Catholic at Home: How to pray as a couple and why it is essential
My friend was a new blushing bride when she suggested to her husband that they start praying together. Daunted by the idea and clueless as to how to go about it, her husband nervously declined, saying that he needed to work on his one-on-one relationship with God before he worked on his relationship with God, his wife and him. Though he, like the rest of us, certainly needed to be attentive to how he related to Christ, what he didn’t realize was that prayer in marriage is paramount to one’s personal holiness as well as the sanctity found within the sacrament itself.
Because I believe in transparency here at “Catholic at Home,” I’ll fully confess that the bride and groom mentioned are my husband and me; and further, I’ll happily report that our anniversary is this month and that, in contrast to our newlywed days, we’ve learned how to pray together in a fruitful and vulnerable way that’s opened our hearts to God’s grace and helped us move mountains. But honestly, none of this is relevant unless we can wrap around minds around why praying as a couple is absolutely crucial to marriage.
BACK TO THE BEGINNING
So I’ll go back to my wedding – you go back to yours: Beaming with bliss, you and your beloved just made vows to each other, and, if you look closely, your relationship now resembles the Most Holy Trinity. Just as the love between the Father and the Son begets the Holy Spirit, so the two of you will love each other in a way that is life-giving. From husband and wife comes a family and a contribution to the Church entirely your own. You’re each made in the image and likeness of God, AND, united in sacramental matrimony, together, you’re a new creation in Christ. It’s miraculous and supernatural.
Since your relationship now bears a striking resemblance to God, it’s your job to imitate Him to the best of your ability; to do an impression of Him together.
Are you following? Now, have you ever tried to do an impression of someone you hardly know? It doesn’t go over well. Why? Because, in order to offer a good imitation of someone, you have to be in frequent, intimate contact with him/her. As married couples, we have to be in touch with the Lord together in order to do a good impression of Him for each other and for those in our lives. This means we have to speak with Him and to Him together.
HOW TO START?
But sometimes, not everyone is on board with praying as a couple. It’s not the most comfortable of ideas if you’re unfamiliar with it, and many of us grew up without seeing joint prayer in action. Regardless of each spouse’s ease, the very first step is a simple invitation. Asking, “Will you pray with me?” at the beginning of the day (or any time) demonstrates a desire for communion among the two of you and God.
One of the most frequent questions I hear is “What if my spouse doesn’t want to?” and to that I say: Keep inviting charitably. Don’t force, just ask. Whatever the answer, proceed in prayer either as a couple or on your own. Your words don’t have to be elaborate or long, just honest. A simple, “Lord, help us to see each other as you see us,” or “Give us the grace to serve each other,” covers plenty of ground with few words.
Next month, I’ll share some powerful forms of couple prayer that range from “short-n-sweet” to vulnerable and deep. In the meantime, inviting our spouses to pray is one of the best ways to express our love and affection; it demonstrates hope and love for their souls as well as confidence in the one Whose image we bear together.