Maybe our past story is yours as well. We spent 15 years of our marriage frustrated in not having a daily devotional time as a couple. For a reason we do not yet understand, it was hard for us to pray aloud in each other’s presence. We wanted this time of couple communion with our Lord, especially during crises, but try as we might to establish this discipline success eluded us.
A new chapter in our story finally began when we made a firm decision — no matter what — to begin our devotional in duet. What followed was like a bird struggling to hatch. But the habit was born, and with significant benefits. While the devil has constantly urged us to ease off or drop this practice, we have become more determined than ever not to give him the pleasure. Now we have become evangelistic about it.
Difficulties Become Challenges
According to our surveys, only a few couples have a consistent daily prayer or Bible reading time together. It is obvious that this habit is hard to begin and maintain. But we promise you the investment yields great dividends. To solve the toughest problems we suggest:
1) Make a covenant. Nothing this important can be treated casually, with a catch-as-catch-can approach. Admit the need for it, make a decision together — including all details — and promise each other before God that you will treat it as “top-sacred.”
2) Determine the schedule. To guarantee consistency, early morning was our only option. We had to get the jump on the kids, the morning routines, the phone and full days. Over the years Charlotte has sometimes worked outside the home, requiring of us an even earlier time and a deeper commitment.
Thankfully we have maintained this spiritual discipline. If a breakfast business meeting cannot be avoided, we agree upon a time for later that day.
In the event of an out-of-town trip, we plan the content before parting; although we are alone, we are together. We even continued the pattern during a seven-month period when Bob commuted and was away five out of seven days each week. We read on our own and then briefly talked and prayed on the phone. Our structure has had to be firm to produce the fruit we enjoy.
3) Set the place. A specific place becomes a special place. Take care to make it comfortable for both. Our place is the bed, leaning on recliner pillows against the headboard. Our reading lights are above us and our
coffee cups are close by. For both reading and praying, our bed has become our altar.
4) Agree upon content and approach. The Scriptures and prayer are the key ingredients. But how will you read the text (in what amount, where begin, how proceed)? If reading aloud, who will read? If a devotional guide is
followed, which one will be used? Will you keep a written prayer journal (later reference gives a record of answered prayers)? Who will pray first? Will your prayers be general or focused on specific, current needs? These
and other details should be predetermined, allowing you to begin without hesitation (you may be too sleepy to make decisions at the beginning of your devotional).
If it will help you, here is our approach: Often we have read through the entire Bible during the year. Because we believe we need the Scriptures in quantity, we have avoided plans that refer to a mere verse or short passage
(these are great for personal devotional times). The guides we use are designed for reading the entire Bible in a year (we suggest “Daily Walk” or The Daily Bible). Reading two to four Bible chapters per day is not too much. We each read silently, discuss application, and then mark the end of the passage with a date.
During our prayer time we share our personal requests and requests from others. We each pray aloud (we are convinced this is crucial). Initially our time investment was 20-30 minutes, but it varies.
5) Be creative. One December we felt less compulsion to read through the entire Bible the following year, so we spent twelve months in the Psalms and the Gospels. That year we read less but discussed more. Using different versions each year has also helped us. Or why not regularly supplement your Bible reading with outstanding devotional material from the classics as well as from extant authors? We have enjoyed that. Creativity is fun.
6) Be honest. It takes conscious effort to be honest. We made that decision. Once we agreed that our couple times had become dry. We felt we literally followed the children of Israel through the wilderness! But commitment has won out. It has also been tough to pray honestly. We have tried to be just as honest with each other, too — about our feelings, moods and our personal interpretation of Scripture. Many couples are tempted to use the Word and prayer to manipulate each other. One word about that: DON’T.
Daily Devotional Times Net Results
Meaningful rewards for us have been:
1) We have time together. We both tend to keep full schedules. You know the type, not wanting to miss anything. If it weren’t for our daily couple
devotionals, we might not see each other some days, or converse beyond greetings and chitchat. But our dedication to this devotional in duet guarantees at least a minimum time to share.
2) We daily touch base. Beyond mere time with each other, our daily worship has allowed us to check each other out for moods, joys, struggles, victories, concerns, and insights. Before this discipline, we didn’t know
each other as deeply.
3) God gets equal time. So many ungodly and mundane impressions bombard our conscious and subconscious minds each day. Without a specific time and place of worship, God may not be speaking to us.
Our strongest temptations to skip a day have always come when we most needed a word from God. This daily direction is vital for us, individually and as a couple. Even now God doesn’t get the amount of our time he deserves.
4) We experience intimacy at a new level. Marital intimacy is more than a sexual relationship. Actually, communication is real intimacy. While it is true that sexual union is an “unspoken language” and a pinnacle of
communication, there is more to intimacy. In deep spiritual sharing from the Word and in prayer we learn just how intimate and tender are the things of God, how our spirits are akin to God’s. We have personally discovered how a husband and wife desperately need shared spiritual intimacy.
5) We role model for our children. Our three children learned from our example how valuable a daily time with God was for us. Even though they understood the importance of a devotional time for the entire family, they perceived our devotional in duet as a special time for mom and dad. We did not intentionally plan to use our practice as a teaching tool for our children, but this was the serendipity. It has been special to hear them say to their own children, “We are going to have our devotional time now.”
6) We grow together spiritually. One partner in marriage often outgrows the other. While devotional in duet does not guarantee that couples will grow at the same rate, it certainly encourages mutual growth. By reading and sharing Scripture, each can become a mentor (or devil’s advocate) for the other. Sharing current questions or concerns results in communication and
Marriages are in trouble. We are convinced couple devotional time is one of the best preventions and therapies available. This practice could begin a revolution in our Christian homes. Why not turn off the TV for thirty minutes, or put the newspaper aside, and join us?
Bob and Charlotte Mize live in Colorado Springs, Colorado where Bob serves as Associate Pastor of Adult Ministries for Sunnyside Christian Church. They have been married 40 years, have three adult children and four grandchildren. Both Bob and Charlotte are prolific writers.
Charlotte has had three books published and Bob’s writings have appeared in over 30 journals/periodicals. They have a special heart call for helping burned out ministers/missionaries, and are popular conference and retreat speakers. A revision of this article, designed for pastor couples, was published by Focus on the Family as “Two Part Harmony,” appearing in “The Pastor’s Family” magazine. They may be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.