Now before you shoot me, let me scream at the top of my lungs that “I believe in the power of prayer!” God has done too many amazing things in my life for me to believe otherwise. I know beyond the shadow of a doubt that prayer changes things! James 5:16 states it clearly, “Therefore, confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective.” But, just praying for your marriage may not be what God intends in order for it to succeed.
Why “Just” Praying For Your Marriage Doesn’t Work
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As a psychologist who works with couples every day, I have Christian couples often ask, “Why is my marriage stressful if we are both Christians and pray?” It’s a good question because intellectually, we believe that being a Christian and praying each night should be enough to make marriage (and life for that matter) work. Following are two reasons that’s simply not true.
Prayer is only half the battle
If you really take the time to think about it, you realize that it doesn’t make much practical sense that prayer alone is all that’s required. For example, do you believe that being a Christian and praying nightly will make you a great business owner, real estate agent, athlete, chef, etc. without also doing the work?
Of course not.
In order to be great at business, real estate, sports and cooking you have to put in the necessary work to develop and hone your skills. So what does the Bible say about hard work?
James 2:14-18 says “What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him? …Thus, also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works. Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.”
In this short passage, the word “works” appears five times. So, it appears to me that God commands believers to exhibit faith and works. In fact, our works serve as evidence of our faith. How does this apply to Christian marriage? I’ll answer your question with a question…
How does it benefit your marriage if you are praying but…
- Using abusive language towards your wife…?
- Haven’t been on a date with your spouse in months?
- Not having sex with your spouse so that your mutual intimacy needs can be met?
- Giving more attention to work, a smartphone, or social media versus your helpmate?
- You shut down, walk out on, or over talk your spouse while trying to resolve conflict?
The answer is obvious. It doesn’t. The real truth is that in order for your marriage to work, you must also behave as a Godly couple. This means that you must combine faith, prayer, and works. So what do I mean by works?
Actions speak louder than words
You have to follow God’s instructions on how to develop and maintain a Godly marriage. Specifically, you have to learn the necessary marital and relationship skills to successfully build the kind of communication, intimacy, quality time, and fellowship that defines a Godly marriage. Just praying for your marriage is unacceptable and only part of the equation when God is demanding you to take action!
- Didn’t Paul actually have to send letters and visit churches around the world to establish the Church?
- Didn’t Queen Esther have to actually coordinate that dinner to expose Haman to save her
- Didn’t Peter have to actually evangelize after betraying his savior three times?
The answer is yes, yes, and yes! And you must do the same. You must put in work on your marriage for it to succeed and combine that with the power of prayer. The question I have for you is when would be a good time for you to work on your marriage? I mean really work on your marriage by building up your relationship skills as a couple so that you can have a strong Godly marriage?
I want your marriages to thrive! But you must want it enough to combining Godly action with prayer. You don’t have to spend another night going to bed angry. Remember, God wants your marriage to thrive! Take the time to put into action the Biblical principles essential to a successful marriage. Then, couple your action with prayer and you will be on your way to achieving the blessed relationship that you desire.
BMWK, are you ready to do more than just pray for your marriage?
Editor’s Note: BMWK originally published this post on March 5, 2018. We have updated it for quality and relevancy.
About the Author: Dr. Alduan Tartt is a clinical psychologist with a focus on faith, mental health and relationships of all sorts (single, dating, marriage, family, sports, etc.). Dr. Tartt has a private practice and also speaks frequently at conferences, churches, organizations on improving relationships, families and mental health. Dr. Tartt also hosts radio and television shows and is a frequent guest on major media outlets. Dr. Tartt also counsels other healers and helpers (pastors, ministers, doctors, entertainers) who need to be encouraged, supported and filled up.