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The Blessing of Having a Husband Who Won't Pray with His Wife

WHAT??!!!   Did you read that right?  Surely, I’ve GOT to be kidding!
Let me start by saying:
I believe that husbands SHOULD pray with their wives.  I believe it is their God-given responsibility to do so  – if they are believers in Christ.  I believe husbands will be accountable to God for their spiritual leadership – which I believe includes praying with their wives and children and teaching their families the Word of God as well as living out a godly example every day.
But what is a wife to do if this is not happening?
Hang with me, ladies.  This gets really good.
I used to be REALLY upset about the fact that we didn’t pray together.  I longed for my husband to pray with me and resented every day that passed that he didn’t do it.  I wanted us to be close to each other and close to God.  What could be more beautiful, godly, intimate, holy, intoxicating and powerful than praying together as a couple?
Unfortunately, MOST Christian husbands and wives don’t pray together.  I wish we all did. I think we all should.  But reality is that a lot of husbands can’t or won’t pray with their wives for a variety of reasons.
Sometimes our husbands don’t pray with us because we intimidate them, criticize them, condemn them, judge their spirituality, act holier-than-thou, take over control of the marriage, disrespect them, rebel against their God-given leadership or react negatively when our men DO try to lead spiritually in some way.(For more about this – check out this post )
I can ask my husband for what I want.  And I do – now – but sparingly, respectfully and with a pleasant tone of voice and a smile.  I ask him to pray about specific needs with me a few times a month – and he is always willing now if I ask him. (Each marriage and stage in marriage will be different – so pray and seek God’s wisdom about if you ought to approach your husband at all, or how often)
When I first started learning respect and submission, I had to follow I Peter 3:1-2 and be silent about spiritual things, including prayer – after so many years of trying to MAKE my husband do what I wanted him to do.  He needed time to hear God’s voice for himself. I fully understand now that I can’t MAKE him do what I want him to do.  And that is actually a very good thing.  God gave us all a free will.  Part of being a strong leader is a man makes his own choices and decisions.
He is not always going to do things my way.  Now, I know that is a huge blessing!.  His ways are often much better than my ways – it turns out!
He may not always do things God’s way – that is part of having a human, sinner as a leader.
But I can still put all my hope, faith and trust in my Lord that He in His amazing sovereignty will work things out for my best and for His glory because I love Him and am called according to His purpose (Romans 8:28-29).  And I can respond in obedience to God’s Word for me regardless of my husband’s behavior.  Even if my husband sins or makes mistakes, my Lord is big enough, powerful enough and “sovereign enough” to turn those evil things into something good because I trust Him.
  • Now, I have laid down my expectations.   I don’t expect my husband to pray with me.  I don’t demand that he pray with me.  I am thankful for what he gives to me in our relationship – and I graciously (by the power of God in me) accept when he does not do things I would like.
  • My goal is to be receptive to God’s Spirit, my husband’s leadership, to be a safe place for him to know that he won’t be criticized or judged and to make sure I am abiding in Christ and praying for my husband fervently and passionately myself.
  • It takes MANY years for a man to become a godly leader.  I must be patient for God to work in my husband and focus on what God wants to do in ME!
  • I also keep in mind that scripture never says, “Husbands must initiate prayer with their wives.”  I also can’t find a verse that commands husbands to pray with their wives.  I think it is clearly implied!  But I have to be very careful about my expectations and what I label as sin or about coming across as being spiritually superior, self-righteous or condemning and critical.  Nothing will turn off a husband faster to spiritual things than  catching a whiff of those prideful, self-righteous attributes.
  • I have prayer sisters!  I get to pray with my Christian prayer partners and watch God at work together.  It is AMAZING!  I would strongly recommend that wives pray about finding a godly mentor wife and prayer partner.
  • I am free to grow in Christ – I do not have to “wait for my husband.”  I am to work out my own salvation with fear and trembling and trust God to work in my husband.  The closer I am to Christ, the MORE respectful, kind, gracious and merciful I will be to my husband – and that will influence him to  draw nearer to God, too.
  • I now know that I can have total access to God’s will when I am trusting in my God.  My husband cannot thwart God’s plans for me.  My husband cannot take me out of the sovereignty of God.  God is powerful and sovereign and will accomplish His purposes in my life whether my husband prays with me or not.  My faith is in my Lord alone!
  • I also know that there are MANY aspects to spiritual leadership that go way beyond whether my husband is initiating prayer.  And many of those things – demonstrating love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control, obeying God’s Word, being filled with the Spirit of God – are MUCH more important and vital than whether he initiates prayer or not.  I believe a husband can be a strong, godly, spiritual leader as long as he is tuned into God HIMSELF.  Praying together would be great.  But it does not mean our husbands are spiritual failures if they don’t grab us by the hand and have a daily prayer time with us.  Check out my youtube video about this if you’d like!
If he prays with the wrong motive or prays for the wrong reason(s) – that is sin – it is for wives, too, of course!
Ways that him praying with you could be sin:
– to please you
– to make you feel better
– to make himself look more spiritual than he really is
– to be heard by you
– to lecture you
– to manipulate you
– if his heart is not in it, if he is not actually intimate with God, it is hypocrisy
– doing it just because you want him to will not bring you satisfaction and it will not honor God
If a husband is not praying to God on his own – he probably has no business praying to God with his wife.  He needs to have his own strong relationship with Christ independently first.
I think that this particular issue is actually quite clear in Scripture – that when we pray to be seen or heard by people (if our motives are not pure) – God is NOT pleased and will NOT hear our prayers.
Matthew 6:5-6 – And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by men.  I tell you the truth, they have received their reward in full.  But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, Who is unseen.  Then your Father, Who sees what is done in secret, will reward you.
I don’t think this excludes praying together in small groups or as a couple or corporately.  But I think that our motives for prayer matter greatly to God.  If a husband only prays with his wife to placate her – but is not right in his relationship with God – it is a pretty useless activity.
It can be a blessing for a godly wife when her ungodly husband (or a husband with ungodly motives at the time) won’t pray with her:
  • He would do more harm than good if he did.
  • She needs to learn to depend solely on Christ, not her husband.  This issue can sometimes reveal that a wife has her husband as an idol, or has his praying with her or his spirituality or his sinlessness as an idol in her heart.

I am SO glad God gave me time to learn to depend on Him alone!

Besides his prayers being fruitless, not honoring to God and not be heard by God – when a husband is not right with God and is living in his own flesh:
  • he may use prayer as an opportunity to try to humiliate his wife before God
  • he may use prayer to criticize his wife’s faults and flaws
  • he may pridefully brag about himself before God and his wife, bringing God’s opposition against him
  • he may use prayer to try to manipulate his wife into doing what he selfishly wants
  • he may claim something is “God’s will” just to try to get her to go along with it when it really is not God’s will at all
  • he may be cruel, critical and belittling to his wife as he “speaks to God”  because he is not full of God’s Spirit
  • he may be arrogant and try to make himself look better and more spiritual than his wife


Something that is much worse than having a husband who won’t pray with you is having a carnal/sinful husband who WILL pray with you in ways that dishonor God and seek to control, disrespect and manipulate you.


What we as wives want – is for our husbands to be strong men of God, thriving and growing and vibrant in their walks with Him. We want them to pray in private by themselves and come from a place of spiritual strength and to be filled with God’s Spirit – and then to pray with us.  Not praying to go through the motions or to look spiritual, but husbands who are genuinely living with Christ as Lord and totally submitted and yielded to Him.
This desires we have for our husbands  to be close to God and to be spiritually one with us are God-given desires.  And they are God’s will.  So we can pray and know that God will cause these prayers to be answered in His time, in His way, by His power and for His glory –  when we are praying with proper respect and reverence for God, our husband’s authority and proper motives.
And we can speed the answers along a bit by our obedience to respect our husbands and cooperate with their God-given leadership.  But it may be YEARS before we see our prayers answered.   There are going to be times, if we believe our husbands are far from God and acting in disobedience, that we practice I Peter 3:1-2.  That is what will bring them closer to God.
I pray for God’s wisdom for each of us about approaching our husbands about praying together. There are times when I believe it is good and important for us to ask for what we desire, “Honey, I have an idea. I want us to start praying together every day. Would now be a good time?” There are also times when God will prompt us to be quiet and pray and wait. I pray for each of us to be sensitive to God’s leading and prompting!

28 thoughts on “The Blessing of Having a Husband Who Won't Pray with His Wife

  1. Good post, April!

    I wrote back in April 2012 to husbands about why praying with their wives is a REALLY good idea… and how it will improve intimacy between them.

    I also know how difficult this is for many men. A huge number of men out there allow their wives to be the spiritual leaders in their homes, and praying makes them feel inferior to their wives. Is this right? Absolutely not. But it IS the way they feel. I know this because I was right there with them.

    It was (and sometimes still is) a struggle to work through this and pray with my wife. She needs me to pray with her, and to LEAD her in this way. I believe it’s how God made the man and wife. But as I exercise that muscle, it gets stronger. Men just need to make a concerted effort to do that first step. Open up your mouth and PRAY with your wife. Sure it will feel weird, even silly – or embarrassing at first. But as you continue to work it, it begins to come more naturally. Trust me on that guys… it really does.


      1. I tried the link to your husband’s post but it didn’t work. It couldn’t find… is there another url link?

  2. April, I am in my mid-50’s and have been married to a wonderful Christ-loving man for almost 20 years. Your God-given wisdom in this area and so many others is bold, refreshing and uplifting. Is it easy? Not at all. You are talking to a very strong personality married to an even stronger personality!! I wish I had known this many many years ago, but am so thankful for God’s loving hand in both of our lives and your blog to confirm and encourage so much. You are truly a blessing! No, my husband and I do not pray together, but God works anyways.I pray that you will continue to be filled with His wisdom.

    1. Nancy,

      I’m so glad this is helpful for you. It is the kind of thing I WISH I had understood 18.5 years ago myself. My husband loves Christ. But I sabotaged his faith and our spiritual oneness so many times for the first 14 years of our marriage with my lack of understanding. If only I hadn’t pushed him and tried to force him to pray with me and condemned him, scolded him, lectured him, preached at him… all of that awful stuff. I caused a lot of damage.

      But I am so thankful that God is building my husband into a strong, godly leader and I am amazed and in awe of all that God is doing without my help at all! 🙂

      The biggest thing is that you and I keep praying – for ourselves and our husbands and families!

      Thanks so much for your comment!

  3. Leading prayer was the most daunting of challenges that I faced when my wife asked me to be the leader of our family. I was use to making most of the other decisions that came up, but prayer was not one a strong point.

    I knew I should and now she looks forward to my meager prayers I offer at dinner time. Sitting patiently as I try my best.

    It has brought us even closer and I still feel uncomfortable because I don’t feel its my strongest thing I do, I wouldn’t think of not doing it now..

    If you wives can get your husband to do this, he won’t regret it.

    Merry Christmas to all.

  4. This is a great post as well. However, I think a husband should pray with his wife… always. I wouldn’t down play just how important this really is – regardless of whether or not scripture says he HAS to initiate prayer. Its just one of those things that are very critical and a real Christian man would understand why without having to be told.

    1. I completely agree, husbands SHOULD pray with their wives, absolutely. But I am writing to wives who cannot control their husbands, so that is why there is a slant on the post. I try not to focus much on what husbands should do and more on what wives can do instead. That is where our power is – focusing on our end of things and on Christ.

      Thanks for the comment!

      Sent from my iPad

      1. Thanks Peaceful Wife for this post. I searched into google for some answer & guidance. This has been painful & at times I have cried myself to sleep over the disconnection of spiritual intimancy between myself & my husband. We have been married 2yrs. We’re both 31yrs old. We have lost two pregnancies each time I asked him to pray & he just closed up. Indeed walking away from emergency department as two but feeling quite alone in the marriage. When we first got together we were worshiping together & praying in tongues etc.. a visiting prophetic leader said we would be in leadership/ministry. And particularly I’ve had various words over the last 2yrs of gifting & call to church leadership. He seems to have faded a bit like the passion has gone. He doesn’t pick up the guitar like he used to & not really being accountable. Even recently stepping back from church saying he’s left & wants to go elsewhere church wise. I have repeatedly asked us to pray together, and its always put off to another time. It hurts so much. I don’t know how to die to the resentment or expectation of a husband called to lead. I know what the word says. I appreciate any feedback. Many thanks

        1. Sarah,
          I am so very sorry for the pain you and your husband have experienced and the loss and grief you have been through. Sometimes, when husbands see their wives hurting so much, they want to fix it – and they shut down sometimes when they cannot fix the pain. Some men grieve very silently.

          My husband doesn’t like to pray out loud. We have been married over 20 years. He has never liked to pray out loud. He said one time, “I am not sure who I would be praying to” if he prayed out loud with me – like it might affect his motives and the way he prays.

          I have come to accept that he doesn’t like to pray out loud. He doesn’t feel comfortable coming up with words about highly emotional/spiritual things in front of other people. He loves God. He prays on his own, but he has a much more difficult time with words about certain topics than I do. I used to push and pressure him. That doesn’t work!

          I am thankful that I have had to learn to depend on God for my spiritual needs and that I can go to God in secret and God hears me. Jesus is enough for each of us, thankfully!

          Your husband may just need a bit of time and space – and, he maybe could use some encouragement, honor and respect. I invite you to check out the posts at the top of my home page, they are a great place to start.

          Your husband may be having a bit of a crisis of faith. If that is the case, more words from you will probably only push him away. I Peter 3:1-6 may be your most powerful approach as you focus on your own walk with Christ and living in His power.

          Praying for healing for you both!!!!!

          Much love!

          Please search my home page for:

          – idol
          – idolatry
          – lead
          – leader
          – husband pray
          – husband emotions
          – husband shut down
          – when i shut up my husband heard God
          – expectations
          – bitterness

          Much love!

    1. Pinky,

      I used to try to make Greg pray with me a lot. One day, he told me that he wasn’t sure who he was praying to if he prayed out loud. So, I don’t force him anymore. Occasionally I will ask him to pray for me if I am having a lot of trouble with something. But, I know he is working on his relationship with God and I am thankful I can pray to God – so I just trust him and his prayer life to God. I don’t want him to feel forced into praying, especially if it means he is not sure about his motives.

      Thank you so much for sharing!

  5. Hi, April. I see this is a post from a few years ago, but it is very helpful to me. I just got married in May, and I have always prayed for my now-husband to pray with me, even from our first date. I was also encouraged by your husband’s blog post about the same topic. It is so encouraging to have more understanding. I wish there was a way for me to ask my husband to read your husband’s blog post, but that may be too pushy or be perceived as my trying to control the situation. I suppose it is something husbands have to learn on their own? I will continue to pray for God to bring spiritual unity to our marriage, and I know He will in His way and in His time! Thank you so much.

    1. L. S.,

      If things are not tense between you, you could casually ask him what he thinks about the post in a friendly, curious way – not an interrogating, demanding, condemning way.

      This issue is primarily between him and God, I believe.

      Have you talked about it a lot with him in the past?

      Much love!

      1. April,
        I asked my husband his thoughts about praying out loud together, and he explained that he is used to praying silently. I responded that I thought praying out loud together would be a way we can share our relationship with the Lord and share what’s on our hearts. It would be a very beautiful experience. He said praying silently is how he’s always prayed. He’s prayed out loud a few times in my presence in front of a group at church, at our wedding reception, and once or twice at family gatherings; however, he doesn’t do that too often. I’ve been kind of confused about it, but your husband’s blog post on the subject makes sense. I occasionally ask if he wants to pray together, but he doesn’t usually want to. He’ll let me pray over him every now and then, but I can tell it is uncomfortable for him. I will continue to pray for him and trust that the Lord will lead my husband to be a spiritual leader in ways He knows is best for us.
        Thank you for your investment in the lives of women. 🙂

        1. L. S.,

          I totally understand the position you are in. It would be awesome if he wanted to pray together out loud. But – if he doesn’t – you can respect where he is now and you can continue to pray privately and maybe find some strong women prayer warriors to pray out loud with.

          You may also want to search my home page for things like:

          – security
          – lead
          – leader
          – prayer

          Much love!

  6. Just found your site and I’ve really been enjoying your videos. Just wanted to share my thoughts and a suggestion for people out there with a spouse who doesn’t feel comfortable praying:

    Praying outloud for men can be difficult because doing so can make us feel vulnerable. Sometimes we can’t think of things to pray for on the spot or cant think of an elegant way to say them. In my case I would watch and listen to other men in our church who would effortlessly deliver beautiful, heartfelt, moving prayers, which would be inspiring – but nonetheless intimidating because I never had that type of ability or confidence to pray so boldly.

    We went many years of praying separately, and indeed I always felt guilty for not being a good spiritual leader, as the Bible instructs. Then, making it worse, our preacher seemed to make this subject a regular issue from the pulpit and often challenged us men to be the spiritual leaders and to pray with our wives and family. This would make me feel so weak, embarrassed, like a failure that I wasn’t doing so.

    Ultimately, God was calling me to step up and be the man He wanted and designed me to be. He had been urging me and pulling me all along but I was weirdly afraid. But one night in bed I, probably awkwardly, asked my wife if I could pray for us. It was so beautiful. Probably awkward, but beautiful. after nearly 15 years of marriage a whole new spiritual world had opened up for us together. There is nothing more beautiful than holding the one you love and honoring Christ together as one. It has improved us spirutually and has helped us form andeeper love for God and each other.

    Now my idea for someone who is married to a spouse who, for whatever reason is afraid or nervous to pray outloud is to ask them if you could lead the prayer, reciting one sentence at a time, allowing them to repeat it. This will get their feet wet so to say without them actually having to formulate a prayer themselves. Before long, this habit may very well allow them to get comfortable in that setting and with opening their hearts and minds audibly. Fear and awkwardness will fizzle away like magic with repetition. So take the pressure off your spouse by leading the prayer yourself and allowing him or her to repeat it. No need to push them to lead the prayer themselves; that will come naturally.

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