This is a reminder – you and your spouse are supposed to pray together. Why is it a reminder, instead of news? Because you already know it. Let’s spend a few moments thinking about the difference between praying together as a married couple and praying individually.
Praying alone: You offer your own desires, gratitude, needs, and praise to God.
Praying with your spouse: You unite your own desires, gratitude, needs, and praise with that of your spouse. The two of you in “one flesh” (Matt. 19:4-6) offer your prayers as a sacramental couple.
This united couple-prayer is more effective in Heaven than if both marriage partners offered their prayers separately. Why? For one thing, because the couple must unite their wills when they pray together. They show God by their couple prayer that they are living His words in the Gospel of Matthew about “cleaving” to the wife and being “one flesh.” God wants the hearts of both you and your spouse. You think differently; you are both motivated differently. God wants both pieces of that puzzle. When you pray together, you fulfill the original plan of our Creator God in the first chapter of Genesis (verse 27) by reflecting the image of God.
And God created man to his own image: to the image of God he created him: male and female he created them. (Gen. 1:27)
If you are not used to praying together, it will be awkward at first. But only at first. You’ll get used to it. Also remember this couple prayer is in addition to your individual prayers, not a replacement for them. Here are some tips to get started:
Keep it short, especially at first. Your spouse may not have the endurance or the temperament to stay in prayer as long as you. Gradually add more formal prayers as the weeks go by.
Pray alone with your spouse. This couple prayer time is in addition to family prayers, such as the rosary. A good time to pray together is at night, after the kids have gone to bed. Close your bedroom door so the kids don’t hear your petitions. Spend a few minutes in prayer together before you go to bed or do any other last-minute activities.
Pray on your knees. Don’t pray sitting down or lying in bed. For one thing, you might fall asleep. Besides, posture really does matter. It shows God you are really serious about humbling yourselves before Him and asking His help for your marriage and family life.
The husband should always lead the prayers. The man should begin the prayers with the Sign of the Cross and should say the first parts of whatever formal prayers you choose, such as the Our Father and Hail Mary. The couple together then says the rest of the prayer.
Pray both formal and informal prayers. Formal prayers are written down and memorized, such as the Our Father, the Hail Holy Queen, the Glory Be, etc. Informal prayers should come after the formal prayers, and consist of talking with God, Blessed Mother Mary, and the other saints and angels in your own words. Ask them for what you need and be sure to thank them for blessings and graces you’ve already received throughout your marriage.
Strive for the same time and place. Be consistent and actually set aside a time and place every day for your couple prayers. This doesn’t mean you can’t pray together at other times of the day; it is rather a method for developing a habit. Consistent behavior performed for several days in a row will begin to form new habits.
I would like to show you something that is so quick it only takes 20 seconds. It is remarkably easy to do and completely free.
It won’t cost you one red cent.
And the best part: It will make God smile.
First, I have a question for you: Let’s say your sister comes to visit and she gives your children candy or a little toy. The child takes the gift from her aunt with a big, quiet smile on her face and turns to walk away. What do you do as a parent?
If you are like many parents, you look at your daughter and prompt her with "What do you say?" The child then remembers to thank her aunt.
Let’s get back to the quick, easy, and free thing you can do that will both please God and draw your family closer together at the same time. You probably already pray the "Grace Before Meals" prayer. It goes like this: Bless us, O Lord, and these Thy gifts, which we are about to receive from Thy bounty through Christ our Lord. Amen.
Do you have trouble keeping the family together at meal time? Do the kids leave when they are finished eating, without asking if they can be excused from the table?
Pray "Grace After Meals" and your kids will stick around. They don’t have a choice. They have to wait at the table until pretty much everyone is done eating (you can start the prayer when the last person is still eating, so everyone isn’t stuck waiting for the straggler).
Grace After Meals is quick. It only takes 20 seconds. It’s a very easy prayer. And it’s free. The best thing: You and your entire family will now show gratitude to God! Your loving Savior in Heaven just has to smile when His children on earth remember to say "thank you" after they enjoy a meal from His bounty. Like your daughter who says "thank you" to her aunt in above example, your family can also learn a habit of gratitude.
The prayer goes like this: We give Thee thanks O Almighty God for all Thy benefits, who livest and reignest world without end. May the souls of the faithful departed, through the mercy of God, rest in peace. Amen.
Starting today, you can keep your family together at the table, teach them by your daily practice that they should be grateful people, pray for the poor souls in Purgatory, and show your own gratitude toward God for His blessings.
All in 20 seconds.