Dating/Holy Dating/My Relationships/Teen Relationships Dating and Praying: How to Navigate Spiritual Intimacy by David Leininger Q: I’ve read that it’s emotionally unchaste to pray with your significant other if you’re not married because prayer is an intensely intimate experience between you and God. I’ve prayed the liturgy of the hours, chaplets of divine mercy, and rosaries with close friends daily, and we’ve discovered just how crucial that prayer has been to strengthening our friendship. Why would I do that with them but not with the one that I’m discerning to spend the rest of my life with? A: As I look back on my time high school and college, I’ve noticed that most of the friends that I still have from those days are friends that I prayed with. I firmly believe that it’s because we set the foundation of our friendship on Christ. Praying together is an unbelievable way to strengthen a friendship and lead each other closer to Christ. Friends that pray together – stay together. My best friend and I have known each other for over 15 years. We’ve been through good time, bad times, great times, and terrible times, but through all of that we’ve been committed to Christ and to each other as friends. That level of commitment and trust opens the door for a greater level of intimacy, especially through prayer. More than almost anybody else, I’ve been able to let him see the depths of my heart. He knows my struggles and my wants in my walk with Christ. He holds me accountable and prays with and for me when I need. That relationship is very different than a relationship with boyfriend or girlfriend that you’ve been dating for a couple of months. The level of commitment and trust are significantly higher, so the level of intimacy, in this case spiritual intimacy should be higher, too. While dating it’s important to your emotional chastity in check. Be aware of where the relationship is heading and what level of intimacy is appropriate. Don’t get ahead of yourself or the relationship. Prayer between couples can form a very powerful bond. Before you jump right in and start praying with each other – it’s okay to ask yourself, am I going to marry this person? Should I be sharing your addictions, regrets, or deepest sins with them? Am I just trying to be close to someone? Knowing your intentions, as well as your boyfriend or girlfriend’s intentions, will help you know what kind of prayer is appropriate in that relationship. Let me be clear, it is perfectly acceptable, and honestly necessary, to spend time in prayer with someone that you’re discerning to spend the rest of your life with. When you know that you’re going to marry someone prayer is a very real way to strengthen your relationship and build it’s foundation on God. That commitment, vulnerability, and intimacy are key to marriage, and discerning your vocation. However, unless know that you’re going to marry your boyfriend or girlfriend it can be dangerous to spend intimate prayer time together. More “free-form” prayer is a very vulnerable experience and we let God into the depths of our heart. This kind of vulnerability with God might be too much to share with a boyfriend or girlfriend unless you are certain that the relationship is going to end in marriage. Being that open with someone who you are just dating can make the relationship cloudy and harder to end the relationship if it’s not heading toward marriage. If that’s not the direction, it’s too soon to tell, or you don’t know if it’s heading towards marriage, it’s better to pray in groups or, at the least, in public places. There is good news though – our Church has some fantastic ways that you can pray with someone you are dating without compromising them or yourself emotionally. • Spend sometime in the adoration chapel – it’s a great way to have prayer time together while being able to focus on Christ, and not each other. • Praying the Rosary, Liturgy of the Hours, and/or Chaplet of Divine Mercy – these are great ways to pray as a group and these prayers bring us more into prayer as a community. • Get together some friends for small group prayer – finding time to pray in a group and help set the level of shared intimacy between everyone. • Go to youth group together – spend time being challenged and praying with other people your age. • Go to Mass together – it’s the end all, be all of our faith. We literally join the whole world in prayer as we celebrate the sacrifice of Christ and the greatest gift He could give us, Himself. Keep praying brother/sister. Do you have a question about dating and relationships you’d like to ask David and Rachel Leininger? Email them at [email protected] and your question could be the next blog post!