Posts tagged praying with your wife

One action that touches a wife’s core needs

CouplePrayingThroughout our 30 years of marriage, I haven’t prayed regularly or consistently with my wife Ellie. But some recent difficult situations have caused us to diligently seek God together through prayer.

I believe in the power of prayer, but I’ve never really been passionate about it.  Of course I know that God invites us to come to Him with our burdens, and to ask Him to supply our needs and even to fulfill our deep desires.

But the way Ellie looks at prayer — especially praying together as a couple — has always seemed different. It’s more urgent. More important. More deep-seated. It had never really clicked why praying with me was so important to her until I came across an article recently about four things a woman needs from her husband. Essentially it’s:

  • Having ongoing, meaningful engagement
  • Experiencing physical, emotional, and spiritual protection
  • Enjoying quality and quantity time together, and
  • Knowing he values her for who she is and can be

As I read through the list, it struck me that all four of my wife’s core needs are met when I pray with her.

When you pray together, you’re meaningfully engaged in conversation with God. You are submitting to God’s authority, trusting him for mutual protection. Together, you’re engaging at a deeper level than just everyday conversation, sharing the personal and deep things in your lives. And as you pray to God for your wife, you show her that you value who she is and that you believe God has even better things in store for her life.

There’s a whole lot more I could say about what prayer can do for a marriage relationship. But I think the hard sell for most men is just getting started. While we husbands may find it natural to take the lead with our wives in many areas, prayer is not likely one of them. There are reasons for this. First, we know that we are less comfortable than our wives when it comes to vocalizing things that are more personal in nature. Second, most men are often less spiritually minded than their wives. Third, prayer is an act of submission, and that’s often foreign ground for a man, who knows he’s being depended on to lead, provide, and protect.

If you don’t pray regularly as a couple, you’re not alone. In fact, when we surveyed couples at FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway, only eight percent prayed together regularly. And these are people who are at the conference because they’re serious about their marriage.

FamilyLife wants to help you take your marriage to the next level by helping you make prayer a natural part of your relationship. That’s why we created the 30-Day Oneness Prayer Challenge. It’s a simple tool to help you start a habit of taking five minutes a day joining hands, bowing heads, and praying together as husband and wife. Watch the video to learn more.

Each day, we’ll send you by email or text message some guidance on how to pray for a specific area of your marriage and life, including suggested prompts for husband and wife.

Daily topics will include setting priorities, overcoming obstacles, building greater trust and teamwork, growing in thankfulness, increasing your intimacy, and many more. We’ll also include suggested articles, broadcasts and resources to help you grow in many of these areas.

All you have to do is sign up. Then each day throughout the month of September, you’ll receive a daily prayer prompt from FamilyLife. By the time October rolls around, if you’ve been faithful, we’re betting that you see how natural it’s become to pray together, and how much closer you’ve become as a couple.

© 2015 by FamilyLife. All rights reserved.

STEPSeek - 10-point checklistYou just finished reading “One action that touches a wife’s core needs” by Scott Williams on the Stepping Up blog.

STEPThink - 10-point checklistDennis Rainey calls prayer “One Simple Habit That Will Transform Your Marriage.” Read his and Barbara’s story.

STEPEmbrace - 10-point checklistSign up today for the Oneness Prayer Challenge that starts in September, and ask your wife to sign up too.

STEPPass - 10-point checklistShare this blog post or link to the Oneness Prayer Challenge with at least one other husband you know

Praying for your wife

In May 1969, I sat beside my dad in the intensive care wing of our hometown hospital. I was single at the time and had come home from graduate school to see my dad because he had undergone serious surgery. Susan, who was working in Georgia, had come up to visit me and the family at the same time. In our conversation, Dad asked how she was doing and then he squeezed my hand, looked into my eyes, and said, “Son, marry that girl.”

That turned out to be our last conversation, and he had given me what would be his final bit of advice. He died unexpectedly two days later. I asked Susan that very day if she would become my wife.

Later that week, in the sad, shocking aftermath of Dad’s sudden death, my young fiancé and I sat down to talk about our future. We decided to make a list of needs, questions, and decisions that we were concerned about. This became the beginning of our prayer list, which we used for several years to come.

I pulled out that little vinyl notebook the other day and reviewed the many notations in Susan’s handwriting and mine. A date, the request, and often another date, off to the side, with a brief description of how we had seen the prayer answered. One prayer was that Susan would find a job that was compatible with her gifts and experience. Less than a month later, she accepted an offer to be Dean of Women at a small private college — just the sort of thing we were hoping for. That first little notebook contains 88 entries of needs about which we prayed.

Now, almost 30 years later, I continue to pray for Susan. I’m still praying for our relationship — that it will continue to deepen and mature, that I will understand her better, that I will hear her more effectively, and serve her. I pray for her physical health to continue to be strong, and for her to grow in peacefulness. I pray for her writing and teaching, and that we will always be able to talk together, have fun together. …

In other words, praying for your wife can become a way of life. As her husband, you are her chief prayer warrior. This requires you to know her well and to stay tuned to her needs so that you can pray wisely. Let’s consider some ways in which we can equip ourselves to pray significant, powerful prayers for our wives.

Spend time with her. A man who wants to support his wife effectively through prayer must make time to know her and understand her. You’ve got to know what’s going on in her life, what she’s doing, what she’s thinking, what she’s feeling. This can take a good deal of thoughtfulness and attention on our part.

Your wife may not tell you everything that’s on her mind. She may be burdened about a child, or fearful for a parent, but not be able to talk about it. A wise husband will make it a top priority to be with his wife and to talk to her. As the years go by, he will learn to read her and to see beneath the surface. He will learn the right questions to help her open up.

Look for purposes, patterns, and priorities in her life. It’s helpful for me to distinguish between the day-to-day concerns and the more long-term, overarching prayers. Once or twice a year I prepare a formal list of items that I pray about all year long on behalf of my wife. Traditionally, I go to a place where I can be alone for a significant amount of time and I think about her needs as I know them. I look at Susan’s life from several different angles — physical, mental, emotional, social, spiritual — and then I begin to list her needs.

For example, there may be two or three small physical problems that she’s encountered — but which may actually indicate a change in her health. In her late 30s, as our children got a little older, I began to notice a growing concern in Susan’s mind about her purpose in life. Things like this filled out my daily prayer list for her.

When I am considering my annual list of prayers for Susan, I ask myself questions like these:

  • What are the concerns that she’s most aware of in her life right now?
  • What are issues of character that she’s struggling with?
  • What other relationships does she have in which she needs God’s help right now?
  • What particular responsibilities is she dealing with now in which she needs God’s help?

I find it’s helpful to think about Susan’s life from her point of view. For instance, how is she feeling about herself? How is she feeling about our relationship, or about her future? What are the particular gifts, interests, and opportunities before her right now? Where does she need help as she plans for the future? What are her deep longings?

Sometimes when I’m praying for my wife, I try to see a mental image of her sitting with or standing before the Lord Jesus Christ. I imagine Him looking at her and I ask myself: “What is He seeing?” “What is He saying” “What is He seeking to do in her life?” All of these questions help me formulate simple answers to guide me as I pray for her in the most important and ongoing areas of her life.

Adapted by permission from How a Man Prays for His Family, FamilyLife Publishing, ©2004 by John Yates.

The one thing a man of courage does


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.

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