Part of the first reading today (Thursday of week 9 in Ordinary Time) is a recommended reading in the Church’s Wedding liturgy, and it features Tobias, leading his new wife Sarah in prayer:
When the door was shut and the two were alone, Tobias got up from the bed and said, “Sister, get up, and let us pray and implore our Lord that he grant us mercy and safety.” And they began to say,
“Blessed are you, O God of our fathers,
and blessed be your holy and glorious name for ever.
Let the heavens and all your creatures bless you.
You made Adam and gave him Eve his wife
as a helper and support.
From them the race of mankind has sprung.
You said, ‘It is not good that the man should be alone;
let us make a helper for him like himself.’
And now, O Lord, I am not taking this sister of mine because of lust, but with sincerity. Grant that I may find mercy and may grow old together with her.”
And they both said, “Amen, amen.”
Then they both went to sleep for the night.
– Tobit 8:4-9
It is likely that even a casual reading of this short passage will give you the warm fuzzies in your hearts. Perhaps that is because we are ultimately made for God, and our hearts yearn for God. It makes it incredibly romantic, then, when husband and wife come together in prayer.
With the Holy Father’s weekly catechesis focused on the engagement journey now, it is fitting to remind couples to strive toward a strong prayer life together, even before marriage, to focus your relationship on God, who is Love.
Here are some things you can get out of Tobias and Sarah’s prayer:
- Bless God, who is the Creator of the universe. Remember that without God’s constant care for us, we would simply cease to be;
- Acknowldege God is the Author of marriage. Out of His love and infinite wisdom, he gave woman to man, and gave them the natural means of continuing life on earth. The spouse you are praying with is a wellspring of life, and should be loved and respected;
- Love is not lust. You are attracted physically and sexually to your spouse, but your relationship must be life-giving. To have sexual relations without an honest openness to life is to reject part of your spouse’s sexuality.
- Old age is granted by God. Each day you wake up is a result of His mercy, so try to never take a moment for granted. Treasure the time you have with your spouse.
- End your day with prayer as a couple, every day. Yes, even the days when you don’t feel like it, for prayer is a work of love, and love is a decision you make.
Lastly, the call to prayer is not just for those preparing for marriage. If there is a need to pray together daily before marriage, it’s even more necessary for couples to pray together every day of their marriage. Christ calls for us to love each other “as he loved” us (cf Jn 15:12), how are we to do that if we do not look to him each day?
If you haven’t made an effort to pray as a couple, it will be hard and even awkward at the start, but hard work, discipline, and a single-hearted yearning for God will give you strength to pesevere. Today take the first step. Say to your spouse: “Honey, I’d really like us to put God in the centre our relationship. I know He loves you so much, and I know He will accept our invitation to lead us in our married life together. Let’s start to pray together every night.” How sweet that would be!
Providentially, the Marriage Retorno, a weekend prayer experience for married couples, will be held at 26-28 June 2015. If you feel drawn to learning to pray as a couple, find out more.