One of the most important things of married couple can do is to pray together as a couple. There are a number of incredible benefits to making this not only a practice but a habit.
Keeping your relationship centered on God
If you understand marriage as a sacrament of God’s love for his people, it will be very important to you to keep yourself focused on God’s love. This is the only way that you will be able to identify God’s love in the world. By being in a relationship with him as a couple, you will easily see your love as a sacramental sign of God’s love.
Activating the sacramental graces of Holy Matrimony
But the power of praying – connecting your hearts to each other and to God – is the most powerful way to activate the graces that Jesus gives us in the sacrament of Holy Matrimony. The graces of this Sacrament go beyond simple awareness of God’s love. The purpose of the Sacramental graces of Holy Matrimony help spouses to love each other with the complete, self-giving love with which Jesus loves us. These graces help us to grow in love as a couple, weather the inevitable storms of our relationships, and most importantly grow in our love for God through our marriage.
Growing in intimacy with each other
Another powerful benefit of praying together as a couple is that it is an incredible act of intimacy. Unfortunately, this is also what often makes praying together as a couple difficult. Couples often feel most vulnerable when they are baring their souls to God and to each other. However, this is exactly the kind of deep intimacy the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony calls couples to. Once we get over the barrier, this deep intimacy enriches and enlivens our marriage. While it may seem logical to wait until your intimacy has grown in your relationship before you start praying together as a couple, the fact is that the earlier you start praying together in your relationship the easier it will be for you. The reason this is true is because you will have established a habit of intimacy. Whereas many married couples stop growing in intimacy early in the relationship and assume that they know each other well enough. Then when they try to pray together they discover that their actual level of intimacy is much smaller than they assumed, and that adds to their discomforts about opening their hearts to God and each other.
How to get started
Developing shared prayer practices can be very easy if you start by adding just a few simple gestures to your typical daily routine. Ready for some suggestions?
- After kissing each other, say to each other “May God bless you.”
- When you hug each other, say to the other, “May I love you as much as Jesus loves you.”
- When you go to bed together, ask God to provide you both with a restful night.
Now that you are getting the hang of praying together as a couple during the normal parts of your day, try to go deeper with these ideas.
- Say a grace together before all meals.
- Include a blessing of each other before you leave your home and upon returning. A blessing can be a very simple prayer. All you need to do is trace the sign of the cross on the forehead of the person your blessing and use simple words of blessing such as May God bless you or I bless you in the name of the father and of the son and of the Holy Spirit.
- Sign up to have the Scripture Readings for the day sent directly to your personal device. Read them alone and discuss them later or read them together.
- Put your Bible by your favorite place to talk and play “bible roulette”. Just open the bible to any prayer and read a few verses that are on the page that you come to. Ask each other what the verses are saying to you?
If you are doing all of the above, and want to become even more intimate in your couple prayer, try these suggestions.
- Find a place to keep track of people and things that you both want to pray for. Spend time each day (at a time that works for you) to remember all of these intentions together. P.S. remember to pray for each other and your marriage.
- When you say grace before meals, say a Hail Mary together before digging in.
- Close your meal with an after dinner prayer.
- Learn a traditional Catholic Prayer each month and say it together each day. (link to Basic Catholic Prayers)
O.K. If you have made it through everything we have suggested, here are some awesome ways to become even more connected through prayer.
- Pair the habit of daily couple prayer with the habit of daily intimate conversation. Choose a time that works for both of you when you will not be too tired to talk and listen and when there will be minimal distractions. Commit to this time to be together.
- Set the stage for this special time together. Create an environment for your couple prayer time that sets this time apart from the rest of your daily life. One great way to do this is to create a prayer table which is also called a family altar. Light a candle. Have a Bible on the table/altar. Use statues or icons or holy images to remind you that this is a time set apart for God. You can read more about creating a family altar by clicking on this link.
- During your prayer time, share important parts of your day and how they impact your marriage. You might ask each other how you are doing as your spouse's helpmate. How have I been a blessing for you today? How have I failed or hurt our marriage today? What can we do for each other to improve our marriage?
- When you pray together, face each other, and hold hands. Take turns talking to God about the concerns that matter most to you. Then take turns thanking God for the blessings of your day. If there had been struggles in your relationship that require forgiveness, seek forgiveness from God during this time of prayer.
Still want more prayer options? The Catholic faith offers you many age old practices that can add more depth and meaning as you prayer. Why? Because these prayer practices are universally shared with Catholics around the world. Give these a try.
- Litany of Saints
- Lectio Divina
- Praying with Scripture together
There are many wonderful Catholic devotionals and prayer guides that can help you find meaningful scripture passages and even show you how to pray with them. Alternatively, you can find the Mass readings for the day online and reflect on the readings and Gospel together. This can be not only insightful, but a lot of fun!
Worship (also known as adoration) means being in God's presence and expressing your love for Him just because of who He is.
- Praying with music
An easy way to worship God is to use music. Sometimes we find it difficult to think of the words to tell God how we feel. Music can guide our minds and hearts to worship God and remove a lot of the stress that comes with not knowing what to say.
- Active prayer
While the gold standard of prayer is meditation that leads to contemplation (both of these are very intense, internal forms of prayer), there is no rule that all of our prayer needs to be silent and internal. Exploring active forms of prayer can be a great way to add variety to your prayer life and to express different dimensions of your life together to God. Go on a prayer walk - praying for anything that comes to mind as you walk around and pass different sights. Explore prayerful crafts (iconography is an ancient form of prayerful art / artful prayer - and there are others to explore).
- Prayers of Petition
Sometimes it's more comfortable to fall back on familiar prayer forms. Often when Catholics pray together they fall back on the form used in Mass for the Prayers of the Faithful. Someone voices a prayer intention and everyone responds together with "Lord hear our prayer."
There is no shortage of prayer forms in the Catholic Church. Many of them tie us to the Sacraments and to the Holy Mass. These are known as "sacramentals." The Rosary, litanies, holy water, and blessed salt are all examples of sacramentals that can be used in couple and family prayer.
However you choose to do it, the important thing about praying together as a couple is to do it. You’ll find the blessings and the benefits to your marriage to be without end.