They let one slip through

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.




14 thoughts on “They let one slip through

  1. Ah yes, the old praying together thing. That thing that’s not actually mentioned anywhere in the Scriptures.

    God forbid you actually have the husbands and wives discuss the roles and responsibilities of husbands and wives which is mentioned extensively…

    While I don’t doubt it works for a few, it probably does not work as well as they advertise. It’s simply faux spirituality unless husbands actually want to be the head and act on it, and wives actually want to submit and respect and act on it. If only there could be some actual discussion of the Truth.

  2. Of course a man and woman who have relationships with Christ should make it a priority to express their one-ness by communicating with the third strand in the cord. Of course we should be willing to be transparent to our spouses, since we have committed to a life of cultivated intimacy of all kinds…that’s what marriage is. Prayer is powerful. Marital relationships need nurturing. What could be wrong?

    Once again, FL promotes doing a good thing for the wrong reasons. And they do it almost every time. Do we pray with our spouses so we’ll have better sex? Do we pray so we can know his “heart” better? Or even so that our relationships will benefit?

    Yes, they’ll no doubt benefit. But what is the purpose of prayer? The purpose of prayer is to commune with God. He is the object, the focus, the purpose; we are reflecting on Him, not us.
    Or else, I daresay, it is not prayer at all.

    FL has a bad habit of low-balling all they encourage, dumbing down the goals, making it all accessible to generic Anybody. Here’s another “must” to add to your list or you’re not the proper cultural stereotype. I don’t think they realize they’re alienating people this way or that they’re doing it intentionally; I think they think they’re being inclusive.

  3. I don’t know if this is relevant because it wasn’t written by someone at Family Life, or Focus on the Family, or whatever. But I find it interesting.

    “And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.” Matthew 6:7-8. (NIV)

    I like to paraphrase that this way:

    When you pray, don’t use a lot of words – because your Father in Heaven already knows what you need before you ask for it. (Matthew 6:7-8)

    That was spoken by Jesus. “Your Father in Heaven already knows what you need before you ask for it.”?


    I like the ACTS approach to prayer. These two links give examples of that approach. There are others on the internet.

  4. And then there is the problem of automatically assuming the wife is bearing all the struggles of her soul in this marital prayer meeting…

  5. The “praying together” narrative serves two purposes:

    1. Destroying male headship Equality. I note that the first example given is of a wife who covers her husband in prayer.

    When Jane Fowler’s husband, Emmitt, leaves for work in the morning, she follows him out to the car and prays a simple prayer of blessing over him.

    It may seem as if I am quibbling, but the example is delivered this way specifically to give the impression that Emmitt is Jane’s glory and so he is submitted to her. Else, they would say Jane lifted Emmitt up in prayer. It was not an accident that the over-to-under-relationship-via-prayer is instantiated with her over him. The entreatments for praying together are not usually so bold; instead following the pattern that is in the rest of the article of two equals coming together.

    2. The sex and intimacy angle is mentioned to inform us that husbands who are sexually unsatisfied have only themselves to blame. If he doesn’t show leadership (idiotically, by meeting her as an equal and sharing his mind with her as if she is equal) then he doesn’t deserve sex because wives have sex with men who deserve it. It’s a positive-spin version of idea that it is acceptable for women to hold sex hostage from their husbands.

    Really, a husband should be praying over his family, and for his family. He should be leading them in prayer; not praying with them side-by-side, but praying at their head like a prayer from the pulpit.

  6. What it sounds like they’re really advocating is using joint prayer as something like a Confessional. That could really be disastrous.

  7. Pingback: Father Knows Best: End of August Linkfest | Patriactionary

  8. I didn’t think much about this other than “confusing and weird”.

    I was always taught that men led prayer and that was it.

    This stuff at FL is just goofy talk.

  9. God forbid you actually have the husbands and wives discuss the roles and responsibilities of husbands and wives which is mentioned extensively [in Scripture]…

    Hmmmmm … my evil little brainlet just whispered that this might be a good suggestion to our pastor for a Bible study focus for small group. That will surely get me in serious hot water, but then compounding the offense by insisting that the study text be …**GASP!**… the Bible, and not some churchian Book of the Month Club best-seller* will surely get me de-fellowshipped.

    (*purely a hypothetical, since no churchian “best seller” would EVER discuss proper sex roles as set forth in Scripture)

  10. Made me think about the next Kendrick movie: “Warroom”.

    Seems to me that when the wife is screwing up it’s time to do triple back flips to win her, when the husband is screwing up it’s time fore wifies to go into passive aggressive “Prayer Warrior” mode and browbeat their wayward husbands into submission. I smell a double standard. (Shocker, right?)

  11. I have no trouble praying with my wife, but I have big problems conflating this with my own devotional life. The wifey thing to wear matching square dance outfits, complete each others sentences, and be “soulmates” is just that: a wifey thing. I need and want solitude, and am not prepared to begin making my devotional/confessional, soul bearing times of communion, study, reading, and prayer into a threesome.

  12. considering you live in a pretty feminist marriage, send wife t work, you look after the home
    what is your problem with feminism?!!!

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