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Getting Started: Talking to God Together
Talking to God-even with your husband or wife listening -should be as natural as talking to a friend on the telephone or over a mocha at a coffee shop.
When our prayers are genuine, straightforward, and without pretense, our approach to God is childlike. Richard Foster explains it like this: "In the same way that a small child cannot draw a bad picture, so a child of God cannot offer a bad prayer.... Like children before a loving father, we open our hearts and make our requests. We do not try to sort things out, the good from the bad. We simply and unpretentiously share our concerns and make our petitions."
Prayer is not a form of verbal gymnastics. One wife's description of the simplicity of talking to God paints this picture well: "I would encourage any couple to learn to pray together even if it feels awkward at first. My husband often felt that he wasn't good at praying, but I encouraged him to just talk to God like he talks to me."
When we examine the Scriptures, we find that Jesus actually insisted we abandon pretense in prayer: "When you pray, you are not to be like the hypocrites; for they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and on the street corners sothat they may be seen by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full. But you, when you pray, go into your inner room, close your door and pray to your Father who is in secret, and your Father who sees what is done in secret will reward you" (Matthew 6:5-6).
As we have pondered that passage and prayed together faithfully, we have learned that the "inner room" for a couple is the place of intimacy found when they share their hearts in prayer together. When spouses pray together, it is about relationship and intimacy-with God and with one another.
But even if praying together seems a bit awkward at first, couples must still enter that "inner room" of praying together. One veteran pray-er wrote, "Prayer is a tool we often carry around but never put to work. It's like we're building a house and keep walking around with a hammer in our hands, wondering why the walls keep falling down. We expect that wishing the walls would form a room will actually cause nails to sink into the wood. But without a hammer and some effort, the walls will keep falling down. God's not asking us to build our house, just knock some nails in." Praying together is essential and must occur regularly if our marriages are to stand strong.
What has kept us from praying together in the past? How can we team together to be consistent in daily prayer?
Note: For the first ten entries in this devotional we have provided suggested prayers. Launching into prayer together may be as simple as focusing on God as you alternately read these prayers for husband and wife aloud. Or you may want to begin there and then continue in your own words. To help you develop a habit of praying together each day, the next twenty days include "Prayer Points" instead of suggested prayers. These points are designed to give you ideas for praying in your own words.
Suggested Prayer [Husband] Dear heavenly Father, You are the awesome King of all things, including my life and our marriage and family. Thank You for making it possible for us to have such a loving relationship with You that we can come to You simply, like little children, knowing that You are happy to hear what is on our hearts. In Jesus' name, amen.
[Wife] Dear God, as we begin praying together daily as a couple, please protect us from distractions that would keep us from joining our hearts in prayer. Help us to avoid any pride, fear, lack of faith, or foolish thinking that would hinder us from drawing closer to You. In Jesus' name we pray, amen.
Teach Us to Pray
A follower of Jesus once said to Him, "Lord, teach us to pray" (Luke 11:1).
Jesus' answer was what has become known as the Lord's Prayer. This model for prayer (found in Matthew 6:9-13) is easy to understand and will also be easy to incorporate as you begin your prayer times together.
Our Father who is in heaven, hallowed be Your name. We should begin prayer by acknowledging God's place of authority over our lives. He is mighty and holy. Even though our words may be simple and conversational, His person and name are to be honored.
Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. These phrases declare what and who is most important in the grand scheme of life.
Give us this day our daily bread. God provides for His children. Bread represents everything we need in a given day-food and drink, work, relationships ... everything.
And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. Forgiveness is at the core of God's heart. He was willing to sacrifice His only Son so that we could be completely cleansed and forgiven of our sins. He wants us to also be proactive in forgiving our spouse and others.
And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from evil. God wants us to obey Him. He wants us to depend on Him and to choose good instead of evil.
For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. This sentence is a repetition of our sincere affirmation that life is about God and what He wants for our lives.
Many Christians pray the Lord's Prayer word for word. Other believers use the prayer as a guide. How you use it is your choice. However, if either of you is uncomfortable praying aloud, simply reciting the Lord's Prayer together may be a wonderful way to start the daily prayer habit.
Discuss any discomfort you may have about praying aloud in front of others. What can each of you do to raise the comfort level of praying aloud together?
Refer to Matthew 6:9-13 in your Bibles, and take turns praying the phrases of the Lord's Prayer.
Excerpted from Two Hearts Praying as One by Dennis & Barbara Rainey Copyright © 2002 by Dennis and Barbara Rainey
Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.