Again the email is full of programs for spouses to learn how to pray together. All of the major marriage ministries are in lock step about the benefits of couples praying together daily. I always feel trepidation when I write on this topic. I struggle with the wisdom of taking a position that could be construed as anti-prayer at worst or ambivalent about prayer at best. I always ask myself if this is one of those topics I’d be better of stewing on in private.
Then I think…..Nah. Say what you need to say.
Family Life is about to launch their “30 Day Oneness Challenge”. Couples who sign up will receive devotional materials by email daily and guidance for that days couple prayers. The assertion is that when a man or woman reveal to each other what they would reveal to God in prayer they have a view into the heart of the other spouse that had not been afforded them until they began praying together.
I get the point. I see the value in what they are saying. It cannot be a bad thing to know what is brewing in the heart of your one flesh partner can it? How much deeper must that take the emotional intimacy? Well…
If you read the letters that follow this article you will notice patterns. The wives are the ones who prominently claim an increase in sexual desire and frequency. The wives universally gush that they now know their husbands better than they ever did before….you know, when they were in a near constant state of disquiet because the one place he could go be by himself was in his head.
Something new occurred to me. The men gush too. This time something new occurred to me. They make vague remarks that celebrate the effect that a couple of decades of praying together has had on their marriage. The men’s comments are decidedly macro in nature. The benefit, though not specifically described, could be seen as having been fortunate enough to not be divorced after 20 or 30 years. Sure. Amen to that bro.
My over arching issue has always been that these recommendations that couples pray together, and the overt favorable proclamations by the women are bereft of any tempering language, raising caution that along with the knowing of whats troubling your spouse must come a wellspring of grace and the ability to utterly wall off what is learned from other marital discourse. These disciplines are well beyond the ability of the majority of women. A taste of what he is thinking or feeling creates an addiction. The analogy can be extended even to tolerance where these prayers do not satisfy her if they lack sufficiently grave confessions of weakness from him. Plus….she needs to know that it is not OK to tell her BFF even though she will frame it as “please pray for Jim, he is struggling with XYZ”.
The most surprising thing though was the final letter written by a man with no mention of the wife in the signature line. I’m surprised FL saw fit to print this letter. The man is pragmatic when he says
I am not sure that we would say praying together has brought us more intimacy.
This is the only man to specifically speak to the effect prayer has had on intimacy. He differs with the wives in the other letters. Wives seem to be cozy in the fact that their sexual frequency preference is by definition the preference of their husband, so when the wife increases her frequency it must be worthy of hubby holding a parade.
The most blunt comment is in the last paragraph.
Is praying with your spouse a magic bullet that will keep you from getting divorced? Probably not since all of us are just a couple of steps away from making selfish choices.
Now that is gonna drive tons of traffic to the site and get couples registering for the 30 day challenge in droves. They need that guy to write more stuff for them.