Each week, we summarize a specific style, form, or approach to prayer, using the highly-acclaimed book by Robert J. Wicks, Prayer in the Catholic Tradition: A Handbook of Practical Approaches (Franciscan Media 2006). In this article, you’ll learn more about prayer and marriage.
The title of this chapter reminds me of the old Frank Sinatra song:
Love and marriage, love and marriage
They go together like a horse and carriage
This I tell you, brother
You can't have one without the other
The reciprocal relationship between prayer and marriage
Research shows that in couples for whom faith is important, all spouses pray regularly for each other and for their children. However, outside of mealtime grace and church liturgy, few spouses pray with each other. Those spouses who do pray report that prayer helps them communicate with each other and manage conflict. Prayer also helps them to stay committed as the marriage itself becomes their spiritual director.
Two ways to enrich a marriage through prayer are reflective questions and prayer activities. An example of a reflective question would be: "How would you answer, 'I knew my marriage was a sacrament when. . .'" There are numerous prayer activities couples can sample, including saying the examen together, reading spiritual poetry to each other, reading and discussing books on prayer and spirituality and reading and writing psalms together. Creating a prayer space in their home through the use of icons, pictures, prayer cushions or an altar could be an enhancement to marital prayer.
A popular exercise in Marriage Encounter is the end-of-the-day practice of writing about one's feelings, exchanging journals, and discussing them with the partner. Each learns what the other is celebrating or struggling with. This practice gives husbands especially time to access their feelings.
Father Roger adapted the body cross prayer for use by married couples attending Retrouvaille. The spouses stand facing each other. One at a time they trace the sign of the cross on your spouse with your thumb. I will say “receive the sign of the cross,” and then I will name a part of our spouse’s body. Make the sign of the cross there, husbands go first and then wives. Our response will be:
R/: Glory and praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
Receive the sign of the cross on your ears, that you may hear the voice of the Lord through the loving words of your spouse.
--Lisa Rosenlund, Parish Manager
Saint Brendan Church in San Francisco. Check out our exciting featured news articles.