When it comes to prayer life, when should couples start praying together? Maybe you’re in a relationship where conversations about God and faith are normal. Perhaps you’re just trying to remember how to pray the rosary. Regardless of where you’re at in your spiritual journey, it’s important to spend time thinking about the role that prayer plays in your relationship.
Prayer is an essential part of the Catholic faith
Before we talk about why prayer is important, we have to answer what prayer is.
Saint Therese of Lisieux had a simple answer when she wrote, “For me, prayer is a surge of the heart; it is a simple look turned towards Heaven, it is a cry of recognition and of love, embracing both joy and trial.”
Prayer is not a practice relegated to a particular group within the Catholic faith. It isn’t just for traditional Catholics or more modern Catholics. In fact, prayer is one of the practices that brings the “Universal” element into our faith.
The Christian life is a relationship between God and man. Prayer is simply conversing with the Lord and growing in deeper friendship with him. We’re called to know, love, and serve God. But you can’t desire to serve someone you don’t love, and you can’t love someone you don’t know. We come to know God through conversation with him on a regular, daily basis.
Couples that pray together grow together
It is necessary and good to desire to spend time in prayer with someone that you’re discerning the vocation of marriage with. After all, your relationship should be centered on the Lord. The vulnerability, authenticity, honesty, and intimacy fostered in prayer are all important to the vocation of marriage.
How important is it to pray together as a couple?
Prayer is important. Every single one of us needs to be in regular, deep conversation with the Lord.
For couples who are dating and discerning marriage together, prayer is incredibly important. After all, dating should be a season where you’re discerning God’s will for your life and vocation. How can you discern if you don’t include the Lord in that conversation and decision making process?
At what point in a relationship should you talk about prayer?
Conversations about your faith and spiritual life should be regular conversations between you and your significant other. There’s nothing wrong with praying together before your meals when you’re out on a date. But make sure you discern together when to add longer, free-form prayer into your relationship.
Prayer always has a place in your life. Regardless of what stage your relationship is at, you should be regularly turning to the Lord and offering up your significant other to him, asking him to form your will to his.
But then there’s prayer as a couple together. The answer as to when to add prayer together into your relationship will be different for each couple. But regardless of what you discern, there are things to consider before incorporating into your dates and conversations.
Important things to be cautious about praying as a new couple
Although prayer is beautiful (and necessary!) that doesn’t mean it is all good, all the time, for all couples. Before you start praying together as a couple, take a look at these few caveats.
1. Praying together can build spiritual intimacy too soon
Opening your heart to another person in the vulnerable setting of prayer is an incredible way to build spiritual intimacy. This is a good thing, since prayer wasn’t ever meant to be a shallow conversation. In my own marriage, I pray with my husband many times throughout the day. Every time we finish our prayer, I feel deeply connected to him and strengthened in our relationship. This is beautiful for marriage, but if you’re just starting to date, it could leave you feeling closer to someone than you actually are.
Just like you should set physical boundaries in your dating relationship, consider placing spiritual boundaries in place, too. Be open and honest with each other in conversation about your prayer life together. If you feel uncomfortable, say so.
2. Praying together can be used to manipulate
Prayer should be an intimate conversation between you and the Lord. But sometimes, prayer can be twisted and used to deceive, manipulate, and play with someone’s heart.
If your significant other seems to always boast about their prayer life, this may be a red flag. Instead of allowing you to see who they really are in their relationship with God, they could be using their prayer life to manipulate you.
Also be aware of the desires in your own heart driving you to pray with your significant other. Are you wanting to just become closer with them? Do you authentically want to encounter them and the Lord in conversation? Be sure that you know both you and your boyfriend or girlfriend’s intentions.
Praying together as a couple should never replace individual prayer
Even though you’re dating someone, that doesn’t mean that your prayer life can totally revolve around your prayer time with them. Healthy relationships involve both parties having a regular, individual prayer life, too.
Individual prayer allows you to connect to God
Take time to dive deep into your own relationship with the Lord. No human being can fulfill you or make you happy in the complete way that God can. When you pour into your own relationship, it also can bring clarity to your discernment since you’re constantly pausing to listen to the voice of God.
If you’re making time throughout the day to speak with (and listen to!) God, you’ll find that you’re growing in your spiritual life daily. Even if your prayer is dry, the most important thing to do is keep showing up and letting yourself be seen by the Lord. He’s going to honor those who honor him.
The devil isn’t a fan of healthy, holy marriages. In fact, he does anything possible to destroy them.
You could see him rear his ugly head in forms of temptation or despair. But if you turn regularly to prayer, you’re equipping yourself for the spiritual battle. Take time daily to arm yourself against the devil’s cunning ways!
What types of prayer to incorporate into your relationship
If you’re just starting out in a relationship, spontaneous prayer can prove to be more harmful than helpful. After all, free-form prayer allows you to be vulnerable in your conversation with each other and with God. That may be too deep, too quick for a new relationship. A speedy deepening of your spiritual intimacy together could make discernment rougher than it could have been.
But the good news is that if you decide to post-pone spontaneous prayer together for now, there are plenty of other options for prayer with your significant other!
For instance, you could attend Mass or Eucharistic adoration together as a couple. You’ll be praying together as the body of Christ, but your attention is still focused on the Lord. Another way to incorporate prayer into your relationship could be going to a Bible study together, or spending time around friends and family who encourage your relationship with God.
Finally, the Church offers beautifully structured prayers. Maybe you and your boyfriend or girlfriend could start with short prayers like the “Our Father” and “Hail Mary.” Perhaps you have a particular devotion to a certain saint and can pray a novena to him or her together. But you really can’t go wrong with saying the Rosary together!
Why praying the Rosary is important for couples
“To pray the Rosary is to hand over our burdens to the merciful hearts of Christ and his mother,” wrote Saint Pope John Paul II. The Rosary is a beautiful way to pray together as a couple.
Never prayed the prayer and wondering how to pray the Rosary? Familiar with the prayer but a little rusty? No worries! There are some great resources out there for praying this prayer.
- Check out this guide for how to pray the Rosary
- This resource sends you an audio Rosary and daily meditation
- Here is an interactive online Rosary if you’re still looking for your beads!
Although prayer always has a role in our daily life, discerning prayer as a couple can prove to be tricky.
There’s no where in Church teaching or Scripture that says you shouldn’t or can’t pray with your boyfriend or girlfriend. But before you spend long stretches of time in intimate, vulnerable prayer together, make sure to check your intentions.