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Monday, August 24, 2015

"Prayers for New Brides" (Jennifer O. White)

TITLE: Prayers for New Brides: Putting on God's Armor After the Wedding Dress
AUTHOR: Jennifer O. White
PUBLISHER: Green Forest, AR: New Leaf Press, 2014, (240 pages).

The fairy tales say it all. Many of them conclude with the handsome prince marrying the beautiful princess, and that famous phrase: "And they live happily ever after." Fact or fiction? Fiction of course, one may say. Why? Just look at the divorce statistics and a deteriorating respect for the marriage institution. There are threats not only to the institution of marriage but also to those already married, or contemplating getting married. How do we deal with the fears of marital conflicts? What are the pitfalls to be aware of? What about the prevention of divorces? What if couples can begin strong and their marriages remain intact throughout? Instead of waiting for the threats to come, this book arms readers, in particular brides, with the weapons of prayer, to fight all kinds of obstacles to a healthy marriage. Right from the start, author and speaker, Jennifer White launches with a call to battle. Marriage is not for sissies. It is for warriors in prayer. It is love on bended knees to God. It is also a book written with painful experiences. The author's first marriage collapsed. In wanting to protect her second marriage, she arms herself to the teeth with prayer, convinced that marriage is a battle worth fighting for. Learning from her failed first marriage, she enters her second with a determination not to let down her guard. The naiveness of Adam and Eve could have been avoided if they had not underestimated the power of temptation.

The book is written in two parts. The first part is before the wedding and the second part is after the wedding. In Part One, we read of the nine steps to prepare for battle and to be ready to defend the marriage. First, recognize the significance of marriage as not something "ever after" but earnestly sought after. It is that determination to honour God whatever it takes to elevate God's Name and Glory. Second, we are loved for who we are, not what we touch ourselves up to be. Third, every marriage has an enemy: the tempter, the deceiver, the destroyer. See the bigger picture so as not to fall prey to the devil. Fourth, begin with victory and continue with that spiritual stance in Christ. Let God be the Provider and the Protector. Fifth, fight for the prize of truth. Use the spiritual weapons provided by God. Sixth, expose the enemy with the help of the Word of God. Seventh, remember that God fights for us. Eighth, plan for the victory celebration when entering the wedding day. Be determined to let the faith in Christ lead the way. Ninth, show up as a soldier for Christ ready to defend the marriage and to attack the evil one. Then, like preparing the dress, White leads us through the Armour of God passage to dress ourselves in preparing for battle. Together with the posture of courage and faith, supplemented by prayer, we will be ready.

Part Two prepares for victory via basic training, partnering with God, and guarding the marriage. White shows readers the basics of what it means to be a "forever bride."  She provides many tips on how to be trained to honour the marriage and spouse; to see the marriage relationship from the eyes of God. It means learning to respect the husband. She shows us how to partner with God to defend with love for the husband and becoming the best spouse possible. Other aspects of protecting the marriage include being constantly nourished in the Word of God; being peaceable at home; learning emotional truths of each other; learning to pray; and many more. Toward the end, there is a chapter on abuse in marriage, where White gives some advice on what to do about it.

Written by a wife for women, this collection of prayers help brides arm their marriages with prayer. Honestly, there is a strong overture of warfare and aggressive battle language that emanates throughout the book. It makes one wonder if it has been overdone. Marriage is precious and delicate. I suspect the intensity of the language of warfare is tied to the author's determination to learn from the missteps of her first marriage and apply the lessons to her second. While the descriptions in each chapter may be too overwhelming in terms of fighting and battling, I find the "prayer prompts" particularly helpful. That explains the title of the book. The prayers are the highlights, not the battle cries. For in prayer, we let God do the fighting for us, while we ready ourselves to respond to the promptings of God. The book cover is captivating as it summarizes in one picture what the book is about: Defending our marriages, in particularly, for the wife to declare her determination to protect the marriage with the tools as shown in Scripture.

The danger for many of us is that we are not urgent enough about protecting our marriages. We may not believe in fairy-tale endings, but our lack of attention to the vulnerability of marriages be become our Achilles's heel. With this book, we are reminded once again that marriage is not to be taken for granted. If this book can stir a desire to protect and to be ready to defend our marriages against the temptations of evil, it would have worth every cent.

Rating: 4 stars of 5.


This book is provided to me courtesy of New Leaf Press and Cross-Focused-Reviews in exchange for an honest review. All opinions offered above are mine unless otherwise stated or implied.

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