47. Health Benefits of Prayer
Source: Journal of Marriage and Family – Couples who share religious beliefs, practices, and affiliations are happier than those with different or no religious orientation, according to a study of nearly 1,400 Americans between the ages of 19 and 59, conducted by the National Marriage Project at the University of Virginia. The happiest couples think, discuss, and practice their beliefs in the home, rather than only attending church or fellowship services.
Earlier research has identified three ways in which religion or spirituality enhances marriages:
- By promoting ethical behavior [the Golden rule] and forgiveness;
- by providing a family-oriented social network [Home Fellowship Church (family church)]
- and by bringing a sense of meaning and purpose to life, which increases resilience to stress.
Spiritually: The Bible New Living Translation (NLT) –Matthew 19:1-12 stated about, “Discussion about Divorce and Marriage
1 When Jesus had finished saying these things, He left Galilee and went down to the region of Judea east of the Jordan River. 2 Large crowds followed Him there, and He healed their sick.
3 Some Pharisees came and tried to trap Him with this question: “Should a man be allowed to divorce his wife for just any reason?” 4 “Haven’t you read the Scriptures?” Jesus replied. “They record that from the beginning ‘God made them male and female.’ 5 And He said, ‘This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.’ 6 Since they are no longer two but one, let no one split apart what God has joined together.” 7 “Then why did Moses say in the law that a man could give his wife a written notice of divorce and send her away?” they asked. 8 Jesus replied, “Moses permitted divorce only as a concession to your hard hearts, but it was not what God had originally intended. 9 And I tell you this, whoever divorces his wife and marries someone else commits adultery – unless his wife has been unfaithful.” 10 Jesus’ disciples then said to Him, “If this is the case, it is better not to marry!” 11 “Not everyone can accept this statement,” Jesus said. “Only those whom God helps. 12 Some are born as eunuchs, some have been made eunuchs by others, and some choose not to marry for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. Let anyone accept this who can.”
Life Application: iLumina Bible Studies – The Pharisees hoped to trap our Lord Jesus Christ by getting Him to choose sides in a theological controversy regarding divorce. The debate focused on Moses’ words about divorce in Deuteronomy 24:1-4. Some thought a man could divorce his wife for almost any reason. Others thought that a man could divorce his wife only if she had been unfaithful to him. If Jesus were to support divorce, He would be upholding the Pharisees’ procedures; they doubted that Jesus would do that. If Jesus were to choose sides in the controversy, some members of the crowd would dislike His position, for some may have used the law to their advantage to divorce their wives. Or, if He were to speak against divorce altogether, he would appear to be speaking against Moses.
The Pharisees had quoted Moses’ writings in Deuteronomy; our Lord Jesus Christ also quoted from Moses’ writings (Genesis 1:27; 2:24), but He went back to Genesis, the beginning, referring to the ideal state of creation and particularly of marriage. In creating male and female, God’s plan was that in marriage the husband and wife are united into one. The wife is not property, but a person created in God’s image. Jesus drew a distinction: God’s creation of marriage and his absolute command that it be a permanent union versus the provisions written hundreds of years later that tolerated divorce because of people’s utter sinfulness (Matthew 19:8). The Pharisees regarded Deuteronomy 24:1 as a proof text for divorce. But our Lord Jesus Christ focused on marriage rather than divorce. The Pharisees regarded divorce as a legal issue rather than a spiritual one; marriage and divorce were merely transactions similar to buying and selling land (with women being treated as property). But our Lord Jesus Christ condemned this attitude, clarifying God’s original intention; that marriage bring unity that no one should separate.
The Pharisees asked why Moses allowed divorce. They wondered if our Lord Jesus Christ was saying that Moses had written laws contrary to God’s commands. In reality, Moses had instituted divorce laws to help its victims. Under Jewish law, only a husband could initiate and carry out a divorce. The civil laws protected the women, who, in that culture, were quite vulnerable when living alone. Because of Moses’ law, a man could no longer just throw his wife out – he had to write an official letter of divorce so she could remarry and reclaim her dowry, money or property. This was a major step toward civil rights for women, for it made a man think twice before sending his wife away. Moses’ words gave protection to the wife and limited abuses of divorce.
In Moses’ time, as well as in our Lord Jesus’ day and today, the practice of marriage fell far short of God’s intention. Our Lord Jesus Christ said that Moses permitted divorce only because of people’s hard-hearted wickedness, referring to a stubborn, willful attitude. Many refused to follow through with their marriages as God had intended, so God allowed divorce as a concession to their sinfulness. Our Lord Jesus Christ turned the Pharisees’ “test” question back on them by using it as an opportunity to review God’s intended purpose for marriage and to expose their spiteful motives in testing our Lord Jesus Christ.
Our Lord Jesus Christ had clearly explained that divorce dissolves a divinely formed union. Some men were divorcing in order to get remarried. The rabbis’ interpretation of Moses’ law permitted remarriage after divorce, but our Lord Jesus Christ explained that marriage after divorce is adultery. However, He gave one exception: unless the wife has been unfaithful (see also Matthew 5:32). Scholars agree that our Lord Jesus’ words refer to both husbands and wives; that is, the unfaithfulness of one could be grounds for divorce by the other (see Mark 10:12).
While the application of our Lord Jesus’ words requires interpretation to specific situations, one truth is inescapable: God created marriage to be a sacred, permanent union and partnership between husband and wife. When both husband and wife enter this union with that understanding and commitment, they can provide security for each other, a stable home for their children, and strength to weather any of life’s storms or stresses.
The disciples believed our Lord Jesus Christ upheld such an impossible standard that it would be better for people not to marry than to enter into the covenant of marriage. It seemed better not to make the vow than to make the vow and not be able to keep it.
The high ideal of marriage was not for everyone, but only those whom God helps. Those given that responsibility are expected to adhere to it. There are some to whom this gift of marriage is not given. A “eunuch” is an emasculated male – a man with no testicles. Some are born as eunuchs, who perhaps had physical limitations that prevented their marrying. Others were made that way by others, such as those servants who, in ancient cultures, were castrated in order to serve the master without sexual distractions. Some choose not to marry for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven, voluntarily remaining abstinent because, in their particular situation, they could serve God better as single people. Our Lord Jesus Christ Himself would be in this category, as was the apostle Paul.
THE PRIORITY OF PRAYER by Dr. Charles Stanley of InTouch Ministries https://www.intouch.org/watch/the-priority-of-prayer