Obviously, prayer is a huge part of the life of a Christ follower. Some days, I don’t know how I could get through life if I was not able to carry my joy and sorrow to the Lord in prayer. You will never hear me (by the grace of God) tell someone that he or she should not pray; however, before a couple commits to marry each other, I would recommend that they exercise caution in spending too much time praying together. Of the spiritual intimacies discussed in this series, prayer is one of the most intimate spiritual experiences you can share with another person.
Whether or not dating couples should pray together is a touchy subject. Some people adamantly proclaim that praying together is incredibly important for dating couples because they need God’s guidance and direction in their relationship. I don’t disagree that couples need to constantly ask God to shower them with guidance and direction, but I am leery of dating couples sharing too much prayer time together. Both people need to be enjoying a rich prayer life on their own and praying for God to be glorified in their relationship; but, spending a lot of time praying together can lead to the following scenarios:
- Praying together can cause a dating couple (i.e., a couple still exploring a possible future with each other) to bond more quickly than is healthy.
- When we pray, we open up and share vulnerable areas of our hearts with the Lord. It’s not wise to share too many mysteries with a boyfriend or girlfriend until it’s clear that your relationship is heading to marriage.
- Praying together under certain circumstances may create tempting situations.
Just as I noted in the post in this series about reading the Bible together, praying together can cause a couple who is simply getting to know each other to form a tight bond that may not be in their best interest as not every relationship is meant to move forward to marriage. It’s not wise to date someone you would not consider marrying, but not every relationship, even godly relationships, move forward to marriage. If you believe the Lord is directing you to end your dating relationship, it will be much harder to do so once you and your boyfriend or girlfriend have bonded your hearts together through intimate (and especially consistent) times of prayer.
Prayer was never meant to be a shallow experience. When we go before the Lord, we confess sin and make our needs and desires known (at least, verbally – God already knows what we need), and sometimes we cry out to Him with our questions and frustrations. Prayer is a time of full disclosure. It’s a time when we pour our hearts out to God and hopefully a time when we quietly wait to hear Him speak to our hearts. If we allow someone to be involved in those times of prayer, we are placing a lot of trust in him or her. Would you walk up to a stranger and confess that you have a pornography addiction? Would you nonchalantly mention to your entire homeroom, dorm, or boardroom that you are dealing with gut wrenching regret over a past abortion or a sexually-centered relationship? If you invite your boyfriend or girlfriend into your uncensored prayer times, you are inviting him or her into the depths of your heart. Is your relationship ready for that?
Maybe you are wondering how in the world praying together can open couples up to tempting situations as mentioned above. Attending a Christian college, it was not uncommon to see couples praying together. I recall seeing a young man and woman sitting together at a table in the prayer garden. They were leaned in close together and holding hands. They didn’t appear to be doing anything wrong or immoral, but I wondered if prayer was their true motivation for holding onto one another or if they were simply looking for creative ways to be close to each other.
Prayer is often considered a private affair by many people, so it may be uncommon for people to sit outside in a public place to pray. With that being said, if you and your sweetheart spend a lot of time praying together that probably also means you are spending a lot of time alone together (unless you are praying together over some technological medium such as Skype, Google Hangouts, or FaceTime). When you pray with someone you care about – and with someone whom you are very attracted – you will probably want to hold hands. After you hold hands for a while, it will feel right to snuggle while you’re praying. Before too long, you may find that you aren’t praying at all. Opening up emotionally often leads to physical touch. This is one reason physical affairs tend to happen after a man and woman have given themselves to improper emotional bonding.
Prayer is important, and more than that, it’s a believer’s lifeline. We need to commune with our Heavenly Father. If you are in a dating relationship, I would recommend that you pray together occasionally, in a public place (i.e., somewhere you would not be physically tempted) and only holding hands (or not touching at all). Ask God to direct your relationship, but don’t spend a lot of time sharing the depths of your heart with each other in prayer which you would normally take before the Lord privately. There comes a time in relationships for raw, uncensored candor, but a dating relationship is not likely the time. Once you are confident that you are dating your future spouse and are (pre-engaged), you may then want to begin to share more intimate times of prayer (and still in a public place ~smile~).