To begin with, in brief: for a Christian, praying for love always means praying for the family, and the prayer can be as simple as “Lord, give me a husband or a wife who pleases you and makes me happy.”
Now let us elaborate on that. Why do we pray first of all for family and not for feelings? It is because in Christian terms, the degree of unity that we call love can only be achieved within the family. It is family that makes it possible to return to that joy, which is heard in Adam’s words, when he sees Eve: This is now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh (Gen. 2:23). When he sees her, he finds complete unity with her: and they twain shall be one flesh (Matthew 19:5).
Why are we talking about the pursuit of love within the family? It seems that love, in the meaning we are used to, goes before everything else: a relationship, and then, perhaps, marriage? Why would we need to achieve it if we already have the feeling? The Church has serious differences with the commonplace notion of love, however.
Many people shift the idea of love to infatuation: it seems to them that attraction to another person is love. However, an infatuation, first of all, prevents you from seeing some important traits in the other person, which may turn out to be a tragedy both for your relationship and for you personally. Secondly, infatuation must come to an end sometime. I have personally witnessed a situation like that. One girl was head over heels in love with an altar boy. She wanted to marry him and suffered terribly because he regarded her as nothing more than just a childhood friend. Time went by. The young man graduated from seminary, married a certain girl, was assigned to a parish, and then abandoned his wife and child and resigned from his ministry. The girl who had had a crush on him breathed out. She understood that the man would bring only troubles and sorrows to her life.
It is in order not to fall into the trap of being too infatuated with someone else that we do not ask God for a particular person, we do not ask Him to bind that person to ourselves, as suggested by many occult practices. No, we just rely on God’s will for our relationship. We ask for a partner who will help us to save our soul.
Family love is something much higher and at the same time more difficult than mere infatuation: you can build a happy family with mutual work even without the feeling of infatuation. Granted, it’s much harder.
One can compare building a happy family with building a cathedral in the Middle Ages. It was a very tedious and lengthy process, which lasted for many years: one laid the foundation when he was a young man and only in his old age he witnessed its consecration.
However, the efforts and time invested are worth the moment when you look from the roof of the cathedral at the dilapidated shacks that surround it. Then you realize that true love and mere passion relate to each other in a similar way. You should ask God in your prayer so that He helps you find the co-author of this future “family cathedral”, that you both have enough understanding and strength to build it, that the resulting edifice would make both of you happy.
Translated by The Catalogue of Good Deeds