You would think that a pastor and a youth minister would have no problems praying together morning and evenings for thirty days straight, right? Wrong. For both of us, making time for prayer is often a struggle. Sometimes, our vocations even seem to be part of the problem. When you’re called on daily (sometimes, several times per day) to pray publicly, it can be easy to feel like your prayer life is in good shape. But we’ve realized that’s only an illusion. If we didn’t set aside time with God outside of our work responsibilities, we found that our spiritual lives struggled. And when we don’t spend time in prayer together, a vital part of our relationship with each other is missing.
During Lent (I know, this is really late), we decided to pray together in the mornings and evenings. We used the book Common Prayer: A Liturgy for Ordinary Radicals, which both of us had previously used. We found it to be very helpful. It allowed us some spontaneity and space for extemporaneous praying, but also provided us with structure, which was very helpful on those days when we just didn’t have a lot to say. And as an introvert who is rarely inclined to use two words when one will do, I seem to have those days pretty often. We also really benefited from praying prayers from scripture and the wider Christian tradition. Particularly, I really felt the Spirit move when praying the Lord’s Prayer, the Doxology, Mary’s Magnificat, Simeon’s Song, and the Gloria Patri.
One of the things that we found particularly helpful was the prayer of confession during evening prayer. Sometimes, it would be an opportunity to confess to one another the ways that we’d failed to love one another during the day. Sometimes, it’d be playful (“Sorry my wife is a annoying”), and sometimes there were opportunities for confession that weren’t taken. But overall, it provided us with an opportunity to reflect on where we fell short in our relationships with God and one another, and our marriage benefited from that.
Predictably, we fell off the wagon shortly after Lent ended. Committing to praying together for a set time period was easier than maintaining the practice indefinitely. And while there were definite benefits to our relationship, praying together didn’t make everything all of a sudden magical. But there was something very right about beginning and ending our days together by offering ourselves to our creator in prayer, and I hope that’s a practice we will engage in more faithfully in the future.
What prayer practices or spiritual disciplines have been helpful for you?
May the peace of the Lord Christ go with you,