The Hold & Pray Technique
Couples Praying Together Improves Their Relationship
I’ve heard some amazing stories from couples that have improved their relationship. These stories are about healing from affairs, separations, disconnection and even divorce.
I always ask, “What made the biggest impact?”
One of the most common answers is that they committed their relationship to God. They started to invite Him into their marriage.
We find that 63% of couples that are going through our program don’t pray together frequently. The good news is that 84% would like to pray together more often.
So, they build praying together into their regular habits.
I’m not sure if I need studies to tell me that prayer is a good thing, but somehow it’s great to hear how prayer impacts relationships. For example, there was a study that found that praying together increased trust.1 I guess that makes sense. I hadn’t thought through the correlation between the two.
Another study found that couples that that used prayer as a conflict resolution tactic experienced relationship softening and a positive change in attitude.2
That makes sense. When we pray, it softens our heart and decreases our desire to be right. It can help us to see our partner’s perspective.
A technique that we suggest is what we call the “Hold and Pray”.
We combine physical touch and prayer together.
If you haven’t done this, start with just holding each other for one minute. As you hold each other, say a prayer. When you are able to do this for a minute, add another minute. Use a timer if you need to.
Some couples don’t know what to pray. Start with gratitude. What do you appreciate? What are you thankful for? Then, just pray about what’s on your mind.
It says in I Peter 5:7, “Cast all your anxiety on Him because He cares for you.”
Do this together!
My wife and I often start the day this way. We hold each other in bed and pray for each other’s day.
When we first explained this tactic, we later had a couple tell us about their experience. They had been disconnected for a long time. When they first tried it, they found that a minute was difficult to do. As they continued to do it, it became easier and they were able to lengthen the time.
They said that this simple technique helped them to rebuild their connection with each other. They started to put God into the center of their relationship. It also softened their hearts towards each other. It helped them to open up with one another.
Since that time, we have heard the same story from many other couples. This simple tactic can help you to draw closer to each other and closer to God.
That’s double good!
Tips for Marriage Mentors:
- Ask couples if they pray together – Many couples may not be in the habit of praying together.
- Ask them if they want to – Most couples would like to pray together.
- Suggest the “hold and pray” technique – Give this technique a try. It’s worked for a number of couples.
1 Lambert, N. M., Fincham, F. D., Lavallee, D. C., & Brantley, C. W. (2012). Praying together and staying together: Couple prayer and trust. Psychology of Religion and Spirituality, 4(1), 1-9.
2 Mark H. Butler, Julie A. Stout & Brandt C. Gardner (2010) Prayer as a Conflict Resolution Ritual: Clinical Implications of Religious Couples’ Report of Relationship Softening, Healing Perspective, and Change Responsibility, The American Journal of Family Therapy, 30:1, 19-37