Friday, June 24, 2011

Survey Says: Prayer is Like Superglue

I thought this was an interesting article and a good follow-up to my last post, as it compliments and reinforces some of the ideas I previously mentioned. The original article can be found here.

Fourteen days -- 336 hours. That's how long Eddie Murphy's latest marriage lasted to film producer, Tracey Edmonds. David Letterman quipped: "They started to drift apart during the ceremony. The legal question now is who gets custody of the cake."

The star-struck couple entered the New Year with a flourish, exchanging vows on a private island off Bora Bora in French Polynesia on Jan. 1. They were the picture of perfection; dapperly dressed, sunshiny smiles and bodacious bodies honed by exercise and diet. Probing paparazzi captured faces aglow with the radiance of love. Or was it merely the beginning of sunstroke? That at least would explain the insane antics that followed.

The marriage headed south faster than a Canadian snowbird in November and they pulled the plug just days into the adventure. Apparently "till death do us part" is translated differently in French Polynesia. Eddie and Tracey discovered what most people instinctively know: enduring marriages require more than picturesque beginnings, fame or even fortune.

Flourishing relationships grow in the greenhouse of commitment, nourished by copious communication and persistent prayer. Traditional wedding vows are meant to usher in delightful devotion to a spouse. Stubborn commitment is pledged: "For better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, and faithful to you alone, till death do us part."

The Bible calls this a covenant and it was never meant to be broken. To sever such a relationship is the equivalent of ripping our tongue off on the playground slide in the middle of a Canadian winter. Not pleasant and downright bloody. No wonder God says He hates divorce. He is the outstanding Father of all time; watching His children experience such pain is nothing less than heart-wrenching.

Commitment can prevent much of that pain, forming the banks in which the marital river freely flows. If commitment forms the banks, then communication is the current. It ensures the relationship retains freshness and vigour, combating the staleness that grows in quiet waters.

Relational silence is not golden -- it is an eerily accurate forecaster of dark storm clouds gathering on the horizon. Wise couples dispel these clouds in three ways:

- They expose secrets. Alcoholics Anonymous suggests that we are as sick as the secrets we keep. Marital secrets need to be dragged kicking and screaming into the light, where they die of exposure. The heart of marriage is meant to be transparent.

- Healthy couples deal with their disagreements. They follow St. Paul's advice and "do not let the sun go down while (they) are still angry." The right time to humble ourselves and ask forgiveness is always the present. An oft forgotten bonus is that making up can be a whole lot of fun.

Perceptive spouses frequently express their love. Spoken sentiment is a gentle breeze refreshing the soul. It is a spring rain watering seeds of love sown deep within. Couples who excel in the language of love need never fear failure.

A 1997 Gallup Poll unearthed a noteworthy nugget of marital insight. It discovered that when a couple consistently prays together its chances of divorce plunges from one-in-three to one-in-1,152.

Wise couples pay attention to such findings. Fools alone discount a practice that increases the odds of success this dramatically.

The poll issues a clarion, if unconventional challenge to all. According to these findings, marriage counsellors should be clambering to arm clients with prayer manuals, couples should be flocking to churches and enterprising employers wishing to maximize employee emotional health should consider initiating prayer workshops.

You don't have to be religious to pray -- just smart. Don't worry about a formula, God appreciates simple sincerity. Try the "sorry, thank you, please" format. Express what you are sorry for. Thank God for the multitude of received blessings, including your spouse. Then discuss requests with the Divine.

Magazines littering the grocery checkout aisles proclaimed the tragedy of the Eddie and Tracey breakup. But the greatest tragedy is unheralded; that two mature individuals have yet to grasp the keys that will unlock an enduring and fulfilling relationship.

Perhaps the one redeeming factor in the entire sordid affair is the opportunity we have to glean and grow from their marital mishap.We can choose to stay true to commitments made. We can open our hearts and mouths, rejecting the lure of silence when communication is desperately needed. Persistent prayer can bind us to the One who is an artesian well of wisdom and an unending source of love.

When we live in such a way we rise above a myriad of gifted individuals who choose a lesser pathway, including two rich but lonely movie moguls who left their hearts in Bora Bora.

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