It never occurred to me before reading Isabel Anders’ new book how apt the ever-loved Prayer of St. Francis is for married couples. But Anders startled me to full attention with this prayer in the early pages of her fine collection of ancient and modern prayers, blessings and reflections – all presented “as potential guides for naturally incorporating prayer into a marriage.”
Think about it. God is petitioned in the Prayer of St. Francis to “grant that we may not so much seek to be consoled as to console, to be understood as to understand, to be loved as to love. For it is in giving that we receive; it is in pardoning that we are pardoned; and it is in dying that are born to eternal life.”
Don’t those lines relate rather directly to the needs and hopes of most married couples?
What I liked best about Anders’ “Blessings and Prayers for Married Couples” was its down-to-earth approach to spirituality for married couples. Here couples will find prayers to employ when making decisions, or after making a mistake, or when faced with money problems, or during a crisis.
“Teach us how to be not only more kind and tolerant of each other’s mistakes but also more understanding of each other’s occasional lack of judgment,” a couple might pray in words borrowed from Rene Bartkowski’s “Prayers for Married Couples.” In a prayer from Ruth Harms Calkin’s “Hold Me Close,” a weary couple prays:
“Please rest us. We’re thirsty. Give us Living Water! We’ve fallen flat on our faces. Pick us up! … We’d like very much to give up. Hold us very close.”
One of Anders’ own prayers, presented in the context of a reflection on the wedding promise to take each other “for better or for worse,” pleads with God for “continued strength and grace to remember the sun when it is not shining, to believe in God’s care and love when we cannot know outcomes, and to endure with each other through uncertainties and fears.”
Souls are nourished even by difficulties, Anders suggests. In this light, she comments that the vow to take each other for better or worse is “a necessary component to a loving commitment that can withstand the inevitable storms of married life.”
Anders structured her book around the promises couples make when they wed. Thus, for example, the book includes prayers and reflections related to the couple’s vow to have and to hold each other, to love each other in sickness or in health, or in good times and in bad.
What is meant by a couple’s promise to “have and to hold”? A prayer by Anders offers insight here. A wife and husband ask God to help them “learn to laugh together, to cry when needed, to pick ourselves and each other up from where we may have fallen – and to go forward together.”
Anders, an Episcopalian, is a longtime writer and editor in Tennessee whose works have been published by Catholic, Lutheran, Evangelical and Anglican publishers. Among her other books are “Simple Blessings for Sacred Moments” and “Becoming Flame: Uncommon Mother-Daughter Wisdom.”
She describes her new book as “a montage or tapestry of ‘marriage enfleshed,’” that is, marriage as it is embodied in the lives of actual couples. A hope of hers is that the book will serve as an opportunity for readers to remember the “points at which God has ministered” to them “as a family, as a couple, as an individual.”
Numerous passages in the book reflect on the workings of marriage. Does that mean it should be read straight through? It could be, I suppose. But the book’s real value lies in its usefulness as a continuing resource for husbands and wives who want to meditate on marriage and begin to pray within their marriage.
The book should make things easier for couples who find it awkward to pray together at home. For example, a couple’s wedding anniversary might be a good occasion to turn to an anniversary prayer by Anders that reads: “On this our wedding anniversary, we focus on the many blessings of our years together: the sharing of the cup of sorrow and joy …, the blessings that have exceeded all hopes.”
The prayer thanks God because through the oneness granted them in earthly flesh, a husband and wife “are more that the sum of two persons,” and when they pray, their “efforts are doubled.”
A number of blessings collected in the book seem appropriate for engagement celebrations, anniversaries and even times when couples face unique challenges. I particularly enjoyed these lines of a blessing from “9 Ways to Nurture Your Marriage,” by William and Susan Rabior:
“May the days of your marriage be joyous and rich. May you find shelter and safety in each other’s arms, respect and reverence in each other’s heart. May your friendship be faithful and firm, your trust total. And may you remain young at heart as you grow old together.”
About the reviewer
David Gibson is the former, now-retired editor of Origins, CNS Documentary Service.
Disclaimer: Book reviews do not imply and are not to be used as official endorsement by the USCCB of the work or those associated with the work. Book reviews are solely intended as a resource regarding publications that might be of interest to For Your Marriage visitors.
Welcome to our collection of anniversary prayers and prayer request.
Nothing is more beautiful thank celebrating the continued success of a happy marriage. Bring God into the celebration with these beautiful prayers.
Lord, we thank you for this couple and for all of the years that
they have had together. Today, as we celebrate their anniversary,
our prayer is that you will continue to bless them.
Let their testimony of love and forgiveness be a help to other couples
as they start on their own journeys into married life. Lord, we pray that
You will honor their commitment to each other and to You by granting them
many more years of happiness together.
Protect This Relationship, Lord
Keep us, 0 Lord, from pettiness. Let us be thoughtful in word and deed.
Help us to put away pretense, and face each other in deep trust without
fear or self-pity. Help us to guard against faultfinding, and be quick to
discover the best in each other and in every situation.
Guard us from ill temper and hasty judgment; encourage us to take time for
all things, to grow calm, serene and gentle. Help us to be generous with
kind words and compliments. Teach us never to ignore, never to hurt, and
never to take each other for granted. Engrave charity and compassion on our hearts.
Please, pray for us.
Bless This Couple
Your Word tells us that when a man finds a wife that he has found a good thing.
You also make it clear in Your Word how important and sacred marriage is in Your eyes.
Lord, we pray that You will bless this couple with the grace, forgiveness and love that
is needed for a continued happy marriage.
We know it takes work, God, but we also know that if You’re in the midst
of the marriage that it will succeed. Let Your blessings be on this couple in
From the scriptures…
“Love is patient and kind; love does not envy or boast; it is not arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. As for prophecies, they will pass away; as for tongues, they will cease; as for knowledge, it will pass away.”
Read more bible verses about Love and Marriage.
Return to Anniversary Prayers
We pray for all married couples, that they may be inspired to make their relationship a priority in their lives.
We pray for all married couples that they may be a true sign of your love to the world.
We pray for all married couples that they may turn to You, Lord, for help with any problems that they face.
We pray for all married couples that, when their relationship needs mending, they may claim the special graces of forgiveness and healing, with which you have blessed our Sacrament of Matrimony.
We pray for all married couples that, with your help, they may lead each other and their family to eternal life.
We pray for all married couples that you may lead them to seek out enrichments for their relationship.
We pray that Your Church may develop a greater awareness of the special needs of married couples.
We pray for all married couples that they may live in a deeper awareness that they are your Domestic Church.
We pray for all fathers and mothers that you may guide them, Lord, to be true leaders of your Domestic Church.
We pray for all married couples that they may continue to grow in their love for each other and You.
We pray for all married couples that they may experience the joy that comes from being passionately in love with each other.
We pray for all married couples that they may imitate, in their relationship, your passionate love for them.
We pray for all married couples that you may help them, Lord, to pray the rosary together and as a family.
We pray for all married couples that they may treasure, value and enjoy their sexuality.
We pray for all married couples that they may experience Your special graces for them in their sacrament.
We pray for all married couples that they may always be affirming to each other.
We pray for all married couples that you may give them the courage and sensitivity, Lord, to openly share their feelings and needs with each other.
We pray for all married couples that they may abandon themselves to each other and to You.
We pray for all married couples that they may empower each other to grow as persons and to grow in their love for each other.
We pray for all married couples that they may live in awareness of the promises we made to each other on our wedding day and the graces that you give us to live out our vows.
We pray for all married couples that you may give them the courage and sensitivity, Lord, to openly share their dreams and expectations with each other.
We pray for all married couples that you may encourage them to more openly show their affection for each other.
We pray for all married couples that you may help them to be responsible to each other, and to you Lord, for the quality of their relationship.
We pray for all married couples that you may assist them to strive for intimacy in their relationship.
We pray for all married couples that you may encourage them to reach out as a couple in sharing their love with the world.
We pray for all married couples that you may help them to be accepting of each other’s shortcomings and to work through their differences.
We pray for all married couples that you may encourage them to be a gift to each other and as a couple a gift to the Church.
We pray for all married couples that you may help them to develop the habit of openly praying as a couple and as a family.
We pray for all married couples that they may value the sanctity of their marriage and live their lives accordingly.