He stood at the center of a crowd the night I knew I’d marry him.
He was a teenager playing for our high school basketball team. After the final buzzer, the boys would gather at mid-court and join hands with the visiting team for a quick prayer. Sometimes, a coach would do the praying; other times it was a player.
On this night, it was him.
I watched from the stands as his head bowed and his lips moved. In that moment, despite the gymnasium full of people, he was all I could see. And I knew. He was going to be my husband.
Funny how the thing that cemented me to him then is something I’m scared of now.
Because praying with my husband—the man who knows me more intimately than any other person on earth—terrifies me.
Maybe it terrifies you, too.
And if it does? You’re not alone.
I’ll admit, it’s a strange juxtaposition. My husband is the one who sees me at my most vulnerable. We made four humans together. He held my hand through the arduous deliveries of those babies (without passing out at the sight of all that comes with it). He’s sat beside me during intense grief when life felt cruel and oppressive. He’s walked alongside me with tenderness and love when postpartum anxiety and depression crushed my spirit and threatened to steal my joy.
We can carry on entire conversations with a few raised eyebrows and pointed looks. He instinctively knows what to say to make me laugh, still tells me I’m beautiful, loves me well. He’s my voice of reason. My constant. My person.
But laying myself bare before him in prayer?
My heart rate quickens even thinking about it.
Maybe it’s because faith—though so many of us share it—is so deeply personal, so vaguely mysterious, it often feels safer to guard it. Even in the security of that most intimate relationship.
For a long time, I was inwardly ashamed for feeling this way. I consider my faith to be more of a quieter variety—something I know and trust, but hesitate to put on display. We go to church most Sundays, do our best to seek out and trust God’s plan for our lives, take the kids to Wednesday night church activities.
But sometimes . . . I question if the way we walk with Jesus in our marriage measures up to how others seem to follow Him much more boldly.
We know plenty of other Christian couples—husbands and wives who seem so confident in their faith, who I’ve always assumed pray together easily, often, and expertly.
When I sheepishly admitted to a good friend recently that I felt intimidated to pray—or to even ask to pray—with my husband, she let out a breath I didn’t know she’d been holding. “Me too,” she said. “I want us to, but . . . I’m embarrassed to ask.”
Did I ever get that.
Imagine my surprise, then, when subsequent conversations with more friends—friends who are active in the church, who I subconsciously conceded do faith so much better than I do—revealed a common refrain: many of them are scared of praying together, too. So much so, that most of us simply don’t do it.
We don’t talk about it, either.
All this time, I’ve been looking at other Christian couples through rose-colored glasses, assuming they have their spiritual ducks in a row, that it’s more natural for them than it is for us.
But the truth? An awful lot of them are fumbling through it just as much as we are.
And isn’t that where grace meets us, if we’ll simply allow it?
Maybe that’s the first step to overcoming the fear of doing faith in a real way together.
There’s freedom in admitting our insecurities to not only close friends we trust, but to our spouses. When my husband and I talked about it, shyly, in the cover of darkness at first, we found new common ground and a chance to work through our apprehension together.
Talking about it might feel awkward, but it does make it a little less scary.
So, we’re trying. We’re taking our imperfect selves, our mustard seed faith, and trying.
Do I still worry praying aloud with my husband will make me feel uncomfortable, or weird, or inadequate? Absolutely. But now I know he feels the same way—and that helps.
Plus, we both know now there are plenty of other couples with the same quiet but real faith, nervously hiding beside us in this space we thought we lived in alone.
So we’ll push past our fears and seek out the One standing at the center of our marriage. The One who, mercifully, asks us to simply come as we are. The One we trust will meet us there with grace and peace and love.
And we’ll do it with the knowledge we’re not alone.
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