At least, I think that’s a saying. I’ve heard people say it at least.
But I don’t know who said it first…
…or if it’s true.
Because my wife and I don’t do it. We just don’t pray together, unless we’re about to eat. In six years of marriage, we’ve prayed together…hang on, let me count…three times.
And as the so-called “spiritual leader” of the house, that makes me look pretty bad.
But maybe praying together isn’t all it’s cracked up to be.
Today, I want to share with you why my wife and I don’t pray together.
Our Dirty Little Secret
As I write this, I just now remembered a resolution I had made several months ago to pray with my wife once a week.
That lasted one week.
But on the upside, let me revise my estimate. We have prayed together four times.
We tried to do some Sunday night devotionals last Christmas season. And we do check in with each other. We just aren’t the type of people to get down on our knees by the bedside every night. We read theological books (though not together) and discuss what has struck us. We check in on each other with the ol’ “how’s your Christian walk these days?” I know we both pray. We just don’t do it together.
And if you think I’m bragging, I’m not. I’ve confessed this to approximately one other person, and now you. Because this dirty little secret of our marriage makes me feel really quite inadequate when I think of all our holy married friends who I imagine enjoy rich and satisfying prayer times in between changing diapers and chasing naked toddlers through the house. We don’t even have a rugrat, so what’s our freaking excuse?! We must be on the brink of divorce, right?
We aren’t. We’re pretty happy. So why don’t we pray together?
The Obese, Diabetic Poster Child of Prayer
Here’s what I’ve realized about myself.
My prayer life sucks.
I don’t get up at 5:30 in the morning for quiet time. If prayer was a diet plan, I would be obese and diabetic, I fear.
I do pray. Sometimes, my habits are better than others. When I fall into a rut, I feel it. Things dry up. I feel out of shape, the way you feel when you haven’t exercised in weeks. But I’ve realized that my wife and I are just on two different planes of faith. My struggles are not her struggles. I pray for my wife in her struggles. And she prays for me.
But the kind of prayers I pray alone just wouldn’t be helpful to her, I fear. They wouldn’t edify her or build her up. The kinds of prayers I pray, I fear, would be a waste of time for her.
Couples That Shut Up Stay Together
You know what it’s like to pray in front of people, right?
You start doing a little prayer rehearsal in your head. But you make sure you aren’t really praying the words you’re thinking! You want them to have the full effect when you say them, because God won’t answer a prayer twice, after all.
And when you’re praying on the fly, and you’re stumbling over the words, you start stuttering with a million “Father God”s and “Jesus just”s.
In a prayer group, it’s so easy for prayer to become a holy little contest. Can I say a prayer as good as the last person? Whew, that was pretty good…Dang it, that prayer was way better than mine. Would it be wrong to jump in with a follow up prayer?
My wife and I have realized (especially as introverts) that the struggle to pray well, to form coherent sentences on the fly, for the benefit of the other person, completely negates the positive effect prayer would have in the first place. We’re too busy trying to pray right, that we’re not listening to God.
You know how I said the kinds of prayers I pray would not be helpful to her? Half the time, I don’t even pray in complete sentences!
Do I Trust Her Father?
You want to know how I pray for my wife?
God, I trust you with her today.
God knows my wife’s needs better than I do.
And even though my wife and I can’t always find the words to share our deepest struggles in front of each other, God knows all about it. If my wife can’t explain it to me, God’s already taking care of it. She doesn’t have to force out the words with Him. I don’t have to form complete sentences.
And that’s why we don’t pray together.
What about you? Do you have regular devotion time or prayer time with your spouse? How do you do it? Or confess that you’re like us!