Whether you’ve just got together or been married for many years, at some point you may have been encouraged to set time aside for a daily devotional for couples. While connecting over God’s Word and sharing your heart in prayer sounds wonderful, it can sometimes be a little awkward. (Or is that just me?)
As Christians, we understand the importance of daily devotions. We hear about great men and women of God who set aside time each morning to meditate on God’s Word, spend time in His presence, and pray with Him. We admire their discipline and enjoyment of something we all know we need more of. Still, so many of us struggle to do devotions ourselves.
While it’s good to follow the example of these spiritual giants in our lives, we must also remember that they, like us, worked on that discipline by beginning small. Running, eating well and feeding your soul through devotions are all excellent habits that must start somewhere.
It’s not always easy
Marriage is a beautiful, God-designed relationship used to reflect God’s glory to the world. That’s why it is frequently attacked and can be put under pressure due to busyness or conflict. The spiritual dimension of this relationship is equally vulnerable.
Philip J. Swihart and Wilford Wooten are Focus on the Family counsellors who contributed to the Dalys’ Best Year of Your Marriage Devotional. In the introduction, they explain, “The spiritual dimension of your relationship can be a point of contention, too. This often forms fertile ground for spiritual attack by an enemy who would love to destroy a relationship that God has blessed as holy.”
The value of doing devotions as a couple is that it keeps you together in the face of spiritual attacks. They continue:
“It gives you and your spouse a way to spend special time together, talking about important things, thinking about God’s Word, praying, and taking action to strengthen and recharge your relationship.”
7 great tips to help you stick to a daily devotional for couples
1. Keep it simple
There are lots of great devotionals around at the moment. Here are some recommendations.
The most basic format for a devotional includes prayer, Scripture reading and reflection on those verses, perhaps ending with another prayer. You are not required to read commentaries or engage in lengthy theological debates. The goal of this discipline is to set aside time for you and your partner to talk with God and strengthen your spiritual relationship with God and with one another. It does not have to be challenging to be valuable.
2. Make it work for you
Despite being marriage experts and writers of a couples devotional themselves, Les and Leslie Parrott talk candidly in their book about how difficult it was to find a devotional that worked for them:
“We know and admire couples who open their Bibles together after breakfast, read a passage, share their secrets and kneel to pray. But that never seemed to be our style. We wake up at different times on different days. We don’t have the same routine every day. And, to be honest, we need an activity that doesn’t seem like a duty that hangs over our heads.”
So feel free to experiment to find out what works best for you. It could be in the morning or at night. It could be right after work and before dinner, or it could be only on Sunday evenings. There is no one right way, so be bold and try something that suits you.
3. Set realistic goals
Many of us will struggle to do our devotions every day. As a result, setting a goal of once a day may be too ambitious. You might be better off setting a weekly goal. Or perhaps you both do individual devotions and meet once a month. The more unrealistic your goals, the less likely you are to achieve them.
4. Make a plan and make it happen
What are some of your typical open times during the day? You might have to get up earlier. Your spouse may need to reschedule a portion of their day. You might have to decline something else. The goal here is to keep things loose around specific ‘opportunity points’ of a given day rather than to create the perfect timeslot.
5. Shut the door
This is a practical (but valuable) tip. First, teach your children that you are not to be disturbed when the door is closed for devotional times. I understand that is not always easy, especially when your kids are little, however, is a vital part of making space for a devotional time. This can also demonstrate to your children that spending time together in the Word is a private and essential part of marriage.
6. Allow yourself grace
Don’t beat yourself up if you miss a week, and don’t give up! Doing something is always preferable to doing nothing, even if it is infrequent at first. Get back on track and keep going.
This is especially important if you’re trying to figure out what works for you through trial and error. Of course, there will be times when schedules clash and busyness interferes, but you can always resume where you left off. The discipline of doing devotions will always be difficult. Still, the benefit of doing it as a couple is that you have built-in accountability to keep going.
7. Keep in mind the ultimate goal
Finally, it is critical to remember why you are doing this. It may even be beneficial for you to jot it down on a note in your devotional or post it on your refrigerator. The goal of this discipline is to bring you and your spouse closer together and closer to God, bringing Him glory through your relationship in the end. Don’t dismiss this as just another thing on your to-do list. Enjoy these moments together as you grow spiritually and strengthen the relationship God designed for you.