Many Christian couples have asked me when it is appropriate to start praying together. That’s a tricky question. One the one hand, I don’t see biblical commands prohibiting believers from praying together. But I also believe praying can play a powerful part in drawing a couple together (something they should be very careful with).
I don’t think there is anything wrong with quick prayers over meals or in public. What I’m talking about in this post is couples that spend long periods of time praying together alone.
If you are in a newer dating relationship, here are some cautions to think through before you start praying together alone for long periods of time.
1. Praying together can build spiritual intimacy before your relationship is ready.
Praying with someone you are dating can be a powerful way of building spiritual intimacy. After praying together alone, many couples will feel a deeper connection to each other. Early on in a relationship this could make a couple feel like they have a deeper connection than they really do.
For the same reasons couples should avoid physical intimacy before the right time, they should avoid spiritual intimacy. It can muddy the waters and lead you to see the wrong things in each other at the wrong times.
2. Praying together can be used to deceive, manipulate and even woo.
Is your prayer life the same in public and private? Hopefully so. But for many Christians it can be a struggle to keep a regular private prayer time. This is a hard truth, but God is more interested in our real, authentic relationship with Him than how well we’ve learned to keep up appearances. And at the risk of sounding like Judgy McJudgerson, let me warn that some people use the trappings of spiritual depth to win a person’s heart.
Beware of people who seem to be proud or boastful about their own spiritual life. They may be showing you what they think you want to see.
3. A person’s private prayer life is much more important than their public prayer life.
Those public prayers may be evidence of deep, solid faith, or they may be an imitation of the real thing. Early on in a relationship, it’s important to regularly ask God to show you his/her real character. Who a person is when they are alone is who they really are. Don’t get swept up by the outward demonstrations of faith, but pay attention to how they spend their time when no one’s watching. Do they do some things when there are others around to impress them, but not when they are alone?
Like children eager to do adult things, sometimes in relationships we feel like we are ready for more before we are. We sometimes need wisdom and counsel from others to determine what we are ready for. We simply can’t trust ourselves to make decisions in a vacuum.
I recommend saving prayer together until later in the relationship. Let your spiritual intimacy from praying together grow with your relationship, not be the reason your relationship grows. Praying together could build spiritual intimacy before you’ve had a chance to determine if this is a person you want to build that intimacy with.
Keep praying for your relationship and keep the wisdom of trusted mentors and friends flowing unto your heart and mind.