Sara and Justin Kraft
Four Ways to Begin Praying with Your Spouse
“The family that prays together stays together.” This was the famous slogan popularized by Father Patrick Peyton, but what makes it true? Why is praying together as spouses or a family so important? How do we do it?
These are all important questions, so let’s start with why. Prayer at its heart is an act of intimacy. Saint John Henry Newman expressed it this way, “heart speaks to heart” and this became his official motto when he was named Cardinal.
In other words, prayer is a revelation of one’s heart to another. However, this revelation in prayer is not restricted to God alone. Praying together allows spouses to share together the intimacy that they each enjoy with God. In doing so, each one’s heart is gradually revealed to the other. This is because prayer is the place where our deepest vulnerabilities are expressed. Letting our spouses into these vulnerabilities is an act of entrustment. In sharing our hopes, fears, and desires we gain the opportunity to experience greater acceptance, unconditional love, and security from our spouse. We know and are more fully known by them. This contributes to a deep unity between spouses and strengthens our partnership.
Below are some ways that can be used to pray with your spouse. Whether you have never prayed together or do so regularly, we believe you will find some new useful tools. Some of these methods may be very easy for you while others may take you out of your comfort zone. We encourage you to give them a try.
Pray the Rosary Together
This is probably one of the easiest and most comfortable places to start and was actually the method promoted by Father Patrick Peyton. Many people knew him as the “rosary” priest because of his work in promoting rosary rallies across the United States and even the world. However, he was also a pioneer in the media, developing a weekly radio program and employing celebrities such as Bing Crosby to host a family rosary. If the rosary is too long for you, try praying the Chaplet of Divine Mercy (it only takes about 5 minutes and is actually my favorite prayer).
One tip for making the rosary/chaplet a truly uniting experience is to share specific intentions for your prayer together. In our house we simply take turns stating our specific intentions for that day’s rosary. This is a simple but powerful element. When my wife expresses her intentions, I hear what is important to her. What is causing her anxiety. Her hopes for the future, and I in turn reveal these things to her. The items range from the ordinary (i.e. worries about bills, children, etc.) to her hopes and dreams.
Once our needs have been expressed, we then each get to act on behalf of one another. She is praying for my concerns and I hers. In this way, praying together becomes an opportunity to act in love. It also carries over, as it spurs conversations later. Now that we know each other’s concerns, we are able to make plans and support one another.
Shared Scripture Reflections
A second way we like to pray together is through shared reflection on the scripture or what is often called lectio divina. Lectio divina is a method for praying through a scripture passage. We begin by slowly reading a scripture passage together. We then pause silently to identify the word or phrase that stands out to us. This word or phrase will then become the focus of our reflection. We next share that word or phrase with one another. We again pause for a few moments to consider the scene, the word, or phrase and reflect upon questions such as, “Who is Jesus speaking to? What is the context? What did it mean to that person? What does it mean to me today? How am I being called to act on this?” After these moments we simply share the fruit of our reflection with one another.
In this way, we learn what God is saying to each of us individually. We can then also help each other understand what God is communicating. We also learn from one another’s insights and can help one another foster our own prayer life.
Pray for One Another Spontaneously
This is probably the one that is the most foreign to our experience as Catholics. Many of us are not that comfortable doing this, so it may be easier to start with tip number 1. However, praying spontaneously for your spouse can be a powerful experience and it is really quite easy. Simply share your intentions with one another. Then take turns praying for the other person. Simply pray by expressing your desire to have the others needs fulfilled. Intercede on their behalf. Invoke the Holy Spirit, God the Father, and Jesus to meet their needs. I encourage you to speak a blessing over them and confirm your own love for them as you finish.
Informal Prayer of Gratitude at Dinner
Every night at dinner, we go around the table and share the things for which we want to thank God today. For us, this is a really informal way to offer a daily prayer of gratitude. It lets us to reveal to one another the way God is acting in each of our lives. As such, we get a brief but deep glimpse inside one another. Moreover, it strengthens our family by growing the virtue of gratitude within us. In my experience a grateful person is a happy family and by extension a grateful family will be a happy family. Praying together in this way helps us to recognize the gifts we are receiving from God and one another and to bring recognition to how important other family members are to us.
We hope that these tips deepen your relationship with your spouse and with the Lord. Try one or all of them. Be creative and make them work for you as you see fit.