Essay / Theology

Making Marriage: A Wedding Prayer

I prayed this prayer at a wedding in Picayune, Mississippi, March 15, 2008.

Almighty God, only you have the power to make a marriage. This special church service cannot do it, though it has been beautiful. Our hopes and wishes for Zak and Martha cannot, though we are their best friends and adoring families. The state of Mississippi can’t make a marriage, though the paperwork has been filed.

O God, a marriage is a miracle of two becoming one, of one life and another life flowing into each other to make one life together. Only you can make that happen. Not even the promises and intentions of this bride and groom have the power to make a marriage, because even though they mean those promises with all their hearts, they also know they are sinners. And that means they are more comfortable with selfishness than with the daily, costly self-giving they just promised each other.

O Lord God, you can take their youthful promises and good intentions and make of them a marriage. Marriage is a creation, and you are the creator. Father, we thank you that you have brought Zak and Martha together and have created this new thing, this miracle of creation, this new family which did not exist before but now does exist. Thank you, Lord.

And we thank you in advance for the way you will bless them by being with them: You, with all your perfections that they need in their life together. Your faithfulness, your goodness, your generosity, your self-sacrifice, your covenant-keeping, your mercy, your wisdom, your fullness of life which brings forth new life. Thank you God that you are all these things, the very things they most need. They need your presence and your virtues because they have just promised to live together, and we are all pretty hard to live with. You know, because you live with all of us.

Bless Zak and Martha, O Father: Make their marriage a source of blessing and strength and encouragement to them and to all of us who love them. Lord, show us all what true marriage is, through Zak and Martha. We ask this in the name of the only one in heaven and earth who can accomplish it, together with you and the Holy Spirit: Jesus Christ. Amen.

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