One of the most imperative things you can do with your spouse (this could also apply to a long-term boyfriend/girlfriend or fiancée/fiancé) is spending regular, quality “God time” with him or her. Doing so will strengthen and deepen your faith, and draw you closer to each other as you draw nearer to God.
What does this entail, you might ask? It can include a certain amount of Bible reading, discussion and reflection, and praying together. I’ve decided to “peel back the layers” of my own personal life and show you how my wife Darien and I will set aside a dedicated portion of our evenings (of both weekdays and weekend days) to pursue God together as any Christian married couple should.
Here is our normal structure for our God time habit – how we as a married couple pray and read the Bible together:
Our Nightly Routine
1. Reading Discussion – First, we will go over mutually agreed-upon reading material. What precisely we cover during this block of our evening can vary greatly, but we will typically cover Christian books, Bible studies, or individual chapters of the Bible themselves.
Examples of reading topics have been marriage and theology books; separate, in-depth studies on Romans, Acts, and Revelation; and days where we simply jump into a book of the Bible (such as Proverbs or the Gospel of Matthew) and just read out loud a chapter a day. The majority of the time, Darien and I take turns reading out of the source material and then discourse about the topics and themes and how we apply them to our lives.
Time devoted to this can be 20 to 30 minutes in length (or even longer, if the discussion warrants it).
2. Daily Devotionals – Although reading devotionals have been around for centuries, my wife and I both think that the YouVersion Bible app has really elevated this method of Bible study and reflection to amazing new heights. We’re both crazy about the app, and use it to both individually and jointly dig into devotional plans. The duration of YouVersion’s featured devo series can range from 4, 5, or 7 days all the way up to 21 and 30 days and beyond, and we’ve both covered dozens of these devotionals on numerous themes and subjects.
3. “Praying the Bible” – This is one of the most unique concepts that we’ve integrated into our prayer and study time. What is “praying the Bible,” you might ask? Well, it is selecting a book of Scripture, and breaking it into manageable “chunks” of 6, 8, or 10 verses. We’ll recite the verses verbatim out loud in that particular passage chunk, and then immediately go into prayer to God by paraphrasing what we had just read in our own words. The following evening, we’ll pick up where we left off and read the next passage, and then pray through it.
I can’t tell you how wonderful it is to do this, as it compels us to run Scripture through the filter of our own personal experiences. For instance, David’s lamenting about his enemies in various Psalms can be the catalyst for us to cry out to God in a similar manner with passionate pleas about our own struggles. Or David’s exuberant praises to the Lord will make us reflect on the majesty of God and thank Him for all he’s done in our lives.
Some books of the Bible aren’t really conducive to this approach of prayer application (doing this in most of Numbers or Leviticus will fail, for instance), yet Psalms and Paul’s epistles work quite beautifully.
Try this out yourself for several nights. It may take a few days to learn how to smoothly pray through passages, but once you get the hang of it, you’ll find it to be a cool, fresh approach to applying the Word of God to your life.
4. Bible Verse Memorization – Many times we’ll grab a verse or two of Scripture that floored us and make it our “Bible Verse of the Week.” We’ll make an effort to recite to each other every night.
5. Prayer Time – My wife and I will conclude our routine by praying together. We will take turns praying for a vast assortment of subjects, which include, but it is not limited to, ourselves, our marriage, our children, or our extended families, our churches, and the propagation of the Gospel of Jesus Christ all over the world.
Darien may or may not realize this when listening to me pray every night, but I actually use the skeletal framework of the Lord’s Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) on which to base all of my petitions: adoration and exaltation, consecration and surrender, supplication, and requests, intercession, and protection and a call to spiritual warfare.
We used to keep a running prayer list in a shared document on Google Docs and add to it throughout the day when prayer requests and needs arose. It was a bit cumbersome to use at times, but still effective enough as a prayer reminder aid.
Since then, we’ve switched to the robust and much more manageable Echo smartphone prayer app. In this app, we’ll break the prayer topics into separate lists, including short-term requests and long-term petitions. I highly recommend you try this out for yourself to keep track of people and things to pray about. Echo also has the handy ability to share prayer lists with others in groups you set up, so this could be used by spouses, whole families, or even church groups.
Want to add a similar prayer and reading time to you and your spouse’s daily routines? Here are some helpful tips:
Come with a humble, teachable heart – Check your egos at the door. Both the husband and the wife should be open and honest and come at this with an attitude that you are far from perfect, and that the Holy Spirit could always have something to teach one or both of you.
Get as few interruptions as you can – It’s best that if you adopt a similar routine, that you execute it at a time when you will have minimal interruptions. First thing in the morning or close to bedtime seems to be the best for most married couples with children. My wife and I will tackle our own routine towards the end of the night.
Make the time – For Darien and me, going through this all takes roughly one hour. It’s well worth every minute we spend. For you and your partner to do this, kill TV or social media time if you have to (really, they’re giant, unnecessary time-sucks). Since Darien and I aren’t TV watchers, creating this time together with God is a much workable effort.
Commit and apply this to your life – If you integrate any of these into you and your partner’s own joint prayer and reading lives, commit yourselves to tackle these every single day. Keep one another accountable for making this happen.
Yes, there are admittedly nights when our prayer and study routine just ain’t gonna happen. Kids, errands, evening activities, travel, and flat-out being exhausted from a long, strenuous workday will force us to do an abbreviated version of this practice; or, in rare cases, skip it altogether. Thankfully, Darien and I are dedicated to making this whole thing a nearly indispensable habit, and we can accomplish the entire routine six nights out of any given seven.
If you personally happen to miss one evening due to circumstances out of your control, make sure you two jump right back into the groove the very next night.
Make Sure Your Own Relationship with Christ is Absolutely Central to Your Life
The benefits of your spouse and you drenching yourselves in God’s Word and prayer are almost unfathomable. It builds a closeness that you can detect from day one.
Yet even though your covenant marriage to your spouse is the most important earthly, human relationship, your relationship to God the Father through His Son is even more vital. You could do all of the above things with your husband or wife, thinking that using them as some sort of holy “checklist” that will impart some kind of an instant, magical, happy fix on a struggling marriage. And maybe you both may go beyond this “going through the motions” checklist approach a tad by exerting a little heartfelt sincerity into the proceedings. But unless you truly make the Lord Jesus Christ the undisputed King and Master of your life, things will still be off-kilter and God won’t work through you as fully as He could otherwise.
- You are indeed a Christian and are saved by receiving God’s free gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ. Confess to God that you are a sinner in need of saving, and believe that Jesus died on the cross for your sins and that He rose from the dead. Read my article How You Can Know Christ for more information on this.
- Set aside a time every day for personal prayer and Bible reading. Yes, without the spouse. Just you and God. It’s great to spend time with your husband or wife pursuing God, but it’s even more crucial that you give God a regular, one-on-one, daily dedication by seeking Him with your whole heart. Bring your prayers and petitions to God, ask Him to speak to you through His Word, and seek out true satisfaction in His holy presence. Thank Him for the blessings He’s given you and your family, and go to Him and trust Him during rough patches in your life.
- Worship our Lord not only with our words but with our actions. Throughout the day, praise both Him audibly and in your heart (as Colossians 3:16 closes, “…singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God”), and also let your works and interactions with others glorify God and shine the light and love of Jesus in all you do.
- Fellowship with other Christians at a good, Bible-believing church. Be there to encourage others and be encouraged.
Discuss this blog post with your spouse and look to integrate some of these ideas into your own lives. With humble hearts that are sincere and loving Christ, coming together in prayer and Bible reading will have both of you experiencing a full, rich sense of intimacy of which you’ve never dreamed before.