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“Haven’t you read,” (Jesus) replied, “that at the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female,’ and said, ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one. Therefore what God has joined together, let man not separate.” — Matthew 19:4-6
Year after year I saw my mother putting a copy of a “Prayer for a Bride and Groom” into an envelope and sending it as a wedding gift to some young couple whom she knew. I didn’t pay much attention. I knew it was a special prayer she had found in a magazine years ago, and had made many copies so as to be ready to send it when she would get a wedding invitation. Then it was time for my own children to get married, and out came the copy of the prayer as her gift. This time I paid attention.
“O God of love, Thou hast established marriage for the welfare and happiness of mankind. Thine was the plan and only with Thee can we work it out with joy. Thou hast said, ‘It is not good for man to be alone. I will make a helpmeet for him.’ Now our joys are doubled since the happiness of one is the happiness of the other. Our burdens now are halved since when we share them, we divide the load.
“Bless this husband. Bless him as provider of nourishment and raiment and sustain him in all the exactions and pressures of his battle for bread. May his strength be her protection, his character be her boast and her pride, and may he so live that she will find in him the haven for which the heart of a woman truly longs.
“Bless this loving wife. Give her a tenderness that will make her great, a deep sense of understanding and a great faith in Thee. Give her that inner beauty of soul that never fades, that eternal youth that is found in holding fast the things that never age.
“Teach them that marriage is not living merely for each other; it is two uniting and joining hands to serve Thee. Give them a great spiritual purpose in life. May they seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and the other things shall be added unto them.
“May they not expect that perfection of each other that belongs alone to Thee. May they minimize each other’s weaknesses, be swift to praise and magnify each other’s points of comeliness and strength, and see each other through a lover’s kind and patient eyes.
“Now make such assignments to them on the scroll of Thy will as will bless them and develop their characters as they walk together. Give them enough tears to keep them tender, enough hurts to keep them humane, enough of failure to keep their hands clenched tightly in Thine, and enough of success to make them sure they walk with God.
“May they never take each other’s love for granted, but always experience that breathless wonder that exclaims, ‘Out of all this world you have chosen me.’
“When life is done and the sun is setting, may they be found then as now still hand in hand, still thanking God for each other. May they serve Thee happily, faithfully, together, until at last one shall lay the other into the arms of God. This we ask through Jesus Christ, Great Lover of Our Souls. Amen.”
No wonder my mother loved this prayer—it’s beautiful, and not only “tells it like it is”, but “tells it like it should be.” No wonder she wanted to pass it on to young couples as it has truth for the ages.
When I finally read it and studied it, I was curious as to who had written it. At the bottom of her copies was the name “Rev. Dr. Louis Hadley Evans.” I did not know that name, so I went to my computer and “Googled” it. Wow—I had no idea. There was a link with my life! Being a missionary with Cru (formerly Campus Crusade for Christ), I knew the story of how our founders, Bill and Vonette Bright, came to know the Lord through the ministry of First Presbyterian Church of Hollywood, California, and one of their staff, Dr. Henrietta C. Mears. The teaching and discipling ministry of this church was powerful in their lives. Others influenced and taught by these great saints at that time included Billy Graham and Richard Halverson. And who was the pastor of their church? Rev. Dr. Louis Hadley Evans
In Dr. Bright’s book, Come Help Change the World, he writes this about his pastor: “Over a period of months I began to be greatly impressed with the eloquence and personality of the pastor, Dr. Louis Evans. He presented Jesus Christ and the Christian life in an attractive way I had never known before. So, as a matter of intellectual integrity, I was forced to begin an in-depth study of the life of Jesus. The more I read and studied, the more I became convinced that He was more than just a great historical figure. Over the months I concluded that He was truly the Son of God.”
Dr. Bright goes on to write of a night in 1945 when Dr. Mears challenged the college and young adult group to consider Saul’s question, “Who are You, Lord, and what will You have me do?” “This is one of the most important questions you can possibly ask of God, even today,” Dr. Mears told us. “The happiest people in the world are those who are in the center of God’s will. The most miserable are those who are not doing God’s will.” It was later that night that Bill Bright gave his life to the Lord. And in 1948, Dr. Mears led Vonette to the Lord. In 1951, Campus Crusade for Christ was begun. What a great story! Hallelujah!
But there is more to my story with Dr. Evans’ wedding prayer. I decided to check with the church in Hollywood, because I studied and learned that Dr. Evans’ son was a friend of Bill & Vonette Bright’s and had gone on to lead a wonderful ministry of his own in Washington, D.C. I thought perhaps he was still alive, but he passed away in 2008. To make a long story short, I ended up having a delightful conversation with Colleen Townsend Evans, the wife of Dr. Louis H. Evans, Jr., and friend of the Brights, in ministry and life. She sent me an original copy of “The Wedding Prayer”, which we now have in a special place in our home. What a gracious and generous gift!
So it started with my mother sending out this beautiful prayer to help couples begin their married life well. . . . .and ended with my time in conversation and sharing with the good friend of our Campus Crusade founders. Amazing. How the ministry of a faithful pastor and servants of God touched lives! Thank you, Rev. Dr. Louis Hadley Evans. . . thank you, Dr. Henrietta Mears, for your faithful service in the 1940s and 1950s in Hollywood, California, where a young couple named Bright was moved by the Holy Spirit to begin a ministry to fulfill the Great Commission. They probably heard and knew this prayer well. It’s a great legacy to share, with truth to stand the test of time.
Bright, Bill, Come Help Change the World (Orlando: NewLife Publications, 1999), p. 23-24.
Questions to Share:
- What part of the prayer in the paragraph “Bless this husband” especially speaks to you? What part of the prayer in the paragraph “Bless this loving wife” especially speaks to you?
- In what ways does Dr. Evans address in the prayer the growth that might take place in a marriage from challenges like deployment?