Put yourself in Teresa’s place. Here’s this awkward young man who finally managed to ask her out, which obviously took just about the last milligram of his courage. But she’s just started dating him, and now he’s clearly gearing up to ask for something more.
What’s it going to be?
Finally, he manages to say it: “Could we…um…pray together?”
She actually laughs at him. But in a good-natured way. He’s so sweet! Of course she’ll pray with him. And then, his voice breaking, he starts to pray the Hail Mary with her.
Smack-dab in the middle, he forgets the words. Which wouldn’t be a big deal, except that he was a former seminarian, and now he bills himself as a “Catholic speaker.” He talks in front of huge parish groups all over the country, but he’s so nervous praying with her that he forgets the second-best-known Catholic prayer in the world.
Well, yeah, of course I was that awkward young man. And yes, Teresa ended up marrying me anyway.
But why was it so awkward to think about praying together as a couple? Maybe it’s not so surprising. Praying together can actually be more intimate than sex. You have to bare your soul. It’s not easy to do that. It’s much easier just not to say anything.
But you’ve got to overcome that awkwardness. Faith without prayer is just a hobby. And prayer is actually the most important thing you’ll ever do together as a couple.
How do I know that? It’s science. And it’s theology.
You see a lot of bogus statistics on the Web. But actual reliable surveys show that couples who worship together are about 35% less likely to divorce. And that’s a bigger difference than you can make with just about any other change in your lives.
As important as it is to keep your marriage together, though, I don’t think that’s the biggest reason to pray together. Remember this: Your destination is heaven, and you want to spend eternity there. And eternity is kind of a long time.
Your marriage is the school where you learn how to live in heaven. You learn to put God at the center, and your relationship flourishes. Love surrounds you. That’s what heaven is. That makes prayer really important, doesn’t it? So think about that. Look at it from every angle. See how important praying together really is. Because until you can see that it’s the most important thing you’ll ever do together, it’s not going to happen. I know human nature. You’ll be too busy. You won’t want to start an awkward conversation.
Start with seven minutes a day. That’s a nice, easy number to remember, and it hardly seems to take any time away from all the other things you think you need to do. But more time is fine. Less is fine, too. Just start. Getting over that hurdle is the most important thing.
“Won’t it be awkward?” someone asked me once. “We’ve been married thirteen years, and now…this.” Yes, it will be awkward. You’re encountering the Lord together, the source of all love. It’ll be as awkward as your first date. But that was worth it, wasn’t it?
When should you pray? Right before bed can be a good time, but if you’re really tired, it may be too easy to forget it or put it off. Try finding a time when you both feel most alive.
How should you pray? St. John Paul II had a really easy answer to that question: “I would say: Pray any way you like, so long as you do pray.” Perhaps start with the Our Father. Then ask God to help you to love him better tomorrow than you did today. I always tell people to end with the Hail Mary. (If you can remember the words.)
And when should you start? That’s even easier: Now.
No excuses. If you put it off a day, you’ll put it off a year.
Start praying together now––no matter if you’re dating, engaged, or married. No matter if it’s over the phone or in person. You’ll be doing the best thing for yourselves. You’ll be doing the best thing for your marriage. And you’ll be ready for heaven when God calls and you have to answer.
Jon Leonetti is an international Catholic speaker, author and radio host who conveys a message of lasting fulfillment in Jesus Christ. Jon desires to cultivate an intimate relationship with Jesus and help others do the same through prayer, the Sacraments, family life, Mary and the saints. Engaging Catholics in all walks of life, Jon’s keynote presentations and Surge of the Heart Parish Mission continues to help thousands of Catholics each year discover the freedom Christ offers by way of His life and love. Learn more about Jon at www.JonLeonetti.com