Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Seven Blessings from Couple Prayer

I am sure you are familiar with the old adage, "couples who pray together stay together." An array of supporting statistics have underscored the truth of this invaluable nugget of wisdom. Although the 2004 Barna study found no difference in the divorce rate among those that classified themselves as "christian" versus "non-christian," this statistic proves to be glaringly inaccurate once you scratch the surface. The litmus test is passed when Biblical promises are activated by commitment and practice. A recent study showed that when couples attend church regularly together, the likelihood of divorce drops by 35 percent. A nationwide study conducted in 1980 revealed that when couples attend church together AND read the bible or pray together on a daily basis, the divorce rate drops to a remarkable rate of only 1 in 1,105 marriages. Wow!!

Despite this amazing hope, only a reported 4 percent of Christian couples pray together on a daily basis. I am reminded of bible verse John 10:29, "Then Jesus told him, "Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed." Many couples do not pray together because they do not truly believe that it is important. If you sincerely believe in the importance of something, you do it! Consider this natural example. We brush our teeth each day because we know there is a real-time cause and effect. If we brush our teeth faithfully, we will have fewer cavities and fresh breath. We will not be afraid to smile and show our teeth. However, on the flip side, if we do not brush our teeth each day, this will lead to teeth decay and offensive breath. You might even try to hide your stained teeth by not smiling. Eventually you could even lose your teeth!

Perhaps the reason why so many couples do not pray together is because they do not truly believe it will make a difference. Spiritual treasures are seen as somewhat nebulous, and that is why more emphasis is placed on the natural. Just as we must brush our teeth every day to enjoy healthy teeth, we must invite Christ into our marriage to cleanse us and strengthen us. If we leave him out we will develop tiny holes beneath the surface of our intimacy which will lead to "cavities" or portals of entry that the enemy can walk through. If we leave Him out completely, marriage will decay and eventually wiggle its way loose from the roots of commitment.

Making a shared commitment to pray with each other and for each other on a daily basis will not only bring you closer to God, but also to each other. Let's look at seven blessings that result from couple prayer:

Blessing #1) A reduction in the number and duration of arguments.

Arguments almost always arise from the spirit of confusion or strife. A partner essentially lays down their stubbornness, hurt feelings, and differences the moment he or she says, “Let’s just pray.” When you open your mouth to pray, you close the mouth of the enemy. I Corinthians 14:33 says, “For God is not the author of confusion but of peace, as in all churches of the saints.”Prayer ushers in peace and reduces stress, anxiety, and fear.

Blessing # 2) A deeper level of intimacy.

A person is spirit, soul, and body. To be married is to be one with another’s spirit, soul, and body. We can be one emotionally and be one physically, but to achieve the deepest level of intimacy, we must also be one spiritually. When a couple is united spiritually, the physical and emotional take on greater meaning and fulfillment. I Thessalonians 5:23 reminds us that man is created triune, "Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole spirit, soul, and body be preserved blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ."

Blessing #3) Counters the attacks of the enemy

Prayer is a mighty tool that God has so graciously given us. There is power when two pray together as one. Isaiah 30:17 says, "One thousand shall flee at the threat of one, At the threat of five you shall flee, Till you are left as a pole on top of a mountain And as a banner on a hill." Prayer counters the six tactics of the enemy which include:

1) deception- perversion or distortion of the truth
2) doubt- makes you question God's word and His inherent goodness
3) discouragement- makes you focus on your problems instead of God
4) diversion- makes the wrong things seem attractive so you want those things more than the right things
5) defeat- makes you believe you are a failure so you don't even try
6) delay- makes you put off something so it never gets started or completed

Prayer has the power to counter all six of these by the power of the Name of Jesus. If you are struggling with one or more of these, ask your spouse to pray for you against specific areas of struggle. There is power in prayer and unity. Ephesians 6:12-13, “12 For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. 13 Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand.

Blessing #4) Builds your faith.

Celebrate answers to prayer by keeping a journal of miracles both big and small. Include answers that God moved in a way that may have not been expected, but drew you both closer to Him. List out God’s Scriptural promises for prayers not yet manifested in the natural.

Blessing #5) Generates the fruit of the Spirit.

Happy, healthy marriages must be full of the fruit of the Spirit. If you are two trees of righteousness planted in Christ, you will harvest a double portion of fruit! Being kind and patient to your partner requires us to turn to HIM in prayer for strength beyond ourselves. Galatians 5:22-23, “22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. 23 Against such there is no law.”

Blessing #6) Fosters a spirit of praise and thankfulness

Prayers of thankfulness will help you and your partner endure trials and tribulations together and develop an overcoming Spirit, which demonstrates the power of the cross within you. Praising God at all times magnifies the LORD rather than your circumstances. I Thessalonians 5:18, “in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (NKJV)
The ESV version says, “Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” (I Thessalonians 5:18)

Blessing #7)Unlocks prophetic promises over you and your spouse, releasing you into your destiny

When you pray words of encouragement and speak prophetic declarations over your spouse, you are blessing him/her. You are calling forth God’s will to be done through edification and truth. Romans 4:17 says, "(as it is written, "I have made you a father of many nations") in the presence of Him whom he believed-God, who gives life to the dead and calls those things which do not exist as though they did;" When you pray blessings of encouragement over your spouse, you see clearly what encouragement is and what it is not. Rooting out harmful criticism is also essential so you are not praying one way and acting another. James 3:10, “Out of the same mouth proceed blessing and cursing. My brethren, these things ought not be so.”
These seven blessings are just a handful of the multiplicative rewards you will experience when you engage in couple prayer. As you come into alignment with God's order, your marriage will enter into the promise of Isaiah 45:3, "I will give you the treasures of darkness And hidden riches of secret places, That you may know that I, the LORD, Who call you by your name, am the God of Israel."