The Most Important Conversation in Marriage Is Prayer
COMMENTARY: The only way to give our spouse and children the best — which is Jesus himself loving them through us — is to deepen our interior life through the commitment to daily prayer.
We’ve been married for more than 20 years and have welcomed eight children into the world. We’re here to tell you that praying as a married couple is possible — and worth the heroic effort to make it happen in your family life.
The most important lesson that we’ve learned over the years is that while many marriage programs talk about the importance of spouses praying together as a couple, few talk about the necessity for individual daily prayer. There is no doubt that coming together as a couple to pray together can enrich a marriage. But there is something even more foundational for a marriage to grow, thrive and be truly led by the Holy Spirit — and that is faithfulness to personal daily mental prayer.
Early in our marriage, we spent time with St. Teresa of Calcutta’s sisters, the Missionaries of Charity, serving with them and praying with them. It was then that we came across a beautiful prayer that they recited each day after Mass. It speaks to the heart of why personal daily prayer is so important for one’s vocation:
“Dear, Jesus ... shine through us and be so in us that every soul we come in contact with may feel Your presence in our souls. Let them look up and see no longer us, but only Jesus!” | “Radiating Christ” prayer, MotherTeresa.org
What a beautiful prayer! Think about the line “that every soul we come in contact with may feel Your presence in our souls.” We hope and pray that our spouse and children encounter not just us, but Jesus himself shining through us. The only way to give our spouse and children the best — which is Jesus himself loving them through us — is to deepen our interior life through the commitment to daily prayer.
Making personal prayer time happen for both Mom and Dad can be a challenge for a busy family. Over the years, here are the ways we’ve found to cultivate prayer amidst the busyness of a full house with many young children:
1. Be flexible in the way you pray. It won’t look like it did before, when you were single.
2. Be creative in finding time in your busy family life to pray.
3. Be supportive of each other’s need for daily prayer.
4. Be faithful to personal daily prayer, which means making it a top priority every day.
For example, there was a season in our family life when I (Beth) found time to pray by making coffee in the evening and putting it in a thermos on the bedside. In this way, I could pray in my bedroom the next morning and not have to walk down to the kitchen to get my coffee — an excursion that always led to our beloved children finding me and making prayer time impossible.
As parents, of course we genuinely love our children. But sometimes our love for them is hindered by our self-centeredness, impatience and lack of understanding. On my own, we’re not able to love them as they deserve to be loved. We know that we need Jesus loving our children through us. As parents, we want to give our children more than just ourselves — our own personality, our own planning, teaching and helping. We want to give them Jesus radiating through us. But this can only happen if we cultivate an interior life and make daily personal prayer a top priority. As spouses and as parents, we are like a lamp. We have to plug the lamp into the outlet for it to shine and bring light to a room. Just as Mother Teresa’s prayer reminds us, if we want Christ’s light to radiate through us and for his love to touch the hearts of our spouses and children in all we do together, we know that we need to “plug in” to God for individual daily prayer.
This excerpt is adapted from The Good, the Messy, and the Beautiful: The Joys and Struggles of Real Married Life by Edward and Beth Sri. © 2022, Ascension Press