A Prayer Before Sex

When I was a child, I once heard my mother talking with a friend about sex.

Not the “oh my gosh!” kind of sex talk. You see, the woman and her husband were very devout; and her complaint was that after they had sexual relations he would pop up, kneel beside the bed, and pray. Every time.

I don’t know whether he intended it to be a prayer for forgiveness, but that’s how she took it. She felt—rightly or wrongly—that her husband considered sex to be a necessary evil, a means of conceiving children and a subject for the confessional.

Years later, as an adult with a better understanding of marital love and human relationships, I’ve sometimes chuckled about that story. I’m guessing their communication was less than open, and their evenings in their nuptial bed were… um… chaste and unremarkable.

* * * * *

The story was brought to mind when I read about the Prayer Book for Spouses published by the London-based Catholic Truth Society. The 64-page prayer booklet draws on Scripture, Catholic teaching, and the Marriage Rite to encourage spouses to grow together in their prayer life, as well as in other areas of their relationship. It offers encouragement to spouses who find it difficult to work through certain areas of their relationship, and it calls spouses to renew their commitment to fidelity within the bonds of marriage.

What is sure to make headlines, though, is one selection in particular: the “Prayer Before Making Love.”

  • I imagine busy mothers, tucking their children into bed, heading back to the living room where hubby has opened a new bottle of wine, giving him that “Come thither” look—and pulling out the ol’ prayer book.
  • Or a loving husband, wanting to signal that he’d really like a backrub and then, who knows where it’ll go from there? Let’s just open up the prayer book and see!
  • The Prayer Book for Spouses would be a great engagement gift…. But of course, the chaste fiancée would never consider opening it to THAT page until after the wedding!

I once had a bas relief of Mary which had been hung in an unfortunate spot, where she looked down onto our bed. I found it a little disconcerting. Jesus said that we should pray always; but is that what he meant? The prayer is lovely, but perhaps one would then need to refocus….

If you and your spouse are seeking to enrich your lovemaking with an opening prayer, perhaps you’ll appreciate this lovely meditation.

PRAYER BEFORE MAKING LOVE

Father, send your Holy Spirit into our hearts. Place within us love that truly gives, tenderness that truly unites, self-offering that tells the truth and does not deceive, forgiveness that truly receives, loving physical union that welcomes.

Open our hearts to you, to each other and to the goodness of your will. Cover our poverty in the richness of your mercy and forgiveness. Clothe us in our true dignity and take to yourself our shared aspirations, for your glory, for ever and ever.

Mary, our Mother, intercede for us. Amen.

  • http://fromthepulpitofmylife.blogspot.com/ Ruth Ann Pilney

    : )

  • Pingback: “A Prayer Before Making Love”

  • K-Lo

    does it get healthier?

  • sweetums5

    Thank you for this!

  • Ron Van Wegen

    What about…
    “Bless us O Lord and these Thy gifts which of Thy bounty we are about to receive, through Christ our Lord, Amen”?

    • Kathy Schiffer

      Ah, yes– that works well, doesn’t it!

    • Johnny Catholic

      Oh yeah, saying the same prayer before sex that you do before eating a meal, that’s real respectful towards your spouse….

  • Dan

    One can only hope the some day we Catholics will get our heads on straight once again and will start cultivating the virtues of prudence, a sense of what is permissible in public discourse and, not least, good manners.

    But I suppose when you have a sadly troubled Pope teaching inanities like the “theology of the body” (God help us) this kind of article is what one can expect. But still, could I ask that such private matters like this be discussed in private, and not for the whole world to see?

    • Peach Smith

      Considering the state of the world, and how what SHOULD be a private matter has become a commonly viewed and discussed public topic, and the fact that two whole generations have grown up without modesty and proper teachings on the subject of sexuality….THANK GOD for the Pope bringing us Theology Of The Body and helping set matters straight.

    • TJ

      Dan, personally , I think we have been blessed with soeme really great Popes recently

    • That Catholic Guy

      Dan, really? The Theology of the Body is perhaps John Paul II’s greatest gift to the Church, and may indeed garner for him someday the title Doctor of the Church, in addition to his upcoming canonization to sainthood. As a former Protestant, I think you would make a good one. A Protestant, that is. You’re already halfway there.

    • AM

      Dan, Theology of the Body is a discourse on The Song of Solomon, which is divinely inspired. I think if God thought highly enough of the marital union to give us beautiful example of it in scripture, then good Catholics should be discussing it. Sex is a gift from God..a way for spouses to experience a foretaste of the joy of heaven. Couples should dedicate their intimacy to the Lord and be thankful for it.

    • Martin

      Then it appears good sir, this book may have been meant for people like you.

  • Cassie

    Poor Dan, Just doesn’t get it.

  • Marg

    If the spouses are already living their marriage vows according to Church teachings, this is surely not necessary.

    • Ann

      For those of us humans who are imperfectly living our lives according to Church teachings, surely this IS necessary.

      In other words, it is only unnescessary if you have already achieved a state of perfection.

      Good grief.

  • Patty

    This is a prayer before making true love found in The Book of Tobit Chapter 8 in the Bible http://www.usccb.org/bible/tobit/8.
    “4 When Sarah’s parents left the bedroom and closed the door behind them, Tobiah rose from bed and said to his wife, “My sister, come, let us pray and beg our Lord to grant us mercy and protection.” 5 She got up, and they started to pray and beg that they might be protected. He began with these words:

    “Blessed are you, O God of our ancestors; blessed be your name forever and ever!
    Let the heavens and all your creation bless you forever. 6 You made Adam, and you made his wife Eve to be his helper and support; and from these two the human race has come.
    You said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone; let us make him a helper like himself.’
    7 Now, not with lust, but with fidelity I take this kinswoman as my wife. Send down your mercy on me and on her, and grant that we may grow old together. Bless us with children.”
    8 They said together, “Amen, amen!” 9 Then they went to bed for the night.

    • Ro

      When my husband proposed to be it was first praying our regular Rosary and reading of Scriptures together, then he opened to Tobit and read this beautiful wedding night prayer to God for my hand in marriage. On our wedding night he prayed over me and asked God’s blessing upon us, asked for special blessing for my womb and that all of our marital relations look to God and not to self. Yes, we still pray before and after we are together intimately, which I believe with the depth of our relationship with God is even more intimate and united than I can ever imagine without having God there, being united spiritually is so very intimate.

      • Lisa

        LIKE!!!

    • http://SpiritDaily Violet Vin Zant

      To Patty; You reference to The Book of Tobit Chapter 8 was a good one. I was thinking of the same thing when i started reading this article. That very prayer by Tobit is an excellent form of prayer for any couple especially desireing children. My husband and I prayed for a child just before our oldest was concieved. My mother said “Once you get the baby box open you can’t get it shut!” Boy was she right. A whole lot of little ones jumped out of our box after that. Being Catholic before Vatican II I knew nothing about “Birth Control.” When The Pill arrived on the market I checked it out with my priest. He said ( I had Nine by then) “Use you conscience.” I prayed very hard but something occured to me, what if my conscience is flawed? Very soon Pope Paul published Humanea Vitea and I knew I would follow the teachings of the Church. I knew for me it was dangerous because Natural Family Planning did not work for me. We had Seventeen Children. My husband is a good man and woked hard all his life and still works even though he is 80 and woulodn’t quit if I wanted him to. We never regretted having such a large family. Boy does prayer work before sex!! Ha Ha!

  • rick

    I’m a little baffled that people don’t seem to get it. I pray on my knees before asking for God’s grace that we give ourselves to each completely as he want us to, and afterward a prayer of thanksgiving, not foregiveness. How complicated is all that?

  • Stephen

    Do what the Angel says!! The Angelic instruction was to ensure not to do your own will but the will of God. They Kingdom come thy will be done on earth. They kept themselves chaste for 3 nights which was a….. fortifying of there will….. through prayer. And there was a special blessing for each night.

    In essence the Marriage Act should be….. an absoulute conviction of will to do the will of God….. and not yourself.
    Its not a matter of imagining or memory parts of the intellect but rather sheer conviction of will to do the will of God in the Act…… to primarily raise up Children to God, secondarily for the mutual help of both husband and wife.
    All prayer before hand should be aimed at strengthing your will to do the will of God and not bogged down wondering if all of heaven is watching what you are doing in bed!!….. :-)

  • Joe

    Puh-leeze with this stuff.

  • Brandon

    My agreement with Marg is visible from low orbit. There’s a crucifix hanging on the wall of my bedroom, much as it has hung for the eleven years that my wife and I have been married. That sigil is the only reminder that we, as well-adjusted, observant Catholics need to reinforce our covenant. This repugnant fixation on marital virtue and the sacramental nature of the marriage act is all so much showmanship. I don’t think that God expects us to offer every action of our lives up for His blessing. I might pray for an increase in personal holiness or a strengthening of the marriage bond – particularly, say, when my wife and I receive our anniversary blessing at the altar rail, but praying before/after relations is just crazier than a bag of cats. And more than a little creepy.

    • Ann

      You would be wrong on all counts.

      • Brandon

        Am I? I don’t recognize your teaching authority on the subject, Ann. Show me the hermaneutic from a Pope, prelate or other doctor of the Church that mandates this practice. This is certainly nothing that I have ever received instruction on from the pulpit or divined from study of scripture. You speak of the necessity of prayer before marital relations unless a married couple has “already achieved a state of perfection.” Setting aside for a moment the fact that only one perfect man has ever walked the earth, where is this written? The gift that man and wife confer upon one another in the marriage act is a fundamental good. It doesn’t require any further sanctification in God’s eyes. Now, if either spouse, through a spirit of selfishness or disrespect, degrades the other or otherwise debases the act, then they may confess that as a sin of lust and receive absolution for it. Marriage is a covenant between man and wife – a form of contract. If a contract states that two parties are entitled to a perpetual benefit as a result of having entered into said contract, there would be no future need to validate the contents or the clauses of same. We don’t get re-baptized. Once we receive that sacrament, we belong to God. We might re-affirm that covenant when we witness a baptism and are called to renew our commitment to a Christian way of life, but we don’t ever have to worry that, if we fail to pray that God will continue to keep His covenant with us, we will have lost the grace that we received. God’s covenants are perpetual, as is the marriage covenant between man and wife. It requires no such formal reinforcement as prayer before/after coitus in order to be validated and blessed in perpetuity by God.

        • David

          The Theology of the Body is a great way to explain why contraception and lust are immoral, and this practice of praying before/after relations is surely laudable. However, to suggest it is mandatory without any documentation of papal teachings / ecumenical councils / or even Bible verses mandating the practice, anyone claiming that it is mandatory is guilty of being “more Catholic than the Pope”. This is a novel teaching that is not present, to my knowledge, in Sacred Tradition. In short, Brandon is correct.

        • Stephen

          Am I? I don’t recognize your teaching authority on the subject, Ann.(I don’t recognise yours either) Show me the hermaneutic from a Pope, prelate or other doctor of the Church that mandates this practice. This is certainly nothing that I have ever received instruction on from the pulpit or divined from study of scripture.(It’s in the Churchs Marriage Instruction which all should recieve before marriage.) You speak of the necessity of prayer before marital relations unless a married couple has “already achieved a state of perfection.”(nobody is perfect until they attain the beatific vision) Setting aside for a moment the fact that only one perfect man has ever walked the earth, where is this written?….(Tobias[16] Then the angel Raphael said to him: Hear me, and I will shew thee who they are, over whom the devil can prevail. [17] For they who in such manner receive matrimony, as to shut out God from themselves, and from their mind, and to give themselves to their lust, as the horse and mule, which have not understanding, over them the devil hath power. [18] But thou when thou shalt take her, go into the chamber, and for three days keep thyself continent from her, and give thyself to nothing else but to prayers with her.)….. The gift that man and wife confer upon one another in the marriage act is a fundamental good. It doesn’t require any further sanctification in God’s eyes.(Yes, you are right anyone can do what comes naturally but you can also act in supernatural way in the marriage act by dedicating the act of makeing love to doing the will of God through prayer before hand. Its a focusing of your intention/will…. because God knows your heart……The Blessing of the Church on your Marriage enables you to act in a supernatural way because it is a sacrament)….. Now, if either spouse, through a spirit of selfishness or disrespect, degrades the other or otherwise debases the act, then they may confess that as a sin of lust and receive absolution for it. (yes you are right absoulution is needed)Marriage is a covenant between man and wife – a form of contract. If a contract states that two parties are entitled to a perpetual benefit as a result of having entered into said contract, there would be no future need to validate the contents or the clauses of same. We don’t get re-baptized. Once we receive that sacrament, we belong to God. We might re-affirm that covenant when we witness a baptism and are called to renew our commitment to a Christian way of life, but we don’t ever have to worry that, if we fail to pray that God will continue to keep His covenant with us, we will have lost the grace that we received. God’s covenants are perpetual, as is the marriage covenant between man and wife. (Until death….but you are missing the point. Baptisim enables a christian to act in a supernatural way….. remember your morning offering….. just as the Sacrament of Marriage confers graces to that particular state to act in a supernatural manner) It requires no such formal reinforcement as prayer before/after coitus in order to be validated and blessed in perpetuity by God….(you are right once you are married there is no further validation but as said above…. a Catholic in his morning offering offers all his/hers joy, works, sufferings, for all the intentions of His Divine Heart….. so when it comes to the Marriage Act why wouldn’t you offer the Act to do the will of God alone? Remembering that the Sacrament of Marriage enabels you to act in a Supernatural manner…..If an Archangel who always sees the face of God gives a message from God on how love making should be…. why wouldn’t you follow it ? Is it really showmanship to try to do the Will of God in the bedroom where no other person sees you?

          • Brandon

            You’ll have to forgive me, Stephen – it’s been many blessed years since I’ve read that pamphlet, but I still cannot recall any specific instruction mandating that spouses pray before (or after) every engagement in marital relations. Furthermore, my wife of eleven years didn’t have seven prior husbands who all dropped dead before they could consummate their wedding vows with her. There was only me. Read the Book of Tobit in context, divine the meaning of the verses and the instructions of the Archangel Raphael and realize that, contextually, your reference is utterly devoid of substance or useful instruction:

            “13 Tobias then said to Raphael,
            Azarias, my friend, I have already heard about Sarah’s seven former husbands, and how each one dropped dead on his wedding night, even before he could get to bed.14 According to the story I heard, a demon killed them. He doesn’t harm Sarah, but he kills every man who tries to get near her. I am afraid of this demon. I am an only child, and if I were to die, the sorrow would send my parents to their graves. They don’t even have another son to bury them.

            15 The angel replied,
            Have you already forgotten your father’s instructions? He told you to marry a woman from your own tribe. So, listen carefully to what I say. Don’t worry about the demon. Marry Sarah! I know that tonight Raguel will let Sarah marry you.16 When you go into the bedroom, take the fish’s heart and liver with you and place them on the burning incense,17 so that the odor will spread throughout the room. When the demon smells it, he will leave and never come near Sarah again. But before you consummate the marriage, both of you must get up and pray for the Lord in heaven to be merciful to you and to protect you. Don’t be afraid. Sarah was meant to be yours from the beginning of creation. You will rescue her from the demon, and she will go with you to your home. You and Sarah will have many children, whom you will love very much. So don’t worry!

            Tobias listened very carefully to what Raphael had to say. He knew that Sarah was a relative on his father’s side of the family. He began to fall in love with her and looked forward to marrying her.

            There are no demons in my bedroom, sir. My wife and I are blessed in perpetuity, without need for any such additional invocations as you and Ann suggest are required to be happy, fulfilled Catholic spouses.

            (Yes, you are right anyone can do what comes naturally but you can also act in supernatural way in the marriage act by dedicating the act of makeing love to doing the will of God through prayer before hand. Its a focusing of your intention/will…. because God knows your heart……The Blessing of the Church on your Marriage enables you to act in a supernatural way because it is a sacrament)

            That’s exactly right, Stephen: God knows my heart, and that of my wife. And because He knows them, he does not require further divination of their contents. We are exactly as we were on our wedding day: promised to each other, until death do us part. And without need for any additional sanctifying grace other than that which we confer upon each other in the marriage act. It’s all well and good to talk about the efficacy of prayer, but don’t perpetuate the falsehood that this sort of thing is a requirement for married couples to engage in pre/post coitus. That’s simply, flatly false.

            “[A] Catholic in his morning offering offers all his/hers joy, works, sufferings, for all the intentions of His Divine Heart….. so when it comes to the Marriage Act why wouldn’t you offer the Act to do the will of God alone?”

            The simple answer? Because I’m a father of three small boys who I am chiefly responsible for the morning care/feeding/clothing and transportation of and because what little, blessed time I do have to spend alone with my wife is too precious and rare to fritter away on pre-coital prayers that are not required by any doctrine of Church teaching. And I am no less blessed for the confluence of those very human facts!

            “Is it really showmanship to try to do the Will of God in the bedroom where no other person sees you?”

            No, sir. The showmanship occurs in the responses of those who champion this sort of over-scrupulous behavior, and who seek to one-up each other with their pretensions of greater holiness by attempting to tack on false prerequisites for sacramental benefits which God has already guaranteed in mortal perpetuity. Furthermore, I don’t need to “try” to do the will of God with my wife. That’s precisely the point: our union has already been blessed once, and for the duration of our mortal lives. I have never failed to do God’s will in the performance of that act, and I don’t intend to. My underpinning point stands: those who would suggest that prayer before/after marital relations is a requirement for a married couple to perfectly confer upon one another the blessings that have been guaranteed to them by God are utterly mistaken. There has never been any such requirement. If a married couple were to engage in such a practice, I can hardly see where God would frown upon it, but to suggest that marital relations are somehow cheapened by the absence of pre/post-coital prayer is A. unprovable, B. completely laughable and C. more than a little bit offensive.

          • Stephen

            Hi Brandon …….I see you are still missing the point.
            I am not taking things out of context but rather you are. The fact that it is in the marriage instruction book in the first place should tell you that it is not mandated/nor any Dogma that you pray befor making love but rather it is in there as good advice for the couples getting married.
            So there are 2 things that arise from that it is in a marriage instruction book of the Holy Catholic Church…… I or anyone else may accept the fact that it in perfect harmony contextually with marriage instruction …..good advice……and also that the scrupulosity which you are trying to infer to it….. is just plain nonsense by the fact that the Church has it in there. The Church as far as I know does not encourage scrupulous behaviour. It’s not me or you that has put it in there but the Church.
            Lastly I would like to address this….. QUOTE….(I can hardly see where God would frown upon it, but to suggest that marital relations are somehow cheapened by the absence of pre/post-coital prayer is A. unprovable, B. completely laughable and C. more than a little bit offensive.)
            I never did suggest that the act of Love Making is cheapened rather you FEEL…. subjective….. that way because the Church has suggested it because it has been given in/as good advice…….and you have chosen not to do it…..your free will sure. Just as I or anyone else have free will to do so if we so wish. Also I don’t have to prove anything….. simply because it’s in there. Completely laughable….sorry…. I am not into laughing at good advice especially if it is given by the Church……a little bit more than offensive….. I can take it if it’s aimed at me but it really is misplaced and certainly uncalled for.
            Anyway I won’t be frittering away any more of my time as I too have a large family to care for …..10 in all….. 6 girls and 4 boys that God has Blessed us with…… so please consider what we have talked about here ……sure it’s not complusory but why not it is good to pray.
            God Bless you truly.

        • Ann

          Hmmmm….and where is your teaching authority that this should not be done. I don’t believe I said it was a requirement. Prayer in all things is always necessary so why would this be an exception. How can it ever be wrong to pray? And yes, that is what you are saying. I have read your comments below and you ridicule the very idea of prayer at this time. Geesh. Thanks for your judgement on it. I take great exception to your proclamation that we shouldn’t pray. Who died and made you Pope? I think I can judge for myself when I should pray. As can you. But if you are saying you are too busy to pray, or you don’t need to pray. You might want to ponder that. And yes, there was and is only one perfect person, Jesus Christ, so the rest of us better get praying!

  • Mary

    I kind of feel quilty making love . I get the feeling it is so wrong and tend to shy away thinking I’m being watched all the time by the Almighty. I have God on my mind and make the sign of the cross as soon as I’m one and into te covers I go as if to hide my face.

  • Jim

    My prayer :” Holy Spirit, take over our love-making”.

  • Margaret

    It took me a long time to look at sex as the beautiful act of God that it is. Years, actually, to put it in proper perspective. That was after my hormones got adjusted and my own ignorance about how the Catholic Church really viewed it came into light (Theology of the Body was a great relief for me, not just a little bit scrupulous and who takes on guilt excessively. I only hope Catholic schools are teaching kids to focus on respect for oneself and others, and why it is best left for marriage. Good and healthy attitudes about sex come from a good and healthy family. Kids absorb what they live with. How fortunate are those who are raised by parents who are both on the same page about these things.

  • digdigby

    Catholics and sex. It reminds me of what some wit once said about homosexuality. “The love that dare not
    speak its name” has become the love that won’t shut up!.

  • http://Spiritdaily.org Mary

    This is a beautiful idea!

  • Marianne

    Let’s be totally honest here, girls.

    We pray every time we won’t have to lie.

    Laying there moaning, “Oh Johnny, you are sooooo big. Who taught you to do it like that. Yes, yes, yes, yesssss. You are the master of the universe. I luvvvvvv uuuuuuuuuuuu ! Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Yessssssssssssssssss!” (All in ten seconds.)

    When you are really asking yourself, “Here we go again. My ‘wifely duty”. Is he even in yet ?!”

    Now come on. Be honest. It’s a sin to lie and if you don’t confess you will burn in hell forever.

    M

  • Marianne

    Well I never ever. Catholics having sex. You animals. May God forgive you.

    You are supposed to make love, and every time, which should be often if you truly love each other; in that expression of love – desire to help co create a third – little Johnny or Mary.

    Then when you have about fifty of ‘em and can’t feed them, you look lovingly and longingly at your beloved, and whisper a sweet nothing in his ear, “You touch me again – and………. ” ;-)

    I am not married and I don’t have sex. Pure and chaste and celibate and have been for years. It’s not so difficult when you choose freely for the sake of your self respect and that of the other.

    I did get about a bit though in the past. Shameless floozy that I was. But Jesus did say, “She loved much ’cause………. ”

    I can’t believe married people feel shame or guilt or embarrassment for being intimate with your lover/spouse, in this day and age of debauchery.

    If you are with the one you truly love – shame, embarrassment is the very last thing should enter your consciousness. Open yourself wholly to the experience – to him/her. Not just the ‘two become one’. You’ll feel like you’ve become one with all that exists.

    All this nonsense about sex being ‘dirty’ comes from the likes of Augustine. He was a sex addicted trollop like I used to be. He never got past his guilt tripping though. He ‘project’ed it to the rest of the Catholic population then and since. Shame on him. Dirty beast.

    Now – enjoy, enjoy enjoy.

    Listen to Engima – “Mea Culpa”. :)

    Ironic -”It’s my fault”. lol

    Wonderful piece though. Reminiscent of Song of Songs. Earthy, erotic, sensual – communion.

    God bless you all in your unions.

    Go forth – multiply !

    And a good dose of humor is vital in all of it. Tis a very holy thing indeed, indeed a very wholesome thing to have the capacity to love – and to laugh, at your self. :-)

    M

    I can’t believe you posted that last one. I was pushing the envelope a bit. lol

  • Joseph

    Thank you Kathy for the post.
    I wish the book of Tobias was more well known and loved. It is God’s instruction to us.
    He knows what is best for us and what will truly make us holy and happy.
    I pray that people would get that. You have. I will copy and pray the prayer you posted.
    Thanks again and God bless!
    ~Joseph

  • http://Nil Tinho

    Whether you like it or not, if we can pray for other things in life, then why can’t we pray for sex. It is just another activity in life same as other activitives e.g. Hunting or a soccer game when pray for safety making confession before or after game.

  • Johnny Catholic

    I’m not married, but I will never pray before sex. Cause knowing my luck, I’ll suggest it and my wife will suddenly lose all interest in me and want to just pray until she goes to sleep lol


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