Wednesday, April 02, 2008

Divorce rates and prayer

A reader wrote and asked about the following statistic:

"a husband and wife that have daily prayer together only have a divorce rate of 1 in 10,000."

I've heard statistics like this before, but I've never seen them attributed. Does anyone know where it comes from? Who uses it?

It doesn't sound very believable, but I'd like to figure out where it came from.


S.S.STONE said...

It comes from the Roman Catholic Book of Myths.

Ohh, oh I know that is bad! Yikes! I'm going to be excommunicated now for sure!

Knumb said...

Actually, Sarah,

It was a study done by Princeton, as I heard it.

And that is a remarkably crass thing to type.

Ruud Vermeij said...

Is it the praying that improves the marriage, or does a bad marriage silence the will to pray together?

(In my personal experience it was the latter.)

Jay Livingston said...

I was going to say the same as ruud verjeij. It's like the claim that people who go to AA meetings every day or every week stay sober. But I suspect that there are many who stop going to meetings because they've started to drink again, not the reverse.

(And is it just me and my aging eyes, or is the print on this blog getting smaller and smaller?)

Jim said...

I suspect it comes out of the same well as many other items put forth at one time or another in a sermon with no real clue as to the source of its birthing. It's a wonder somebody hasn't published a book with it all categorized and alphabetically listed...

Corey said...

I am aware of no study, conducted by Princeton or any other entity, that produced such a statistic. The metric for standardization seems screwy to me... what's the denominator? Marriages, people, those who pray, ?

Now the premise that prayer mitigates against divorce does seem testable. Brad, couldn't you bang out a quick analysis using the GSS to see if prayer has a measurable effect on divorce?

Knumb said...

The first time I heard of this study was in the mid to late 1980s, I heard it was done by Princeton.

I don't have the sources and I tried to dig it up with Google, to no avail.

It's very possible it was bad info when I heard it, but I want to emphasize this goes waaaay back before the internet.

Brad, I heard it from Msgr. Peterson (paterson?) at St. Anthony's.

That right there, it appears, is enough to discredit the info for some. :(

He didn't cite the source, save for saying it was from a study done by Princeton.

Brad Wright said...

Good point. It seems to me that this would be a very difficult causal relationship to prove, for the reasons that you indicate.

There does seem to be a deep well of screwy statistics used in sermons... I think that cataloging them would be kind of fun. Sort of a Christian

I'm not sure about the font, Jay. I just use the default at blogger. (though I did cut and paste the letter re: the statistic).

Sid said...

The problem is that bad facts make great sermon illustrations. The whole frog in a kettle thing.
While it might be a great illustration God actually made frogs smart enough to jump out of water as it gets hotter it's to bad that God didn't also make people smart enough to check there facts before believing everything they hear.

Rick said...

Baylor University did a study that showed a 0-2% “fear of divorce” for couples that pray together daily. Your blog readers bashed the Christian community and think that further research would validate the power of prayer. Gallup did a study in 1991 that showed couple prayer “the most powerful correlate to marital happiness”


Rick Bremner

Andrew said...

Divorce is the effect of a marriage that is faced with difficulties that seem insurmountable, an inability to get along, one or both partner's growing apart, substance abuse, a culture that condones divorce, legal ease of getting a divorce, the inexpensiveness of getting a divorce and other factors. Settling a divorce can be very difficult when couples cannot reconcile differences. When irreconcilable differences arise in the course of a marriage, it is important to consult a divorce lawyer. A skilled divorce attorney can help you negotiate child custody and visitation arrangements, fight for a fair distribution of property and assist you with developing a plan of action while advising you and fighting for what’s important to you. Visit Divorce for more information.

Anonymous said...

I found your post when I was looking up the reference for this same statistic I had heard about prayer and divorce, here is the link to one article citing this information and references.
The article says that among couples who pray together at least once a week, only 7% have considered divorce compared to 65% of other couples. Some other insightful information in there as well.

Rick said...

If you do a search through google books, you'll find much research that is valid regarding couple prayer. Yesterday found one that said 75% couples that pray twice a day described their marriage as very happy "ChristianTown"

Anonymous said...

Found another website about couple prayer

Anonymous said...

@anonymous Thanks a lot!!
it says:

The often-cited statistic that 50 percent of marriages end in divorce — even among churchgoers — can make commitment seem fruitless. But that statistic is misleading. Dozens of studies distinguish between couples who claim a nominal faith and those who prioritize church attendance. Couples who have a strong commitment to faith and attend church regularly are far more likely to have lifelong relationships.

One recent study in particular shows that those who go to church and pray together have a much lower divorce rate. The University of Virginia's Brad Wilcox found that regular church attendance cuts the likelihood of divorce by 30 percent to 35 percent. Wilcox's work is supported by another study by Annette Mahoney of Bowling Green State University, which independently came to a similar conclusion.

While that rate is still unfortunately high, when you add prayer into the mix, thoughts of divorce plummet. A 1998 survey by the Georgia Family Council found that among couples who prayed together weekly, only 7 percent had seriously considered divorce, compared to 65 percent of those who never prayed together.

The abundant marriage that God has designed for us is not only possible but also likely, and the journey there starts with one word — commitment.
This article first appeared in the January, 2009 issue of Focus on the Family magazine.
Copyright © 2009 Shaunti Feldhahn. All rights reserved.