At the start of each new year, we like to look at our marriage relationship and how we can energize it and take it up a notch. Maybe you have the same desire. Maybe you have even talked about it but then life happens. We know how you feel. We’ve been there too. So we’d just love to help you take a first step: have a prayer date. Here’s how.
Praying together is one of our most important disciplines. In his classic book To Understand Each Other, Paul Tournier says that praying together is the highest tie binding a couple:
Happy are the couples who do recognize and understand that their happiness is a gift of God, who can kneel together to express their thanks not only for the love which he has put in their hearts, the children he has given them, or all of life’s joys, but also for the progress in their marriage which he brings about through the hard school of mutual understanding.”
We have found that praying together helps us deepen our intimacy with each other and with God. It’s definitely a marriage builder. But for us, learning to pray together did not come easy.
Frankly, when we first tried, it was a disaster! One of us was more verbal than the other. Okay, it was Claudia. She would get “on a roll” and pray about this and then pray about that, and by the time she finished, all Dave could say was “amen.” Not a great marriage builder.
However, we were determined, so we didn’t give up. Soon we learned to make a prayer list and to take turns praying short prayers. From time-to-time we have more extended times of prayer, which we call our “prayer dates.”
Actually, our favorite prayer date is when we combine it with our “walk and talk” date. We are both avid hikers and find that when we are out in nature, we just naturally feel closer to God. So it’s easy to pray together. (Sometimes we pray out of desperation, like when we get off the marked trails—but that’s a story for another post.)
One prayer date from years ago is still vivid in our memory. We were making an international move from Vienna, Austria, back to the USA. So much to do! So many decisions to make! So we had a prayer date. We took a full day to talk and pray through all the different aspects of our upcoming move. (Fortunately, our work schedule was flexible and all of our kids were in school, but it would have been worth hiring a sitter and taking a day off work!) In the morning, we made lists, and over lunch, we continued talking through them. Then in the afternoon, we prayed through each of the items on our list. It was amazing how God answered our prayers and how things seemed to fall into place for our very complicated move.
If praying as a couple is a habit you might want to start, let us give you some tips for starting your own prayer dates. Try the ones that appeal to you.
- Begin by reading a devotional or sharing a few of your favorite Bible verses with each other. This will help you get in tune with God and with each other.
- Talk about how God has answered prayers in the past and evidence of His leading in your life, your family, and your marriage.
- Together make a prayer list and write down specific requests. You may even want to start a prayer log where you can later write in the answers!
- Make a list of things you both agree to pray for each other and for each of your children/grandchildren. Keep this list in your Bible as a daily reminder.
- And then, remember to pray with each other, and benefit from our past mistake. Do take turns praying!
Maybe you are thinking, “I’d love to have a prayer date, but my spouse is just not that far along in his or her spiritual journey.” Then consider starting with the Quaker model of prayer—shared silence. This would allow you to worship God separately and privately, yet knowing that you are sharing the experience together. It’s an easy first step in praying and growing together spiritually. Now according to the Quaker tradition, you end your devotional time with a kiss of peace!
Take the risk. Praying as a couple is a wonderful experience that can bring you closer to each other and closer to God. It can become a vital part of your faith walk together. Developing the habit of prayer, whether actually praying out loud together, sharing silence, or simply praying for each other, will result in great and amazing things as your heavenly Father hears and answers! We love Jeremiah 33:3 which says, “Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know.”
After your prayer date, here’s a bonus date on us! (You can download a free date video launch and dating guide at 10GreatDates.org.) On this date, you will have fun remembering why you got married in the first place and celebrating what’s great about your relationship today.
And, if you like what you experience on your first two dates, look at your calendar and agree on times for your next dates. Here’s a tip: It takes three weeks to make a new habit and six weeks to feel good about it, so in just a few weeks, you can start the dating habit. Now that would be a great start to your new year, don’t you think?
Claudia Arp and David Arp, MSW, are a husband-and-wife team who share a passion for helping couples build great marriages through fun, relationship-building dates. They are authors of numerous books including 10 Great Dates to Energize Your Marriage and offer resources, seminars, and training to empower couples, churches, and communities to build better marriages and families. Connect with them at 10GreatDates.org.