DO YOU PRAY THAT PEOPLE GET MARRIED?
----- Original Message -----
From: VOCÊ ORA PARA AS PESSOAS CASAREM?
Sent: Wednesday, September 07, 2005
I’ve noticed you never link prayer to marriage, or meeting one’s future husband or wife, or people’s dating life etc.
Am I right?
I’d like to know why. Is it because of some trauma of yours? Or because you’re tired of repeatedly seeing bad outcomes? I know you believe in prayer and pray about many things. But it strikes me as odd that you’re silent about marriage. Why is that?
Excuse me if I’m being nosy. It’s just a curiosity I have about you.
Grace and Peace!
Yes, you’re right! I don’t ask God that someone marries someone in particular. Here are some reasons why I don’t do that:
1 – In the Scripture, I’ve never seen anybody pray that he/she will marry someone special. People just married whomever they wanted (as rich or independent men did) or whoever was “arranged” by the parents or the family. Even the New Testament doesn’t encourage people to make such an intercession. On the contrary, a reading of 1 Corinthians 7 doesn’t seem to convey any incitement as for praying continually about the topic, neither before getting married nor after that in order to be sure that the unbelieving husband will convert. “How do you know?” is Paul’s question, and he provides the answer by telling the couple to use the peace criterion to check whether being together is worthwhile or not.
2 – I’ve never seen Jesus a bit worried about the subject. He raises the dead, but never tells a husband who left to come back home. As for the woman who was called an “adulteress” by the “synagogue”, He only forgives her and tells her not to live that way anymore, but He doesn’t try to set up things so she and a man she likes can meet.
3 – Out of my own experience, after witnessing virtually everything in this area, I’d rather do as my son Lukas said when we were on our way to my parents’ Golden Wedding celebration: “They proved they can get married”, he said. The interesting thing is that we were going to celebrate their 50th anniversary. Therefore, consistently with what I’ve always seen, especially as a pastor, I’m only convinced that a marriage can be successful after it proves to be steadfast, which, in general, happens after both have already “overcome the world” together.
4 – I’ve seen traumas and psychological attacks of suspicion get into people’s souls. This is especially true about many women who were given “prophetic guarantees” that some guy was “the man”, but eventually they got into a spiritual crisis after finding out that that “man of God” was actually a regular Christian scoundrel. I know some people who got so emotionally unbalanced because of this that they remain in hospital under medical care. Others lost faith. Others became cynical. Others are “mad at God” to this day.
5 – As I see it, taking in account that the Scripture freely reports deeds and deeds of faith—even the resurrection of some dead people, the sea waters dividing, the sun standing still—, it’s intriguing that it never tells us the story of a man or a woman who wanted somebody, prayed, prayed and prayed, and then God produced love in the loved person’s heart for his/her lover.
No! I can’t find anything like this in my Bible. And why is that? In my opinion, it’s because love is a mysterious place. And God created it to be so, therefore any attempt to “arouse or awaken love before it so desires”, as we read in the Song of Solomon, is recklessness.
In my opinion, a marriage must be a supreme encounter in freedom, spontaneity, truth, choice, and pleasure in saying, “This one is mine!” or “This is now flesh of my flesh!”
The complication about this is that today there are thousands of Adams and Eves.
So, the mystery is bigger and bigger. However, the freedom God gave humans takes love to a mystery realm where only the heart has a right to the choice.
Throughout the Scripture, the only marriage that happened on God’s explicit order was that of Hosea to Gomer, a rampant adulteress who would give herself over to men due to a great lack of self-control and sexual compulsion. It doesn’t seem to be an order that most people would appreciate getting from the heavens.
I perform weddings very often. But for decades I haven’t asked the bride and the groom to pledge the “marriage vows” during the ceremony. I let them promise whatever they want to. After all, I myself think that such “vows” or “oaths” (an abominable word among evangelicals) aren’t consistent with Bible statements like “You do not know…”, “God let such things hidden…”, “How do you know…?”, etc.
Therefore, I pray to God that the couple may know how to keep what they have, may be wise, may avoid whatever is harmful to their relationship etc. But I’ll never lead anyone to think that at 25—or any other age—two people can know for sure that they will be together forever. Well, if they don’t know, it’s because God said nobody knows anything about whatever it may be.
Those who think otherwise should use the “evangelical witchery”, because to me, such certainties can only be associated with spell and sorcery. As for the marriage, I see very clear reasons to leave everything grounded on hope.
Therefore, I let the bride and groom speak out nothing but a profession of purposes, or an earnest intent, or their willingness, because I know nobody knows what will actually happen. A marriage is like politics: A person has to commit to it in his or her own name, not God’s.
Every marriage (even the happiest of them) goes through seasons of psychological or emotional divorce, disinterest, dullness, boredom, idleness, habit, routine, and tiredness. It’s all part of it.
However, if people aren’t persistent enough to “go through the tribulation”, most will put an end to what still stands a great chance of going on. That’s why instead of burdening people with the “come-what-may” yoke, I just say, “Problems are normal, and are a part of marriage itself. But where a man and a woman love each other in maturity and wisdom, there can be a solution to everything.”
But I don’t evoke any miracles but love—the love they already have for each other. After all I’ve never seen prayer bring about desire in someone who doesn’t have it, or conjugal love in someone who doesn’t have it, or love for the spouse in the husband or wife who never liked him/her in the first place, or sexual desire where it never existed before. As I’ve always seen, all the couples who can get things mended after going through crises are those who love each other from the beginning.
Partners who love each other have every opportunity, but those who don’t can only develop further strength to keep putting up with what they hate. A marriage, however, isn’t a battlefield. After all, Paul says, “God has called us to live in peace.”
Those who have truly united were united by God. As for those who have never united, however, no prayer will cause them to unite in conjugal love. They may even sublimate the crisis and stick together anyway. But this won’t be a marriage according to the souls’ demands of what a marriage should be.
The simplest fact is that just like in any other area of life, in marriage the righteous shall also marry and live by faith. There’s no other way than the love for your spouse and the faith that together you will make it—of course, each doing what’s up to him/her, letting go of some things to some extent, seeking harmony and wishing the good of peace on both.
I hope my standpoint will be useful and clarifying to you, even though I explained it in a very summarized way.
In Him, in Whom that which is is,
(Written in 2005)
From the original: “VOCÊ ORA PARA AS PESSOAS SE CASAREM?”
Translated by F. R. Castelo Branco | June 2007