In Day #195 of Ascension Press’s “Bible in a Year” podcast with Fr. Mike Schmitz, we hear the beautiful story of Tobias and Sarah, and how they pray together on their wedding night (Tobit, Chapter 9).
As a refresher, Sarah has not had the best of luck with marriage. All seven (!) of her previous husbands died on their wedding nights, having been killed by a demon (yikes…).
But Tobias has a leg up, because earlier, St. Raphael visited him and let him know what God wanted for his life; that Sarah was meant to be his wife, and that if he took certain precautions, he would not befall the same fate as his predecessors. Tobias, being faithful to God, was indeed blessed. He made it through the night and woke up in the morning. In fact, the grave Sarah’s parents had dug, because they had become so used to needing one, was filled in before sunrise.
But the shining gem of this story comes before sunrise, when Tobias asks Sarah to pray with him in their wedding chamber. “Sister, get up, and let us pray and implore our Lord that he grant us mercy and safety.” After their prayer, Tobias makes the intentions of his heart clear: “…O Lord, I am not taking this sister of mine because of lust, but with sincerity. Grant that I may find mercy and may grow old together with her.” After they each said, “Amen,” they went to sleep for the night.
Fr. Mike said many of the college students he’s guided who marry have chosen these verses for their marriage celebration. Sharing about the Biblical couple, he noted, “They realized, ‘Our lives are underneath God’s mercy, God’s protection, so we have to come before him.” And indeed, God heard the prayer of his righteous son and daughter, and, in his mercy, spared them.
Reading this chapter, I rejoiced at how God prompted my and my husband’s hearts earlier in the year, and set us about a new commitment to pray together every night.
God knew what was happening with us even better than we did, of course. Thankfully, we were able to heed his call to draw closer to him. For by the end of 2020, we had fallen back into living as “married singles.” After dinner each night, we would retreat to our respective spaces, and a little chasm had begun growing. I could feel it. I’m sure my husband could, too. But it’s hard sometimes to know what to do about such a void. Where to begin?
In February, I heard an interview on Teresa Tomeo’s “Catholic Connection” radio show about a couple who had begun a prayer ministry guiding other couples in praying together. They promised it would be life changing. Feeling concerned about our lack of unity and knowing we’d need to be enjoined more deeply in the months ahead, with so much tumult in the world taking hold, I ordered the DVD series as a gift for St. Valentine’s Day. Thankfully, my husband was open to it, and we started the journey soon thereafter. Since then, we have prayed together pretty much every night, even when we’re apart. And just as Tobias and Sarah were blessed in their mutual petitions to God, we have experienced the same. Even on nights when we are not feeling very cordial to each other, we persist in the night prayer, and the heaviness of the day lifts as we ask God to intercede. The practice has brought a level of spiritual intimacy into our marriage that, in 30 years, we have never experienced before.
Fr. Mike reminded how Pope John Paul II had warned that the cosmic battle between good and evil often finds one of its meeting points in the marital relationship; that the battleground can play out in the bedroom of husband and wife. “Just in the way women and men are tempted to use each other, or dominate each other…or just act out for pleasure rather than God’s good intentions.”
“And yet,” he said, “here is this incredible moment when Tobias and Sarah have the opportunity to pray, and say, ‘God, untwist what’s twisted in my heart.’”
The DVD series, available here, is an investment worth making. Even if you can’t order the series, consider the benefits of renewing your commitment to pray with your spouse. I’d be willing to guarantee that if you do, God will bring new fruits into your marriage, and restore your hearts, for each other and your family.
QUESTION: What obstacles have you found in praying with your spouse? What benefits?