I had never thought of bringing together these two very personal and powerful actions until I read this post by psychotherapist and MiddlesexMD advisor Mary Jo Rapini. She writes, “One method not as well studied but also valid in bringing a couple closer together and improving sex lives is prayer.”
Well, that got my attention! Prayer, however you express it, has always seemed like something you do alone and in private, although we pray with others in certain contexts, such as liturgies and church rituals.
Sex, on the other hand, is an intimate and private act between two people, who may sometimes struggle with the vulnerability such intimacy demands.
But bringing the two together? Doesn’t that seem, um, odd if not downright sacrilegious? After all, one is sacred and one is, um, fairly creaturely.
Actually, prayer and sex are the most natural intertwining of intimate acts in the world.
If you believe in any sort of Higher Power, bringing that Being consciously (through prayer) into your sex life could open a new level of intimacy between you and your partner. It could also sweep away those musty, Victorian notions that sex is somehow “of the flesh” and therefore opposed to things of the spirit. Which may be where that stubborn scent of guilt that clings to sex originates.
Nothing could be further from the truth. There is no such dichotomy, even though we tend to create one. Male and female become “one flesh”—that’s how we were made, to be sexed creatures. We were made this way by the God whom we would prefer to exclude from the bedroom.
“See, sex in not an afterthought, a way to make more babies. Rather, it is an indispensable quality woven in the fabric of each life on this planet. Sex is not first something we do; it is primarily who we are,” writes Dan Hayes in this post about sex and prayer.
Why not invite God in? Consciously. By praying together. You don’t even have to belong to the same religion—you just have to believe. (God is there anyway; it’s just helpful for us to acknowledge it.)
Sex is a sacred act. That concept is the foundation of many Eastern practices, such as the Tantra. Sex is sacramental—the most intimate physical joining that human creatures can attain. Prayer acknowledges this, and it introduces a different kind of intimacy and perspective between partners.
A few of the effects of bringing prayer into sex, according to Mary Jo, are that by acknowledging a higher power, our own ego and self-righteousness dissolve, unspoken barriers between partners are broken down, and the bond between them is strengthened.
Praying together begets acceptance and forgiveness. It softens the sharp edges that creep into a relationship over time.
So, in the midst of using all the other tips and tricks we’ve discussed so much on this site, why not also pray together? You can do it in any way that’s comfortable for you. You don’t have to use words, but it might be helpful for each of you to hear the prayer of the other.
Join hands. Be still. Quiet yourselves.
Then pray. Together. With or without words.
If you don’t know what to say, here’s a starter:
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, forever and ever.(“A Prayer Before Sex” from Patheos.com)
Dr. Barb DePree, M.D., has been a gynecologist and women’s health provider for almost 30 years and a menopause care specialist for the past ten.