“When you open the Holy Gospel, think that what is written there—the words and deeds of Christ—is something that you should not only know, but live. Everything, every point that is told there, has been gathered, detail-by-detail, for you to make it come alive in the individual circumstances of your life.”
-St. Josemaria Escriva
Prayer is such an intimate experience that it isn’t uncommon for people to feel vulnerable when praying with other people and this can also include praying with one’s spouse. Taking time to pray as a couple can be an opportunity to connect with each other and with God. Prayer can be an opportunity to bring your struggles, hopes, gratitude and praise to God. It can also be a moment of transformation to unite your will with the will of God and connect with God and your spouse in the way that you are praying. Within your marriage, do you take time as a couple to pray together?
As you think of your prayer life as a couple, it may be helpful to take some time to discuss one or all of these questions together:
- Do you take the opportunity to pray together? If yes, please continue to the next questions. If not, how do you feel about praying together? What is preventing you from praying together? Is there anything that could assist you to start praying together if this is what you are wanting to start doing?
- What parts of your prayer together do you appreciate?
- What aspects of your prayer life as a couple do you struggle with?
- Is there something you would like to change in your prayer together? If so, what is this?
It is recommended that as you take the time to discuss these questions that you do so with a sense of curiosity in discovering the perspective of your spouse. This can be very helpful for both of you to be open to hear what you are both saying and to limit defensiveness.
There are many ways to pray together. Regardless of whether you and your spouse currently pray together, you could ask your spouse how each of you feels called to pray together and may try starting there. If you have not been praying together as a couple at this point and are unsure where to begin, you could consider starting with some prayer practices that may feel less vulnerable.
You could pray a rosary (or even a decade of the rosary especially if this is a busy time of life) or a chaplet of Divine Mercy together. Before starting your prayer time together, you and your spouse could each share with each other an intention you would like to offer to God within your prayer time.
Another prayer practice that you could look into is to use scripture to pray together. You could use one of the daily readings to pray within a Lectio Divina style of prayer. As St. Josemaria Escriva wrote, “When you open the Holy Gospel, think that what is written there — the words and deeds of Christ — is something that you should not only know, but live. Everything, every point that is told there, has been gathered, detail-by-detail, for you to make it come alive in the individual circumstances of your life.”
This time to pray with one of the Scripture readings of the day can be an opportunity to pray with and ponder the passage you are praying with and see what part of it stands out to each of you given your life together. You can imagine yourself or you and your spouse in the scene, possibly as one of the people in the passage, and imagine the scripture unfolding with the different sights, sounds, smells and interactions that are occurring.
Once you are both done, you may take some time to share with each other the experience and insights that you had during your prayer time together. If you are unsure how to pray Lectio Divina, you could use various prayer apps like Pray As You Go or Hallow.
You could also learn how to pray the Liturgy of the Hours together. “The Liturgy of the Hours, also known as the Divine Office or the Work of God (Opus Dei), is the daily prayer of the Church, marking the hours of each day and sanctifying the day with prayer”.
Perhaps picking one of the times of prayer that works best for you as a couple to pray could be a good way to start. The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops has written a short article on the Liturgy of the Hours is and about some information about the different times that can be prayed.
As you and your spouse discuss your prayer life together and consider possible areas of growth to your prayer, may you be open to what the Holy Spirit is calling you to do to grow closer together in your marriage and in your relationship with God.
–-Melissa Guzik and Jean MacKenzie are Registered Psychologists who work in private practice in Edmonton. Melissa has been married since 2002 and has four children and Jean has been married since 2001 and has seven children. They are co-authors of the Catholic marriage enrichment book and workbook To Know, Love and Serve: A Path to Marital Fulfilment..