Be joyful in hope, patient in affliction, faithful in prayer. — Romans 12:12
When did you learn to pray? Was it in Sunday School at church? or at home around the dinner table? or saying your bed-time prayers with your parents? or in Vacation Bible School? or in a youth group? or with an athletic team? Do you remember a time when you memorized a prayer in your childhood? or memorized the Lord’s Prayer?
And now do you find yourself crying out to God in prayer because of a crisis? or is prayer a daily routine that starts your day and ends it? Perhaps you find yourself praying all the time. . . as though your mind is always centered on God and His presence in all circumstances?
As a couple, have you ever prayed together? Have you ever held hands and asked the Lord to bless you in specific ways, or thanked Him for the blessings which He has given you? What about before, during, and after deployment—have you discovered that prayer is a key to keeping you close to each other—and growing towards God during your time apart?
When a couple learns to pray together they are submitting to His will for their lives; seeking guidance with every aspect of their parenting and their marriage; asking for answers to tough questions about assignments and finances; finding strength to resist temptation; encouraging one another as they see growth in the fruit of the Spirit in each other; going to the Lord in confession of sin; defining areas of thankfulness and gratitude; and interceding for each other in areas of specific need.
Praying together as a couple may start out as baby-steps—with a simple prayer. Then as your understanding and trust in the Lord continues, you grow more confident in your prayer life, seeking Him more and more. When trouble occurs (as it inevitably will), you are poised and ready to go to just The One who knows you, loves you, and answers your heartfelt prayers. Because you know Him, love Him, and listen for His direction—your faith grows, both individually and as a couple through the trials that come with war-time separation and with all of life’s challenges.
Consider what Oswald Chambers says in his notes concerning Isaiah 37, “It is not easy to find your way to God in a sudden crisis unless you have been in the habit of going to God about everything. . . . A man only learns to pray when there is no calamity.” (Complete Works, p. 1382) Certainly we call out to God with the familiar “God, help me!” And He hears and answers! We read this in Psalm 107:6, and similarly in verses 13, 19 and 28: “Then they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and He delivered them from their distress.” (vs. 6) But then we move on in learning to pray, building that relationship with God.
Richard Foster gives us some wonderful guidance for learning how to pray and developing the discipline of prayer in his classic book, Celebration of Discipline. “To pray is to change. Prayer is the central avenue God uses to transform us. If we are unwilling to change, we will abandon prayer as a noticeable characteristic of our lives. The closer we come to the heartbeat of God the more we see our need and the more we desire to be conformed to Christ.” (p. 33) So we see that the goal of prayer is not to change the circumstances but to be changed ourselves.
What if the challenge, the trial, is combat trauma? “Experience has shown that a pre-deployment discipline of prayer helps to minimize the post-trauma paralysis of communication that can further complicate a couple’s healing process.” That statement is found on page 76 of the new HomeBuilders study Making Your Marriage Deployment Ready.
What that one statement conveys is that a couple’s discipline of prayer is not only important to preparing the heart of a couple for deployment and sustaining that couple through the deployment—but it will also be powerful during the couple’s reintegration. This is especially true if there are wounds caused by operational stress, combat trauma or PTSD. Getting into the routine of coming to the throne of grace with confidence to find strength and help in time of need (Hebrews 4:16) is something that we can all think about doing now—perhaps before the need arises.
Please begin now to recognize the value in praying together. Start with something simple like, “God, help us!” Then talk to Him like He loves you. . . . because He does.
Chambers, Oswald, The Complete Works of Oswald Chambers (Grand Rapids: Discovery House Publishers, 2000)
Foster, Richard J., Celebration of Discipline: The Path to Spiritual Growth (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 1978, 1988, 1998)
Montgomery, Mike & Linda and Morgan, Keith & Sharon, Making Your Marriage Deployment Ready (Little Rock: FamilyLife Publishers, 2008)
There is a “Prayer” category of Excellent or Praiseworthy devotionals to take you to other postings concerning this topic.
Questions to Share:
1. Are you satisfied with your prayer life? Why or why not?
2. Think about prayers that you have heard others pray in the past which impacted you. What was it about those prayers that touched you?
3. Spend some time in prayer for yourself, your marriage, your family, your unit.