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Keep having the same fight with your spouse? Here’s a quick prayer to break the cycle

ARGUING COUPLE
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12 Simple words to call down God’s mercy …

Whether it be about finances or in-laws or who picks up the kids from soccer, don’t all married couples have a “favorite” disagreement they return to again and again?

From what I gather, this ‘round the mulberry bush fight is a problem common to marriage, yet one that in the moment can make a person feel tremendously isolated and alone.

Enter a powerful 12-word prayer:

Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner.”

Christians have been leaning on the practice of reciting this prayer, widely known in the Eastern Catholic world as the Jesus Prayer, since the 14th century.

I discovered this secret weapon when Bishop Robert Barron recommended The Way of a Pilgrim, a book about a traveler who strives to follow Jesus’ command to “pray without ceasing.”

Here’s how I use this powerful prayer when my husband and I are bickering about finances – our all-too familiar ‘round the mulberry bush fight. I lift up the prayer repeatedly, saying it for myself and then for my husband, plugging in his name at the end:

Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on Pete, a sinner.”

And bam! – my anger is diffused. Okay, maybe not instantly. Or completely. Sometimes I have to hide away and meditate on the words again and again – crying out to God for me, for him, for me, for my teens who have jumped in on the argument, and slowly … well, I calm down a little bit.

You see, I’m not promising a magical cure. I am, however, sharing a practical/ spiritual hack that’s helped us realize some progress – finally. Maybe you’ll try it the next time you bump heads over where to spend the holidays. Go ahead, plug in your spouse’s name:

Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on __________, a sinner.”

See? Doesn’t that feel better than stewing in resentment? By choosing to storm heaven for your spouse, you’re taking control of the situation on some level; you’re steering yourself and your marriage and your family in a powerful new direction.

St. Teresa of Avila said “Prayer is an act of love,” and I always reflect on her wisdom when I’m saying the Jesus Prayer for my husband. Because honestly, I feel my love for him increase each time I say his name in prayer, regardless of what’s going on. Also, by calling down God’s mercy on myself and my husband, I’m admitting we’re both sinners in desperate need of God’s supernatural help.

Again, I’m not promising an instant magical cure for that ‘round the mulberry bush fight, but I can say the last time Pete and I had a doozy of one, I hid in the laundry room (like a caterpillar in a cocoon) and after many, many repetitions of Lord Jesus Christ, son of God, have mercy on us sinners, I did find a new set of wings.

Read more: Advice From the Bible: “Don’t Worry, Be Happy”

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