The Washington Post cites a new study from the pages of the Journal of Marriage and Family. It appears that the old saying has never been truer: The couple that prays together, tends to stay together–and it doesn’t really matter what your race, religion, or ethnicity is as long as you both share the same religious values, practices and beliefs.

With the United States divorce rates still quite high, it’s nice to hear some positive news. The study led by Christopher G. Ellison, University of Texas at Austin; Amy M. Burdette, Mississippi State University; and W. Bradford Wilcox, University of Virginia, focused on prayer and the sharing of religious values and observance in marital success across race, ethnic, and religious backgrounds.

The findings are important, for example: Though education and a good income appear to be factors in the marital success of white couples,  African American couples who have strong shared religious belief and experience have lasting, loving marriages whether or not they are wealthy.

We discussed this study with a friend who said had the study statistically compared a shared passion such as opera or bowling or organic gardening with a shared belief in God and prayer, then perhaps he would consider the findings valuable. Though some point to flaws in the study (and others, like our friend), question whether it is merely the fact that these couples are spending time together participating in a shared interest, rather than the faith-based nature of that interest, the Post quotes Rev. James E. Terrell, pastor of Second Baptist Church in Northwest Washington:

“People seem to do better when they think there is a spiritual aspect to their marriage,” Terrell said. He was not just referring to prayer and attending religious services, but “seeking the Lord in terms of resolving problems and differences,” he said. “Without a doubt, it helps to keep a marriage together.”