Can Praying Improve Your Marriage?
Can praying improve your marriage? If your relationship has hit a rough patch and you're not sure where to turn, you may find prayer can help guide you through a challenging time in your relationship.
Consider seeking guidance from spiritual or church leaders you respect. If you follow a particular religious tradition, you may find it helpful to talk to your church leaders, ministers, or spiritual counsellors and find out if they offer any counselling programs available for individuals or couples.
Is there a right way and a wrong way to pray for your marriage? I believe that opening yourself up to the power of prayer is a step in the right direction towards bringing more peace and contentment into your life. Everyone is different--we each have our own reasons for praying. Some people already make prayer a part of their everyday routine. They may attend church on a regular basis or they may belong to an organized religious community. Other people may not follow a specific religion but still see themselves as spiritually connected to the world around them.
There is no right way to pray for your marriage but there are some things you can do that will likely help you find peace and contentment through prayer much more easily.
1. Be grateful: When praying, always give thanks for all the blessings you do have in your life and for the things you appreciate about your marriage and your partner. When you express your gratitude for what you do love about your partner and your marriage, you naturally bring more of those things good into your life. Giving thanks is a way to focus on the positive aspects of your life and in doing so, you'll realize that you already have so much of what you're looking for!
2. Be open-minded: Sometimes people think that praying means creating a wish-list of what you want God to do for you: make you richer, give you a new job, help you win the lottery. Praying isn't about deciding that you know what is best for your life and then telling God what you want him to do about it. Instead, praying is about having faith that when you ask God for help, He will be the one who knows what is best for you and for the world around you. For example, instead of asking God to stop your separation from turning into a divorce, pray for strength, courage, patience, and acceptance, no matter what happens. Praying may not stop 'bad' things from happening. But prayer can give you the spiritual strength to deal with life's ups and down with dignity and grace.
3. Focus on yourself and not on trying to change your partner. Asking God to change someone else's behavior is like snitching on that person. And in essence, when you tell God about all the things you want fixed about your partner, you are telling Him that you have better judgement, that you know better than He how people should act. Imagine how arrogant you must sound when you tell God how unhappy you are someone He created!
Gentle reminder: Prayer can be a peaceful, soothing way to help you feel more committed to your marriage and to making things work with the one you love. That said, if you are in an abusive relationship, whether your partner is physically or emotionally abusive, seek professional support and guidance. Some relationships can't, and shouldn't be salvaged, especially when violence and abuse is involved. Physical violence and abuse is never OK.
Prayer works because it can make you feel more hopeful about the future, more at peace with the present, and more forgiving of the past.
Thich Nhat Hanh's book The Energy of Prayer: How to Deepen Your Spiritual Practice is a light and enjoyable read and perfect for anyone who wants to add a deeper spiritual dimension to lives through prayer. His book reminds us that "Prayer can be an open, inclusive and accessible practice that helps create healthy lives through the power of awareness and intention."
There are many positive benefits to praying when your life is feeling upside-down. If you’re feeling sad, angry, or depressed about something going on in your marriage or relationship, prayer is a gentle way to help you let go of negative emotions and fully experience life in the here and now.
Prayer helps you focus on the well-being of others. Sending warm thoughts to others who are hurting or in need shifts your attention away from your own problems so that you can be of service or assistance to others. Sending prayers to the one you love, whether the prayers are silent or openly expressed, increases your connection to your partner. This helps reduce the feelings of isolation and loneliness that can creep in when you're feeling stressed and anxious about your relationship.
Prayer increases your capacity to forgive others. People who are able to forgive others who have hurt them are able to free themselves from unnecessary pain and internal strife. Forgiveness is an important part of finding your way past and argument or upset. If you are holding onto something from the past that you haven't forgiven your partner for yet, perhaps that's where your prayer can offer the most hope for healing.
Prayer leads to acceptance. The greatest cause of internal unrest and unhappiness is struggling against things that you can't control. Prayer helps you learn how to accept what is rather than obsessing about what you think should be. One of the things many people struggle with in a relationship is their belief that they can somehow change someone. A successful marriage isn't about changing someone into the person you want that person to be. A successful marriage is about accepting one another just as you both are.
Pray when things are going well in your relationship. Praying can help heal the pain of loss and disappointment. But even if you aren’t feeling sad or blue, praying is still a good daily practice that can help improve your relationship by simply broadening your definition of what it means to be happy and content.
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© 2016 Sadie Holloway
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