Satisfaction Guaranteed

by Linda Strickland
Mar/Apr 2010

I recently had a conversation with a young man who was upset over the sudden breakup he had just experienced with his girlfriend. She had given him an ultimatum: she wanted a marriage proposal, or it was over. The tears in his eyes told me what he had chosen.

As we continued to talk he confessed that, although he loved this young woman very much, marriage scared him to death. He had grown up watching his parents’ marriage die a long and painful death which finally ended in divorce, and he was terrified of the same thing happening to him. Trembling, he said, “I told my girlfriend that before I could marry her I would need a guarantee that this wouldn’t happen to us.”

Unfortunately for him, there are no guarantees in marriage. At least that’s what I thought.

Then one day in my car, listening to a broadcast of Family Life Today, Pastor Will Davis, Jr. (author of Pray Big for Your Marriage) said something that changed my thinking. He said, “1% of marriages fail where the couple prays together. That means that 99% make it!

I don’t know about you, but in a world where the divorce rate is getting close to 60% (including Christian marriages), this really excites me. Can you imagine having a 99% guarantee that your marriage will not fail?

Although many people might scoff at this amazing statistic, my experience tells me that it is true.

I have been married for 35 years, but 10 years into our marriage my husband and I separated for 5 years. The difference between the first 15 years and the last 20 years has been having God in the center of our marriage.

I remember right after my husband and I reconciled, I bought a couples’ devotional book for him as a gift. That book lay on our coffee table for about a year before we actually picked it up and started using it. But once we started, we couldn’t stop.

 Every morning we would read the short devotion, talk about it some, and then pray together. It’s hard to explain, but the effect it was having on our relationship was nothing short of astonishing.

To tell you the truth, I couldn’t figure out if he was changing, or if I was changing, but I knew for sure that our marriage was changing. And it was good change…really good.

After a while we both began to notice that life was different - and not in a good way - if we missed a day. We would even joke about it, telling our friends that if we missed our devotion and prayer together that we would end up in a fuss that day. The not so funny thing was….it was true.

In the home I grew up in there was a plaque on the wall that read, “The Family That Prays Together Stays Together.” I always thought it was a silly little rhyme, and actually hated it when my dad would call us all into the living room for family prayer time. After all, as a teenager I had much more important things going on in my life, and I considered it to be a big waste of time. I guess my dad knew something I didn’t, and I’m sorry that it took me so many years to learn it.

It’s now been many years since my husband and I started praying together, and the devotional book we used to get started, Moments Together for Couples (by Dennis and Barbara Rainey), looks pretty ratty, with tattered edges and a broken spine. But I don’t want a fresh copy. That book is very special to us, and the condition of it represents the battle we have been in as we have fought for our marriage.

Today, more than ever, we are in a fight for the family. I believe that satan has a special assignment against families, and with the high divorce rate, he seems to be winning. Sadly, as Christians, we are not doing much better than the rest of the world, and here’s the reason why. Statistics show that less than 3% of Christian couples pray together.

And that needs to change.

So…..for all of you couples, I have a challenge for you.

Agree with your spouse that you will pray together, every day, for the next 30 days.

It will change your life – guaranteed!

Tips on praying together:

Tip #1

What my husband and I do is pray (out loud) together for our family and friends and whatever else we have on our heart, remembering to give thanks for all of the many blessings in our life. Then we pray specifically for each other. Whether it takes 5 minutes or an hour, it doesn’t matter….just do it!

Tip #2

Using a devotional book designed for couples is a great way to get started. I usually read the short devotional out loud and then we talk about it. My husband then starts the prayer time and I join in as I feel led.

Tip #3

Francis and Judith like to take turns laying their head in the other’s lap while praying for each other.
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Linda Strickland Linda Strickland is CHM's Associate Director of Ministry and Assistant to Judith MacNutt. Magazine Issue

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