great question! Physical intimacy, after all, is wonderful, but spiritual intimacy is the glue that holds everything together. Couples who pray together feel closer in other ways, too.
Lately we’ve been talking about some pretty heavy stuff as we lead up to the release of The Great Sex Rescue. I’ve been attempting to dismantle some of the harmful teachings about sex and marriage that have messed sex up for many couples, so that we can find freedom instead.
I thought I’d turn the tide today and talk about something completely different that has helped me lately keep perspective, and that’s praying as a couple.
I’ve been trying some new things I’m excited about, so I thought today I’d revamp an older post with 10 ideas on praying as a couple. Prayer is intimidating, I think, because it’s vulnerable. You’re baring your soul before God, but you’re also baring it before your husband when you pray together. That’s what can make it awkward. We can’t really have pretentions. But that’s also what makes it intimate! So here goes.
Before I start talking about how to pray together, though, just one more thing: remember that praying doesn’t have to be a long, drawn out thing.
In fact, sometimes “sentence prayers” are more effective, because when people feel awkward or nervous, understanding that it doesn’t have to be a big, flowery prayer can take the pressure off. So model this–just use a few sentences to start, and go back and forth. Even if it’s just a minute or two together, it helps remind you that there are THREE of you in this marriage (you, your spouse, and God), and God wants to be a part of it with you.
I also firmly believe that prayer is more likely to happen if it’s routine (it tends to happen at the same time everyday), if it’s for a specific purpose, and if it’s relatively easy to do.
So most of these suggestions may sound “trite” to people who already pray a lot. But remember: if prayer is already a big part of your life, you may not need these suggestions as much! Most people just need ideas to get going, so here are some that can help start your prayer life well.
1. Pray Over Your Children’s Beds
Bend over the baby’s crib at night and say a prayer for the baby, or stand over the older children’s beds once they’re asleep and before you go to bed. Just say to your husband (or wife), “I’d like if we prayed quickly for our kids at night. Will you come do that with me?”
2. Pray As You Part in the Morning
Here’s another idea: ask your husband before you part in the morning, “Can I pray for your day today?” And go to the door with him and hold his hands and just pray a really quick prayer for him at work today. Then kiss him and say good bye. It doesn’t need to be a big thing (and if often is better if it isn’t!)
3. Think of New Ways to Say Grace
Grace can get really old. And I firmly believe that there is nothing wrong with memorizing prayers, or saying pre-written ones, as long as you mean them. We have this idea that all prayer needs to be spontaneous, but some people have written beautiful prayers in the past that sum things up perfectly, and if your heart agrees, I think that’s fine. It can also be a lot less intimidating to people.
You can write out a number of graces onto cards, and put them in a “Grace” Bowl. Then have a different person pick a card and lead in grace each night.
4. Read Prayers at Other Times
What about reading a longer prayer after the dinner hour together? Again, if people are uncomfortable praying out loud, or aren’t used to it, reading a prayer can be freeing. I love Stormie Omartian’s Little Book of Powerful Prayers, but there are others. My family has used the Celtic Benediction (celtic prayers for morning and night) while we’ve been camping. But recently Joanna (one of my amazing co-authors) sent me the book Every Moment Holy. It has prayers for everything–when you’re going to work; when you’ve just bought a new home; when you’re setting up the Christmas tree; when you’re making your morning coffee. Even when you’re having a sick day! And it has prayers that couples can pray together at night, too.
It’s truly a beautiful book that can fit in a big purse if necessary.
I honestly love it. It’s helped me focus. I grew up in an evangelical tradition when reading prayers was seen as somehow “less than”, but I honestly find it far more meaningful, because the words are meaningful. So here are some ideas for you!
5. Pray for a Need Right Then
My friend Holly told me this story recently.
I called my husband, asking for prayer for something stressful that happened, and he said, well can I pray over you right now? And it happened to be a time that I had my hands full with taking out the neighbor’s dogs and don’t have a hands’ free for my cell, so I asked if I could call him back in a few minutes. I did and he prayed. It helped so much!
If it feels like a good time to pray, then just offer to right then and there. If your husband is sharing a concern, just ask, “can I pray for you?” And put your hand on his shoulder and pray a quick but heartfelt prayer for God to intervene. If you get in the habit of doing it right then and there, then it becomes a more regular part of your day and a more regular part of your routine. And then it can feel more comfortable for him, too!
6. Pray During a Conflict
This one’s important! When you’re really mad at each other, before you start really discussing the issues, ask, “can we just pray together?” And then pray something like this:
God, we’re really angry now and we need you. Help us to find the win-win solution here. Let us both be open to what you have to say. Bring your peace to your children. Amen.
My husband’s really good at suggesting we do this (I’m often too angry!), and it’s amazing how much it helps to bring God in early.
7. Take His Hand First Thing in the Morning, While Lying in Bed
I like to say a quick prayer every morning as I wake up, “Lord, today I pray that I will glorify you in all I do. May you use me and help me to be a blessing to others.” It’s quite simple. You could take his hand and pray that, or ask, “can we say a prayer together in the morning? I’ll say a sentence, and you say a sentence, and we’ll make it our ‘thing’ .”
8. Put your Hand on his Shoulder in Bed and Pray
You can do this out loud, or you can tell him that you’re doing it but do it silently.
9. Write an “I Need Prayer For…” Whiteboard on the Fridge
Put a little box for everybody in the family, and encourage people to write their needs on it. Then people can spontaneously pray throughout the day when they see it, and people know their own needs are getting prayed for!
10. Plan an Extended Prayer Time Once a Week
If you are comfortable praying together, then once a week, say on a Sunday night before bed, or on a Saturday morning when you get up, pray for a longer time about all your needs as a family and for other concerns you have. Remember to include times that you praise God for who He is, and thank Him for what He’s done! Again, if this is a regular, standing date that you have together, it’s more likely to become a part of your routine.
There you go! Ten ways to bring “little” prayers into your day. Tell me in the comments: which ones have you tried? Which ones have become regular for you? Or do you have something different that you do? Let me know!
Sheila Wray Gregoire
Founder of To Love, Honor and Vacuum
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