Finding Support and Strength through the Couples Prayer Group
Marriage has its ups and downs, its storms and havens, and its joys and sorrows. No matter what life throws at your marriage, it is fantastic to know that you are not alone. Thanks to organizations like the Couples Prayer Group, married couples can rest assured that God “has their back.”
“In an age where divorce continues to be prevalent, and marriage is regarded by some to be disposable, we need to honor the Sacrament of Marriage”
“In an age where divorce continues to be prevalent, and marriage is regarded by some to be disposable, we need to honor the Sacrament of Marriage,” says Jamie Friye, who attends the Couples Prayer Group with her husband, Saleem Mamdani. “One very effective way to do this is to by getting together to prioritize prayer and fellowship. Meeting as a group also gives us a chance to draw closer to each other and pray for one another, sharing our difficulties and celebrating our victories with each other.”
The Couples Prayer Group usually meets every third Sunday of the month — except for during the summer — following the 11 a.m. Mass. They meet in various locations, such as our parish, members’ homes, or at community locations — such as a restaurant for the Christmas gathering. During their meetings, they share lunch and work through a reflective lesson together based on varying themes.
“We are currently working our way through the lessons from Evenings for the Engaged as a refresher course since most of us went through the program prior to marriage,” Jamie says. “We always have a meal, whether carry-in or brought in by a specific couple (assigned before the meeting), and we sometimes have childcare available. If not, children are still welcome to attend and play as a group. We conclude each meeting with shared prayer, which includes reflecting on the past week, making any special intentions known, and giving thanks for the good things we have received.”
The couples enjoy learning from each other and sharing the wisdom they have gleaned.
"Reflecting on things alongside one another helps us see that we are not alone in our struggles, and see things from a new perspective from time to time."
“I really enjoy hearing from the other group members when we do a reflective exercise together,” Jamie says. “Their insights are thought-provoking for me. Reflecting on things alongside one another helps us see that we are not alone in our struggles, and see things from a new perspective from time to time.”
Ultimately, each couple finds that their marriage is enriched and blessed through the friendships they make at the Couples Prayer Group.
“I also enjoy the additional thoughts and ideas we get from the group about ways to strengthen our relationship,” Saleem says. “Sometimes, it’s the homework assignment of doing something different for a date night, or perhaps the suggestion of topics of discussion to have as a couple. But having this group helps to be more intentional and nurturing of our relationship. That’s something that, especially for couples with young children, can be lost amidst the pressures of daily life.”
Seeking God together creates a sense of camaraderie that is fulfilling and comforting.
“It’s tempting to think of your struggles as unique,” Saleem says. “But hearing from peers that are going through substantially similar issues helps, not only because there is comfort in knowing that others are facing the same things, but also because sometimes knowing it is another person’s issue enables you to see a side of your conflict that you couldn’t see before.”
Recently, the Couples Prayer Group made some changes in light of the COVID-19 pandemic, such as meeting in the rectory yard to enjoy a picnic lunch together.
“I anticipate that we will continue to meet outside, weather permitting, as long as we can,” Jamie says. “We will have to decide as a group what the meetings will look like once meeting outside is no longer a viable option. We may consider a socially distanced gathering or potentially use a platform like Zoom or Google Meet.”
New couples are encouraged and invited to join this wonderful group.
“We are a fun, dynamic group and are welcoming to all. It doesn’t involve a large time commitment, and it is time well spent"
“We are a fun, dynamic group and are welcoming to all. It doesn’t involve a large time commitment, and it is time well spent,” Jamie says. “Any couple of any age or stage in life is welcome to join. You do not have to be a member of St. Francis Parish to do so. We have members with infants, members with school-age and adult children, and everything in between.”
If you would like more information, please contact Emily Wellman at 217-257-3536, refer to future parish bulletins for more information, or visit the Couples Prayer Group Facebook page.