Prayer: The Antidote to What Ails Your Marriage


Joel and Nina SchmidgallBy Joel and Nina Schmidgall

“Again, truly I tell you that if two of you on earth agree about anything they ask for, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven. For where two or three gather in my name, there am I with them.” (Matthew 18:19-20)

A ring has been the symbol of a marriage covenant for generations. At its core, a ring is a circle. Because it has no beginning and no end, a circle represents the infinite. A circle represents the bold declaration of marriage. Exchanged during the wedding ceremony, the ring is an emblem of the sincerity and permanence of a couple’s love for one another and regard for their marriage. A wedding ring is made of precious metals, purified by the heat of many fires. The center of a circle represents a door leading to known and unknown events: “for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health.” It is the symbol of destiny to pursue.

Circles are an ancient symbol of commitment without end, and to this day it remains deeply symbolic in a marriage ceremony. At traditional Jewish weddings there is a symbolic and intimate moment that is shared between bride and groom. As the bride proceeds down the aisle, she meets her groom under the huppah (“canopy”). Following her processional, the bride begins to circle the groom. Traditionally, the bride circles seven times. In more modern times, the ceremony has been adapted, with each partner circling the other three times and then the couple circling one final time together. The act of hakafot, the Hebrew word for “circling,” is a deeply symbolic ritual. It represents compromise and unity within the sacred space of marriage. Seven is the number of completion and perfection in the Bible. This circling is a prayer and a declaration of partnership.

In The Circle Maker, Mark Batterson shared the legend from the Jewish Talmud of a man named Honi. He was known as “the circle maker” because of his bold strategy of prayer. In a moment of deep need in the nation of Israel, he drew a circle around himself and publicly began to pray. His prayer was a declaration that he would not leave the circle until God blessed his people again. Honi’s prayer was considered one of the most significant prayers in the history of Israel, the prayer that saved a generation.

We need this same bold resolve within marriages today. Marriages are suffering. Many couples are experiencing high levels of hurt and disappointment in their marriage. Young marriages are desperate for hope and direction to make their commitment last. Many single men and women are taking a look at the crumbling marriages of their parents and peers and wondering if the ring is even worth it.

We know it is a foundation of prayer that offers the hope in marriage. It is through prayer that challenges will be overcome, hurts will be healed, and commitments reestablished.

Praying Circles Around Your MarriageIt is time for a prayer revival in our marriages.

We don’t know the story of your marriage. But we know that God can strengthen it through prayer.

Marriage is a journey unique to each couple. Each couple will endure different story lines, some with more heartbreaks than others. Each individual enters marriage with different hang-ups, some more easy to overcome than others. Every marriage has different ailments. But there is one shared antidote: prayer.

You make just a few key decisions in life. You spend the rest of your life managing those decisions. Outside of a faith decision, marriage is the most important decision you will ever make. The greatest relationship decision deserves the greatest investment.

Through prayer, God can give you new eyes for your spouse. Through prayer, God can rekindle romance. Through prayer, God can align vision, overcome pain and resentment, and reenergize your friendship.

The richness of your marriage will be determined by how frequently and how fervently God is invited into your relationship. Prayer will draw you into unity with God and, as a result, with one another.

Marriage is the union of two imperfect people. Through prayer, you invite the presence of a perfect God.


Praying Circles Around Your MarriageTaken from Praying Circles Around Your Marriage by Joel and Nina Schmidgall. Click here to learn more about this title.

The truth is this: what your marriage will become is determined by how you pray. Bold prayers honor God. God honors bold prayers. Praying Circles around Your Marriage draws from the life-changing principles Mark Batterson outlines in his New York Times bestseller The Circle Maker. Joined by Pastor Joel and Nina Schmidgall who serve with Mark at National Community Church, the authors draw from personal stories, Scripture, and practical insight. You’ll discover seven key prayer circles for your marriage: Vision Circle, Romance Circle, War Circle, Dance Circle, Support Circle, Storm Circle, and Legacy Circle. Through these circles you will:

  • Discover your shared vision and find a new combined purpose together
  • Turn the tables on conflict and access the gift of being known
  • Be a student of your spouse and ensure a connected and intimate relationship
  • Build a foundation for your marriage that will help you weather the trials that are sure to come
  • Learn to draw a larger circle around your marriage so that your unified purpose can be a blessing to others

Praying Circles around Your Marriage will empower you and your spouse to identify your greatest dreams for the most important relationship in your life, and pray the kind of audacious prayers in which God finds delight.

After all, your life together has a legacy to leave for future generations. It’s time to start circling.

Joel Schmidgall is Executive Pastor of National Community Church (NCC) in Washington DC. He oversees the pastoral staff for NCC’s seven locations and pastors the Capitol Hill location. Joel founded and now serves as President of the board of the DC Dream Center, a community center committed to inspiring and equipping youth and adults to reach their God-given potential.

Nina Schmidgall serves as Director of Family Ministry at National Community Church (NCC) in Washington DC. Nina first moved to the nation’s capital to work for the United States Congress. Writing and directing education and family policy, Nina realized her deep passion for strengthening the family and the home. She oversees the family ministry department across all of NCC’s marketplace locations. Nina and Joel live on Capitol Hill with their three kids: Eloise, Ezekiel, and Lorenza.

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