We’ve been married for close to five decades. And for most of our marriage we have been dedicated Bible-believing, Bible-LIVING Christians. So you would think that we would not “forget” to pray first (rather than later) when we should. But sadly, sometimes we do.
Oh, we usually remember to pray in the morning together before we set off for the day. It’s something we started years ago. And we’re now praying together at 7:14 every evening after we read 2 Chronicles 7:14. This has been a great blessing. Plus, we have no doubt that this has helped us connect better with each other and most importantly with God.
But we also know that we need to pray together before we enter into situations where we’d be tempted to argue in ways that we shouldn’t. A lot of the times it’s in those “off guard” times that we can stumble the worst. We’ll pick at each other and forget to pray first, rather than react first. We don’t even think to pray when it appears to be a “no big deal” time. God wants to help us to be gracious to each other. But we have to ask first.
Pray First, React Afterward
One silly example of this type of situation comes to mind immediately. Last spring we planned to attend an event that we benefit from, and we (usually) enjoy. It was our semi-annual subdivision garage sale. This is where people within a several mile radius sell things they no longer need. But sometimes we (or others) need (or want) them. So, we had a short list of things we hoped to purchase. We were excited about the possibilities. Plus, we were revved up about the discounts and the time we would enjoy spending together.
However, in the past, despite all of our excitement, sometimes these types of outing don’t go so well. We’d end up squabbling with each other over petty things throughout the morning. It doesn’t make any sense as to why this happens. But it does/did. Maybe I’d think Steve is driving too fast or too slow, or whatever. And maybe he is displeased because he doesn’t want to go into a certain neighborhood that I want him to go… On and on it goes. Petty? Yes. Stupid? Yes! Is this the way we should act? No!
Do you and your spouse get into these types of situations? Hopefully you don’t. But sadly, most couples do. And we have joined them.
Pray first Before Going into a Tense Place
But this time, however, God reminded us to pray together beforehand. And we want to tell you that it’s amazing how well the morning went. We still remember it, to this day. Before we left, Steve took my hand and suggested we pray that God would help us to be peaceable with each other. What a novel idea! So we held hands and prayed.
It wasn’t until later in the day that we realized how great we did together. That whole morning, we didn’t argue once. As we realized this afterward, we just stood there amazed. We remarked, “why didn’t we think of doing that before?”
As silly as this may sound, it goes to show you that prayer works, when we remember. We can progress through the day in peaceable ways when we join God in this.
Prayer Works When We Go There
But there is another turn that we didn’t expect to happen. Steve and I spent some time this morning, working together on projects around the yard. And we have to confess; we argued about stupid little things. Our work styles are definitely different. And sometimes being “different” leads to tensions rising up, so we’re tempted to squabble about petty things.
Sadly, we did. And you know the confusing part in all of this? We even prayed beforehand that God would help us NOT to squabble. Grrr!!! So why did this happen today and yet it didn’t happen the last time?
We talked about this. And we realize that we didn’t pay attention to God’s promptings. It goes to show, that even under the best of situations and intentions, we sometimes fail and fall.
There are two lessons from this that come to mind. The first is the importance of praying first. With God leading the way, He can help us to “fall” less than we might have otherwise. But we have to be mindful of approaching each other as God would have us.
And the second lesson — if we DO fall, is what we do next. We pray, rather than nurse, rehearse, justify, and continue to grab onto feelings and behaviors that we shouldn’t. At that point we stop giving into the urge to be contentious. And we confess our own failures (even if our spouse won’t confess his or hers). We then work to reconcile our differences the best we can.
It’s a fact of life that we all stumble and sin. But WHEN we do, we shouldn’t keep perpetuating our sinful ways. Instead, God would have us stop, drop to our knees (or our hearts), confess our wrongs, and pray. We are to reconcile our differences with God and with each other. God tells us in the Bible:
“Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” (James 5:16)
Pray First; Prayer Works
There is no doubt that prayer works, as we look to God to help us. Right now, as I’m typing this, I’m looking at my husband as he sits across the room. And we’re doing just fine—actually, better than fine. Squabbles? What squabbles? How I love this man. (And I know he loves me.) And how I love our God! Thank you Jesus for helping us to pray first! Even for small things, pray first. And in big situations, pray first.
“Pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you.” (1 Thessalonians 5:17-18)
As we close this Marriage Insight, please note: God tells us to pray continually. And then He tells us to give thanks IN all circumstances. He didn’t say to give thanks FOR all circumstances. We are to give thanks IN all circumstances. That’s because God can bring redemption when we approach Him to do so. Even when things are difficult—when we approach God in prayer, and we praise Him in the midst, God does His best redemptive work.
This is our prayer for you (from 1 Thessalonians 5:23-24; 28):
“May God Himself, the God of peace, sanctify you through and through. May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. … And may the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.“
Cindy and Steve Wright
— ADDITIONALLY —
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6 responses to “Pray First? Sadly We Forget Sometimes”
Hello, Thank you for this article. I had to show my husband of 27 years this. When we have debates or disagreements, most of the time I’m the one who goes into quiet time to go read my Bible, which calms me. I feel so much better and find it easier to tell him I’m sorry if I said something that may have hurt you.
Thank you Maria, for sharing this. I’m so glad that you are able to recognize the importance of getting off the “crazy cycle” (as Pastor/author and well-known speaker, Emerson Eggerichs calls it), when “debates or disagreements” start to go in bad directions. I have to do the same thing as you do sometimes. I’ll finding myself getting so heated over certain situations that arise that it’s like a warning goes off in my head, telling me to stop the madness for a bit. I find that often I can recognize that the discussion will eventually turn into a full-fledged fight, with each of us NOT listening to the other (which can cause sinful words and attitudes to come out), if I don’t take a break to pray, read God’s word, and talk it over with God first. When I do this, it gives each of us a chance to cool down, and with God’s guidance, we’re able to re-approach the issue again.
It would be nice if your husband did this too, but even if it’s just you, God honors that. What matters the most is that at least one of you stops the crazy cycle of arguing, and goes to God to get your bearings again so the matter can be approached in a more agreeable manner. Maria, I really applaud you for doing this. Just make sure that pride doesn’t creep in, or resentment that you’re the one who has to do this. Ask God to check your spirit. Apply Psalm 139:23-24 and Psalm 51:10 to such matters, asking God to search you to bring up anything that you need to know about yourself, your spouse, and the situation that you may not know… and then to create a “clean heart” within you. Afterward, God can better help you to listen, as well as speak the truth “in love” (rather than in vindictiveness), when you re-visit the hot spot issue you are dealing with. If you do, you will do SO much better. Thank you, my sister, for sharing what you did. I’m sure it will bless many.
Dear Cindy, Thank you so much for the article above. Like the many others that have visited this website, I too have been hurt by finding out about an affair that my husband has been carrying on. While we have tried to talk things over and find a way forward amid this chaos, I find that I often lash out in anger, as I accelarate from being hurt to being angry and certainly from being SAD to being MAD. I do get so mad at times, and I know that it hampers our communication. It is my prayer that while i have been hurt, and have the right to express my emotions, that I will be sensitive to the Holy Spirit, and not let my emotions run with me.
Thank you so much for this website that has carried me through the darkest of days. I pray for everyone that has been hurt in their marriage. I pray that the Father of all mercy and grace will sustain us and keep us standing no matter what the devil unleashes upon us and our marriages.
I’m so very sorry that you have found yourself in such a horrible place, to have your husband emotionally stab you in the heart as he has with his unfaithfulness. I grieve with you as a sister that your husband would do this to you. NO ONE ever deserves or should ever be put in that type of situation. When we make our vows together, we trust that we will never have to endure our partner doing that to us. For the loss of your innocent trust, the deep, deep hurt you are experiencing, and the “hope deferred” I cry with you and pray for you.
I’m glad that this web site has helped you during “the darkest of days.” God has definitely been the one who has carried you and ministered to you. We just feel so honored that the Lord allowed us to participate with Him in helping, to some degree.
I don’t know if it’s too soon to recommend this to you, but here’s something else that might help you in some way, as you watch something that Dutch Sheets spoke about on the issue of “hope deferred” (posted on YouTube): http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R59FrfHAUI4
This is my prayer for you: “May the Lord direct your heart into God’s love and Christ’s perseverance.” (2 Thessalonians 3:5) Please always keep in mind, even in your darkest moments that “The LORD is near to all who call on Him, to all who call on Him in truth.” (Psalm 145:18) “May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in Him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit!” (Romans 15:13)
This comment just came in from a subscriber: Thank you for this message. It came at the right time. My husband and I have decided to pray together since we want to have another baby and we would want God to help us to start building our house. We feel confident that God is on our side and I was just wishing if we hadn’t started this earlier on in our marriage. It is such a wonderful feeling to sail through life’s experiences knowing that we prayed about them beforehand. God wants us to pray together for small things and for big things. Thank you for the encouraging words.
From another subscriber, she wrote the following, asking us to pray. We hope you will join us in praying for her and her family:
What can I say?Thank you, thank you, thank you. For lack of better words to express my appreciation, I say thank you very much. Indeed prayer works. I believe it and I am walking this journey prayerfully as I believe God to help my husband come along with so much zeal. He believes in prayer but when he’s going through tough times it gets hard for him to pray. Please pray for him concerning this. Blessings.