When2Pray

An excerpt from the When2Pray by by Barrie & Eileen Jones

Encouraging couples to pray together

Prayer can be difficult and for some the thought of praying with their husband or wife is completely daunting. Friends of ours admitted that when they first started praying together, they could only do it with the lights out. That’s just how embarrassing the idea of praying as a couple can be for some!

Barrie and I had spent very little time together in our 18 months engagement because Barrie was in a ship in the Far East most of that time. I wasn’t even sure if he took sugar in his tea. What we were sure about was that we didn’t just want to be two Christians who were married. We wanted a Christian marriage, on where God was at the centre. So we started to pray together – gritting our teeth and keeping going through the embarrassment and awkwardness I certainly felt as we began.

The thing that made all the difference to us was an agreement that…if one of us suggested a time of prayer or Bible reading, the other would not refuse.

The other might say, “Just give me five minutes to finish this”, but would not say, “No.”. As we look back we can see that this was the gold brick in the foundations we laid, helping us to grow without fear of rejection, in confidence with God and with each other.

The late Cardinal Basil Hume once said that Christian marriages and families are called to be “a sign of contradiction to the world.”

Couples who practice praying together are allowing Jesus to have the chance of guiding, comforting and inspiring their lives.

Getting started

  • Remember that couple prayer is a three cornered conversation between people who love each other.
  • Don’t start out by trying to impress the other one.
  • Make an agreement not to refuse a suggested time of prayer.
  • Pray as you can—just be yourselves.
  • Allow for the uniqueness of the ‘other’ and take into account how different the spiritual journey of your husband or wife may have been from your own. Stand in their shoes.
  • Be flexible—relax. Chill out—laugh and keep starting again.
  • Be patient with each other.
  • Try to find an agreed time together.
  • Disconnect the phone.
  • Don’t give up.

Things other people have found helpful:

  • At first we found praying together easier when we were walking the dog.
  • We started by sitting side by side and each praying silently…then, saying a sentence out loud now and again led us on to feel comfortable about starting to pray together.
  • We began by saying grace and then by extending those prayers.
  • Praying through the Lord’s Prayer helped us get started.
  • We purposely limit praying together to 10 minutes.
  • We pray for each other’s day.

Of course, it is a fact that different seasons of life make praying together harder to achieve, but it is also true that self-discipline and determination are always needed to make it happen. Christianity is above all a message of new beginnings and the area of praying together is no exception to that grace. Honesty compels many of the husbands and wives who have shared their experiences of praying together to say…don’t give up and, if you do, start again.

If your husband or wife does not share your commitment to Christ, you may find that they are willing for you to lead in prayer together each day …or for you to pray silently alongside.

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