Prayer is one the deepest ways we show our love – to God, to our family, to the world. From childhood, many of us experience religious tradition through prayer in the Mass and in family prayer time. It is one of the staples of being Christian.
St. Thérèse of Lisieux believed that prayer was looking towards heaven in “recognition and love, embracing both trial and joy.” Prayer is part of living out our faith, as well as deepening our relationship with God.
From a young age, we’re taught what to pray and how to pray – from the “Our Father” and “Hail Mary” to the Rosary. We’re taught to pray through the Mass and general intercessions. Many of us may even have a mental checklist of people we often pray for – our siblings, parents, and children, and those in our lives who are struggling. Hopefully many of us are also praying for our parish priest, for our country, our president, and ourselves.
But how many of us, when we kneel down to pray, intentionally pray for our husband or wife?
As spouses, one of our main missions in life is to help each other get to heaven. It’s typical to pray for marriage and spousal relationships, especially during difficult times. However, in our prayers for marriage and in praying together, we often forget to pray specifically for our spouse. But in marriage we are called to care for each other – through sickness and in health, for better or worse – and this care includes prayer.
In his letter to the Ephesians, Saint Paul teaches us about spousal love and relationships. Although he is speaking primarily to husbands about loving their wives as they love themselves, the lesson is not exclusive to husbands. Christ above all taught us to love each other as we love ourselves. This is one of the primary reasons for prayer. We should be loving our spouses as we love ourselves, says Saint Paul. As often as we pray for ourselves and our struggles, so too, should we be praying for our spouses.
In marriage, we are called to put our spouse above ourselves – body and soul. Spousal love means willing the spiritual and physical well-being of your spouse. In praying for our spouses, we are putting their spiritual and even physical well-being above our own.
As the Catechism (#2559) points out, genuine prayer is not supposed to be done with a prideful heart, but with a humble and contrite one. However, the act of praying can also be a form of humility, since coming to God with requests reminds us of our humanity.
When we pray for our spouses, we’re reminded that we’re not the only ones in the relationship with individual needs and wants. We’re reminded that there’s another individual with needs and wants, triumphs and disappointments, successes and failures. How many of us think first about our own lives or the spousal relationship before thinking about our spouse as more than simply our spouse? In living day in and day out with the same person, we often forget to see our spouses as more than just a husband or wife or the mother or father of our children.
Marriage can sometimes be a battle of the wills – his will over hers, her wants over his. How often are the words “I’m right and you’re wrong” thrown into an argument? Prayer, however, center us. In prayer, we begin to seek God’s will and not ours. When we pray with humility for our spouse, we allow God’s plan to work in our lives.
In praying for our spouse, we begin to recognize that this person we’re living our life with is on his or her own path chosen by God. Regardless of our own wants and desires, our spouse has a vocation that must also be fulfilled here on earth. Prayer moves us beyond our own wants and desires, and our own concerns, to that of our spouse.
We may like to think of our spouse as Superman or Superwoman, but the reality is that our spouses are only human. They are susceptible to human weakness. Just as we use prayer to overcome our own temptations, we should be praying for our spouse in the same manner. We all have weaknesses and temptations that we need divine assistance with. We are taught to use prayer as a weapon in the battle against temptation. When we have another person praying for us, prayer becomes that much more effective.
“Again, [amen,] I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything for which they are to pray, it shall be granted to them by my heavenly Father. For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Mt 18:19-20)
Ways To Pray For Your Spouse
- Pray for each other – out loud.
Pray for something your spouse needs or is struggling with – out loud. It does more than just show support and love. It’s powerful in showing that you’re witnessing their struggles and that they’re not going unnoticed. When you pray for your spouse out loud, especially when you’re praying together, you’re showing your spouse your faith in God’s ability to ease any burden and even lift it. Furthermore, it shows great love and devotion for your spouse and for God.
- Pray together.
Re-read Jesus’ words in Matthew 18:19-20 (above) again.. When you pray for each other together Jesus is right there with you. You are both witnessing each other’s faith in God and the willingness to trust in His plan for your marriage. You are witnessing each other’s devotion, humility, and love. Furthermore, you’re placing God at the center of your marriage, and making Heaven the ultimate pinnacle point.
- Ask your spouse what to pray for specifically.
When you ask your spouse what he or she needs you to pray for, you’re vocally assuring your spouse of your love and concern. It shows that you care about your spouse’s individual struggles and needs that are apart from your married life.
Prayer And Intimacy
Prayer has a powerful way of increasing intimacy in the marital relationship. As spouses deepen their relationship with God through prayer, they deepen their relationship with each other. As we replace pride with humility through prayer, putting our spouse’s concerns over our own, we recognize our own place in the relationship and within God’s plan. Praying for God to lift the burdens of our spouse can do just that. In can also bring you closer together and closer to Heaven.
“Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The fervent prayer of a righteous person is very powerful.” (James 5:16)