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Prayer Can Bring Miracles to Our Marriages

By Stephen M. Bird. Posted November 10, 201.   Print this Article

In Marriage Makes Us Richer, Part 2, I wrote that many more marriages could be successful. I said “it may require a miracle. Yet I am certain prayers can bring miracles.” I also said that God is unlikely to change your spouse, but “He can and will change you, if you let Him and frequently, when we change ourselves, we change the relationship.”

God Made a Miracle for Naida

Naida Stephens Tims wrote that her marriage was over. She said, “I knew exactly who was destroying our marriage. It was my husband Ken. I could no longer tolerate the criticism, the lack of consideration, the constant bickering. If he would show more thought and care, everything would be just fine.”

She and her husband eventually received counsel from their church leader that turned their marriage around. He told them to “gather every morning and invite the Holy Ghost” into their home and to pray for a spirit of love and affection for each person in the family. They should then act as if the Holy Ghost were an “honored and invited guest” actually present in their home. At the end of the day they were to “thank Heavenly Father for the blessings of that day” and ask Him to fill their home with his Spirit while they slept.

When she and her family sincerely sought the Lord's Spirit and received it, “Things began to change immediately.” [1]

God's grace is real. One of its theological meanings is: “A special virtue given to a person by God.” [2] Grace is a “divine means of help or strength, given through the bounteous mercy and love of Jesus Christ.” Through faith in Christ, we can “receive strength and assistance to do good works that [we] otherwise would not be able to [do] if left to our own means.” [3] Thus God can empower us to act toward or respond to our spouse in ways that strengthen our marital love.

A Russian KGB Spy Watched People Pray

The change Heavenly Father's grace makes in us is discernable by others. Consider

the example of Stanislav Levchenko, A Russian KGB spy. He was an atheist whose heart was changed when God's help was so evident that he had to recognize it. He was converted to Christianity by watching Christians pray. One of his assignments was to show visitors the cultural centers of Russia, which included churches. He would sit quietly while Russian Orthodox priests led his visitors through their churches. As people came in to pray he began to watch their faces. He said, ‘Sometimes their faces would be drawn and anguished, sometimes worried and scared. What always astounded me was that, once they had knelt in prayer, their faces would clear, their brows would smooth out. By the time they'd get up to leave, they looked serene, even happy. It was a phenomenon I never tired of watching.’ Gradually Levchenko began to see the truth, and he said ‘Little by little I began to believe in the God who gave solace to people who asked for help.’ Levchenko's new belief and his prayers apparently led him to freedom here in America. [4]

I have sought the Spirit for feelings of “love and affection” for my wife in prayer many times and I have felt the Lord change me; change my feelings for my wife; and change some of my actions toward her and responses to her. Each time, as I received the Lord's grace, “things began to change immediately.” We have been married for 37 years now and have been growing more in love as we pray.

There is a caveat. Not all prayers are created equal. In the early nineties, two researchers, M.M. Polodma and B.F. Pendleton found a “distinction between types of prayer. Exclusive use of ritual prayer [reading from a book of prayer] and petitional prayer [asking for material things] . . . correlated with negative effects.” Colloquial prayer [seeking guidance] “correlated highest with life satisfaction, and meditative prayer [feeling the presence of God] with religious satisfaction and ‘existential well-being.’” [5]

“... not seen one marriage in serious trouble where the couple was still praying together daily.”

I believe seeking guidance and the presence of God in my prayers has made powerful changes in me. Praying together has also been important to our marriage. Joe Christensen said we should “pray for the success” of our marriages. He further said: “Many Church leaders and marriage counselors indicate that they have not seen one marriage in serious trouble where the couple was still praying together daily.” [6] This may or may not be possible for you, but if you can do it sincerely, it is powerful.

Peace Over Anger

Consider, as Levchenko observed, that sincere prayers for guidance or seeking God's presence bring peace. While peace reigns in your heart, anger is dispelled. A teacher once told me of a couple who fought about how to squeeze the tube of toothpaste. The darned husband squeezed it any way he wanted, while his wife, who had been trained in her parent's home to be frugal, was certain it needed to be squeezed from the bottom to get all the toothpaste out of the tube. Furthermore it annoyed her to no end when her husband forgot to put the cap back on the tube. Their marriage became so contentious on this issue, they nearly divorced. If God is giving you peace in your heart, your vulnerability to annoyance over trivial issues will be greatly diminished. You will be able to think much more clearly and if you are seeking guidance for alternative practices and solutions, ideas will come into your mind that help you get along better with your spouse.

We are never alone, unless we choose to be alone.

Notes:

[1] Naida Stephens Tims, “An Honored and Invited Guest,” Ensign, June 2007, 50-51.

[2] David B. Guralnik, ed., Webster's New World Dictionary of the American Language, 2nd college ed. (Cleveland: William Collins & World Publishing Co., Inc., 1974), 605.

[3] Bible Dictionary in The Holy Bible (SLC: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1979), 607. This Bible is the King James Version.

[4] Stanislav Levchenko, On the Wrong Side: My Life in the KGB (New York: Dell Publishing, 1988), 62. As retold by Stephen M. Bird in Prayers That Bring Miracles (Murray, UT: Aspen Books, 1997), 132-133.

[5] Patrick Glynn, God: The Evidence (Rocklin, California: FORUM, 1997), 83-84. cf David B. Larson and Susan S. Larson, The Forgotten Factor in Physical and Mental Health: What Does the Research Show? (Rockville, MD: National Institute of Healthcare Research, 1994), 137-139.

[6] Elder Joe J. Christensen, “Marriage and the Great Plan of Happiness,” Ensign, May 1995.

 

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