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Gentlemen – Would You Help Us Better Understand the Mechanics of Masculine Prayer?

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I attended the first session of a Bible study about prayer this morning and we talked about the benefits of having a prayer journal. I LOVE journaling – it is the way I prefer to pray because writing things out forces me to stay focused and helps me cement what I am reading in Scripture in my mind. If I just hear something or read it in passing, I can easily lose whatever I heard. But when I write – I really tend to remember things better.

One lady made the comment, “I am visual. I hate the idea of journaling or writing my prayers. So I just write very short requests and I also keep pictures of people I am praying for.”

Light bulbs went off for me.

About two years ago, I did a series of posts about how husbands process emotions. I was amazed to learn that while some men think with words sometimes, other men tend to think in terms of formulas, images, pictures, or “silent movies” – especially about emotions or when they are trying to solve problems, it seems.

I began to wonder – is it possible that some of our men pray without words or with very few words when they pray privately?

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Our brothers,

I would love to hear comments from you about if you pray without words and how that works, as best you can describe it, if you are willing to share. If you pray with words and would like to describe that process, I would be thrilled to hear about that, as well. And, I would greatly appreciate it if you might answer a few poll questions for me, please. There is no right or wrong answer here – no condemnation, no judgement, no criticism. I just want to better understand how Christian men pray

Ladies, feel free to ask your husbands about these questions if they are receptive to talking about them and then you may share their answers in the polls or comments if that is okay with them.

These questions are for men who are believers in Christ only, please. Thanks so much!

34 thoughts on “Gentlemen – Would You Help Us Better Understand the Mechanics of Masculine Prayer?

  1. Hello. I’ve been leading a men’s group reading through the book – The Power of a Praying Husband. We talked through the various situations. It always boiled down to three things:

    How to pray? It varied from guy to guy, but many of the men in the group struggled with praying out loud with their wives. It really required a different approach than they were used to taking than praying silently. It seemed that they didn’t want to mess up or look foolish. I don’t believe that this is an area where men are “naturals”

    Are our prayers selfish? We talked a lot about not praying to have God “fix” something that we didn’t like. Example – rather than praying for more sex…we talked about the importance of praying for the ability to love our wives greater with the goal of improving the intimacy across our marriage. The majority of the guys initially felt like it was very selfish to be praying for improvements in their sexual relationship with their wives. It’s the same with praying about our wives emotions. It is perfectly fine to pray about anything as long as the intention of the prayer aligns with loving our wives.

    What to pray about? I will admit that the booking helped guide us along. We talked about asking our wives the simple question: what can I be praying about for you today? It might seem like an awkward thing to ask, but we agreed that it is an important question to ask. When all else fails….we developed this list of things to be praying for:

    Thanks, Praise, and Blessings
    Pray for Today
    Pray for Forgiveness.
    Pray for Your Marriage
    Pray for your Wife
    Pray for Your Children

    I will say that my wife has been patient and very loving as I’ve developed my style. She was very careful to not assign what I needed to be praying about or how to be praying. She encouraged me to take a leadership role in this area.

    Ladies….if your husband isn’t a praying man, then pray for him. If he is or is working toward being a prayerful man, then simply encourage him. Let him know what is important to pray about for you.

    Guys….it isn’t always easy. It does require a little courage and openness. We don’t have to be Bible scholars. We don’t have to be eloquent. We just need to be sincere and intentional. If this is an area that has caused strife in your marriage, then be forgiving. Trust me…the oneness that you will develop with your wife and in your relationship with God will create benefits in ways you might not have ever imagined.

  2. I pray alone almost exclusively silently and conspicuously. The only exception really is meal blessings.

    One of my favorite styles of prayer is to say a prayer of surrender to the Holy Spirit, end with “speak Lord, your servant is listening” and then do my absolute best to not use words at all in my mind to “listen” in prayer. The purpose is to use NO WORDS. “Do not rattle on like the pagans.”

    I can’t tell if I’m anti-verbal, or if my wife needs to hear something a thousand times to comprehend my thoughts, but I always feel exhausted using words and she can never get enough. Verbalizing basic every day things can be tough, let alone something as intimate as a prayer.

    Prayers of petition are easiest to verbalize, such as a time when someone is ill and we want to pray for their health and wellness.

    I’ll be honest, I don’t like praying in groups. That might be wrong, it might be a vice, but I really don’t like it. I find myself judging others, and I assume others are judging how I pray if it’s my “turn.” It’s distracting and I feel like it’s not even prayer.

    Does that make sense?

    1. I read Paul’s after I posted mine, and it triggered another thought about content of prayer.

      This is probably true for everybody, but at the outset of a pain, annoyance, or emptiness I’m feeling, my prayer typically begins as a selfish thought. Part of living in a ‘fallen world’ is that we have an emptiness inside of us we’re always trying to fill.

      As you begin to casually pray over a day… week… month… year… If you quit talking and wait for God’s instruction, you find that God (inaudibly) aligns your will to match His. That’s the power of not “rattling on.”

      Where a prayer might start out as “My wife has neglected me severely and I need her. Make her love me!”

      It’ll eventually evolve into praying that God’s will be done. Then you start to feel what God’s will might be, then all the sudden you’re praying completely altruistically for the other person, and hoping God rains down his blessings and stirs up the Holy Spirit in the other person, and you’re praying that they find the same comfort and joy in God that were able to find in the process.

      1. AnonyMan,

        I love this. Isn’t God amazing the way He can change our hearts from self-centered to God-centered? You explained the process so beautifully.

        Thank you! You have a gift with words, even if you don’t like to use them a lot. 🙂

        1. Yes, it is great. My crummy marriage is what pushed me from a “cradle catholic” that went through the motions, and has set me on fire to deepen my faith and relationship with God. That’s proof alone that God can use an evil such as pain & suffering to produce good things that glorify Him.

          Now I’m a “real” Catholic and realize everything I was missing. It’s cool that my frustrations generated my renewed faith life. Your blog has been a part of that, so thank you.

          1. AnonyMan,

            I’m so glad that God has drawn you to Himself, my brother! I hate that you suffered so much – but to be close to God and to fellowship with Him – that is the most amazing treasure there is in the universe! I praise God for all that He has done and all that He will do in your life. And I thank God that He has been willing to use me to be a little part of that healing in your life. 🙂 God is so good!

    2. AnonyMan,

      Oh! I have attempted being totally silent in my mind and totally still before God, just seeking to listen. I have to say – that is a REALLY tough thing for me to do. But I want to be able to do it more and more!

      I have a feeling that you are verbalizing something here that a number of husbands and wives probably experience. I love words and could talk constantly all day every day. My husband – not so much. I know that too many words weary him. So, this is going to sound really weird and counterintuitive to other wives, I would guess – but – I have learned that a lot of what feels like “love and respect” to my husband is to hold myself back a good bit. If I let myself do whatever I wanted to – I am sure I would smother him with attention, affection, words, emails, texts, flirting, etc… I would also easily overwhelm him with all of the deep discussions I love to have and wanting to have tons of “meetings,” “plans,” and “goals.” I love to analyze our relationship and myself and try to figure things out. I can be way too intense sometimes – and probably hard to live with because of that. I have to very purposely focus on WAY less words – so that he can be more at peace. 🙂

      I know that he has no idea how much mental, emotional, and spiritual strength it takes to hold back all of the attention and words I want to give him – but I am thankful for the opportunity to die to self and to attempt to love, respect, and honor him in ways that actually are meaningful to him. I still have much to learn!

      I agree – prayers of petition are some of the easiest to verbalize.

      Thank you for sharing how you feel about praying in groups. There is definitely a “motive” issue with groups that you don’t have to worry about when you are praying alone. Very important points, my dear brother!

      Much love in Christ!

  3. I tend to pray silently in short bursts as a need, thought, praise or emotion are relevent throughout the day and at no set time. Rarely are my eyes closed or would one know I was praying. The frequency would be anywhere from 6-40 times a day depending on a great many things.

    The only exceptions to this is when I pray with my family before each meal where we bow our heads and I lead us in a short prayer (not the same prayer), before we leave on a road trip, or each night as our kids go to bed. On occassion when a truly special or urgent need arises that might change also.

    I have lead many a prayer meeting, attended prayer fasts, lead churches in prayers, lead families and special events in prayers- and to be perfectly honest they usually felt forced, even somewhat phony, but they were expected of me at the time so it was done. Same goes with carving out a prayer time each day on my knees. It feels- and I hate that I use that word- phony. I wish I had the discipline but I have found it much more usual to me (not sure how God feels about it) to just carry on a conversation with him throughout the day.

    There have been times my wife and I have prayed together- just to pray- but I could count them on both my hands in the sixteen years we’ve shared.

    Lastly, just an example of some prayers because I kind of think that is what you are getting at. They are usually almost followed by a catalyst of some sort and are in response to something- whether it be what is going on in the world, our family, my life, God’s creation or what is playing on the radio (each family member has a song from my father to my daughter has a song(s) that bring about prayers of thanksgiving for them).

    “Lord, thank you for the wind today (on a particulary beautiful, sunny, windy day).”

    “Lord, thank you for providing for me/us (as I think about how God always seems to take care of us or during an extremely tiring time of being worn out from business and trying to remember God’s blessings).”

    “Lord, please forgive me. I know I am a lustful and greedy/ man. I know my only hope is your grace and mercy. I know I am not worthy of you but I ask you to forgive me (after lusting-IRL or electronically- or just treating the time He has given me with my family without honor and choosing resources over that time- justifying it rightly or wrongly that in doing so I’m doing it for them)

    “Lord, I don’t know what to do. I know what I want to do. I know what I probably should do. But I’m lost and confused and need your guidance.” (Leading and providing for a family is a never ending list of challenges, obstacles and choices that often means picking between two good choices or worse, two bad choices and at times a husband & father can be completely overwhelmed and lost.)

    “Lord, please keep them safe today. I don’t know what I would do without them (usually when I pull out of the driveway alone or my family is pulling out of the driveway to do an activity)

    Lastly, unlike the fellow above I have no problem being selfish in my prayers! Not sure if that is a good thing or not- catch me on the right day and you’ll get a different answer than a different day. Maybe that says more about me sadly then men & prayers in general. I have no problem praying for example in the days when sex needed to get better for exactly that. I would pray that I would be a better husband for sure, but I have no problem crying out for the things that might appear selfish.

  4. I find prayer, as a man, one of the most difficult in my Christian walk today. I am a Christian apologist. (defender of the faith) So this difficulty with prayer is an ironic and pathetic position. I find myself angry at God constantly as my employment difficulties have not been solved and yet Miracle of miracles; my drug using son is not dead and is “on the wagon” as we speak, my daughter with mental problems is out there somewhere-not dead, hopefully; we still have our house despite numerous financial difficulties; we are covered for medical; at 52 I run marathons so my health is good; despite numerous marital-relationship problems stemming from my unemployment, we celebrated 30 years of marriage on Monday; despite numerous pitfalls, I am still in graduate school; out of all the school and low grades all my kids have had, my 12 year old daughter is an “A” student and aspiring to be a medical doctor.
    My wife and I do not pray together. (another discussion)
    In group;
    I usually pray a thanksgiving prayer for all I can think of for the moment. I pray for subject matter. (group prayer),
    I like to make prayers short as possible but I can remember a lot, so I can put a lot of requests before the Lord in a short amount of time.
    In a men’s group, I always pray for bravery among men to be willing to stand for truth and defend it if necessary. I can add and take away stuff at will. I’m so bad…
    unfortunately I am not in a bible study now, just want a good one to help me be the man I should be, so, masculine prayer should cover our roles as men. Often I speak to God while driving back after dropping kids off. I expect very little from God in the way of specifically requested things (like a job). After all He does provide the necessities. (bankruptcy is coming though)
    The Lord wants to hear from me if not to just speak to Him.
    Acts 17:27;”… seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us”

  5. April, my (thought) prayers will be very pithy throughout the day, certainly not in complete sentences but with the awareness that God knows who or what I’ve just been thinking about, followed by a quick prayer that directs my attention to Him and asks for His attention to the person/issue. It’s as if my brain spends an indeterminate amount of time composing an essay or a memo or a pro and con list to route to my mental “file,” but then my spirit engages and makes God the recipient of the thought memo. This all happens much more quickly than it could be spoken or described and obviously is entirely private, which is simply more comfortable. I think wives need to avoid the mis-perception that prayer is only prayer when it’s spoken, in complete sentences, pursuant to an outline or acronym or program, lasts a certain amount of time, happens in a specific place every day and at a certain time, is or can be written down in a journal, and so on. Not demeaning such prayers at all, but that’s not the only way to pray and probably isn’t even the most common way to pray. But it is a way that can be described and kept track of, which means the danger is that it’s a way we can be proud of and tell others about and be self-righteous about. Put that on top of what is probably a predisposition for a wife to be critical of her husband’s spirituality, and you have trouble.

  6. My husband said there are times when he prays that he is so overloaded with emotion, and so overloaded with thoughts that his entire mind shuts down and he has no way to verbalize his prayers. He says in those moments he just lifts his hands and senses the Holy Spirit interceding.

    This is coming from a highly articulate man who sells and negotiates for a living.

    He also has Master’s Degrees from seminary, so it’s not that he doesn’t know what to pray.

    After knowing my man since 1984, THIS was truly enlightening!!! Wow.

    1. Robert’s Wife,

      Wow. Thank you so very much for sharing. I would love to share this in the post today anonymously – if you think that would be alright. 🙂 VERY helpful!

        1. He clarified after I left the comment that he does use words when praying for things that are every day issues.

  7. First let me start by saying thank you for this blog. It means more than you will ever know.

    I can’t speak for other men, but here are a few things about how I pray myself.

    – I am not comfortable praying in public. (Matt 6:6)
    – I do not have a formula for a prayer. (Matt 6:7)
    – I have conversations with him, praising the good things he has done for us, marvelling at how beautiful the gifts he’s given us are… especially the gift that is my wife.
    – I generally do not ask for anything. My father knows what I need better than I do, and I trust him to provide as he will. (Matt 6:30-32)
    – When I do ask for something, I ask for love, patience, understanding, forgiveness, or to soften my heart and humble me so that I can forgive others.
    – I pray for other people, especially my family. God gave me a beautiful life, I don’t feel I have the right to expect/ask/demand more than that.

    Words aren’t always needed. God knows my heart and mind, undoubtedly better than I do myself.

  8. I pray about an hour a day at home (sometimes more or sometimes less). In the morning and before bed. I am not married. I pray out loud and sometimes silently. Sometimes I just “listen” after my opening and wait for the Holy Ghost to move……and sometimes there is a long period of silence (45 minutes once).

    I will pray openly with anyone who needs prayer, at work, on the street, in line at Walmart.

    At church I fall on any man who takes the Mercy Seat (altar) to pray with them. I take the Mercy Seat myself too, almost every week……and it’s not just for personal sin. It is for glorifying God and thanking Him as well.

    Many in my church consider me a “prayer warrior” and I am grateful that I am thought of this way, but I am looking to up my prayer life further.

    1. Ah that’s interesting. One place I went had a prayer room that I liked to pray at often. I would pray over others too, and I sought tons of prayer over myself. 🙂

      Good going, Jason.

  9. My prayers are a deep conversation with God and Christ–oftentimes truly the deepest thoughts and concerns. They are outcries and moments of the most extreme vulnerability. They are prayers of energetic thanks! 🙂

    And by the way, maybe that’s a big problem for men not wanting to pray with their wives: to show that weaker, dependent side. When men are before God, they are His BRIDE and His CHILD! Perhaps that’s not a side of a man that he particularly wants his wife to see–his vulnerabilities–but only the “strong” side.

    I get on my knees and my arms and head on the ground. Sometimes I just say “I love you so much, Jesus. Thank you for being here with me, you never leave.” I think of the honor of being at his feet, with nothing else there, because I meditate on having nothing but Him. The words in my thoughts will also rush so fast I could never be able to speak them out loud.

    As you probably gathered from me after being in your hair for a while, I’m not afraid of looking weak even when there’s a chance that it may have a negative reaction–for one thing, I can go into soldier mode in a split-second’s notice with people when I think someone will become hostile. That is to say, even though I often intend to be alone I don’t think I’d be “embarrassed” at my weakness for Christ–recall Paul: “I will boast in my weakness!” and “when I am weak, then I am strong!”

    If I were to guess, that’s probably the core of the problem for men praying with their wives. It’s that deep-seated cultural machismo that ought to be killed with fire. But I digress.

    If I’m with others, I ask God to be among us, take over, take control. Honestly April I pray a lot like you do but maybe not as wordy (I love your stuff)–not to say I don’t pray constantly or for long periods of time.

    I also pray in tongues. Scripture suggests that isn’t really meant to be done with people doing so at once (a fitting and orderly way, as I’m sure you recall) so that tends to be alone. It would be different if I were praying over someone else though.

    I work out my thoughts with God and His Holy Spirit in my presence. I will run my thoughts across God at many times and, as I’ve asked from God, He gives me feedback. Oftentimes I work out a thought and I get this bam! strike from God spiritually that says “yes, that was from God and that’s the way you are to follow” in my thoughts, a feeling that simultaneously overpowers and empowers me.

    Honestly I’m kind of in a restoration phase spiritually. My life just did not compute to me for a long time and I lost track of how it had to sync-up with my daily life, and especially my perplexity concerning the behaviors of the church and believers. That is to say, it’s kind of “coming back to me” in more and more clean ways in recent years with much struggle. And of course, there are some lifelong matters of healing for me too.

    I dunno . . . I think I pray in pretty much every way I can imagine: many words, few words, when all else fails, the Lord’s Prayer (“Our Father . . .”), start the day with “today is a day I will pick up my cross and follow you, please show me how throughout the day . . . ” quick words to the Lord, He is always on my mind. Deep meditation and soaking in the awesome perfection of His word . . . anyway, I go on and on because I like these thoughts. I’ll leave it at that. 🙂

      1. Oh, real quick: I reread your intro here.

        In case I wasn’t clear, I pray out loud all the time in private with most of what I mentioned–even conversationally. I know I’d sound CRAZY if someone heard me (which someone, somewhere, probably has).

        In other ways I pray silently.

  10. I don’t know if all men pray the same….I know that a vibrant prayer life will develop a level of intimacy with God that many men may not be used to. A man most probably would want to get used to that in private before he shared that with his wife.
    A man’s prayers also might be more goal or action oriented at first…”God, bless me with this,” or “God, do this for me.” As time goes on though, we discover that God is much more interested in relationship. He wants you to know Him, not just serve Him.

  11. I typically just thank Him. When I wake up, I thank Him for His love and giving me this day while still laying in bed. When I am in bed at night I thank Him again, and ask Him for sweet sleep and peace.

    At meals, I thank Him for His Son, His grace, mercy and the blessings He has given us. I ask Him to bless others in Christ, and those without… that they would find Him. I thank Him for Christ’s sacrifice for us.

    I do ask Him for forgiveness of my sins which are many. I name them if they are on top of my mind. I ask Him to give me wisdom and strength to act on the wisdom He’s given to me. Wisdom, knowledge, understanding and discernment, purity and prosperity to my kids and our marriage.

    I do not pray with wife that much anymore. She corrects my prayers and at times criticizes them. I will at times, spontaneously pray before we all split up to school and work and most definitely pray quickly when I hear bad news.

  12. My words for prayer are very short,especially after discussing someone’s problems. For example, “prayers for you and your family” my thought process goes something like this, That person needs God, needs God’s guidance,help, and intervention. I’m not going to tell God what to do through prayer, and God has been listening to our conversation,already knows the details,and may have sent me to be their for this person all ready, so why have to put it all into a well said, laid out plan, when We need god’s help in the first place! Just by saying “,Prayers for you” means I’ve already been thinking, God needs to help you,and he knows my thoughts.
    My wife and I go to marriage counseling, she wants me to pray more. I respond, prayer is an personal thing,and that to many people ” show off” with their memorized words skills,and that is not what prayer is for! Our councilor seemed taken back by this, he is a man with great word skills. So reading what other men think is very helpful.
    My thoughts about God, go into overdrive when I am outdoors, admiring his creation,and when I am stunned by the accuracy of his word,and human behavior!

    1. omalleyfineart,

      I really appreciate hearing your masculine perspective and how you approach prayer. This is helpful. Jesus had very strong words for those who pray to show off or only to impress people. I think a number of men feel the way you do. It’s important for us, as women, to understand that there are men who love God and value prayer but who don’t always want to pray out loud. That doesn’t mean they don’t have faith or don’t love their wives or don’t love prayer.

      I love hearing about how you think so much about God when you are in nature. And about how His Word impacts you.

      Thank you so much for sharing, my brother!

My grandmother is on hospice and won't be with us much longer (11-30-16). I will get to comments when I am able to but I need to be with family right now. Thanks for understanding.

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