A 20-Minute Plan for Building Spiritual Intimacy

Jacob Eckeberger
August 24th, 2016

We’re excited to have Jim Burns as one of our NYWC speakers. This blog post is a great start to the conversations he’ll be navigating in his seminar: Balancing Ministry, Marriage, and Family. Check out more information HERE

Life, marriage, and ministry can take its toll on a couple’s intimacy.

Sadly, even with ministry couples, it’s not difficult to become spiritually isolated from one another. Cathy and I have struggled with this in the past. Because we were involved in youth ministry, we had no problem helping teenagers with their spiritual lives, but we seldom focused on each other. Knowing this was an underdeveloped area of our marriage, we decided to buy a marriage devotional book. You know the type: it was one where couples were supposed to read together every day. We were amazing at it… for the first four days. Then it became every few days. And before we realized it, we weren’t doing it anymore. We blamed it on the book, so we bought another one. But the result was the same.

The next time we met with our marriage mentors, we asked, “What do you do to enhance your spiritual intimacy together?” They said, “We spend twenty minutes a week focused on our spiritual intimacy.” My first impression was that twenty minutes seemed pretty wimpy – especially for a ministry leader. But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that Cathy and I weren’t doing any spiritual connecting – not even for twenty minutes. So we agreed to give the twenty-minute plan a shot. And we’ve been doing it pretty consistently for more than thirty years now.

Keep in mind that there is nothing magical about twenty minutes. What becomes magical about this idea is that you are carving out focused time out of your busy schedules to talk together about what God is doing in your life and what you’re learning about His love, and to pray together.

You may find it helpful to go through a book, workbook, or devotional that will guide you during those minutes together. You might want to check out the devotional book that Cathy and I wrote, Closer: 52 Devotions to Draw Couples Together. 

If going through a book together doesn’t fit your style, you might simply set your own agenda and then set those twenty minutes aside each week to discuss them. This is more Cathy’s and my style.  Here’s the outline of our weekly twenty-minute meeting. Keep in mind that a successful meeting could take twenty-minutes, or 5-10 minutes, or much longer.

  1. Review your recent quiet-times and devotional life. Share with each other what you’ve been doing in regard to your personal times with the Lord and what you’ve been learning and experiencing.
  1. Share your greatest joy of the week. In youth ministry, your life is already pretty hectic. You are going in one direction while your spouse and family are going in what seems like a million different directions. So, you may not have had the opportunity to share your greatest joy of the week with your spouse. This meeting provides a time where your spouse can catch up with the joys you have both experienced.
  1. Share your greatest struggle of the week. Here’s the flip side of the coin, if you will. Still, sharing your struggles with your spouse is equally important as sharing your joys. Hang in there though, because sometimes, as I have learned, the greatest struggle your spouse has experienced is either with you or something related to the demands of youth ministry.
  1. Share an affirmation of your spouse. I believe strongly that affirming your spouse (and receiving affirmation) is tremendously important in developing spiritual intimacy with one another!
  1. Share a wish or a hope for yourself or your family. This helps you to focus on your spouse’s needs and desires. Often, I’ve found that I can be part of the process that allows Cathy to realize her wish or hope.
  1. Share physical goals for yourself. Cathy and I try not to neglect the physical issues when it comes to living a balanced life. Sharing our physical goals with one another helps provide an avenue of accountability.
  1. Pray Together. Prayer can be deeply connecting with God, but it can also become an avenue to deep connection with your spouse. So, once you’ve shared on all of the above topics, you’ll be ready to pray – and you’ll have some very specific issues to pray about.

Join me at NYWC 2016 for a more in-depth look at building spiritual intimacy with your spouse, and other issues in my workshop, “Balancing Ministry, Marriage, and Family.”

Jim Burns

Jim Burns is the president of HomeWord and the executive director of the HomeWord Center for Youth and Family at Azusa Pacific University. Jim speaks to people around the world about how to have strong marriages, be confident parents, raise empowered kids, and become healthy leaders. He’s also the author of several books, including Confident Parenting, The Purity Code, Creating an Intimate Marriage, and Closer. Jim and his wife, Cathy, live Southern California and have three grown daughters.

Jacob Eckeberger

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in the YS Blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the opinion or position of YS.