“He who does not pray deprives himself of what is indispensable for life.”
– St. John Vianney (curé d’Ars):
We all want our marriages to do more than just survive; we want them to thrive! Not only is God the divine architect laying out the blueprint for a strong and lasting marriage, He is also the one who nourishes and perfects the very love of the spouses and gives them the grace to love as He loves!
In marriage, the man and the woman are “no longer two but one”(1) and in this sacramental union there is a new responsibility for the couple to foster and build up their relationship as one in the Lord. By its very design, marriage embraces a journey in faith that requires couples to draw closer to the Lord. This drawing together in the Lord takes on a much deeper aim than just asking the Lord for things. In the vocation of marriage, the Lord calls the spouses both individually and as one body, to draw near to Him.
“Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me, and I in him, will bear much fruit. Because, without me, you can do nothing” – John 15:4-5
How do couples respond to this invitation or how can they become more firmly grafted on the vine? While much can be written to answer this question, the focus here will be to look at one of the three perfect means that Pope St. John Paul II told married couples is necessary in forming a deeper intimacy with the Lord, and that of course, is prayer(2).
Since we are both physical and spiritual, or as St. John Paul II said, an “incarnate spirit”, we have physical needs and we have spiritual needs. Prayer, the sacraments, God’s word is like oxygen for the lungs. When we breathe deep into that abiding relationship, we are, by God’s grace, allowing that flow of life to enter into us. Every capable person is responsible to the building up their own spiritual walk in the Lord. Marriage takes on an additional invitation, building up the spiritual life of the spouses(3).
Every person is responsible for the building up of his or her own spiritual walk in the Lord. In marriage, the individuals take on the additional invitation to build up their spiritual life as a couple.3 While helping couples understand the necessity and benefits of praying together is important, just as important is teaching spouses how to pray as a couple. I would like to offer some simple steps in fostering your own couple prayer time:
Step 1: Ask God to help you commit to praying together as a couple.
Step 2: Find a time and a place that works best for the both of you and start small with 5 minutes.
Step 3: Regardless of how awkward or challenging it may be, or even when arguments come about because you are trying to commit to praying as a couple, don’t give up on it(4).
Step 4: Find a particular form or type of prayer that works best for the two of you(5).
Remember prayer is a “simple look turned toward Heaven”(6) so it can take on a variety of forms. To keep things simple, I would like to offer three options of couple prayer:
Option 1: The first is the, “We don’t have a lot of time, but we don’t want to go to bed without praying something together as a couple” option. If this is your situation, simply make the sign of the cross, pray together the prayer below, and then give each other a kiss goodnight.
“Lord Jesus, You are the author of life and the author of marriage. I thank You now for the gift of my vocation to marriage. Thank you for my spouse. Give me the grace to love, honor and cherish my spouse. Fill me with the gifts of Your Spirit that I may joyfully carry out the duties of my vocation. Help me to remember Your presence throughout the day so that I may not grow weary in loving and serving my family. Without You, Lord, I can do nothing. Renew my love, my patience and my fidelity that in loving my spouse I may better love and serve You. Amen(7)”
Option 2: The second option, one of my favorites, is to pray the Rosary together(8). Pope Saint Pius X wrote, “The Rosary is the most beautiful and the most rich in graces of all prayers; it is the prayer that touches most the Heart of the Mother of God…and if you wish peace to reign in your homes, recite the family Rosary.”
Option 3: The third option that I would like to offer is a form of prayer called “A TRIP”. I learned “A TRIP” from an amazing couple that I look up to very much and who have done great work in strengthening marriages for many years. It was a blessing in my marriage and I hope you will allow this daily trip to bless yours!
TAKE “A TRIP” TOGETHER EVERY DAY WITH GOD
? Begin with the sign of the cross.
? Read the Gospel of the day
? Listen in silence to the stirring of the Holy Spirit in your hearts.
? Pray using the following “A TRIP” formula.
1. Spend a few moments just praising God together, worshipping the greatness and majesty of the Lord.
• “Praise the LORD! My soul; I will praise the LORD all my life, sing praises to my God while I live. Put not your trust in princes, in children of Adam powerless to save. Who breathing his last, returns to the earth; that day all his planning comes to nothing. Blessed the one whose help is the God of Jacob, whose hope is in the LORD, his God” – Psalm 146: 2-5
2. What in this reading leads me to thankfulness or where do I find a reason for gratitude to God?
A Thankful heart leads me to appreciate all of life as the gift of a generous God.
• What can I thank my spouse for today?
3. As I reflect on this reading, what comes to mind? What stood out to you? Or as you reflect on this ready, is there something that is calling you to repent or what attitudes or behaviors does the Scripture expose in me that interfere with my drawing nearer to God? A repentant heart is open to God’s grace
and is tenderer toward others.
• Is there something that I need to ask forgiveness of from my spouse?
4. For whom am I to pray this day? Specifically mention by name those who have asked for prayer or of whom you aware need prayer.
• Become a daily prayer warrior for others. A prayerful heart can be used by God to draw others closer to Him.
5. What plan of action does the Scripture encourage me to take? What one thing can I do today with the help of the Holy Spirit to act in accordance with the Word? A purpose-filled heart is alert to God’s Spirit prompting me to act for the good.
• Share your plans for the day with your spouse and remember important times you can keep them in prayer.
1 cf. Matthew 19:6
2 “Prayer,” the “Eucharist,” and the sacrament of “Penance”are the means “infallible and indispensable to form the Christian spirituality of conjugal and familial life.” Man and Woman He Created Them: A Theology of the Body 126.5
3 If the marriage is blessed with children, there needs to be a building up of the spiritual life of the family.
4 There is too much a stake and too many blessings that will come from this to not strive to do this.
5 Even if one spouse likes a particular style of prayer and the other spouse prefers another type of prayer, that should not prevent couples
from praying together as a couple. This is not about changing a person’s personal prayer style but finding what your couple prayer style looks
like. It can be a blending of your styles or a simple rotation from one style to the next.
6 St. Thérèse of Lisieux
7 Willwoods Spouse’s Prayer
8 This link can bring you to some great resources