The wake of the Ashley Madison scandal has left many marriages traumatized. Church members have discovered the indiscretions of their pastors. Wives and husbands have discovered the infidelity of their spouses. It’s not that we didn’t know even Christians often struggle to remain faithful to their marriage vows. But the sheer volume of data that was hacked and suddenly available publicly has left many somewhat stunned.
There is no easy answer to the problem of marital infidelity. There is no guarantee that your spouse will not fall into some such sinful behavior, or that you yourself will not be sorely tempted. We are each fallen human beings. There is no hierarchy of sins with God. We are all in need of a Savior – today and every day until Jesus returns to take us home.
But that doesn’t mean you are helpless, or hopeless. You may wonder if your own marriage is destined for failure. While there are always many factors involved, I can point to some strong research showing you how to save your marriage with prayer.
Prayer provides a level of insulation against the common human vulnerabilities leading to marital infidelity. In a study of several hundred participants, those who were assigned to pray daily for their partner exhibited more relationship commitment than those who were only assigned to thinking good thoughts about their partner. And those who were praying also developed deeper levels of satisfaction with their relationship.
Another study demonstrated even more impact. Those who were assigned to pray daily for their partner engaged in less “romantic activity” outside the relationship than those who did not pray daily. What was even more fascinating was that this decrease in outside romantic activity held true regardless of whether or not the person praying was satisfied with their relationship, or had previously been unfaithful.
In this same study, outside observers could tell the difference. Other people rated those who were praying for their partner as more committed to their relationship, even though they didn’t know who was praying and who wasn’t.
One more things was interesting. Those individuals who believed their relationship was sacred showed the biggest impact of daily praying for their partner.
I don’t know how many, if any, of those exposed in the Ashley Madison scandal were praying daily for God to bless their spouse. Perhaps there are some who were. But if the studies mentioned above are any indication, praying daily for your spouse is a powerful protective factor in guarding your heart against infidelity (even if it’s not a guarantee).
Praying For Your Spouse
If studies going on for only a matter of weeks can demonstrate an increase in commitment among those who pray daily for their partner, how much greater might that impact be if you pray daily for your spouse day after day, year after year?! Many couples who have made the commitment to pray daily with and for each other report better communication, less conflict, and deeper intimacy.
Here are a few times and ways to pray in your marriage, at a minimum:
- Pray for your spouse alone. In your own private time with God, ask Him to bless your spouse. Talk to God about anything you know your spouse is struggling with. Doing so not only gives God a wide open door to work in your spouse’s life, but it also makes your own heart softer and more aware of how you might support your spouse.
- Pray together with your spouse. If you’re not used to praying together, start slow, but take the plunge. Take your spouse’s hand, and just talk to God for a few moments out loud. Share something from your own heart. It may feel vulnerable, but couples who do this report their intimacy is often much deeper.
- Pray for your spouse in their presence. As you become a little more comfortable praying together, lift up your spouse to God out loud in their presence. Let them hear you seek God on their behalf. Unselfishness, bitterness, and conflict have a way of melting away when you hear your spouse praying for you.
Will praying daily for your spouse guarantee the perfect marriage? Probably not. You can’t control your spouse, and it takes two committed people to make marriage work.
But I can guarantee your level of commitment and satisfaction will be greater. And the chance of either you or your spouse being caught in the trap of another Ashley Madison scandal will be much, much less.
P.S. I’m sure someone reading this will feel as though daily prayer is too superficial a response to the huge problem of infidelity and lack of sexual integrity. I fully acknowledge that this is a huge topic, and no one factor can fix it all. I’m only pointing out the research demonstrating the powerful effect of daily prayer for your partner. You can’t go wrong giving that a try!
Your Turn: Do you pray for your spouse daily? What benefits, if any, have you seen? Leave a comment below.
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