The more I talk to other Christian men, the more I realize how many married couples struggle to pray together on a consistent basis. Why does engaging in this basic spiritual discipline with our spouse elude so many couples? We love God; we love our spouse. So why do we struggle to talk to God with our spouse? Honestly, I’m not sure why this is so difficult. I’m sure the core reason couples struggle to pray together relates to the vulnerability and intimacy involved in prayer. Bringing another person into a realm of your life where you are the most honest, exposed, and vulnerable—even if it is a person with whom you have become one flesh—can lead to a fear that few couples overcome.
Whatever the reasons are, there are just as many reasons why couples should pray together. While I’m sure there are more, here are four reasons couples must continue to fight to make this discipline a regular part of their marriage.
To Cultivate Intimacy
Prayer cultivates spiritual intimacy within your marriage. We are spiritual beings created in the image of a spiritual God. As spiritual beings we have the unique ability to enter into a personal relationship with God. Every believer is on a spiritual journey to know God and make Him known. Spiritual intimacy occurs when husband and wife participate in each other’s spiritual journey. When a couple becomes one in their pursuit of God, they connect on a spiritual level that strikes at the very core of what it means to be human.
This level of intimacy is incredibly powerful, and there are few ways to develop this level of intimacy better than praying with one another. It is true that husband and wife are made one-flesh the moment they say “I do.” But as every married couple knows, experiencing the reality of oneness as a couple is a blessing that requires effort. Few things bring us closer to our spouse than praying with them.
To Develop Unity
Prayer also develops unity within a couple as husband and wife come together in order to petition their Lord for a common cause. Praying together for specific desires you have for your lives and family develops a “one heart and one mind” unity in your relationship. It reinforces the mindset that you are on the same team, pursuing a common objective. For example, praying for a rebellious child with your spouse reinforces the reality that you both long to see your child walk with the Lord. It battles against the ‘my way of parenting’ versus ‘your way of parenting’ mindset that too often divides marriages. It seals solidarity deep within your heart and mind as the two of you bring your desires before the Lord together.
To Receive Protection
The final weapon against our adversary mentioned in Ephesians 6 is prayer (cf. Eph. 6:18). When husband and wife come together to pray for God’s protection over their family, the result is powerful. When couples come together, humble themselves before the Lord, and ask God for protection, it puts the relationship in a posture of humility—one that acknowledges a shared belief that our “help will come from the Lord” (Psalm 121:2). God hears this prayer. The manifold forms of evil that threaten your family daily can be overwhelming. When couples run to their divine Refuge together, they are able to receive the protection and peace of God despite the evil that surrounds them.
To Enjoy Blessing
God gives grace to the humble. Every Christian couple wants the full measure of God’s blessing on their marriage and family. From beginning to end, the Bible is clear that God’s favor is directly tied to the humility of one’s heart. Prayer demonstrates humility. It demonstrates our dependency upon God. The doorway into the upper room of prayer is low. Only the humble can come into His presence. When a couple humbles themselves together before the Lord in prayer, expressing their dependency upon Him, they will receive the favor of God. It is here—husband and wife communing with their Lord together—that couples enjoy the full blessing of the Lord. God will bless the family that comes before Him together in prayer. Do you want God’s blessing on your family? Don’t just go to Him alone; go to Him with your spouse and petition Him together for His hand of favor.
When attempting to develop the discipline of praying with your spouse, it is important to keep it simple and to make it a part of your daily routine. Praying with your spouse does not have to be a long, highly structured event. There are times to have more extended times of prayer with your spouse, but there is nothing wrong with brief simple prayers, especially when you are praying with each other regularly. Don’t allow the pressure to make your prayer time super religious and theologically astute keep you from praying. Keep it simple.
It will also help you to be consistent in this discipline. Make it a part of your daily routine. You may do it before bed, first thing in the morning, or in the car together. You will find that making it a part of your daily routine will be much more effective than the ‘doing it when you think of it’ approach.
Couple’s Prayer Guide
Use this two-week prayer guide to help lead your prayer time with your spouse. Each day there is a scripture to pray as well as some direction on how to pray for that day’s topic.
Download the PDF version
Week 1: Intimacy with Christ
Intimacy with your spouse will flow out of intimacy with Christ. During this first week, focus on your spouse’s growth in his/her intimacy with Christ.
Day 1: Nearness
James 4:8a – Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you.
Pray that God would draw your spouse’s heart nearer to Himself, stirring within him/her a deep desire to be closer to Him. Pray that God would indeed reveal Himself to your spouse as he/she draws near to Him.
Day 2: Surrender
Psalm 25:1-2a – To you, O Lord, I lift up my soul. O my God, in you I trust…
Pray that your spouse would lift up their soul to the Lord, completely surrendering every aspect of their lives to Him. Pray that they would be willing to let go of anything that might hinder intimacy with Christ.
Day 3: Dependency
John 15:5 – I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
Pray that your spouse would depend upon the Lord in all of life, leaning on His power and wisdom. Pray that he/she would be free from every form of self-reliance.
Day 4: Communion
John 15:7 – If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.
Pray that your spouse would walk in daily communion with the Lord, hearing from Him and talking to Him throughout the day.
Day 5: Submission
John 15:10 – If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.
Pray that your spouse obey the Lord in every area of life. Pray that the Lord would reveal to him/her any area of disobedience and give him/her the grace of repentance.
Day 6: Purity
Psalm 24:3-4 – Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place? He who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up his soul to what is false and does not swear deceitfully.
Pray that your spouse would be free from sinful attitudes and behaviors. Pray that they would walk in purity and thus enjoy unhindered intimacy with God.
Day 7: Spirit-fullness
Ephesians 3:19b – That he might grant to you… to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge…
Pray that your spouse would be filled with the fullness of God. Pray that he/she would walk under the complete control of the Spirit, manifesting His gifts, demonstrating His power, and bearing His fruit.
Week 2: Intimacy with Your Spouse
The very moment you say “I do,” you are put in a position of oneness with your spouse. However, intimacy must be pursued in order to experience this oneness practically. God desires husbands and wives to have emotional, physical, and spiritual oneness in order to display the Gospel through their relationship. Focus your prayers this week on growing in intimacy with your spouse.
Day 8: Forgiveness
Ephesians 4:31-32 – Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you.
Pray that God would give you and your spouse the grace to forgive as He forgave you. Pray that God would deliver each of you from any bitterness or anger that may be hindering intimacy.
Day 9: Love
1 Corinthians 13:4-7 – Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Pray through this list of descriptors for biblical love. Pray that God would cultivate each of these virtues in you first and then in your spouse. Pray that God would help you and your spouse grow in love for one another.
Day 10: Emotional Intimacy
Romans 12:15-16a – Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another.
Pray for increased emotional intimacy with your spouse. Pray that each of you would be mutually involved in each other’s joys and sorrows. Pray that you would grow as friends. Pray that you would live in harmony with each other.
Day 11: Physical Intimacy
Genesis 2:24-25 – Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and they shall become one flesh. And the man and his wife were both naked and were not ashamed.
Pray that God would give you and your spouse a selfless mindset in your sexual relationship. Pray that God would remove any thought, attitude, or behavior that is hindering sexual intimacy. Pray against shame and awkwardness in communicating with your spouse about sex. Pray for increased satisfaction in your sexual relationship. Pray for physical intimacy in your marriage that brings glory to God.
Day 12: Spiritual Intimacy
Acts 4:32a – Now the full number of those who believed were of one heart and soul
Pray for increased spiritual intimacy with your spouse. Ask your spouse for specific ways you can pray for her/him regarding their walk with God. Pray that you and your spouse would be united in heart and soul in your kingdom purposes in life. Ask God for the wisdom and power to enter into your spouse’s spiritual journey and spur him/her on to good works.
Day 13: Protection
Psalm 127:1 – Unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain.
Pray that God would protect your marriage spiritually, emotionally, and sexually. Pray that God would guard your spouse’s purity. Pray that God would keep you from drifting away from your spouse. Pray that God would protect each of your minds from being conformed to the ideas, values, and trends of this world in the area of marriage. Pray for perseverance in your marriage.
Day 14: That the World Might See
Ephesians 5:31-32 – “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.
Pray that your marriage would fulfill its purpose: To display the Gospel by imaging the relationship between Christ and His Church. Pray that you would walk in oneness with your spouse, as you are one with Christ. Pray that God would use your marriage to draw people to Himself.