During the month of February many people focus on ways to love their spouse or improve their marriage and intimacy. One of the best ways for us to improve our relationships is to increase our prayer lives within that relationship. The book Spousal Prayer by Deacon James Keating is exactly what we need to learn about specific ways to pray and improve our relationships with God and our spouse.
Spousal Prayer is a small book that is easy to read but rich in theological doctrine. Deacon Keating’s book includes three chapters:
1. Becoming One:
This chapter includes three main prerequisites for praying with your spouse and building a deep layer of trust.
- Beholding Your Spouse: Receiving your spouse with their heart and identity at the deepest level of your being.
- Listening to Your Spouse: Being an authentic listening, not only listening with your ears but with your mind and heart.
- Forgiving Your Spouse: Include Christ in the grace of forgiving our spouse by acknowledging the wound to your spouse, bringing the emotional effects of the wound to Christ in prayer, show God this would while in adoration of the Blessed Sacrament or reading Scripture and finally continue to bring this wound to the Lord for as long as it takes to transform it into love for your spouse.
2. Praying More Deeply:
This chapter helps us understand how to increase our intimate relationship with God and thus increasing our intimacy with our spouse and vocation in marriage.
- Beholding God:
- Ask for the gift to want to be with God
- Ask for the gift to suffer the coming of Christ into your heart so He might move you away from those disordered attachments that give you more pleasure than being with God.
- Ask the Spirit to pray in your heart.
- Know that our “spouse is an icon of Christ”, that “Christ reaches you through your spouse and you reach Christ through your love of your spouse, as well” (Keating, p. 31).
- Listening to God
- “Listen to God through the ideas we hear in our mind and feelings we carry in our hearts” (Keating, p. 34)
- Listening to God outside our hearts; having outside experiences that bring us closer to God’s vocation for us.
- Repenting Our Sins and Receiving Forgiveness
- Bring our failures to the Cross
- Participate in the Sacraments
3. Staying in Love:
This short chapter talks about bringing everything together in praying for your spouse and increasing your intimate prayer life with God. My favorite part of this chapter is this lovely quote:
“Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, than falling in love in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you will do with your evenings, how you spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything” – Father Pedro Arrupe, SJ
I was able to go to a talk focusing on this book with my spouse and another exercise that we did in praying with our spouse was the following:
In silence together answer these three questions:
- What moves me with gratitude that my spouse has done?
- What is the most significant thin in my life that I want to share with my spouse?
- What is a sorrow that I have that I want to ask forgiveness for?
After time for reflection, face each other and while one spouse tells their answers to the question the other spouse listens in silence. When the first spouse is finished than the other offers a prayer for that spouse. Then switch!
When we allow ourselves to be vulnerable and trust our spouse and also increase our prayer life with God and our spouse we will be given the gift of truly knowing that God is in the center of our marriage. If you are looking for more great resources for your marriage head over to www.foryourmarriage.org.
Be sure to check out our Book Notes archive.
Copyright 2015, Nicole Ernest
Image by Nicole Ernest. All rights reserved.