PRAY: Love, Honor, and Pray
As a motivator, guilt works—sometimes. As a mom, I’ve used it more often than I should. But I also found that shaming my children into action didn’t work nearly as well as positive words, Scriptural admonition, or honest heart-sharing.
Guilt has, at times, seemed like a great way to motivate my husband. And I’ve succumbed to that temptation far too often. But husbands (at least the one I know) also seem to respond much better to respect and loving encouragement than to rants of any kind. Action flows from positive relationship, not negative emotion.
If I were going to give one piece of marital advice to newlyweds, it would be to institute early the habit Tom and I now have: praying together every morning and every night. God used prayer to draw me to Himself, and it has remained a vital force in my walk with Christ.
As a newlywed, I longed to share times of prayer with my husband, but somehow, it rarely happened. We prayed more when we were engaged than in our early years of marriage. Busy work and school schedules, multiple places of employment, our first two children arriving ten months apart—you name it, we had the excuse.
Deep down, I didn’t want to press my husband to pray because I enjoyed the leverage that not praying gave me. He was the “spiritual head,” so if we didn’t pray together, it must be his fault. How’s that for twisted logic of the not-so-spiritual kind? I’m ashamed to admit it, but that’s how my thinking went. Yes, we prayed with our children every night and most morning. We prayed at key times and for particular events. But as a couple, our times of genuine prayer together went begging.
It took a time of pain to change us. Several years ago, in the midst of a season of seeming despair, a dear friend shared with us the Scripture I’ve quoted here before, “Neither know we what to do; but our eyes are upon Thee” (2 Chronicles 20:12, KJV). My husband and I made the determination not to allow the enemy to take us down and out. We had experienced deep loss, but we were not going to lose our walks with Christ or our love for one another. Because we didn’t know what to do, we prayed—and cried—and prayed together. Soon, our act of desperation became a habit. And our habit fulfilled a need for new levels of marital intimacy.
It’s hard to pray with someone when you’re harboring anger or bitterness. So if we choose to continue our prayer habit, we also choose to resolve any issues between us. We choose not to let the sun go down on our anger. We choose to view one another from God’s perspective. We choose to pray—and we choose to love.
Today, when one or the other of us is out of town, we do our best to call each night and morning so we can continue our prayer habit. We find it a beautiful blessing and benediction to our days.
How has prayer affected your marriage, a friendship, or other relationship? Have you, like us, changed your habits through the years? I’d love to hear your story.