Today is my 16th wedding anniversary. As such, I find myself reflecting with gratitude on the blessings God has bestowed on me. They are too many to count, but I think the ones that matter most are found in how I am petitioning God on a daily basis. It occurred to me that these petitions might be useful to others, either as a reminder to consider your own blessings or as a framework upon which to construct/re-construct your own petitions. Without further ado, what follows is how I end prayer each night with the family… for all to hear.
I ask God to bless our family with the grace to get to Heaven and to bless our Church with truth and reverence. I also ask that He would call at least one of our children to the priesthood and/or religious life. I ask that He would bless any future spouses of our children, that He would bless our families, our friends, and their families. Amen.
Allow me to break it down for you…
I ask God to bless our family with the grace to get to Heaven
As a husband, my vocation is to get my wife to Heaven. That’s what the Sacrament of Matrimony is. It’s also why Matrimony ends when “death do we part.” Presumably, the surviving spouse has done his or her “job” and no longer has that responsibility. Until death, then, my primary focus and God’s greatest will for my life (aside from personal holiness, of which this is a critical part) is to serve and support my wife in her own walk with the Lord.
Marriage is ordered to the procreation and rearing of children, so my wife and I together are responsible to raise our children in Christ and lead them to Heaven as well. There is simply no petitioning God without this first one.
and to bless our Church with truth and reverence
This petition is closely aligned with the first. Christianity is not about “me and Jesus,” nor was it ever… for anyone. None of us received the gift of faith on our own. God used others to hand it onto us. Those others are members of the Church, and the Church as the Body of Christ is only as strong as the members. When the Church compromises the truth given Her by Jesus and handed on since the time of the Apostles, as found in Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, we all become less holy. When the Church disposes of reverence in favor of the flavor of the day and what seems to have popular appeal, the evangelical and catechetical power of true worship dim. My wife and I, and our kids, need the Church to remain committed to truth and reverence.
I also ask that He would call at least one of our children to the priesthood and/or religious life
Next, my petition turns to my children’s vocations. This petition greeted, and still greets, my children’s ears each night since the day of their birth. We know that God calls laborers to the harvest. In our day, many do not hear that call because there are too few who speak it aloud. My children know that God invites their discernment on this front and that we, as parents, support it.
I ask that He would bless any future spouses of our children
The vocation to Holy Orders and religious life are not the only vocations! I mentioned above how critical Matrimony is for spouses to walk in the holiness which God prepares for them. To pray for any future spouses of our children is something our dear friend, Kevin, taught us to do years ago. Kevin has now passed away, but his lesson lives on in our prayer lives. This petition recognizes, and gets the kids to recognize, that their future spouses are likely out there somewhere already. They are children now too, growing and learning. Each faces challenges and temptations. They need prayers and need to be loved as much as they’ll ever be loved in the future. Doing this even now creates a habit of prayer for one’s own spouse in our children. Hopefully it continues well into any marriages that lie ahead!
that He would bless our families, our friends, and their families
After my wife, our children (including future children in-law), and the Church, I ask the Lord to bless our extended family. These are the people that love me most in this world, and are dearest to me as well. There’s no shame in putting your kin first. Their ultimate end, woven so closely to our own, should be a priority.
As for friends, praying for them wasn’t always part of my petitioning God. Kevin again, and the trials he and his family faced over the last 8 years of his life, led me to pray this way. As it often happens, God turns tragedy into something beneficial. In this case, through the way I prayed, He helped me grow in love. Loving our friends and accepting their love in return is part and parcel of the Christian vocation.