“The family that prays together stays together. A world at prayer is a world at peace.” – Servant of God Father Patrick Peyton, C.S.C. (1909-1992)
For many families, prayer is a regular part of their routine. Many families pray before meals or before bed. Does this time set aside for prayer have an impact on the family? Father Patrick Peyton, an Irish born Roman Catholic priest has become famous for his promotion of the Rosary and certainly thought that prayer greatly impacted the family. He started a Family Rosary Crusade in order to promote the praying of the Rosary by families which he believed would help to bind families together.
Looking specifically at marriage, a study conducted by the University of Virginia in 2010 shows that praying together increases a couple’s intimacy and can often help end disputes between them.
In an General Audience on December 28, 2011, Pope Benedict spoke of the role of prayer in the Christian family stating, “May the example of the Holy Family inspire all Christian families to be schools of prayer, where parents and children alike come to know that closeness to God which we joyfully celebrate in these days of Christmas.” As he closed his audience, the Pope
spoke of his hope that all would “rediscover the beauty of praying together as a family.”
Recently Pope Francis echoed this message. On World Family Day on Sunday, October 27, 2013, Pope Francis spoke of the Christian family’s call to prayer, calling them “missionary families.” He recognized that this is something that often is not a priority for busy families but that it is a sign of humility in recognizing that we need God in order to help sustain our relationships and endeavors. However, he pleaded the simplicity of prayer within a family and the great rewards of it stating that simply sitting around the table and praying the Our Father or the Rosary will bring the family great strength.
Many also argue that prayer is meant to be private and would feel uncomfortable praying together. However, it is through this sharing with each other that the strong bonds of family are fortified and strengthened. As time goes on, the members of the family will become more comfortable with this sharing.
And this is exactly what the University of Virginia found in a study that was conducted in 2010. This study found that praying within a marriage led to an increase of intimacy as well as helped with conflict resolution and forgiveness. The director of the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia stated “It makes sense that those who think about, talk about and practice their beliefs in the home, those who bring home their reflections on their marriage, derive stronger effects from those beliefs, especially compared to those who simply attend church weekly.”
Father Peyton’s now famous phrase has proven to be more than simply a slogan but a truth – the family that prays together is more likely to stay together regardless of what religion they are.