Liturgy for Marriage
In the past year or so I have often found myself unable to pray – with too many thoughts running through my head and no coherent words. In those times I’ve found it particularly helpful to use form prayers and liturgies. At times though I have found it even more helpful to write my own liturgies and form prayers. I think writing helps me to process all of the thoughts I’m having on the topic. Lately I’ve particularly written prayers in liturgy format, with everything broken down for different people to read – I’m not sure why I do it that way since often these are read/prayed only by me or occasionally by my husband and me together. Maybe I break it down into more people because I’m longing for community in my prayer life or maybe because something about communal prayer just feels right to me – I don’t know… Anyway, this past week I was thinking a lot about marriage – my marriage and the marriages of a few friends who have chosen to share with me about their marriages. I wanted to pray for us and each of them, but I felt stuck. It felt like there was so much I could pray and I had no idea where to start. So, I went to the books. I started with The Celtic Book of Daily Prayer, The Anglican Book of Prayer and the Bible. Before I knew it I was writing – piecing things I found together with my own thoughts and concerns for all of our marriages. This is what I ended up with:
Liturgy for Marriage
Leader: Father of Marriage, you created us one for another, and first established the holy gift of marriage.
Women: In your infinite wisdom you knew that it is not good for Man to be alone, and shaped us from the clay into corresponding shapes, perfectly fit for one another.
Men: And this is why a man leaves father and mother and cherishes his wife.
Leader: Father of Marriage, draw us back to the beginning. May we be naked and unashamed before our spouses. Take away the walls that we build up between us. Give us courage to open our hearts, minds and bodies to one another ever more deeply, that we truly can become one in all areas of our beings. Grant that in our openness we can meet each other with grace, forgiveness and understanding. Just as there is now no condemnation in Christ Jesus, may there be no condemnation in our marriages.
All: Father of Marriage, forgive us for the ways we have tarnished your gift of marriage.
Person 1: You know our every hidden part, forgive us for the things that we try to keep hidden from our spouses and shine light in the dark places of our souls. Forgive us for the anger, resentments, and hurts that we hold on to and tuck away.
(pause for reflection)
Person 2: Father of Marriage, transform our marriages into your intended sacrament of unity. May we be to the other a strength in need, a counselor in perplexity, a comfort in sorrow, and a companion in joy.
Leader: O God, creator and preserver of all life, author of salvation, and giver of all grace: Look with favor upon the world you have made, and especially upon our marriages, which you have sanctified. Eternal God, you are the giver of all good gifts, all that we have has come from your hand, and you have given us one to another.
All: Draw us this day into a more perfect union, through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen.
Leader: Jesus of Love, Out of tender love for each one of us you walked this earth and chose the way of the cross.
Women: You have generously bestowed your love upon us, setting for us an example of how we also should love.
Person 3: For you, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be grasped; but made yourself nothing, taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, you humbled yourself and became obedient to death - even death on a cross!
Men: Lord, in our marriages may we each have that very attitude of Christ - Daily humbling ourselves and taking on the nature of a servant.
Leader: Jesus of love, teach us to submit mutually to one another. May we love one another deeply as you love the church – a love marked by giving, not getting. Your love makes the church whole. Your love reveals each of us for who we really are, Children of the living God. Your love evokes beauty. You see the best in your church, your bride. Open our eyes as well, that we might see the best in our spouses, May we see them for the magnificent children of God that they are. May we see the best in them, believe the best in them, and speak the best of them always.
All: Jesus of love, forgive us for the ways in which we have let our self centeredness keep us from following you to the cross in our marriages.
Person 4: Forgive us for the hurt we have caused in our marriages by what we have done and by what we have left undone. Forgive us for the ways we have not obeyed you and lived out the gospel in our marriages. Forgive us for the ways in which we have hindered our communion with you because of the ways we have hindered our communion with our spouses.
(pause for reflection)
Person 5: Jesus of love, transform our marriages into a reflection of your love - that unity may overcome estrangement, forgiveness heal guilt, and joy conquer despair.
Leader: O God, you have so consecrated the covenant of marriage that in it is represented the spiritual unity between Christ and his Church: Send therefore your blessing upon us, that we may so love, honor, and cherish each other in faithfulness and patience, in wisdom and true godliness, that our homes may be a haven of blessing and peace;
All: through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, now and forever. Amen
Leader: Spirit of Unity, Through you two become one flesh.
Women: You intercede on our behalf and on behalf of our marriages. You are full of infinite wisdom and truth. Your timing is perfect. And in you is infinite peace.
Men: You are the vine and we are the branches, Apart from you we can do nothing. We cannot change ourselves or our spouses.
All: We recognize that it is only by your indwelling that we can hope for transformation in our marriages.
Leader: Spirit of Unity, We believe and trust that you are present with us and active in our marriages, And we ask you to come and breathe fresh life into our love. Give us the light to understand our spouses better. Give us strength to fight for one another instead of against one another. Give us passion and deeper desire for each other.
All: Spirit of Unity, forgive us for our arrogance and pride.
Person 6: Forgive us for trying to make our marriages better in our own strength, instead of looking to you and your strength for our transformation. Forgive us for our lack of unity – for the ways in which we seek out our own personal desires instead of seeking what is best for our spouse and our marriage as a whole.
(pause for reflection)
Person 7: Spirit of Unity, transform our marriages into an unbreakable bond.
Person 8: Excite our love, strengthen our weakness, encompass our desire.
Person 9: Shield our thoughts, and cradle our bodies,
Person 10: and as we breath this prayer, in our hearts may we feel Your presence.
Leader: O God, by the power of your Holy Spirit, pour out the abundance of your blessing upon our marriages. Defend us from every enemy. Lead us into all peace. Let our love for each other be a seal upon our hearts, a mantle about our shoulders, and a crown upon our foreheads. Bless us in our work and in our companionship; in our sleeping and in our waking; in our joys and in our sorrows; in our life and in our death. Finally, in your mercy, bring us to that table where your saints feast for ever in your heavenly home;
All: through Jesus Christ our Lord, who with you and the Holy Spirit lives and reigns, one God, forever and ever. Amen.
Rejoicing in the journey - Bethany Stedman