A couple years ago, Dave and I had a conversation about where we wanted to grow in our marriage. We had several things on the list: being more of a team with our kids, talking more often about schedule and finances, growing in intimacy, looking each other in the eyes more often, speaking affirming words to each other, etc. At the same time, we were reading a book on marriage (which I highly recommend!) that encouraged us to pray together and be in the Word together as a couple.
I don’t know about you, but for years prayer together was a struggle. I would hear about couples who prayed together every night in bed and think to myself, Dave and I just can’t do that. Prayer doesn’t work for us very well. When Dave and I would try and pray together, I brought a combination of pride and insecurity to the table, and often the whole exchange was really awkward. We would end up strangely frustrated with each other–not exactly what you hope for in a nightly routine, so we just didn’t do it.
However, we wanted to apply what we were learning through this marriage book, and we were feeling desperation towards some issues we were having with our kids, so we decided to try to pray together one morning a week for our kids. We read a chapter a week in the book of Mark, write down a list of characteristics we saw in Christ, and prayed those for our kids together. We thought, 17 weeks, for the good of the kids, keep it simple, we can do this!
If you’re wondering how we made this work with 4 kids under 7, we relied heavily on this stoplight clock. We trained our kids to stay upstairs until the green light (at 8 AM), and we got our early mornings back! (We did not have a newborn or anyone potty training at the time, or I do not think this would have worked as well.)
Friends, these 17 weeks changed our marriage. We saw the Lord answer specific prayers in our kids. We both began to eagerly anticipate our Wednesday mornings together. The Lord was showing us this gift of connection with Him and with each other, and we loved it. I think it was different this time because I was coming into the time in need of the Lord instead of with a sense of needing to prove myself to Dave.
Some challenges came up on a campus in our city, and I remember saying, “Dave, we need to pray another morning for campus.” We got up and prayed on Monday morning, and the Lord literally answered a huge prayer request that afternoon. It was as if the Lord had been waiting for us to ask! (Psalm 5:3)
As weeks went by, Dave and I began to pray together most mornings. We’d wake up at the same time, brush teeth and get the coffee going, and read our Bibles separately for a bit. Then, we’d pray together. Sometimes we’d pray for our family, other times campus, but often we’d just pray through our schedule for the day and for each other. As a mom with littles, having a consistent quiet time had been really hard for me, but this helped immensely. Oh, and every single item on our list that we wanted to grow in (greater sense of team, more communication, increased intimacy, etc.) happened naturally—through these prayer times.
Two years later, we don’t pray together every morning, but we have grown to cherish the times we do. I encourage you, if you have struggled with marital prayer like me, to think through what hurdles you face in praying with your husband, talk with him about them, pray about them, take courage, and try just one morning a week. It is worth it!!
Linnette and her husband Dave began their marriage and Nav staff career eleven years ago (EDGE and SIT at Colorado State) and they currently lead the collegiate Nav ministries in Nashville. They have four children: Kate (8), Kylie (6), McKenzie (4), and Daniel (3). Linnette and Dave are passionate about the shared mission of raising up disciple-makers and raising up their kids.