First of all, hello gorgeous day! Aren't these the days that make you so exultant that summer is finally just about here?
While students are hauling cartloads of their belongings across the plaza, and cars are jammed into the visitor lot waiting to pick up students and take them home for the summer, we stole away with Starbucks breakfast to this beautiful spot south of the city. The couple pictured with Neal and I above are students who asked us to do their pre-marital counseling this year. Let me tell you, it was one of my favorite parts about this year. I'd love to do more in the future and continue to grow in serving couples in this way!
[To see where I received my certification in pre-marital counseling, and to see how you can become certified too, visit www.prepare-enrich.com.]
Neal and I are still new to this pre-marital counseling thing, so we're certainly still tweaking our process. But the closing ritual we tried today is one I want to make into a tradition: Go to a beautiful, memorable spot (if possible) and pray the Puritan's Prayer over them.
My dad prayed this prayer over Neal and I at our wedding, and there's something deeply satisfying and joyous about passing it on to other couples in our lives that are ready to step into marriage. This prayer paints the most beautiful heart and vision for marriage I've ever read.
"Father in heaven, thank you for this husband-wife commitment to Christian marriage. As they look ahead, we pray that their future will never lack the convictions that make a marriage strong.
Bless this husband. Bless him as provider and protector. Sustain him in all the pressures that come with the task of stewarding a family. May his strength be his wife’s boast and pride, and may he so live that his wife may find in him the haven for which the heart of a woman truly longs.
Bless this wife. Give her a tenderness that makes her great. A deep sense of understanding and a strong faith in you. Give her that inner beauty of soul that never fades, that eternal youth that is found in holding fast to the things that never age. May she so live that her husband may be pleased to reverence her in the shrine of his own heart.
Teach them that marriage is not living for each other—it is two people uniting and joining hands to serve you. Give them a great spiritual purpose in life. May they seek first your kingdom and your righteousness knowing that you will sustain them thru all of life’s challenges.
May they minimize each other’s weaknesses and be swift to praise and magnify each other’s strengths so that they might view each other thru a lover’s kind and patient eyes. Give them a little something to forgive each day that their love might learn to be longsuffering.
Bless them and develop their character as they walk together with you. Give them enough hurts to keep them human, enough failures to keep their hands clenched tightly in yours and enough success to make them sure they walk with you throughout all of their life.
May they never take each other’s love for granted but always experience that breathless wonder that exclaims, “Out of all the world, you have chosen me!” Then when life is done and the sun is setting, may they be found then as now, still hand in hand, still very proud, still thanking you for each other.
May they travel together as friends and lovers, brother and sister, husband and wife, father and mother, and as servants of Christ until he shall return, or until that day when one shall lay the other in the arms of God. We ask through Jesus Christ, the great lover of our souls.