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Praying For Your Marriage is Essential (Part 1 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
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May 8, 2023 6:20 am

Praying For Your Marriage is Essential (Part 1 of 2)

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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May 8, 2023 6:20 am

Jodie Berndt adds to the Praying the Scriptures series by encouraging couples to pray for their marriages! She explains how you are responsible for your own faith, how to pray with different personalities, praying through conflict over finances, and praying the scriptures through a season of difficulty. This is a discussion you won’t want to miss! (Part 1 of 2)


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Hi, Jim Daly here. Today's culture deeply needs help, but in times like these, the light of Christ can shine even brighter.

So be encouraged to share his light in this broken world. Listen to the Refocus with Jim Daly Podcast. Without time limitations, I'll have deep, heartfelt discussions with fascinating guests who will encourage you to share God's grace, truth, and love.

Check out the podcast at or wherever you get your podcasts. Because I'm so all about making prayer doable, and I think sometimes when you just take one verse, like 1 Thessalonians 3, 12 says, May your love increase and overflow for each other. You know, if you're feeling a little tension in your marriage, maybe you just spit that one out. God, help our love increase and overflow for each other. And you've prayed. Well, Jody Burnt joins us today to share how you can pray more effectively, more often in your marriage. And this is Focus on the Family with Jim Daly. Thanks for joining us.

I'm John Fuller. John, it's said that praying in your marriage is one of the most important things you can do. And I've tried it both ways. You know, Jean and I, we got busy and, you know, we'd go through long stretches where we weren't praying together. And I think that is kind of disastrous. And then when you do pray together consistently, it's amazing how that just, I don't know, rubs some of the edges off in terms of those hot buttons that you can push, right? And so today we want to talk about that. One of the great statistics in Jody's book says that married couples who pray daily have less than a 1% divorce rate. So how about that for a silver bullet when it comes to keeping your marriage together and moving forward in a healthy way? Let me add to, a young woman said to me the other day, whenever I hear in Christian communication someone talk about marriage, they talk about how hard it is to work at your marriage.

Let me kind of debunk that a little bit. The reason we talk about that is because you want to have a marriage that's really good, right? So it takes a little work.

You know, if you want to be in shape, you got to go to the gym, that kind of thing. So it's not a burden. These are things that we want to equip you with so that your marriage could be the best it can be. So if you're hearing, oh, it's hard work to be married, it's awesome to be married.

And it does require some work, but it's a good thing. Yeah, it really is a wonderful gift to be married. And we're going to talk with Jody. She's been here a number of times. She's a public speaker, a Bible teacher, author of the best-selling Praying the Scriptures series.

And this is an extension of that series. The new book that she has is called Praying the Scriptures for Your Marriage. I love the idea of praying scriptures. This is a fantastic resource for you and your spouse. And you can learn more about the book and about Jody at our website.

And the link is in the show notes. Welcome back, Jody. So good to see you. Thank you so much, Jim. It is a delight to be here. Good, good.

I need it now. I need to confess. I'm sitting here thinking about it. Jean was the one who said, we need to pray more together.

So she gets the credit on that. I want people going, oh, Jim is so wonderful. Jim is wonderful. We really love Jean. No, Jean's awesome.

Jean is the anchor. But it's true, so often you probably see that too. You know, women, they want to feel that connection that way. And I would think typically, but maybe I'm just trying to get myself out of, you know, spiritual jail here. But typically I would think the wife is the one suggesting, why don't we pray more together?

Yeah, that's certainly what we heard before I wrote this. Oh, thank you. You're not alone, Jim.

You're not alone. Now, before I did this book, I threw out the question on social media, you know, and in my email group, what would you like God to do for your marriage? And it just was interesting to hear people's responses. And you can imagine the different things people wanted. Better communication, help handling money, handling conflict, dealing with parents and in-laws, that kind of thing. Was there one that like was crazy that jumped out to you, just so bizarre?

Well, we got a few. Please can you write something that will help my husband do what I want him to do? Or I need a book about how to fix my spouse. And that's not this book, if that's what you're looking for. I don't think that book should be written, actually. Well, Robbie would probably like it if it was written, because I need a lot of fixing. But I interrupted you, sorry.

No, you're great. No, but one of the things that came up again and again, and it won't surprise you, is that people wanted that deeper intimacy, spiritual intimacy, not just with God, but with their spouse in the context of marriage and wanted, you know, to be able to share that, to pray together, to kind of have that element added to their marriage. Which is so good. Your young son, this is back a few years, I think he may have been seven or eight at the time, but he made an observation that first was so funny. I love children and how they see the world. But what did your son ask you about marriage? Well, and you'll love this as well, being an athlete, Jim. Robbie was seven years old.

And by that time in his life, he'd already been on a dozen different sports teams, soccer and lacrosse and football and all these things. And I remember him coming to me one day and he said, Mom, you know, what happens if you go to a bunch of weddings and you never get picked? And I said, I said, Robbie, what do you think happens at a wedding? And he said, well, I think, you know, everyone gets dressed up and they go. And then the bride just chooses somebody. And I'm thinking he's thinking he's competing for a starting position.

He's dressed out. And I said, oh, gosh. And that just was a realization to me that it's never too early to start praying about your children's marriage partner. And it's never too early to start praying about your own marriage partner and some of the things that you might like to see if you're young. And, you know, the list has become kind of cliche in some circles.

Right. You meet parents who say, who told me as I was writing this book, you know, my son was praying for a girl that would have smooth hair and white teeth. And so I thought, really, you know, high standards. But, you know, people are are praying and hoping either for themselves or for their children for character traits, for a strong faith, for I talked to one young girl. She just wanted somebody who was outgoing because she said she wasn't and she wanted someone who would complete her in that way. And I think that's great.

I really do. I encourage people think about what you would like in a spouse or if you're already married, you know, speak to those things you are seeing that are positive in your marriage and your spouse and and breathe life into those things by affirming them. But I think we make a mistake when we think we can find the one because you get married and immediately you change. You know, I say that college Jody that Robbie fell in love with was way more fun, I think, than newlywed Jody, who was trying to juggle a job and a house, you know, and a new marriage. And then along comes Mother Jody and Mom Jody, you know, is is less fun because she's starting to worry.

And so, I mean, I would say and they say, what do they say? I've been married to 37 women or 37 men and they've all been the same person, but they change all the time. So I think sometimes Stanley Hauerwas is a I don't know, an expert of some kind.

I don't know exactly his degree, but he writes that the challenge in marriage is learning to care for the stranger to whom you find yourself married, because you do wake up sometimes and say, wow, you know, you've changed. I've changed. We're all changing.

So I think that's really important. I would like to, you know, toss a little bouquet to your son, Robbie. Jean and I met at a wedding. I'm glad she picked me. She wasn't the bride, thankfully, but she was part of the bride party, you know, so that worked out really well. Well, our son has a wonderful wife. Some of that works out at the wedding. That's what's amazing.

You know, let me ask you this. You're mentioning the multifaceted part of life. You start as a dating your husband and then you marry, then eventually kids come and you're a different person in all those settings, obviously.

When you got married, what was your prayer life like? And then where did it go? So many times as authors and speakers and communicators, people think they just had it down.

They got it. And it's really not true. And it's so important to debunk that.

I mean, you're writing out of experience what didn't work, probably what was causing you maybe some pain or frustration. So just describe that journey from what it was as that first Jody to the 37th Jody. Well, you know, and it is continuing to evolve and God is continuing to teach and train and he's so filled with grace, which I so appreciate. But, you know, I think certainly for Robbie and me in our shared prayer life, that's been a little bit of a mountain to climb because as husbands and wives, as men and women, we approach prayer differently. I like to use a prayer journal. I'm fond of praying out loud. He's very good at praying in his head.

He doesn't need to write everything down to remember it. And so for us to have that shared connection, we've had to be kind of intentional and just say, you know what, let's take my hand and let's just pray about whatever it is that's concerning us. And it might be like for anybody listening who thinks, oh, wow, Jody and Robbie have this deep and intimate, wonderful long-term prayer life, we might pray for three or five minutes about something. And, you know, I have these things on my website that are 31-day prayer calendars that just have one verse because I'm so all about making prayer doable. And I think sometimes when you just take one verse, like 1 Thessalonians 3, 12 says, may your love increase and overflow for each other. You know, if you're feeling a little tension in your marriage, maybe you just spit that one out, God, help our love increase and overflow for each other.

And you've prayed, you know, so I think it can be simple like that. In that way, expectations can be different at any phase of your marriage, newlywed, mid-term, late-term marriage, right? So how do you express those expectations in a way that is helpful, not harmful? You know, expectations are big things.

And for any newlywed or engaged couples who are listening, and us oldies too, but I just think that you need to leave room for the fact that you're coming with different backgrounds. You know, Robbie and I got married and I had a dad who helped out a lot in the kitchen. He would go purchase the groceries. Those fathers. You know, he was, and you know, most girls can say, my daddy, you know, a lot of girls can. And then the poor husband comes in and he doesn't do everything exactly like daddy did or he does it differently. And so that definitely created some tension for us. And I'm sure he's thinking the same thing.

Hey, you're not getting up early before breakfast, before I get out of bed and have the hot breakfast ready like my mom did. You know, so we come in with these different expectations. And I remember talking to the Lord early on saying, can't you fix Robbie? You know, can't you make him more like my dad? And it was really sweet because God said, Jody, you know what, if you'll just quit nagging and if you will trust me, I can shape him into a husband that is above and beyond anything you could create or dream up, even if I gave you a blank check. And I said, okay, I'm just going to, I'm going to trust you. And I wish I could say I stopped nagging forever.

I didn't. But what God did in that moment as an answer to that prayer, the very next day, and he doesn't always answer prayers this quickly, but the very next day, we'd been married nine months, maybe a year. He walked into the kitchen. He said, is there anything I can do to help, help with dinner? And I burst into tears and poor Robbie's probably thinking, wait a minute, I thought you're crying when I'm not helping and now I'm helping and you're crying. But God has just been wonderful in terms of shaping both of us to be the person the other person needs.

And it's not at all like what we expected. I would say it's better. Let's, on the practical side, you do mention two different ways you can pray the scriptures over your marriage. I want to make sure we capture that to give people a taste of the book and what you're expressing. Everybody knows what praying the scriptures is. I mean, you and I have talked about it before, but all it is really is using the Bible not as something you just read, but as something you pray. Going through and when you read, you know, Psalm 46 10, be still and know that I am God, you can take that and turn it into a prayer prompt.

Your mind is racing, your heart is racing, you're worked up about anything. And you can just say, Lord, gosh, help me be still. Quiet my heart, you know, trade my panic for peace.

Let me know you are God. So that's what I'm talking about when I say pray the scriptures. And really it's Jesus's invitation, right? In John 15, he says, if you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish and it will be done for you.

And, you know, that's not some sort of name it, claim it, prosperity gospel, vending machine, put your prayer in the request, answer comes out, none of that. What he's saying there is that the more we abide in him, the more we dig into scripture, into his word, letting it shape our thoughts, our longings, our desires, the more our prayers for our marriage or anything else are going to start reflecting what God already wants to, what he's already doing, what he wants to do in our lives. So in praying the scriptures for your marriage, I looked at answers from those surveys we talked about earlier and came up with 20 different topics that are common to most marriages. And went through these, what does the Bible have to say about handling conflict? What does it have to say about how you relate to your in-laws, how you handle your money, how you walk through a time of suffering or grief or a deep betrayal, an infidelity? And then work that. And you can pray the scriptures as you asked me at two ways. One is topically, like if you pick up the book and you go, we need help with some friends.

We don't have any good friends. I want to flip to that chapter and find out how we can find those life-giving friends in our lives, how we can become those kind of friends. Let me read the stories there. Look at some of the discussion questions at the end of the chapter and pray the prayers. Or you don't have to even go that way. You don't even need the book. You can just pick up your Bible and pray through scripture.

And it's not at all topically. It's just, you know, as you're seeing, like I was reading the other day in Mark 6, I think it is, and Jesus tells the disciples to get into the boat and go to the other side. And when he walks out to them later that night, they're straining at the oars.

The wind is against them. And what I read in that was, okay, they're obeying Jesus. They're doing what he tells them.

He says, go to the other side. But it's hard at obedience. They're finding a storm. And I read that and so I pray, Lord, when I'm obeying you and I come up and I feel like the wind's against me, help me trust. Help me continue to obey. Help me keep pulling at the oars. Yeah, and so often I think we as Christians, we think if we feel God's telling us to do something, then the wind should be in the sail.

We do think that, don't we? And when the wind comes against us or it's hard, what? I'm obeying you.

And it's not always that way. Jody, I'd like to get some examples from you on how to bridge that gap, maybe personality differences, what have you. How does prayer help you accomplish that? Wow.

Okay. So when you do have these different expectations, different personalities that can, you can rub against each other a little bit, you know, like sandpaper. And I love Charles Spurgeon said, conflicts bring experience and experience brings that growth in grace, which cannot be attained by any other means. I read that quote and I thought, you know, it's true that conflict does bring experience. It can teach us about one another. And over time, you know, I wouldn't say for Robby and me it was an instantaneous growing in grace, but we really have seen that growth in grace. And you asked about prayer's role in that and, you know, study after study has been done to show the benefits of prayer, even things that might not be trotted out in a church or a Bible study. Secular research has shown that prayer gives you a higher sense of satisfaction in marriage, a greater sense of emotional well-being. There was an article, I think, in the Wall Street Journal saying even if you're upset or annoyed with your spouse, you know, they were late again. They left the toilet seat up.

They did, you know, whatever. It says when you pray together or even pray for your spouse not with your spouse, that gives you a chance to calm down. It reinforces the idea that you're on the same team. And I love that idea of remembering that you're on the same team. Before one of our daughters got married, I think it was Virginia, we had all the families together and we said, all right, you know, between us here we probably have 150 years of marriage wisdom or maybe 100.

Get everybody to weigh in with what they think. And one of the best pieces of advice came from my son-in-law, Jeff. He said, you know, you want to remember when you're in a conflict, it's not about trying to win. You don't want to be the one that's right and have your spouse be the loser because you're a team.

And that would be a loss for your team. You want to have not a win for you and a loss for the other person, but you want to look at marriage as remembering you're on the same team and you want to create a win for the team. So how can you work through your conflicts to get to that point of grace so that it's a win? And what you're describing is selflessness, which is really hard for us, especially in those relationships. But, you know, selflessness is the key, isn't it? It is, totally. We've often said in any relationship, marriage or anything else, if you followed Paul's advice in Philippians 2 to in humility, don't look at just at your own interests, but at the interests of others, considering their needs ahead of your own, that the world would be a much better place.

Our marriages would be a much better place. Yeah, I was going to touch on this one because it's kind of close to home. I have a friend. I have asking for a friend.

I have a friend that I know really well. And this is the one where you share, you learned how to pray for your husband when he left dishes in the sink. At that one, I'm familiar with something like that. You must have had a guest that talked about that.

Asking for a friend. Maybe it's the laundry again. Yeah, this was so good. This was actually a true confession. This was my mom, who is remarried. And my father had died when he was 60 of a brain tumor. And mom got remarried. And in her new marriage, she noticed that her husband was leaving the dishes in the sink. And it was kind of annoying her. But then she thought back to something that she had seen or had learned in their premarital counseling. And I love that on a second marriage, when you're 69 years old, that you're going to go to marriage counseling. They did that. You know, we were never too old for that.

I love it. But she said one of the things that they learned, or they'd seen a man talking about how his wife always left the cupboards open in the kitchen. And he went into the kitchen and would bug him day after day. But then he said, you know, I wonder how long it takes me to close the cupboards. And he realized it took him no time at all.

So instead of letting that be such an irritation that could build up, he just closed the cupboards. And so she said, you know, I'm going to time myself to see how long it takes me to load the dishwasher, instead of being mad at John. And she went and she said, it took her 13 seconds. And she said, 13 seconds to put his dishes in the dishwasher. And she said, now, instead of using those things as an annoyance, I look at them and I say, I have 13 seconds to do something for him. And not only that, I'm going to use those 13 seconds to pray for his day. So she uses that as a trigger to pray. And I love that.

It changes the whole climate from being an annoyance to being a time when marriage can flourish. She sounds very proficient at loading the dishwasher. 13 seconds. That's like Olympic speed.

Maybe he'd leave that many. She might be fast. I don't think she's as anal about doing it as I am. She wasn't throwing them in the dishwasher.

She might have, if you met my mom. John, crash, banged up. You discovered that you needed to be more emotionally aware one day when taking a test with Robbie. Oh, you pulled all of the dirt out, didn't you? You know, this is what we love about authors that bear their soul. Yeah, you wrote it.

Yeah, you wrote it. But was it like an assessment? This is the worst part. We were teaching a marriage class. Robbie and I used to do that.

And as part of teaching it, you know, we thought as the instructor, we ought to do all the exercises that are in the material. And one of them was this thing where you rate your spouse on 20 different topics and you give them a zero to four or five, whether they do it poorly or well. And then you exchange your answers.

And we got to the part where we're going over what each other said. And I said, Robbie, you gave me a zero. And the question was, how well does my spouse meet my emotional needs?

And I was like, a zero? And he said, yeah, you don't meet my emotional needs. I said, Robbie, I didn't know you had emotional needs.

I was like, you are the steadiest person I've ever met. And he is. That is, you know, one of my favorite attributes of Robbie. It's hard to ruffle him. He doesn't go high and low and all over the place like I do.

He's so steady. But I didn't know that he had emotional needs. But that was one of those things that I learned, you know, that that was and I think that's in the chapter on protecting your marriage. The things that we have to do because, you know, it's a lot easier to prevent a crisis in a marriage than it is to recover from one. It's easier to build a strong marriage than it is to repair a broken one. And I think if we take those little steps to be able to assess, you know, oh, I didn't know you had emotional needs. What can I do to support you to understand what those are?

How can I live in such a way that honors that? That can help protect your marriage and to build a stronger marriage from the get-go. No, that's really good. I give both of you credit because that, you know, a lot of us guys behind the scenes say, Robbie, what are you thinking? You got to score that a seven, not a five.

But the honesty to do that and then your response to be able to ask the right questions to say, OK, what's going on here? Well, I didn't want a zero. No wife wants to score a zero. Now, did you have a frying pan in your hand when you were... No, I love the old, you know, whenever I talk to my wife, I hold her hands and we're like, yeah, is that so that she can't hit you?

But that's good. I think that's a good dynamic discussion about something because you made an assumption and he still needs that kind of affirmation. It doesn't matter how long you've been married. Going back and asking some of those questions because we change, don't we?

You know, and even those love languages, something that might have been your love language when you were newlywed. I really want physical touch and quality time together. Maybe, you know, 20 years down the road, you want some acts of service. It's good to keep revisiting those tools. It's down to the end now, but I do want to ask one more question and we'll come back next time and ask more questions about how prayer can strengthen your marriage and how to do it effectively together. This last question, how does prayer help bond you closer to your husband and how does it protect your marriage? And I think in the context for me, you know, we're always dealing with issues within marriage, but the whole concept of how God has constructed us, body, soul and spirit. And so when you talk about physical intimacy, that's important. But spiritual and emotional intimacy, I'm learning from Jean, to be honest, is really important. And sometimes that can be such a valley for a lot of spouses, for a lot of women particularly, because they don't feel like they're getting that closeness, but prayer can help. Prayer can help. Prayer really does open the door to that intimacy.

And I think it helps, as we talked earlier, you know, because there are going to be times when we can't love each other well. And by inviting God into that conversation, that just allows him to go to work on both of our hearts to join us together. But, you know, Jim, I tell you, I heard over and over again, what if my spouse doesn't want to pray with me? You know, what if I'm married to a non-believer? What if I'm married to somebody for whom that feels awkward, unfamiliar? And I would say, and that's what the book is all about, is, you know, do what works, do what works. And when we used to teach the marriage courses, one of the things we told people was if your spouse isn't comfortable praying together, maybe start with the question, what can I do to support you?

How can I let you know you are loved? And that, too, can open that door to intimacy. It can lead to an environment where maybe prayer does become something that feels more doable, more familiar. But honestly, Malachi 3.16, it's one of my favorite verses. It says, Those who honored the Lord, those who feared the Lord, talked with each other, and the Lord listened and heard. And I think that in the context of marriage and in other human relationships, as we are coming together, as we're talking to one another, how can I support you?

How can I let you know you're loved? God's listening in on those conversations. And I think that he might even receive those as prayers.

So we might not be intentionally saying, OK, bow your head, we're going to pray. But as we're talking about ways we can grow in love, we can grow in support, we can reflect this covenant of love that God loved us first and we're only loving because he loved us. I think he can receive that as a prayer, and I think God can work in our marriages. Jody, this has been so good, and what a great reminder to pray together. Let me go back to the original stat I said that the divorce rate within people who pray together is like 1%. So it's a wonderful way to keep your marriage healthy and to keep moving in the right direction, seeking wisdom from the Lord in your marriage.

It lessens the friction in your marriage, which is always good. And I'm looking forward to coming back next time and talking more about this. Can we do that? Oh, I'd love it. Yeah, lots more to unpack. Let's do it.

And boy, what else can I say? You need to get a copy of this book, Praying the Scriptures for Your Marriage. In addition to that, we can send you these great little conversation cards that will come with the bundle.

And so for us husbands that may need a little assistance in moving in that emotional direction, I think it's great. I'm going to take them home tonight, and Jean and I will start. Boy, am I a high achiever. We're going to go through every one of these. It's going to be a win for you, Jim. It's going to be a win.

Well, it's true though. And sometimes, you know, men, you need to grab them by the cheeks and just say, okay, this would be something we need to do. And I kind of got a feeling this will be it. Well, and they also come each card with conversation starter questions, but each one has one little prayer you can pray. So for that spouse who's like, I don't know how to do this, you know, just it's right on the card. So get in touch with us if you can make a donation of any amount to help support the ministry, which really means helping marriages stay together, helping parents save a baby's life.

There's so many good things going on here that when you give a dollar, each and every dollar goes to all those things. So thank you for supporting the ministry in that way and being a part of the team. And by the way, at Jody's website, you can also find these cards. You can maybe print out one or two and start right away, like Jim is tonight, talking about those cards and then praying together.

Again, the link is in the show notes. And on behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family. I'm John Fuller inviting you back as we continue the conversation with Jody Berndt and once again help you and your family thrive in Christ. The Adventures in Odyssey series already provides your family with trusted entertainment.

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Whisper: medium.en / 2023-05-08 08:47:35 / 2023-05-08 09:00:49 / 13

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