Here we are a third of the way through our 40 Day Prayer Challenge as a couple. I find myself asking why 40? There are many references to the number 40 in the Bible. The first things that come to my mind are the 40 days Jesus is being tempted in the wilderness (Luke 4:2), or the rain that fell for 40 days and 40 nights in the days of Noah (Genesis 7:4). There are many more references to the number 40 in the Bible, but this 40 days of prayer reminds me of the number 40 in Genesis 3:16... the 40 weeks that women are pregnant before giving birth. For the first few weeks of pregnancy some women don’t even realize another life is forming in their womb. However, unlike the soon-to-be-mother, we were very aware of each other’s presence for the first few days of our 40 day prayer challenge. We were praying the same way we always prayed in the presence of another--kind of surface, general prayers. There is an acronym we learned, P.R.A.Y., that was kind of the "format" for our prayers.
Praise – The Lord by giving thanks to Him for who He is and what He has done.
Repent – by confessing your sins and asking for His forgiveness.
Ask – or bring your requests for yourself as well as others to God.
Yield – by submitting that God’s will be done in your life.
Praising came very easy for us as we have a list miles long of things that He has blessed us with.
Asking was there but it was only on a surface level. We asked for needs such as healing for family members and other needs we were aware of. However it was about 9 days in before we started to ask for strength in areas where we saw ourselves weak, knowledge in areas where we lacked, etc… When this deeper level of Asking started, we began to see some of each others' real insecurities and concerns.
Yielding to God’s will for our life was as natural as the praising. We always want to be in God’s perfect will. We have some experience being out of it and let me tell you it never turns out pretty. Part of praying is sitting back and listening to God and submitting to what He asks of you.
You might have noticed Repent was missing-- you could say we were PAYing instead of PRAYing. It wasn’t until about the 12th day of prayer that we began to bring Repentance into the picture. It can be challenging to repent of your sins out loud for another to hear, so it brings the trust in your relationship to a deeper level.
Individually in prayer we both know how to do each of these things but learning to pray together as a couple takes practice. Our joint prayer life was sort of like the child starting to develop in the womb during the first trimester: taking root and beginning the growth process. But by the end of the first trimester, your baby is fully formed. Your baby has arms, hands, fingers, feet, and toes and can open and close its fists and mouth and the risk of miscarriage drops dramatically. Similarly, our prayer life is maturing and becoming fuller as we allow one another a glimpse into the heart we share with God.
As important as the beginning of a pregnancy is though, any practitioner worth his/her salt will emphasize to a woman how important it is for her baby to be carried to full-term and our prayer habits are no different. Even if starting a new habit of praying together yields no dramatic, immediate changes in your married life, the more you do it, a richer, more mature prayer life will be developed. So don't be discouraged if you don't feel like it's "working" or you don't feel any closer to your spouse right away--the more faithfully and consistently you practice praying together and the more intentional you are about opening up to one another, your relationship with God and your spouse will benefit.
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