Are you comfortable praying out loud? Out loud, alone with your spouse? Voicing prayer with and for your spouse can produce anxiety because it requires a bit of spiritual nakedness. Praying makes us vulnerable, placing our hearts before another person, not to mention God. But praying together also opens a door of spiritual intimacy and is vital to having a strong faith-centered relationship. So how do we move past the vulnerability?
This may seem a trite slogan, but it carries some wisdom. Praying out loud is a learned skill, and practice makes perfect. It is better just to get started, to try imperfectly, learning and growing along the way, than it is to avoid the challenge all together. The effort will not be lost on your spouse as they see you reach out and attempt to bring spiritual intimacy to your relationship.
An ACTS format can be a great way to structure a prayer. Adoration, Confession, Thanksgiving, and Supplication (ACTS) is a wonderful guide for praying together. Begin with each of you sharing something awesome about God--what causes you to marvel in awe and adoration? Next move to confession and lament, being honest about what pains your heart and how you are broken as you come before your perfect God. As you move from confession, the natural response is to give thanks to a God who loves us despite our sinfulness and forgives us for all of our shortcomings. Finally, supplication is asking God to care for your concerns. These four types of prayer give you something to talk about as you talk to God together.
Remember as you pray for your spouse that you are not praying at your spouse. Your prayers are always directed to God and not directed toward your spouse. Asking God to help your husband to be less of a jerk, or to help your wife to be more thrifty is really aggression at your spouse, not lifting them up to God.
Ask your spouse how you can be in prayer for them and listen well to their requests. Even if there are no big concerns on your spouse’s heart, there are still things that you can be praying for them each day.
Let the Bible guide you as you learn to pray for one another. Look at the words that Paul prayed for the churches that he was ministering and pray them for your spouse. “Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen” (Hebrews 13:20-12). The Lord’s Prayer is a great guide as well. “Lord, may your will be done in my spouse’s life on earth as it is in heaven.”
Spiritual intimacy can feel intimidating at first, but it is worth the effort. Every other area of intimacy in your marriage—intellectual, emotional, and physical—will feel the ripples of your investment in prayer.