Find yourself side by side, holding hands, bringing your requests to your Creator.
By Steve and Mary Prokopchak
Mary and I have discovered what we believe to be the most intimate thing we can participate in within our marriage. We have determined that it is far more intimate than sexuality. We have taught for years that the most intimate act a married couple can participate in together is to pray. When we pray together, we discover each other’s heart because we’ll hear the desires of our hearts expressed to God.
While fighting and arguing can be powerful in its disagreement, seeking God together in prayer is far more powerful in its spiritual agreement. You find yourself side by side, holding hands and letting your requests be known to your Creator. If you’re being honest, you know God sees your heart and expects vulnerability from both of you. In that openness and vulnerability, you become unveiled before Him.
Before You Said “I Do”
Before you were married, did anyone advise you that your marriage would need room for failure, forgiveness, loss, brokenness, disagreement, or even sin? If not, a full and honest disclosure was missed, and you may have entered into marriage a bit naïve or ill-advised. Marriages fail because we fail God, each other, and ourselves. We fail to love, we fail to honor, we fail to forgive, and we fail in keeping at bay our own personal struggles with selfishness.
Before the Genesis 3 account of failure, the Bible states that God created us for a world where mankind was first introduced to God’s idea called marriage, and within that world, we would personally walk with God on a daily basis. Can you imagine as a couple that at the end of each workday, after dinner, you would take a stroll in God’s perfect garden and speak with Him as you would any other person? How that must have refreshed Adam and Eve, reenergized them, and built them for life together, for family, and for their next day.
But can’t God walk with us on a daily basis today? Can we not have a conversation with Him together about our marriage, family, business, or life questions? Would we be amiss to entertain for one moment that God has stopped longing to hear from us as His creation, especially the concerns we hold within our marriage and family?
Talking to God Together
You can be sexually intimate with almost anyone, but you cannot pray with just anyone. In order to really open up our hearts and pray together, we must know we are in a safe place. We must know we are not being judged for our heartfelt prayer. And we must know that the one with whom we divulge our heart will maintain confidentiality and that we can trust them with our deepest, most secret sins and needs. Praying together within marriage is so intimate that if these factors are not present, we will almost always divert ourselves to a same-sex prayer partner for that level of prayer. At the same time, we will be forfeiting something so intimate, so close and so heartfelt, that a certain dimension will be missing within our marriage relationship.
So many couples avoid or miss that level of intimacy by not connecting in prayer together. Mary and I often prayed when we were first married. We prayed at the meal table and at night as we closed our day. Sometimes we prayed in the car together while traveling. But when we got desperate for our children while they attended school or experienced life’s complications, we realized a need to go deeper and to connect daily in prayer for these needs.
Also as a mom, I (Mary) realized that I could worry and fret, or I could pray with my husband and trust my heavenly Father for my children’s needs. As parents, we realized early on that we could not meet all of our children’s needs, but we had faith in the One who could. The more we prayed, the more we wanted to pray. The more we wanted to pray, the more answers to prayer we discovered.
One day our son came to me and said, “Mom, someone stole several of my really expensive books out of my locker, I don’t know what I’m going to do to replace them.” I told him we would pray and ask God to return those books. While he looked at me with a funny, questioning expression, we both knew those books were gone forever unless God intervened.
Steve and I, along with our son, committed to pray daily for the return of his books. At the end of the week, our son returned from school and announced, “Guess what? My books showed up in my locker today…out of nowhere!” We knew Who went to work on the issue for us, for our son, and we gave Him the credit. It was a huge prayer life lesson for us as a family, and one that our son was able to identify as the personal hand of God in his life.
Can we challenge you as a couple in hopes of provoking you to establish a regular and intimate prayer routine? We must incorporate prayer into our relationship with God to request of Him rather than to require of our spouse all the answers we’re looking for. We need the intervention of our Lord simply because we will all too often come to the end of ourselves.
Start small; find five or ten minutes in your day to connect in prayer. Begin your prayer time by giving God thanks for all of His blessings in your life, including each other. Move on to praying for one another and then your family, along with any other needs. Close again with prayers of thanksgiving, because a thankful heart is an encouraged and an encouraging heart. As this time of prayer becomes a habit, allow it to grow and increase. The Bible says that when we find a place of prayer, we find a place of power and agreement (Matthew 18:19-20).
Prayer Will Grow Your Friendship
One of the ways to grow your friendship as a couple is to connect spiritually in prayer. We have discovered that when we connect in prayer, we also communicate. Mary and I have given each other permission to interrupt our prayer time in order to communicate a detail perhaps forgotten in conversation or to ask a question. This practice has furthered our emotional connection with each other.
Why Couples Are Not Praying
Some couples do not pray together because of vulnerability (it’s risking too much); others avoid prayer because of feeling inadequate; some use the excuse that they do not have enough time; others simply do not trust their spouse enough. Whatever the reason, all of these reasons keep us from obedience to God, from growing together spiritually, from becoming passionately intimate, and from agreement that brings the deepest unity any marriage can encounter.
Perhaps you’ve already begun praying together. If not, we encourage you to begin today. If you establish this life-giving habit now, it will continue to flow within your marriage relationship quite naturally. It will build over time, and as you experience the hand of God and answered prayer in deeper measure, you will find yourselves rejoicing together far more often.
About Steve Prokopchak
Steve serves on the DOVE International Apostolic Council and has been involved in the Christian counseling field for over 20 years. He earned a master of human services from Lincoln University. He is the author of several books, including Called Together, a premarital counseling workbook. He also travels throughout the world teaching and imparting to the lives of many, especially leaders. Read more about Steve or catch up on his blog.