10 Points on Prayer for Engaged Couples
1. Prayer is not private. You may think, “this is something between me and God. My fiancé prays too. But it is too private. We don’t pray together.” Stop thinking that way. If you are married God will indeed judge the eternal salvation of your soul partially on the kind of relationship you form with one another. It stands to reason that he wants both of you “in” on the prayer conversation together. (Coincidently, the same principal holds with that world-wide group of people that God took to calling his “Bride” – the Church. We need to pray with the whole Church, with priests, and laity, and parishes, and nuns, and our brothers and sisters in Christ.)
2. You need helps to pray out loud together. Taking turns reading scripture passages out loud, reading devotional books out loud, reading any prayer together out loud. These are the simplest but the greatest helps for praying together.
3. The church wants you to “steal” prayers from that big communal prayer, the Mass! Yes, first of all, you could read together out loud any number of the prayers of the Mass. This would be a perfectly legitimate form of prayer together. But also…
4. Assimilate the grand meaning of the prayers in the Mass. Here is some of the “spirit” of the Mass: there are four purposes of the whole Mass, four things that are expressed in all the prayers together: Adoration, Contrition, Thanksgiving, and Supplication. Using different terms, come up with the words to acknowledge how great God is, ask forgiveness for sins, give thanks for blessings, and make supplications for things you need and for prayer intentions of other people. The first four words give a helpful acronym for remembering this: A.C.T.S.
5. Spontaneity is always a goal to have – openness, vulnerability with each other in prayer – but it is not the high point. It’s great if a person is able to just speak to God out loud with the exact thoughts and emotions that are in their heart or “on their mind.” At first no one is ever comfortable doing this out loud when others are present. It is good to get to the point where the words, the thoughts, the feelings are so genuine, and the presence of God is so valuable, that you just say these things out loud despite the discomfort. But don’t judge how good of a pray-er you are based on this aspect. In a similar vein…
6. If you burst out laughing at some awkward mistake or gaff in prayer together… join the long line of “experts” who have done the same (yes, I mean priests and religious sisters and all those who take their prayers so “seriously” that we chuckle at the thought of them laughing).
7. If you want to find prayers for your engagement in the Bible, read C.S. Lewis’s short book about the Psalms, and read/learn about the book of Tobit.
8. Prayers that you both have memorized are great. Memorize some (The Lord’s Prayer is assumed): grace before and after meals. The St. Michael Prayer. The Hail Holy Queen, etc.
9. The Rosary. Make a plan to try the Rosary together. If you have never prayed it out loud with a group (and thus don’t really know how to pray it at all), find a Church where it is done in a group. Find a church where it is done before or after Mass. Learn the prayers of the Rosary. Get a brochure or reflection booklet so that you have the mysteries in front of you. Just try it, even if it’s one decade a day, over the phone, in a short car ride, anywhere you can say it. You can’t beat the Rosary for a family prayer. It’s not really a prayer for beginners, but one has to begin to start getting good at it.
10. It is a grace that Jesus has put the desire to pray in your heart – do not take that for granted! Prayer is a response. God contacted you first. He found you first. Trust me. If he didn’t, you would not like to think where you would be. Prayer is a response to what he has done first. It is a grace that you have the thought about praying. Respond well.