St. Augustine once wrote: “My heart is restless until it rests in you.”
We all feel a hunger for God. We hunger to know that there is someone greater than us, who is wiser, who cares for us, and who wants to help us. We often ignore this hunger because of the rush of daily life and the noise that fills our days. Yet the hunger for God is there, and we need to tend to it.
Prayer helps us satisfy that hunger. Prayer helps us get to know God and learn how to accept the abundant, unending love we find in him.
To introduce prayer into your life as a couple, it is important to develop daily or weekly habits that allow you to pause whatever you are doing, quiet the noise, and remember God. From the very start of our relationship, Teri and I made it a habit to go to Mass together each Sunday and to pray each day before meals. In addition, we each have developed individual habits for spending time with God.
Regardless of how you and your spouse choose to pray, prayer will help you grow spiritually. Such spiritual growth will be reflected in the quality of your relationship, because in prayer we experience God’s love, and from him we learn to love one another.
How to Pray with Your Spouse as Catholics
Our Catholic tradition tells us that the family is the fundamental cell of society and of the Church. Each family, each home, is the Church in miniature; it is the place where the Gospel is taught and practiced. God resides there, and prayers are offered to him. The family is the domestic church.
Before you dig into developing a richer prayer life, here are a few ideas about how to make your home more conducive to prayer so that your domestic church might flourish.
Make Your House a Sacred Space
In developing a Christian lifestyle that is enriched by prayer, the place to start is in the way you decorate your house—the home of your domestic church. Decorating your home with religious art, images of Mary or saints, or crucifixes, or placing a Bible in a corner with a candle, will constantly remind you that God lives there with you. These reminders are invitations to speak to God about your daily needs and to thank him for your blessings.
When John and I moved to Nashville, the kitchen of our new home had a multipurpose island. I decorated it with a plant, a candle, and a small icon of Mary that John had purchased for me in Russia while on a business trip. I made it a habit to light the candle when anyone asked me to pray for them.
At the time our youngest daughter, Laura, was in high school, and many of her friends were not Catholic. One day she asked: “Do you know how weird this looks?” I was a little surprised that she might be embarrassed by our custom and explained that these religious symbols represent who we are.
We would light the candle to remind ourselves to pray for special intentions. I lit the candle when John traveled, when friends asked for prayers, and when Laura went out in the evenings. If she came
home late, we would leave a note: “Laura, blow out the candle. It is lit for you.”
Years later during one of Laura’s visits home from college, John and I were out one evening. When we returned home, we found the candle lit with a note that said: “Mom and Dad, please blow out the candle. It is lit for you.” To this day both our daughters call or text to ask us to light the candle and to pray for their intentions.
Surround Yourself with Positive Things
The environment in which we live includes the music we listen to in our homes or in the car, the books or articles and blogs we read, the TV shows and movies we watch, the sites we visit on the Internet, what we post on social media, the electronic games we play, and more.
Create an environment around you that is positive and a constant reminder to you and to the people who come in contact with you that you have a relationship with God—you are a child of God.
Stop right now, at least mentally, to take inventory of what you have in your home that reminds you of God, and what might exist in your environment that is not as positive as you would like. What can you change to shift toward God?
Find the Right Time
You may find yourselves wondering when you can find time to pray.
We have friends who are early risers, and they pray first thing in the morning. We know others with long commutes to work who use that time for prayer. Some pray the Rosary, while others pray the Liturgy of the Hours using prayer apps. Some read scripture or spiritual reflections during breaks at work, or stop by a church to pray. Young parents pray when they can, some use soothing inspirational music to create an environment for quiet prayer. Still others end their day with a prayer, individually or as a couple.
Each person has a preference. Discover yours.
Make Prayer a Habit
To create prayer habits and to reinforce them, you can remind yourself of God’s presence in your life by placing a magnet on your refrigerator, or a sticky note at your desk or in your car, or a holy card in a book that you are reading, or a candle in your kitchen. Use reminders that work for you. These are invitations to prayer.
Prayer is not a chore; it is a conversation with a friend. Whether alone or together with your spouse, you can speak to God in prayer as you would to a friend, using your own words, or you can recite a favorite traditional prayer.
Pray with Your Spouse and for Your Spouse
There are different ways of praying together. Some are easier than others, such as going to Mass together, praying before meals, and praying the Rosary or novenas together. These prayers are easier because they do not expose our intimate conversations with God.
On the other hand, praying aloud in front of your spouse using your own words to express your feelings as you speak to God may be more difficult for some. We believe that praying together is one of the most intimate experiences a couple can share. It is a joint experience that builds your communion.
In our relationship, John and I started with the easier ways to pray as a couple. We started by praying the Our Father together. In the same way, you should start with a form of prayer that is comfortable to you, but pray.
Pray together for your common intentions, and pray individually for each other, especially during those days when your relationship is under stress.
Join the Church in Worshiping
One of the most important habits in the prayer life of a couple is going to Mass each Sunday. If your spouse is not Catholic, invite him or her to accompany you to Mass, as a religious activity that you do together, for the benefit of your marriage and one day for your children, should you be so blessed.
Regular Mass attendance will strengthen not only your relationship with God but also your relationship with your spouse. Participation in the Eucharist transforms us as individuals and as couples.
Pope Francis explained this in an address at St. Peter’s on June 22, 2014, “Each time we take part in the Mass . . . the presence of Jesus and the Holy Spirit acts in us, shapes our heart, and gives us the interior attitudes that shape our behaviors according to the Gospel.”
—John and Teri Bosio
Joined by Grace: A Catholic Prayer Book