What is known is that prayer itself is a well-documented practice of ancient origins, and it is an action many people take every day, often several times per day. This article will explore the role of prayer in strengthening relationships, particularly among committed couples.
Prayer: What is It?
According to a 2014 Pew Research Center survey, 55 percent of Americans say that they pray every day. But what is prayer, precisely?
In the original Latin, the word prayer comes from the root word “precari.” Precari translates to mean “to ask earnestly, beg, entreat.” So in one sense, prayer can be thought of as having a conversation with God.
However, in different faith traditions, there may be more or less emphasis placed on the conversational aspect of prayer. In some religious orders of monks and nuns, for example, prayer is viewed as a form of silent communion with God where the focus is on listening rather than speaking.
What is most important is to develop a personal working definition of prayer to help you deepen your own prayer life. This can become particularly important when you become part of a couple and you begin to share this practice with your partner.
Does prayer really help?
The University of Rochester recently conducted a study focused on answering this question. The survey had two aspects: the prevalence of healing prayer and its results.
The prevalence is strikingly high. If you pray for recovery from illness for yourself and others, seek out doctors who will pray with you, and believe prayer is a remedy for all ailments, you are among the vast majority of adults today.
And in fact, when tested as a remedy for major illness (heart disease, terminal conditions), prayer delivered faster healing, lower need for medicine, fewer complications, and longer lives.
From these studies, the answer to this question seems to be that yes. Prayer really does help as evidenced by research studies such as this one, determining whether prayer aids in healing among patients.
Does Prayer Keep Couples Together?
To attempt to answer this question, let’s first establish what we do know about prayer.
– Prayer lowers stress.
– Prayer hastens healing (for self and others).
– Prayer boosts the immune system and improves health.
– Prayer increases wellbeing and joy.
– Prayer lengthens lifespan.
There is no doubt that lower stress, better health, more joy and personal wellbeing, and longer life are all positive attributes to bring into a relationship. Also, the desire and action of praying for others can offer them the same benefits of prayer that you are receiving.
Spending time in prayer when you are feeling stressed, sad, anxious, angry, or confused can inject some much-needed breathing room into a relationship conflict, giving both parties time to breathe, reflect, and seek support separately before you come back together to continue working through the conflict.
One study showed that the types of prayers can be fairly evenly divided into these 3 categories:
– Prayers for help.
Here again, statistically speaking, these are great attributes to bring into any type of relationship, especially a committed partnership. Seeking higher wisdom in times of need or crisis and offering gratitude for trials overcome are very valuable life and relationship skills to develop, even when they are not grounded in prayer.
Up until now, we have been looking at individual prayer within the context of an ongoing, committed relationship. The research and statistics to date suggest praying on any level can be a powerful tool to strengthen the self and to strengthen the relationship, as well.
But what about actually praying together as a couple? Would that improve the well-documented positive effects of prayer still further? Could prayer help a struggling relationship survive hard times that might devastate other couples?
According to relationship expert and television personality Dr. Phil, the answer is a resounding “yes.” In his book Relationship Rescue, Dr. Phil shares research related to couples prayer suggesting that praying together can reduce the potential of divorce from 1 in every 2 couples to 1 in every 10,000 couples.
This certainly seems to be evidence worth taking into consideration!
Another study published in the Journal of Marriage and Family highlights a reduction in divorce among couples that both attend church together and pray together.
So, all things considered, the evidence to date points towards prayer as a valuable source of stability in a romantic relationship.
Praying Together: How to do it correctly?
While there is no uniform agreement on exactly how to correctly pray together as a couple, relationship experts suggest these tips for couples prayer.
– Pray together daily.
– Keep it short and sweet.
– Use simple language.
– Look for small positive changes over time.
– Pray when you are apart from one another.
It is important to develop a couples prayer practice which resonates with both you and your partner. This may take time and patience on both your parts, along with flexibility and willingness to try new approaches to include both of you in prayer time.
In a culture rife with relationship conflict and high divorce rates, statistics support incorporating couples prayer as a tool to support you both in troubled times and to deepen your gratitude for the relationship.