BYU professors Loren Marks and Dave Dollahite are passionate about researching the connections between families and faith. As we mentioned in an article in our most recent Connections issue, that passion has grown into a decade-spanning, religion-spanning project. Amongst the Jews, Muslims, and Christians included in their research, prayer was universally acknowledged as a
- “catalyst for change,
- a facilitator of humility and positivity, as well as of communication and understanding among couples
- a unifier of couples and an aid in resolving conflict.”
The families interviewed were, in fact, very open in discussing prayer, says Dr. Marks. “We did not ask any direct questions about prayer, yet prayer was directly mentioned by our participants in substantive ways nearly 300 times and by a majority of the participants.”
Eleven studies conducted over the last ten years combine to show the following, as expressed here:
- the ability to unite during challenges, more than avoiding challenges, defines strong marriage,
- marriage [partners] benefit not merely from sharing the same faith, but from sharing similar levels of involvement and commitment, or have a ‘shared vision’ of faith and family life,
- youth spiritual development is more successful when based on certain anchors of religious commitment,
- it is not necessarily what families believe, but what they do that matters most.
They provide a variety of tips gleaned from their research here.
Dr. Loren says that he will be studying specific religious activities, such as the Jewish Shabbat, the Mormon Family Home Evening, and the Muslim Ramadan, next. He will also be analyzing the ways in which people emotionally struggle with religion and what religious parents believe are the paramount traits they need to possess and exemplify in regards to their adolescent offspring.
How has prayer influenced your life?