“Praying together is the most powerful predictor of marital happiness that researchers have yet discovered,” wrote the late sociologist Father Andrew Greeley.
One survey found that couples who prayed or read the Bible daily, in addition to weekly church attendance, divorced at a rate of less than 1 per 1,105 marriages. And while 60 percent of couples who pray together “sometimes” checked the box in a survey marked “our marriage is happy,” that number bumped up to 78 percent for those couples who pray together “a lot.” (All research is cited atcoupleprayer.com.) Couple prayer is a powerful means of drawing close to your spouse and blessing your marriage. But how do you do it? Think about:
Posture: Whether lying in bed before you drift off to sleep, standing by the front door before you leave for work, kneeling in front of a candlelit image of Jesus on your nightstand, or sitting side-by-side on the living room couch, I recommend some physical contact with each other because of all the increased benefits touch brings for communication and intimacy. Holding hands, touching shoulders, tracing the sign of the cross on each other’s foreheads, or closing with a hug and kiss after the “Amen” are all good ways to do this.
Timing: Do you want to pray in the morning after getting dressed for the day? Right after the kids have been put to bed? Just before you two go to sleep? Talk together and identify which time of day you want to try first.
Words: Are you pray-out-louders, or silent types? Here are some ideas:
- We want to pray out loud, from our hearts.
If you are comfortable praying spontaneously from your heart, great! If you need some help formulating the content, try recalling the ACTS of prayer (Adoration, Contrition, Thanksgiving and Supplication). For example:
“Lord, you are so good, merciful and generous. We praise you. We are sorry for being crabby at the kids at dinner tonight, especially when Annabelle poured her milk on Caleb’s head. We will try to model a more patient response next time. Thank you for our crazy, beautiful family. Thank you for always being there for us. Please help Mom recover smoothly from her back surgery. And please help us stay gazelle-intense in paying off our student loans early, the way Dave Ramsey teaches.”
A good prayer prompt could be reading a Scripture passage and responding to it together. Try reading the beautiful prayer of Tobiah and Sarah on their wedding night in Tobit 8:4–8.
- We don’t want to have to make it up each time.
Jesus himself taught us the Our Father, so that’s a great one to start with. Round it out with a Hail Mary and a Glory Be for a classic Catholic “three-pack.” Bam! Easy as that! You could pray the rosary together, even just a decade. You could write a prayer for your marriage together, mentioning your core values and goals, and read that aloud together daily. (Guys: great anniversary gift idea!)
- We want to pray silently.
Try lighting a candle and setting a timer, or agreeing on a length of time. (Two minutes is a fine start if this is all new.) Just being together while you’re both addressing the Lord is very powerful and builds spiritual intimacy.
- My spouse won’t pray with me.
At all? Would he or she be willing to give it a try just for a week or two as an experiment?
If it’s a definite “No way, not in my comfort zone,” ask if you can pray next to your spouse. You could simply hold their hand and pray silently, or pray out loud in words such as: “Thank you so much for my wonderful wife, Lord,” or “I praise you for your goodness in giving me such a strong, wise man to walk through life at my side.” Keep it short and sweet: “Jesus, please bless my beautiful bride and protect her through this day. Help her know that in everything she does today, she is cherished by you and by me. Give her peace and joy in her soul, and help her shine her best.”
Do you already pray together, or are you going to try to start? Contact me to let me know how it goes!