Recently I was asked: “Father you keep encouraging us as married couples to pray with one another, but what does that look like? It always seems awkward.”
All of us who have been baptized share in the priestly office of Jesus Christ — we offer prayers and sacrifice to God on behalf of others. Every time we say a prayer to God, whether out loud or silently, we are living out our baptismal priesthood.
But do we need to pray out loud? Can’t we just silently pray? Sure, we can. But words have power and authority. We don’t need to say “I’m sorry” or “I love you” out loud, but we do so because audibly saying it, and hearing it, carries weight and power. Prayer spoken out loud in the name of Jesus carries with it His power and authority, which leads us to praying over one another.
As Catholics, we are very comfortable with our novenas, litanies and memorized prayers (they, too, are powerful forms of prayer), but we should also be comfortable leading prayer or praying over someone. While there is no perfect formula for praying over someone, I offer this simple outline as guide:
Thanksgiving is one of the highest forms of prayer that we can offer to God. When praying with someone, begin by giving thanks to God for the gift of that person, for the gift of faith, life, the gift of grace, etc. Even in the midst of trials, we always have something to be grateful for. A simple prayer might be: “Lord, I give you thanks for the gift of ___, for the gifts you have given her, the good that she reveals.”
After giving thanks, pray for the specific need that the person needs at that moment. Not only the surface needs, but also the spiritual ones. For example, “I ask you help ___ at work tomorrow, but most of all that she trusts that you are with her to guard and guide her …”
Finally, give a prayer of blessing. For example, “Lord, I ask you to bless ___, may she always know how loved she is, both by you and by her family.” To give and receive blessings from one another is a true source of grace; both for the one giving the blessing, and the one receiving it.
Then, wrap it up! Prayer doesn’t have to be perfect, just sincere. Prayer with one another fosters genuine intimacy - as we reveal what’s on our hearts to one another, it relieves anxiety as we know that we don’t have to handle things on our own, and it strengthens us with the power that comes from Christ. So get prayin’!
It should be pointed out that there is a difference between an ordained priest blessing someone and a non-ordained person. The blessing that comes from an ordained priest is rooted in the grace of ordination and is “guaranteed” to have grace attached to it, since he prays in the person of Christ, the Head of the Body. But all Christians are called to pray for one another and God is pleased to have His abundant graces flow through all of His children when they ask for it.