I raise this topic a lot, but I have no axe to grind with those who pray together daily with their spouse. If they both wish to do so, are able to be truly open of and to the spirit as they pray and there is no motive based on man’s expectations but only to commune with God….then what can possibly be wrong with that?
There are some other questions and points that come up. But before we look at those, lets look at a typical churchian pitch for the practive of husbands and wives to pray together. This from the Raineys:
We believe—and have learned from long experience—that the true secret to spiritual intimacy in marriage is praying together. [ ]
This really troubles me. It means that 9 out of 10 Christian couples today are resisting the number one thing that could draw them closer together spiritually.
Spiritual intimacy. Oneness.
Another guy wrote to tell me he had tried praying with his wife at night before bed, “but I would always find an excuse not to. One day God really convicted me that I needed to step up as a husband and commit to pray with my wife nightly. I came home that day and told her of my conviction.”
In tears the wife said, “I’ve been praying about this for months, but I didn’t want to tell you and pressure you into it. I wanted God to do the work in you.”
The wife desired that her husband pray with her. She had prayed for God to bring this to pass. And of course not once had she expressed this desire to her husband, he was blissfully unaware that she even wanted this, so pure was her motive so as to not put pressure on the man.
I want to challenge you to begin praying together daily. I can promise you, on the authority of the Scripture, that if you pray together daily for two years, you will not be the same couple that you are today (see Matthew 18:19). Inviting the God of the universe into your marriage on a daily basis will change things!
Lets talk about that scripture.
Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven
Its a tough one to handle. What is it telling us? It cannot be saying, simply, literally, what the words convey, or can it? My questions and comments are rhetorical because I’ve explored them before, heard it explained, read about it. My focus here though is about spouses praying together for spiritual oneness and how easy churchians pick up loosely related things and form what amounts to almost new doctrines. Its a complicated theological hamster not unlike the one that evangelical feminists listen to when rearranging gender order as described by scripture.
But this hamster is tough, and he has a lot of help. Some of the theologically arrogant will grab onto this with the same gusto as the theologically ignorant. They have the same motivation. They LIKE what is being said, it fits a larger narrative. It buttresses sanctimony in one group and helps the other assuage guilt born off tastes great less filling faith.
I’ve written about the churchian spousal task list for the husband who wishes to be the spiritual leader of the home, and how that is a list born not of scriptural admonishments but of pandering to women’s emotions. There is an aspect of that in the notion of spouses praying together but that is not the full story, because prayer IS a scriptural admonishment. Prayer IS obedient. Prayer IS essential, where reading devotionals aloud to children is perhaps a nice thing to do but no one can credibly state it is a scriptural imperative.
Where does that leave us on praying with the spouse?
One guy who has commented here several times as well as elsewhere around the sphere confessed something he and I realized we have somewhat in common. His situation seemed more rigid than mine, but we each got the point when he described how he does not and will not pray with his wife. He explained it plainly saying that when he does he finds his prayers are being customized and directed more to what his wife was hearing than what he may have wanted to take to the throne of God. I believe he explained the reluctance or discomfort many men feel but had not put a description to yet.
Lets revisit the anecdote the Raineys shared. The story is clear if not read through quickly from the persepective of one who has already drank the churchian Kool Aid.
In reverse, the woman expresses that when her husband had shared “his conviction” she was so pleased because she had not let the man even know she wanted him to pray with her and instead she had cried to God to move her husband in that direction. But the man clearly stated that he had tried to do so and always found excuses not to, that then he was convicted to “step up as a husband” and pray with his wife. Can you find God in that? Really? God is telling a man to do something AS A HUSBAND that is never once mentioned in scripture. God is instructing a man to corrupt his prayer life in the way the poster described as I mentioned above as a way of stepping into leadership as a husband?
But empath, it IS scriptural you say, just read Matthew 18:19. Not so fast. Praying with my wife in specificity, together, for reasons either thankful or distraught….that is per the scripture. Some medical news comes regarding an aging parent, a child is missing, whatever, yes, praying together OF ONE MIND to express that gratitude or that need for comfort finds firm basis in that scripture. Nightly making prayer the equivalent of laying on the therapists couch in order to pander to the woman’s empathy driven emotional needs is summarily NOT what that scripture refers to at all. If you doubt me, ask yourself this….have you ever read or heard taught or expressed that the reason a man and woman pray together nightly is literally because when two pray together these prayers are addressed by God? Or, rather, is it not that women are craving this prayer time with the husband, something mumbled about spiritual intimacy, and a quick dropping of the scripture reference for good measure? How could that woman be praying that her husband would come to pray with her if she viewed Matthew 18:19 as it is written?
To further understand this, imagine the couple who do pray together nightly praying to the instruction of that scripture. They pray in agreement, for their kids, for their needs, they give thanks, so forth. Will that sate the woman? In some rare cases…perhaps. But that is not the nature of the prayer the wife envisions and what will develop this spiritual intimacy she craves. What she really craves is for her husband to emote. Period. The very best prayer together are the ones where they both end with tears. This meets a need of hers. There is nothing necessarily wrong with the need for emotion sharing. There is a lot wrong with playing loose with the scripture and then using guilt to get men to corrupt their prayer life by having to fake something they should do with an open heart and mind. There is something voyeuristic about wanting to hear that happen.
Why do we pray? To whom to we pray? What are the express purposes of prayer? If the answer to those questions can coexist honestly with where you are in your together prayer life, that’s great.
If not, this is one of the more insidious manifestations of churchianism and its in your marriage too.