People seeking a stable marriage relationship can take heart. Through the moral activity of prayer this relationship can be harmonized and maintained. Prayer is much more than wishy-washy, hopeful thinking. It is active spiritual knowing, realizing what God has actually created - man in His image - and conforming our thoughts and lives to this truth. Prayer is something to be lived as Christ Jesus lived it throughout his life. He didn't merely hope the multitudes would be healed; he understood God's absolute supremacy and man's genuine nature, and he lived that understanding. As a result, he was able to heal those around him who were in need.
What has this to do with marriage? A great deal. We can't just hope that our marriage will work out. We need to actively nurture and protect this relationship with prayer. True prayer uplifts, redeems, and heals the most bitter of circumstances.
Prayer requires us to turn from the easy and lazy pastime of making mental lists of the bad character traits of our wife or husband. This type of mental rehearsal only helps to destroy a marriage. Neither should we feel that the periodic unleash-ing of frustrations over another's actions is a good way to work things out. Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes: ''The pent-up elements of mortal mind need no terrible detonation to free them. Envy, rivalry, hate need no temporary indulgence that they be destroyed through suffering; they should be stifled from lack of air and freedom.'' n1
n1 Miscellaneous Writings, p. 356.
Our higher need is not to perfect our partner, but to have a deeper sense of love that heals. Gritting our teeth and silently enduring will not help - this only allows the problem to build. Instead, we need to live in obedience to the Old Testament rule, which became one of Christ Jesus' most important commands to his followers: ''Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself.'' n2 Maybe you have thought of everyone else but your wife or husband as your neighbor.
n2 Matthew 22:39.
The mental atmosphere we emit can make or break a marriage. Thought needs to be cleansed constantly with the truth of man. This active and profound expression of love is a powerful influence to preserve and stabilize a marriage.
The Biblical record of Jesus' healings shows that the Master didn't trust material evidence for his vision of what man is. His love was much deeper. Maybe this is why he could say to the adulterous woman, ''Neither do I condemn thee: go, and sin no more,'' n3 when everyone else wanted to stone her. And why he was able to say on the cross, in his darkest hour, ''Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.'' n4 He could still love his persecutors.
n3 John 8:11.
n4 Luke 23:34.
Certainly Jesus' ability to love his neighbor was tested countless times. We can follow his example and love more deeply, more compassionately, and depend less on material evidence. Speaking of Jesus' ability to look beyond what the senses take in, Mrs. Eddy writes: ''Jesus of Nazareth was the most scientific man that ever trod the globe. He plunged beneath the material surface of things, and found the spiritual cause.'' n5 Through God's help we can do the same.
n5 Science and Health, p. 313.
If, then, our spouse seems lazy, egotistical, selfish, argumentative, or just plain difficult, we can turn to God and raise our vision of man a little higher than we did before. Let's meet the demand to love more - from a spiritual basis. This is living in accord with Jesus' command, and this activity will preserve and enrich our marriage. It will also bless the whole human family. DAILY BIBLE VERSE Thou shalt not bear false witness against thy neighbor. Exodus 20:16