Every marriage is a promise to be faithful to one another in “good times and in bad” until “death do us part.” But these lifelong vows are not possible for us to fulfill on our own. To love and cherish one another for the rest of our lives, we need the help of family, friends, and most importantly, of God.
We know that God is love, so when we connect our sometimes feeble or even broken attempts at married love with the love that God shows us, we tap into a deeper source of strength and hope than we could find on our own. Every marriage encounters moments of challenge and failure, but we also trust in God’s grace to help us. Participating in a regular faith community or beginning an intentional practice of prayer are effective ways to invite God’s presence into our daily experience of marriage.
Prayer in marriage could mean praying together as a couple or as a family, and it can also mean praying for one another in our own individual prayer. As a husband and father, here are some examples of prayers that I find helpful as I pray for my wife and family.
From the Book of Tobit
“Blessed are you, O God of our ancestors;
blessed be your name forever and ever!
Let the heavens and all your creation bless you forever.
You made Adam, and you made his wife Eve
to be his helper and support;
and from these two the human race has come.
You said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone;
let us make him a helper like himself.’
Now, not with lust,
but with fidelity I take this woman as my wife.
Send down your mercy on me and on her,
and grant that we may grow old together.
Bless us with children.”
A blessing from the Catholic rite of marriage
O God, look with favor on these your servants,
joined together in marriage,
who ask to be strengthened by your blessing.
Send down on them the grace of the Holy Spirit
and pour your love into their hearts,
that they may remain faithful in the marriage covenant.
May the grace of love and peace
abide in your daughter,
and let her always follow the example of those holy women
whose praises are sung in the Scriptures.
May her husband entrust his heart to her,
so that, acknowledging her as his equal
and his joint heir to the life of grace,
he may show her due honor
and cherish her always
with the love that Christ has for His Church.
May these your servants
hold fast to the faith and keep your commandments;
made one in the flesh,
may they be blameless in all they do;
and with the strength that comes from the Gospel,
may they bear true witness to Christ before all;
may they be blessed with children,
and prove themselves virtuous parents,
who live to see their children’s children.
And grant that,
reaching at last together the fullness of years
for which they hope,
they may come to the life of the blessed
in the kingdom of Heaven,
through Christ our Lord. Amen.
—The Order of Celebrating Matrimony (2nd edition, USCCB, 2016)
Finally, here is a prayer that I have composed on this topic:
Lord of all goodness and strength, I ask for your continued blessing upon this marriage. Though we never know what the future holds, help us to stay faithful to the vows that we made on our wedding day, weathering any storm and rejoicing in all the many blessings you have provided. Give us patience for one another, never allowing the years together to accumulate into grudges and distance. Instead, allow our love to deepen and grow, cultivated in the garden of your grace, that it may continue to be a fruitful sign of your love for the world.
And when we wrong each other, help us to seek and grant forgiveness quickly so that we can once again recommit to this sacred vocation to which you have called us. Encourage us as we share the load of our family’s responsibilities, keeping us ever mindful of each other’s sacrifices and labors.
Illuminate for me what it means to be a loving husband, and guide my wife in the path you have set before her. Remind us of our common mission to daily lead one another to deeper goodness, with the final goal of us both arriving in the eternal light of heaven. Until that day, may we never forsake what we have promised so that we can be a light of hope in a sometimes darkened and cynical world.
We ask all of this through the intercession of the Holy Family: Mary, Mother of God; Joseph, her dutiful and understanding husband; and Jesus, your Son and our Savior. Amen.