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Praying: Men Who Struggle

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine
The Truth Network Radio
December 26, 2021 9:00 pm

Praying: Men Who Struggle

Family Life Today / Dave & Ann Wilson, Bob Lepine

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December 26, 2021 9:00 pm

Many men struggle with praying. John Yates discusses why men struggle, steps to help, and how it can affect their whole lives.

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This is David Robbins, President at Family Life. And as we plan and bring to you family life today, every weekday, we love imagining who is listening. And whether that's someone tired driving home from work, someone at home with a kid hanging on to their leg, whether that's someone who's feeling really isolated and really needing hope. We love bringing the timeless truths of God's word to the practical everyday needs you have in your home.

Check out one listener who shared her story. The power of a wife's affirmation is by far my favorite that Anne did. And just how we as wives need to cheer on our husbands as they're growing up. They hear, yeah, you're doing great.

Yeah, you're doing great. And as soon as you get married, you hear boo or you need to do better at this. And so to encourage and to cheer on your husband has just really been huge for me. I just love hearing the everyday life of her holding a baby as she shares with us. And we love lifting people's eyes to Jesus and giving them the help and hope for the relationships that matter most in their lives. And as we approach the end of the year, this is a critical time for us as we think about impacting more families in 2022. About a third of the resources that come in when it comes to donations come in this month. And we have a very generous group of people who got together and have made a two million dollar matching gift challenge so that when you give a gift this year into family life, your gift is matched dollar for dollar.

And I just want to invite you. We need to beat this match so we can do the ministry that we are seeking and hoping to do to more homes in this coming year. I want to ask you to consider giving a gift today by going to family life today dot com. So we've shared here before, Dave, that you developed this great habit years ago that's still a part of your life and you take every single Friday for the last thirty five years and you fast and pray for our family.

Talk about that a little bit. Like how did that become your passion? Well, I actually heard it on a radio broadcast when I was right before we were going to have our first son, CJ, who's thirty five. And this man was talking about a day of fasting and praying for his family. And I thought, I'm going to do that.

And I actually thought I'd do it for a few years. And now, thirty five years later, there hasn't been a week that I don't think I've ever missed a week. Sometimes it's not Friday.

Usually it's Friday, but sometimes it'd be a different day. And it's just, you know, don't eat. And all day long, every time there's a hunger pang, I'm praying. Welcome to family life today where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I'm Ann Wilson and I'm Dave Wilson. And you can find us at family life today dot com or on our family life app. This is family life today. I can remember when they were little boys, you know, praying for their wife who you didn't know yet and praying that she be a woman of God and making decisions about her life. Anyway, all I know is that when I married all three sons as their father and as their pastor in our chapel, looking at that bride on her wedding day, knowing that I've been praying for her was a tender moment.

Yeah. Just like, look at what God has done. And so now it's for our grandkids. And I think, too, as people talk to us and they'll say, oh, it's so cool what God has done. And we know that we've made so many mistakes. We know that we have failed miserably.

But we also know that there is power in prayer. Yeah. And it's fun today because we have a friend in the studio with us. John Yates, welcome to family life today. It's great to be with you, Dave and Ann. It's been too long.

Thanks for letting me be with you. Yeah. John, you've spent, I mean, a large part of your life helping men, especially and I know women as well, but helping men embrace and understand this discipline of prayer, right? Yeah. That's right.

Yeah. I don't know how many years ago you wrote a book called How a Man Prays for His Family. You probably know. How many years ago was it?

It was a few years ago. But, you know, I, over the years, I wanted to be with men. I'm a pastor.

I've been just retired, been a pastor for 50 years. But I wanted to be with men. And it was great to be with the women and the children. And every Sunday I'd be preaching away and I'd think, so much I'd like to say if it was just men here.

But I just got to be careful, you know. And so finally some men were talking one day and they said, why don't some of us men just get together and let's talk about life and faith. And so that started something that went on for many years. And one year they said, teach us about prayer. And so for the whole year I just reviewed, thought, tried to think through why prayer was so important in my life and shared it with the men. And that's how this book came into being. That's the basis of it, teaching those men that year. So, of course, many people know this and some don't, that you were the pastor of Falls Church Anglican in... Falls Church, Virginia.

And you founded this church. Yeah. You were there a few years, right? I was there 40 years. Forty years. And they were exciting years. Great. And it was great to step aside now.

So following some new pathways. And you've got nothing going on in your life now, right? You have a couple grandkids?

How many? We've got a bunch of grandkids. I married a wonderful woman 52 years ago. Susan Yates, I bet a lot of our listeners. Susan Yates.

She's written a lot of books that a lot of women have read. And we had five children. They got married.

They turned out to be pretty feral because we've got 21 grandchildren now. And one of the great things is just being able to spend a little more time with them, being able to spend time with some of the young pastors that we've discipled over the years, and having more time to pray. Honestly, I don't just say that because we're talking about it, but life has slowed down just enough to give me a little more time to devote more time to prayer. Now, talk about men and prayer. I mean, often when you think about prayer, you think, oh, women pray and men don't seem to pray. Is that true?

Pretty much. I think in a lot of cases, you know, it just seems that women have a more highly attuned spiritual nature than men, or men somehow turn it off when they're young. But over the years, I've found many men want to grow close to God.

They want to know how to communicate with God. But they have a lot of mistaken ideas about what a prayer life is about. And they don't realize that, you know, prayer is just keeping company with God. It's walking along with Him and turning to Him throughout the day and trying to listen to Him.

And it's learning how to have a relationship with Him that is normal and natural and honest. Many men think that, well, they wonder, is prayer real? I mean, how do I know that God is listening to me? And it's a little difficult because prayer is not the most objective thing in the world. Prayer is pretty subjective. You never really know exactly what's happening when you're praying.

But, you know, whether you're a man or a woman, if you can just get honest with God and share with Him what's on your heart and try to be real with Him, then He's real with you. I think, too, John, as you said for Dave, this was an issue. We talked about it where you said prayer is hard for me and he's a pastor. Yeah. You know, and he's like, I have questions about it. I think that that's true for a lot of people.

Like, how does it work? Does God hear me? And I feel like and I just want to say this at the beginning. It's such a treat to have you in studio. You and Susan are people that carry such weight spiritually. Like, I get teary looking across to you because your words are weighty because the depth of your love for Jesus. And Susan has had a big impact on me. I feel like all of us should have someone walking ahead of us, that we've been watching them, that we've been listening to them. And I know every time all the speakers for the Weekend to Remember Marriage Conference would get together, and I'd always be excited when you guys were there. Because I would pull up by Susan and say, okay, this is the phase of life I'm in.

Tell me about it because you guys are just a step ahead of us. But when you would speak, John, there's such a depth to you because of it's apparent you've been spending time with God. And so when we're with you and even for our listeners, I wish they could pull up.

And that's what they're basically doing today, is they're pulling up beside us. And we're going to review this book that you wrote years ago, but now you're passionate about why now? Why has this reignited your heart? And I was laughing about what you said of why you brought it back out. Oh, yeah. I was telling Ann before we started that Susan came to me not too long ago and she said, you need to do a re-edition of your book on prayer.

And I said, why? I mean, you know, there's lots of good books out there on prayer, she said, but yours is really good. So I told Ann, I pulled it down off the shelf the old one and I read it and I thought, well, it is pretty good.

Maybe we should do this. You know, it's better than I remembered. But I'm glad Susan and I have been able to just be friends to you all. You all we have in turn always looked up to you.

It's really helpful, isn't it? If you have a couple of folks along the way who are older, who are a little bit further along in life. And I think that's one reason why I have for so long wanted to pray, wanted to be a man of prayer because I had some models when I was younger. And, you know, Dave, I've never known a man who had a significant walk with God or was living a significant life of service to God who wasn't a man of prayer. And when I was a young man in my 20s, I met three or four men like this and I thought, I want to be like them.

Tell us about them. Well, you know, when we were young, Mary lived in Pittsburgh and had one of these big old Pittsburgh houses. And right across the street from us was a couple who they were in their 70s and they had been missionaries in Africa for years.

They had retired, they came out of retirement and came to Pittsburgh to be with a bunch of us and they started a new seminary for our little Anglican movement. As I would look out the window early in the morning across the way at Alf and Marjorie's house, there was a little room up in the top of the house that was Alf's study. And every morning when I got up and went back to my little study on the back corner of our house, the light was always on in Alf's room. It might be dark outside but the light was always on and I knew what he was doing, that old man was on his knees praying. And I knew that because I used to meet with him every Friday afternoon.

We'd have a cup of tea and cookies sitting in the garden and he told me stories about how God had answered prayers 40 years in Africa. One story after another, after another, after another. And I thought, I just want to be like you. Well, are you that man now? I mean, as you think about we respect you and Susan, one of the things I respect, obviously, is you're finishing well. I mean, I've seen so many of my colleagues and I know you have as well that started well, maybe even ran well in the middle, but not so well at the end. And you're finishing, you're not done, but you're, we're both still on the last quarter. Well, it was a sobering thought a year or so ago when I was thinking about my mentor, Alf. And I thought, gee, now I'm older than he was then.

That really shook me up. You know, I don't think anybody can guarantee that he's going to finish well. You just don't know what's going to happen.

Right. But you pray that you will and you try to maintain relationships with friends who will tell you if they think you're veering off. You know, one of the things we did is we're getting ready to retire was we asked five or six other couples who were all in their 60s, 70s, if they'd like to begin meeting together. How can we encourage each other to stay effective in our lives for God as long as we live?

And we call it the Oaks group because we want to be Oaks of righteousness. You know, anyway, I don't know how I'm doing to tell you the truth, but I'm very grateful for this time in life when I am able to be with grandchildren more, able to be with our daughter churches more, able to be with family and able to study, able to pray more. I think every woman listening is hoping and wishing that their husband will listen to this because I think as women, we long for our husbands to be passionate about this area. But there's barriers.

What do you feel like the barriers are for men? Well, I think men are that they don't often feel equipped when a man opens his mouth to pray aloud. He's stepping into a vulnerable place and he's afraid he's going to be judged or he's going to say something stupid. And he doesn't mind talking about sports, but if he has to say something about God or to pray, God forbid, that's a really risky thing. You know, the only people that hear pray are the pastors on Sunday. And the pastors pray these long, great prayers that they've written out in advance.

I can't do that. I think mainly they just don't feel capable. Maybe they don't feel worthy. Maybe they feel like, who am I to try to lead my family in prayer? And they don't quite realize how much the wife, she doesn't care if he stumbles. She doesn't care if he doesn't really know what he's doing.

All she wants is to hear him say, you know, honey, life's kind of challenging these days and raising this family is not all that easy. And I'm realizing more and more that we need God's help. And I don't know, we haven't done this much, but I'm thinking maybe we should pray together as a couple sometimes. Just couldn't hurt, could it?

But I don't quite know how to do it. And I don't know a woman in the world who would say, oh, that's a bad idea. I have to tell you that in our book, we talk about that, too. In Vertical Marriage, we talk about this could be one of the greatest gifts that you give your wife, but to your marriage and your family. So I get this text from this friend. She said, my husband said to me, let's pray together. She said we got on our knees and she said I couldn't stop crying. She said it was just simple. We just it was a few sentences, but it was the most intimate act that we could have had together of this praying together.

She said it filled me up for a year. And my husband's like, why are you crying? And she said, because this has meant so much to me, like I feel so connected and bonded to you and to God with us doing that together.

But I think you're right. Dave, have you felt that like that? Well, I was just going to ask, you're the only woman in the room.

What is it? What is it a wife feels? Why is it so intimate to a woman? I think going together before the father, I think spiritually we can feel alone or isolated from one another. And when we join our hearts spiritually together, it's a mysterious thing that we're doing in a vulnerability that connects our souls together.

I mean, like physical intimacy connects our bodies together, but spiritual intimacy through prayer connects our soul. It's one of the most beautiful but vulnerable things. And as a woman, it makes me feel like I'm not in it alone. Like you're my partner. We're battling together for our children, for our family, for the world, for the church. It's a unifier, isn't it?

Yes, that's what it is. Every time you and Dave pray together, every time it's like it adds another little layer of bonding between the two of you. This probably was your experience, too. Somebody told us before we were married, you should pray together every night with each other. And on our honeymoon, you know, before we went to bed for the first time, we got down on our knees and prayed. We did, too.

And Susan said the next day, she said, you know, I really like that. I think we should do that every night. And boy, you talk about something that forces you to stay together. If you promise God you're going to pray together with your wife every night before you go to bed, there's some nights when that's the last thing in the world you want to do. Isn't it hard?

It's the last thing you feel like doing. Yes. But it requires that you come back together and you understand each other as best you can, and you reaffirm your love for one another and your love for God. Doesn't mean you always go to bed and everything's just peachy keen and rosy, but it sure helps. Do you remember ever praying together when you weren't doing well?

You just still did it? Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah, of course. I remember the very first time lying in bed, and I'm over on that side, she's over on the other side, and I'm lying there, I can't go to sleep, and all of a sudden I remember we didn't pray together, and I didn't pray, I don't even want to look at that woman. But I remember I got up on one elbow and I said, look, we promised God we were going to pray. I don't want to pray. You don't want to pray, but we got to. We got to talk. But there have been many nights when you talk and you still don't have things really worked out, you're still upset with each other, but if you can then just say, well, we're still upset, but we need to go to sleep, so let's pray. And, you know, Lord, you know what's going on here, you know what a mess we are, you know that we need your help, we're sorry, Lord, we ask your help and guide us through this time. I think if we could see the spiritual dimension, I imagine the enemy, Satan, is trembling when we're praying together because there's so much power in that. I think it's easy just to stay divided in the midst of our conflict, to not come together, and I feel like the enemy could think I'm winning, that there is something powerful.

But I want to get back to some of those barriers. I've had this thought, Anne and I have talked about this, you know, as a man, and I'm sure women have this same thought, there's times when I'm like, okay, does prayer really do anything, because here I am talking to God, and there's a billion people talking to God right now, and you go into the intellectual thing, like how does this work, can he really be intimately involved in my life here in Orlando, and so that's the kind of thing you go through, but talk about that. I know men struggle with that. I don't know if women struggle with it or not, but I know we do. I have.

I'll tell you what I do. When I start doubting like that and questioning, I just always think back to Jesus Christ and what I know to be true about him. In the New Testament, we have what was written by the apostles, and they're telling us what they believe to be true about Christ.

They were with him, had no reason to lie, and we know that what we have today is what they wrote. So I remember, one, that he prayed almost incessantly, and secondly, he taught the men and women around him to pray, and he talked about this over and over again. He said, men ought always to be praying. And I think about that, and then I think back over the years to when I've seen prayers answered. If you just pray general, Lord bless the world kind of prayers, you're not going to really see God answer prayers, but if you learn to pray specifically, God may not always say yes, but many times he does. So I think back to those times, the unexpected or unusual ways in which we have seen God work and answer to prayer.

That was so funny. When we were engaged, we started making a list of things we wanted God's help with. And years later, 20 years later, we were cleaning out an old finally cabinet on a Saturday night down in the basement. We found this little vinyl black notebook, and Susan said, look, that's our little prayer notebook from when we were engaged in the first few years of marriage. And we opened it up. Over the years we kept that notebook. There were like 88 items in there that we had prayed about at one time.

My wife's beautiful handwriting. And we saw many things that we had asked God's help for that had come to pass. But the thing that surprised us was we saw that before we were ever married, we had asked God one day to give us twins. Now, why would we have prayed something like that? Isn't that crazy?

I don't know. But, you know, 10 years into marriage after three children, God gave us twin girls. And you know, because you've read the book, that I've often written down specific things that I've prayed for. And as you were talking about your son's wedding, thinking about how God had answered prayers for your children, when I pull out one of these old prayer notebooks and I begin to look at things Oh, John's pulling out his notebook.

You've got pictures in it. Are these prayer requests and prayers to God? Well, yeah, this is a little prayer notebook that I kept like in the mid-'80s, I think. And so it's full of photos and it's full of things I prayed. And I was looking at it a little earlier at some of the things that I was praying for my children back when they were in elementary school or high school.

When you realize how faithful God has been over the years, then it encourages you to keep believing. But, Dave, I don't know if that little element of doubt ever goes away. There was a pastor in England who lived in the 1700s named William Grimshaw, and he was an amazing man.

Close friend of John Wesley, George Whitefield, and he had a wonderful impact up in Yorkshire Hills. But he said every once in a while, Mr. Doubt would walk into the room. And he would have to rebuke Mr. Doubt and run him out of the room, or else he couldn't pray.

And it still happens, I think. I love hearing John Yates candor his transparency, and yet his heart to want to be a man who prays effectively for his marriage and for his family. I think it's easy for us to push prayer aside and to be busy with other things. When we do, we neglect what's often the most important thing we can be doing as we go before the throne of grace and ask the God of the universe to bless us, to bless our family, to care for specific needs. God has given us this gracious invitation to come before him, and it's something we need to do regularly as men, as leaders of our household.

This is a part of our assignment. And the good news is John helps us with this. He coaches us as someone who has made this a practice and a discipline in his own life. He's written a book called How a Man Prays for His Family, and it's a book we have available in our Family Life Today Resource Center. You can request your copy when you go online at familylifetoday.com, or you can call to order 1-800-FL-TODAY is the number. Again, John Yates' book is called How a Man Prays for His Family.

This is a great book, by the way, for guys to go through with other guys in a small group setting. And especially as you think about starting the new year, to start a new habit or a new practice of more intentional prayer, this book will really help you with that. Order online at familylifetoday.com or call 1-800-358-6329.

That's 1-800-F as in Family, L as in Life, and then the word TODAY. Now, here in the last week of 2021, I know many of us are thinking, this is one of those years that I'm ready to move on from, right? Hoping for a new year to be a brighter new year, a fresh new year for us personally and for us as a culture. Well, here at Family Life, we are hoping that this last week of the year is marked by generosity. We're asking Family Life Today listeners to be as generous as you can possibly be so that by the end of this week, we can take full advantage of a $2.3 million matching gift that has been made available to us. When you donate today, whatever amount you give is going to be matched dollar for dollar up to that total of $2.3 million.

We've received gifts all month toward that matching gift fund. We've made progress toward that goal. We still have a ways to go. This week is going to be critical. It's going to be vital for us. And so that's why we're asking you today to go online or to call and make as generous a donation as you can possibly make. Help us move forward into 2022, ready to tackle the challenges that are in front of us as a ministry. And when you donate, we're going to say thank you by sending you a copy of Dane Ortlund's devotional from the Book of Psalms. It's called In the Lord I Take Refuge, and it's our thank you gift to you when you make a year-end donation.

Again, donate online at familylifetoday.com or call 1-800-FL-TODAY to donate. Please pray for us that listeners will be generous here in the last week of the year and that we're able to take full advantage of the matching gift opportunity. And I hope you can join us again tomorrow when Dave and Ann Wilson will continue the conversation with John Yates about men praying for their family. And they'll talk about why prayer is so vital, so important for us as men. Why God has given us this assignment. I hope you can tune in for that tomorrow. On behalf of our hosts, Dave and Ann Wilson, I'm Bob Lapine. We will see you tomorrow for another edition of Family Life Today. Family Life Today is a production of Family Life, a crew ministry helping you pursue the relationships that matter most.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-07-04 17:06:26 / 2023-07-04 17:17:54 / 11

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