Prayer is both a gift of grace and a response to God’s invitation to life-giving communion. As a husband, prayer allows me to walk humbly before God in the obedience of faith with my wife; it is listening to the voice of God, and allowing that voice to change my life and shape my marriage. Prayer draws me deeply into God’s heart, so that every day I can recommit myself to maintaining a personal relationship of love and intimacy with him.
The real cross of prayer is to believe that Jesus Christ is Lord of every single situation in our lives. There are a number of different situations and circumstances that arise throughout the course of marriage that are challenging, which may lead to conflict and discord between spouses. These include, among others, not praying together as a couple.
Many couples have a problem with prayer because they believe that going to church together on Sunday, praying before meals or maintaining a personal prayer life is enough. Many men do not know how to pray with their wives, or find the experience of praying together uncomfortable or awkward. This was also my experience, given the fact that my wife and I have two very disparate expressions of prayer. I love very formal, structured prayer, while my wife prefers a more relaxed, free-flowing, “from the heart” prayer style. How did we reconcile these seemingly incompatible ways of praying?
The key is to keep it simple. In the morning, before getting out of bed, I take the initiative by holding my wife close to me and saying, “Lord, I thank you for the gift of my wife. I thank you for our 20 years together. I thank you for our beautiful children and for the life we have built together. Lord, please help me to be the husband and father that I need to be for them today. Amen.”
How simple is that? If men are serious about keeping God at the center of their married lives, we cannot make excuses for not praying with our spouses every day. In a week that has 168 hours, husbands and wives can and must spend at least a few minutes together in daily prayer. We make time for those things in our lives that are important to us, and there is nothing more important in marriage than putting Christ first.
The benefits I experienced as a result of praying with my wife include:
• A natural deepening and strengthening of our relationship.
• Showing more affection, reverence and esteem toward my wife.
• Building honesty, trust and respect.
• Developing loving habits that became part of my everyday life.
• Rekindling love, joy and passion in our relationship.
• No longer taking her for granted.
As we were cleaning the house, my wife and I came across our wedding video and decided to watch it. As I looked back on that amazing day, I thought of the vows that I made — words that the Lord has kept alive in our marriage all these years later: “I promise to cherish and support you so that you may always grow in God’s love, so that we may grow in love together. I promise to love and treasure you all the days of your life.”
Prayer helps me to keep Christ at the heart and center of my marriage as I continually strive to be holy — to be the man, husband and father that God created and calls me to be. Prayer brings into clear relief that the Lord will lead us from sorrow to joy, from despair to hope, and from death to everlasting life.
Praying with my wife has reminded me that God is the fountain from which we will receive the strength, power and grace that we need to help each other get to heaven.
• Deacon Harold Burke-Sivers is the founder and director of DynamicDeacon.com, a Christian evangelization and apologetics organization dedicated to the promotion of Catholic values, principles and teaching. He is the author of the best-selling book, “Behold the Man: A Catholic Vision of Male Spirituality,” published by Ignatius Press.