Should Christian couples pray together when they’re dating? It’s something that seems like the answer should be yes, but many people struggle to do it or are unsure. Often couples put it off until marriage, but then struggle to find a rhythm and then feel guilty. In part 1 of this post, I look at some of the reasons why some people say don’t do it, and why I disagree.
I remember standing in my kitchen doing the dishes and chatting with a friend I had had over for dinner. He was asking about my girlfriend. (This was when me and my now wife were not married and she was my girlfriend, just to clarify….) I mentioned that we were praying about something.
He seemed shocked that we prayed together. He’s a Christian, I am, and my girlfriend/wife (again, the same person) is a Christian. I thought I had misheard him. Then I was shocked that he was shocked.
He revealed that his sister said she never prayed with the person she was dating. She believed she should not rely on him for that in case they break up. So she would only pray with the person she marries.
After chatting a bit more, I realised their objections really came down to two things:
- Prayer can confuse emotions
Prayer Can Confuse Emotions
Prayer can stir up some powerful emotion
It’s true that prayer can stir up some powerful emotions. It can cause us to get really excited, really heartbroken, very animated, and everything in-between.
This is good, but sometimes these strong emotions mixed with intimate prayer with one person can make two people feel closer than they are.
So people who are dating can pray together and feel a connection that isn’t present in other areas of their relationship, and this can result in bad decisions or unstable foundations.
But Not Praying Isn’t The Answer
However, the answer isn’t to avoid praying. Because the same could be said when we pray with friends. People have told me that too much one on one prayer between them and a friend caused them to feel romantically close, which was unhelpful.
The answer for the dating couple, or anyone worried about this, is to pray with more than just one person and not just have one prayer partner. To not just pray together in intimate situations by candlelight (pun unintended). To pray in groups and not just one on one.
It should be part of a wider context of prayer
We need to pray on our own, with other friends, family, in church settings, etc. It should be part of a wider context of prayer, otherwise we may confuse the strong emotions prayer can stir up in us if its just one on one with the same person.
My friend and his sister also thought that praying with your girlfriend or boyfriend, relying on them in that way, could lead to hurt and spiritual damage if you then break-up.
It could affect your prayer life, so it is better to wait until you’re married and there is more stability.
Again, Not Praying Isn’t The Answer
I said to him that whether single or dating or married, we shouldn’t rely on anyone to do our spiritual work for us.
If we rely on our friend, church leader, girlfriend, or whoever, to make sure we pray or read the Bible or serve, then something is wrong. We need to be building our own rhythm and spiritual life.
Obviously, there are times when we struggle and we just need people to pray for us. And/or we can’t do it ourselves and just need help. We need to rely on the community. That’s okay. But relying on others totally and constantly to pray misses the point.
God is the constant in it all
Dating couples should be pointing each other to God and not themselves. Church leaders should point people to God and not themselves. Friends should point people to God and not themselves. So if they leave for whatever reason, God is the constant in it all. (Read 3 Simple Rules For Building A Healthy Dating Church Culture).
So Now What?
I always say, just pray.
Yes, we need to be aware of the concerns my friend raised, but really, any excuse or reason to pray more can only help. In our culture we are often time poor, so having another relationship that allows us to stop and connect with God must be good.
In part 2, we look at practical steps to praying as a dating couple. (Read Part 2 here.)
Imagine if we prayed more. If we looked past the guilt and things we haven’t done but should’ve, and just prayed more. Imagine if we could do this with the people we care about most?
Text a friend, or your girl/boyfriend, and say the next time you meet you want to pray. This may be something you do anyway, it may be something you’ve never done, but anything that brings God into our relationships more can’t be a bad thing.
Would you have any other concerns about praying with who you date? Comments welcomed below.