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Recent study findings support LDS leaders' teachings that prayers strengthen marriage

According to The Washington Post, recent empirical studies suggest that petitionary prayers in behalf of one’s spouse can strengthen marriage. The research, primarily conducted by Frank Fincham at Florida State University’s Family Institute, spanned a total of 20 years.

Praying for a spouse’s well-being can lead to “increased relationship satisfaction, greater trust, cooperation, forgiveness and marital commitment,” The Washington Post reported.

General authorities of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints have often counseled couples to strengthen their relationships by not only praying for one another, but with one another. Here are six quotes from LDS Church leaders and resources on the topic:

President Gordon B. Hinckley spoke of the calming effect prayer can have on marriages on a daily basis:

“I know of no single practice that will have a more salutary effect upon your lives than the practice of kneeling together as you begin and close each day. Somehow the little storms that seem to afflict every marriage are dissipated when, kneeling before the Lord, you thank him for one another, in the presence of one another, and then together invoke his blessings upon your lives, your home, your loved ones and your dreams.

“God then will be your partner, and your daily conversations with him will bring peace into your hearts and a joy into your lives that can come from no other source. Your companionship will sweeten through the years; your love will strengthen. Your appreciation for one another will grow.”

In an April 2006 general conference address, President Russell M. Nelson said that the key to effective communication is prayer:

"Suggestion No. 2 — to communicate well with your spouse — is also important. Good communication includes taking time to plan together. Couples need private time to observe, to talk and really listen to each other. They need to cooperate — helping each other as equal partners. They need to nurture their spiritual as well as physical intimacy. They should strive to elevate and motivate each other. Marital unity is sustained when goals are mutually understood. Good communication is also enhanced by prayer. To pray with specific mention of a spouse’s good deed (or need) nurtures a marriage."

President Thomas S. Monson married his wife, Sister Francis J. Monson, in the Salt Lake Temple and received the following advice from the man who performed the ceremony:

“May I offer you newlyweds a formula which will ensure that any disagreement you may have will last no longer than one day? Every night kneel by the side of your bed. One night, Brother Monson, you offer the prayer, aloud, on bended knee. The next night you, Sister Monson, offer the prayer, aloud, on bended knee. I can then assure you that any misunderstanding that develops during the day will vanish as you pray. You simply can’t pray together and retain any but the best of feelings toward one another”

Elder David B. Haight of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles promised that as couples pray and ask for understanding in their relationships, forgiveness and hope will inevitably follow:

“If, as husband and wife, you are having serious misunderstandings or if you feel some strain or tension building up in your marriage, you should humbly get on your knees together and ask God our Father, with a sincere heart and real intent, to lift the darkness that is over your relationship, that you may receive the needed light, see your errors, repent of your wrongs, forgive each other and receive each unto yourselves as you did in the beginning. I solemnly assure you that God lives and will answer your humble pleas.”

When seeking to support a spouse who is struggling with pornography, offered the following insights:

“Pray about your feelings; seek for wisdom, understanding, courage and emotional strength to support a person toward whom you feel so unhappy. Pray that you will not see him or her as an evil person but as Heavenly Father sees your spouse — as His child trapped in an addiction. Pray that you can say the right things to be encouraging and that you can appropriately express your feelings about pornography use and the violation of trust between you.

“Pray that your spouse's heart will be softened as you approach the problem. Pray that your spouse will respond honestly to your questions and concerns without becoming defensive and angry. Pray for recovery.”

President Spencer W. Kimball also suggested that those looking for a partner begin praying for their spouse in advance. He recalled the following conversation he had with a missionary who was soon to return home from his mission:

"'When you get released, Elder, what are your plans?'

'Oh, I plan to go back to college.' And then with a smile he added, 'Then I hope to fall in love and get married.'

Elder Kimball shared this wise counsel: 'Well, don’t just pray to marry the one you love. Instead, pray to love the one you marry.'"