For a long time, my husband and I didn’t pray together the way we do now. We’d been together in prayer a lot, praying side by side at church, sharing prayers before meals, leading our children in family prayers and participating in Rosaries with others. We’d been in Scripture study groups and shared prayers there.
The One Thing Missing
However, it wasn’t until we were invited to speak to a group about the Sacrament of Marriage that we realized—in the middle of the presentation—that our relationship was missing something we were recommending as a foundational component of a strong Christian marriage: setting aside time as a couple every day to be with God in prayer.
Perhaps we wouldn’t have been invited had the host known that during our presentation we would discover, and share with the poor souls in the group, our lacking. As we listed the benefits of praying as a couple, I turned to my husband as said, “We don’t do this well. Actually, we don’t do this at all.”
Although our story indicates otherwise, we did prepare our talk together. But God revealed in His own time what we lacked in our preparation. I’m grateful; for it was in that moment that we committed, to each other and to the group enduring our insufficiencies, to entering a new intentional way of spending time together with God.
We All Know It’s Good for Us…
We’d heard the exhortations. “A couple that prays together stays together.” And, we believed it enough to tell others to do it. Prayer was not new to us, and we had experienced its fruits in our individual relationships with Jesus. We believed in its power. As many have expressed, prayer doesn’t change God, it changes us. If prayer changes us, then wouldn’t the shared prayer of a husband and wife change their marriage? And those the marriage encounters?
But, hidden within many things I say I believe is a twinge of unbelief, just enough to prevent me from acting. “I do believe, help my unbelief!” said the father who sought Jesus’ healing of his son in Mark 9:14-29. God will help, but we must genuinely desire him and ask.
My husband and I needed God’s help to believe shared prayer would make a difference. As we began to pray together daily, He began healing our unbelief.
What Prayer Does in a Marriage
Our prayer not only brought us together in a new way, it helped us encounter God in a new way.
For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them. -Matthew 18:20.
When we experience God’s presence in a palpable way in prayer with others, just as Jesus promises, it enables us to recognize His presence in other moments, where it may not be as obvious.
Our prayer enables us to hear God’s message for our marriage. Marriage requires work. It is part of the narrow way (Matthew 7:13-14) to unity with Jesus for those who take its vow. Spouses need direction and guidance. In our prayer, we realize we need constant direction, even in how to pray together.
When we turn to God together, He helps us see Him in each other. Prayer is an expression of love because it directs our attention to another. Our most intimate friendship, that with Jesus, is shared with our spouse in a personal and vulnerable way.When my husband and I turn to God together in prayer, He helps us see Him in each other. #BISblog // Click To Tweet
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What Our Prayer Looks Like
We’ve learned that things go better if we pray together daily. Because our selfish human condition rises anew each day, so does our need for God, in our individual lives and in our relationships.
The only consistent thing about our prayer (other than Jesus showing up every time) is that it happens each day. Most often, we pray together in the morning. The one who leaves the house first seeks out the other. Wherever the other is found will be the location of the prayer.
Sometimes, a child or two or three walks past. We invite them to join us, but only rarely do they accept. They seem to be more interested in observing and listening, perhaps wondering what comes from the prayer of their parents. I trust that God will reveal to them His goodness.
Our prayer time has not been one of rote prayers, but rote prayers would make for beautiful shared prayer if that is the desire of the marriage. We have what I often refer to as “open mic with God” where we simply speak from our heart. It’s often clumsy.
My husband is quick to give thanks and praise, to kindly tell God good morning and notice the abundant gifts we’ve been given.
I am prone to lift up the people in our lives and seek help for the circumstances swirling around us. It is in our varied contributions that the Lord strengthens our bond, our need for each other as husband and wife, and our deep need for Him in our marriage.
Moments of Grace
One of our morning prayers sits in the memory of my heart. At the time, I wouldn’t have said it was a joyful moment, it brings joy now.
In our home, we set important papers and items needed for the next day on a certain part of the kitchen countertop the night before. It’s not far from our coffee maker. The previous night, I had placed in that countertop space several papers that one of our daughters needed the next day for an international service trip. The documents included original notarized signatures and extensive health information. Something unusual happened with the coffee maker my husband generously programs each night, and the papers were soaked with the coffee I desperately wanted in my cup.
My second thought—after I realized I would have to wait for coffee—was how much time it would take to redo the paperwork. I hurriedly draped the papers, one by one, over items in the kitchen to dry. My husband calmly said he was sorry about the coffee and made the call to prayer.
I didn’t want to pray.
I just wanted to get my hair dryer and fix the papers.
But as he spoke the words that started our conversation with God, I was reminded to stop focusing on what was wrong, as I often do in struggles, and give my attention to God, my husband, and the very real presence of them both. As my husband thanked God for the “grace to handle the coffee incident,” I felt a twinge of sorrow for running from that grace minutes before. I prayed I could make room for it in that moment. The prayer made the space I needed.
A Lifelong Invitation to Pray with My Husband
Not surprisingly, we haven’t been invited back to speak about the Sacrament of Marriage. But, the Lord continues to invite us to be together with Him every day. He’s always there, wherever we are and whenever we make the time, waiting for us to share our relationship with Him.
As many encouraged us, I encourage you. If you are married, engaged, or dating, pray together in an intentional way with Our Lord. Make it your own. There are no rules. Ask God for help. He will show up.How I Pray with My Husband #BISblog // Click To Tweet
Nikki Frerker is a wife and mother of four who lives in Leawood, Kansas. She spends a portion of her time practicing estate planning law and enjoys serving as a catechist for Catechesis of the Good Shepherd at her parish. You may find her running before the sun rises, driving her children around at all hours, or singing praise music just loud enough to embarrass anyone willing to listen.