Over the years I’ve challenged men to take the initiative and improve their marriages in a way that requires bedrock courage.
No, it’s not initiating sex. By comparison, that’s risky indeed, but nowhere near as challenging as … praying daily with your wife.
Now, some men are already praying daily with their wives. But I’ve seen that look of hesitation and even fear in the eyes of many men when I’ve given them this challenge. It’s way out of their comfort zone.
I’m not certain that Barbara and I would still be married had it not been for this spiritual discipline of experiencing God together in our marriage. It has kept us from building walls in our marriage, it has forced us to forgive each other, and it has kept us focused in the same direction.
A businessman who works for a well-known corporation took my challenge a number of years ago. He and his wife had been married for years and had two children. At the time, he was experiencing some difficulties in his marriage — he was angry over the lack of time they spent together, both relationally and sexually, he had begun drinking (again), and they had been sleeping in separate bedrooms for two years. They were not considering divorce and remained committed to the marriage, but in his words, “We were both on different pages, spiritually and mentally. She wanted to have Bible studies together and pray, but I wasn’t willing, due to my inner anger at her.”
A few years later, our paths crossed again, and he wrote to tell me that when he took the initiative to pray daily with his wife, their relationship was transformed:
Over a period of time and consistently praying together, we have seen amazing changes in our lives. Quickly the level of anger subsided. Each night our prayers became easier and meant more.
We seemed to move onto the same page, our attitude toward each other changed, and we began liking each other again. We also saw changes in our parenting; we started talking more and having in-depth conversations. Over the last few years, our conversations have turned to deep, meaningful reviews of our lives and the mistakes we’ve made. We share hurts, frustrations, and worries. We both seem to want to help each other and support the other in times of need.
As we learned to love and respect each other, our sex life has grown into a beautiful expression of our love and is more satisfying than ever. Our walk with God has grown deeper, individually and as a couple. Our lives seem to be connected on a spiritual level as never before. As with any marriage, problems still arise, but now we feel equipped to deal with the issues in a positive way.
Jesus Christ has done a mighty work in our marriage, and we attribute much of that success to the fact that every night we approach the Throne of Grace together. It truly is His grace that has sustained us. Only He could salvage our train wreck of a marriage and not only make it survive but thrive.
Can you imagine what would happen in your marriage, in your family, if you demonstrated that type of initiative and courage? My encouragement is to try it. If you miss a day, then pick up again tomorrow and pray together. I’ve found that the men who initiate prayer with their wives have a dramatically different relationship with them in less than two years.
Do you have a similar fear of prayer? Not sure you’d say it right or that you might not say it well? God isn’t interested in your posture, words, or vocabulary. He’s interested in you, your heart and your family. When you take the initiative to lead in this way, God will do some supernatural work you have not even thought about. And, I bet your wife will actually find it romantic when you lead her in prayer with sincerity and intent.
Give it a try.
If you have a story about praying with your wife, challenges you faced and overcame, or hesitancies today, share them below because I can guarantee you that you’re not the only one who struggles to lead your wife/marriage in this way. Be strong and courageous, men.
Adapted from the book, Stepping Up™ by Dennis Rainey, FamilyLife Publishing, 2011.