There’s a sad reality occurring in marriages today. “Nearly half of all marriages end in divorce, both for Christians and non-Christians. Studies show that simply attending church does not guarantee a happy marriage or divorce-proof a relationship. However, couples who pray together regularly report enjoying the most satisfying marriages of all —and the divorce rate for praying couples is less than 1 per cent!” (Cheri Fuller)
What this says to us is that the family who prays together has a much greater chance of staying together. Because praying together has such a positive and effect on our marriages, we’d like to share with you a portion of the book, “When Couples Pray” by Cheri Fuller (Multnomah Publishers). We hope you find it to be as inspiring and practical as we have. Cheri writes:
“When Charlie Shedd, beloved Christian author, and his wife, Martha, were a newly married couple —just a couple of kids fresh from Iowa —one of the first lessons they learned was that there are some things you just can’t express in words. Charlie was studying to be a pastor, and he knew how important prayer and God’s Work were for the spiritual bonding he and his young wife desired.
“But in their first times of prayer together, Martha said that she was afraid that what she said to God would embarrass Charlie. Charlie understood why she might feel that way. As a seminary student, he was articulate, whether speaking to a group or telling God his thoughts. He sensed that Martha was more than a little intimidated by his verbal skills.
“So instead of praying aloud, they decided to take a different approach —they began to ask each other about their biggest concerns, listen as each shared, and then pray about them together silently. They’d hold hands, pray silently for the other person, and then pray the Lord’s Prayer together or read Psalm 23 aloud together.
“Real life gave this couple many opportunities to join together and pray —when they had a problem they couldn’t solve, when they were angry with each other, when they faced financial stresses, or when Charlie wanted to go one direction and Martha in another.
“Another thing that helped their prayer life and brought a closer spiritual bond was their weekly drive. Almost every week, Charlie and Martha would leave the kids with their grandparents or a sitter for an hour or two so they could take a drive together. They’d take along a Bible, and the spouse who wasn’t driving would read aloud from a passage they were studying. Then they would talk, share prayer concerns, and pray silently.
“They found other ways to share God’s Word together. Sometimes they chose one verse of the Bible as their verse for the day and ‘wrote it on their hearts’ in the morning. That night before going to bed, they told each other what their verse was and what it meant to them. In 48 years of marriage they read through the Bible 22 times, discussing their questions and insights along the way.
“As the Shedds grew in their marriage and in Christ, Martha’s self-consciousness gradually melted away, and they were able to pray aloud together. Like all of us, at times they had needs that they didn’t know how to verbalize —so they would go back to praying together silently. But whether praying aloud or silently they treasured their prayer times together and the ‘soul harmony’ that resulted.
“Couples around them were so struck by the happiness in the Shedds’ marriage that they asked if Charlie and Martha could help them deal with their problems and develop better marriages. And so began their marriage ministry, which eventually blessed thousands and thousands of families around the world.
“Here are some PRAYER EXERCISES for silent moments together:
• “Find a few quiet moments together when you can be alone. Sit knee-to-knee and express your most pressing concerns or needs to your spouse. Then hold hands and pray silently for each other’s burden. Conclude by reading a psalm together or praying the Lord’s Prayer aloud. Inspired by the example of Charlie and Martha Shedd, here are some other things you might try to develop spiritual intimacy:
• “Take a drive or, when you travel together, devote the first half hour to the passenger reading aloud from Proverbs, Psalms, or another favorite book of the Bible.
• “Keep a One-Year Bible in your car for when you’re traveling or running errands together. Have the passenger read a portion of the day’s Scripture.
• “In your individual Bible reading, choose one verse as your verse for the day; write it out on a three-by-five-inch card, and meditate on it throughout the day. Then, before going to bed, share with your spouse what your verse was and what it meant to you.
• “Try a weekly ‘word focus.’ Think of one of the greatest needs in your marriage —maybe it’s patience or joy or servanthood or another quality. Look up the word in the dictionary, and then go to a concordance and find Bible verses on the subject. Choose one of those verses to focus on in the following week, and share with your spouse any way the verse touches your life or how it is becoming a part of you.
• “The following week, choose a different need in your marriage and a word to reflect it. Continue this for a month, sharing your discoveries with each other and thanking God for what He is revealing to you.”
We hope the above ideas help you to better unite together in prayer. We have additional articles on our web site in the “Prayer” section.
Our love and prayers are with you,
Steve and Cindy Wright
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