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Focus on the Family Broadcast

Best of 2023: Praying For Your Marriage is Essential (Part 1 of 2)

Best of 2023: Praying For Your Marriage is Essential (Part 1 of 2)

In this best of 2023 broadcast, Jodie Berndt encourages 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)
Original Air Date: May 8, 2023

Jodie Berndt: … 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.

John Fuller: Some practical spiritual help from Jodie Berndt who wants to help you closely as a couple to God and to each other. Welcome to another Best of 2023 Focus on the Family with Focus president and author Jim Daly. I’m John Fuller.

Jim Daly: John it’s said that, um, 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 kinda 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-

John: Hmm.

Jim: … in terms of those hot buttons-

John: Yeah.

Jim: … that you can push, right? And so today, we wanna talk about that one of the great statistics in Jodie’s book says that married couples who prayed daily have less than a 1% divorce rate.

John: Hmm.

Jim: So how about that for a silver bullet when it comes to, uh, keeping your marriage together and moving forward in a healthy way? Let me add, too, a young woman said to me the other day, “Whenever I hear in Christian communication, uh, someone talking about marriage, they talk about how hard it is to work at your marriage.” Let me kinda debunk that a little bit with the reason we talk about that’s ’cause you wanna have a marriage that’s really good, right? So it takes a little work. And you know, if you wanna be in shape, you gotta go to the gym, that kind of thing. So it’s not a burden. These are things that we wanna equip you with, so that your marriage could be the best it can be.

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: So if you’re hearing, “Oh, it’s hard work to be married.” It’s awesome to be married.

Jodie: (laughs)

Jim: And, uh, it does require some work.

John: Mm-hmm.

Jim: But that’s a good thing.

John: Yeah, that’s right, and that’s why we wanted to return to this great conversation with Jodie Berndt that we recorded earlier this year. It really resonated with so many of our listeners and viewers, and we believe you and your spouse are gonna benefit from this encouragement again. Now, Jodie is an author, speaker, and Bible teacher and she’s written a wonderful book called Praying the Scriptures for Your Marriage. We got details about it at our website, focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. And now Jim, here’s how you began this Best of conversation with Jodie Berndt on today’s episode of Focus on the Family.

Jim: Welcome back, Jodie. So good to see you.

Jodie: Thank you so much, Jim. It is a delight to be here.

Jim: 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.

Jodie: (laughs)

Jim: So she gets the credit on that. I don’t want people going, “Oh, Jim is so wonderful.”

Jodie: Jim is wonderful.

Jim: (laughs)

Jodie: But we really love Jean. (laughing)

Jim: No, Jean is awesome. Jean is the anchor, but it’s true. So often, you probably see that too, you know, women, they wanna feel that connection that way. And I- I would think typically, but maybe I’m just trying to get myself out of-

Jodie: (laughs)

Jim: … you know, spiritual jail here.

Jodie: Yeah. Yeah.

Jim: But typically, I would think the- the wife is the one suggesting, “Why don’t we pray more together?”

Jodie: Yeah, that’s certainly what we heard, um, before I wrote this book.

Jim: Whew. Thank you. (laughs)

Jodie: Yeah, yeah, you’re- you’re not alone, Jim.

Jim: Okay, good. I’m normal.

Jodie: You’re not alone. Now, before I- 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. But-

Jim: Was there one like was crazy that jumped out to you-

Jodie: Oh, well-

Jim: … just so bizarre?

Jodie: We got a few, um-

Jim: (laughs)

Jodie: … “Please, can you write something that will help my husband do what he, what I want him to do?”

Jim: (laughs)

Jodie: Or- or, “I need a book about how to fix my spouse, you know?”

Jim: Okay. Yeah.

Jodie: (laughs) And that’s not this book, if that’s what you’re looking for, you know?

Jim: I don’t think that book should be written actually.

Jodie: (laughs) Well, Robbie would probably like it if it was written-

Jim: (laughs)

Jodie: … ’cause I need a lot of fixing. But-

Jim: But interrupted you. Sorry.

Jodie: Yeah, no, you’re- you’re great. Um, 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, um, not just with God, but with their spouse in the context of marriage and wanted to, you know, to be able to, um, share that, to pray together to kinda have that element added to their marriage. Yeah.

Jim: Yeah. Which is just so good. Your young son, this is back a few years.

Jodie: Yeah (laughs).

Jim: I think he may have been seven or eight at the time.

Jodie: That’s right.

Jim: But he made an observation that first was so funny. I love children-

Jodie: (laughs)

Jim: … and how they see the world. But what did your son ask you about marriage?

Jodie: Well, and you’ll love this as well, being an athlete, Jim. Um, Robbie, uh, was seven years old. And by the time, by that time in his life, he’d already been on a dozen different sports teams-

Jim: (laughs)

Jodie: … 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 (laughs) said-

Jim: I love that.

Jodie: … I said, “Robbie, um, 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- he’s thinking he’s competing for a starting position, you know?

Jim: Right. Exactly. (laughs)

Jodie: 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- and some of the things that you might like to see if- if you’re young. Um, and, you know, the- the list has become kinda cliche in some circles, right? You meet parents who say, uh, who told me as I was writing this book, “You know, my hu- my son was praying for a- a girl that would have smooth hair, and- and white teeth.” And so-

Jim: (laughs)

Jodie: … (laughs) you know, and I thought, “Really?” You know, but then-

Jim: Those are high standards.

Jodie: High standards. But you know, people are- are- are praying and hoping either for themselves or for their children, um, for character traits, for a strong faith, for, uh… 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.

Jim: Mm.

Jodie: 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 (laughs) married and immediately you change. You know, I say that college Jodie that Robbie fell in love with was way more fun, I think-

Jim: (laughs)

Jodie: … than newlywed Jodie, who was trying to juggle a job and a house, you know, and a new marriage. And then along comes mother Jodie, and mom Jodie, you know, is less fun, (laughs)-

Jim: Yeah.

Jodie: … ’cause 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-”

Jim: Yeah.

Jodie: … “but they change all the time.” So I think sometimes, um, Stanley Howard was… is, uh, um… 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.”

Jim: Yeah.

Jodie: So I think that’s really important.

Jim: Yeah. I would like to, you know, toss a little bouquet to your son, Robbie, ’cause Jean and I met at a wedding.

Jodie: Oh you did? (laughs)

Jim: So I’m glad she picked me. She wasn’t the bride, thankfully.

Jodie: (laughs)

Jim: But she was part of the bride party, you know?

Jodie: Yeah, there ya go.

Jim: So that worked out really well.

Jodie: Well, our son has a wonderful wife who picked him.

Jim: (laughs)

Jodie: So we are grateful. (laughs)

Jim: Some of that works out at the wedding.

Jodie: It does. (laughs)

Jim: So that’s what’s amazing. Um, you know, let me ask you this. You’re mentioning the m- multifaceted part of life, you start as, uh, dating your husband, and then you marry then eventually kids come, and you’re a different person and all those settings, obviously. When you got married, what was your prayer life like, and then where did it go? So just describe that journey, uh, from what it was-

Jodie: Yeah.

Jim: … as that first Jodie to the 37th Jodie.

Jodie: Well, you know, and it’s, it is continuing to evolve, and God is continuing to teach and train, and he’s so filled with grace, which I- I so appreciate. But, um, you know, I think, certainly for Robbie and me in our shared prayer life, that’s been a little bit of a- 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. Um, he’s very good at praying in his head. He- he doesn’t need to write everything down to remember it. And so for us to, to have that shared connection, we’ve had to be kind of intentional.

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Jodie: 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, Jodie and Robbie have this deep and intimate, wonderful, long term prayer life.” We might pray for three or five minutes about something and-

Jim: Wow.

Jodie: … you know, I- 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-

Jim: Mm.

Jodie: … 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- I think it can be simple like that.

Jim: In- in that way, expectations can be different-

Jodie: Mm-hmm, certainly.

Jim: … um, at any phase of your marriage, newlywed, mid-term, late term marriage, right? So how- how do you express those expectations in-

Jodie: Yeah.

Jim: … a way that is helpful-

Jodie: Yeah.

Jim: … not harmful?

Jodie: Uh, you know, expectations are- are- are big things and for any newlywed or engaged couples who are listening and- and as oldie weds too, but I just think that you need to leave room, um, for the fact that you’re coming in 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. He was, you know-

Jim: Those fathers. (laughs)

Jodie: … he was, he was… And, you know, most girls can say, “My daddy…” You know, a lot of girls can.

Jim: Right. Right.

Jodie: 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?”

Jim: (laughs)

Jodie: And, um, and it was really, um, sweet ’cause God said, “Jodie, 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 gonna… I’m gonna 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 didn’t always answer prayers this quickly, but the very next day, we’d been married, uh, nine months, maybe a year. He walked in the kitchen, he said, “Is there anything I can do to help, help with dinner?” And I, 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 (laughs) and you’re crying.”

John: (laughs) Can’t win.

Jodie: But- but God has just been wonderful in terms of shaping both of us to be the person the-

Jim: Yeah.

Jodie: … other person needs. And it’s not at all like what we expected. I would say it’s better.

Jim: Mm. Le- let’s, uh, on the practical side.

Jodie: Mm-hmm.

Jim: You do mention two different ways you can pray the Scriptures over your marriage.

Jodie: Yeah.

Jim: I wanna make sure we capture that to give people a taste of-

Jodie: Yeah.

Jim: … the book and-

Jodie: Right. Yeah.

Jim: … what you’re expressing.

Jodie: ‘Cause not everybody knows-

Jim: Right.

Jodie: … what praying the Scriptures is.

Jim: Yeah.

Jodie: 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.”

Jim: Huh.

Jodie: “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 sorta 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-

Jim: Mm.

Jodie: … are gonna 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. Um, and went through these what God… 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 and infidelity? And then work that. And you can pray the Scriptures, as as you asked me a two ways. One is topically like if you pick up the book and you go, “Ah, uh, we need help with some friends, we don’t have any good friends. I wanna cha- flip to that chapter and find out how we can find those life-giving friends in our lives, how we can become those kinds 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, uh…

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 they… When he walks out to them later that night, they’re straining at the oars, the- the winds 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 that 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.”

Jim: 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.

John: Yeah.

Jodie: We do think that, don’t we?

Jim: That’s the contradiction. Yeah.

Jodie: And when the wind comes against us or it’s hard-

Jim: “What, God what are you doing?”

Jodie: “What, I’m- I’m obeying you.”

Jim: Yeah.

Jodie: And it’s not always that way.

Jim: Yeah.

John: Hmm. This is Focus on the Family with Jim Daly and our guest today is Jodie Berndt. Talking about her new book, Praying the Scriptures for Your Marriage. Uh, this is an eminently practical, wonderfully rich book and we have copies of it, uh, here at Focus on the Family. Stop by the website to find out more about the book and to make a donation if you can to the ministry. Uh, we’re at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast or call 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY.

Jim: Jodie, uh, I’d like to get some examples from you on how to bridge that gap.

Jodie: Yeah.

Jim: It may be personality differences, what have you. How does prayer help you accomplish that?

Jodie: Wow. Okay. So, um, 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- and I love Charles Spurgeon said, “Conflicts bring experience and experience brings that growth in grace which cannot be attained by any other means.”

Jim: Mm.

Jodie: 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 Robbie and me, it was an instantaneous growing in grace, but we really have seen that growth in grace. And- and you asked about prayers role in that. You know, study after study has been done to show the benefits of prayer, even things that, uh, might not be trotted out in a church or a Bible study. Um, secular research has shown that prayer gives you a higher sense of satisfaction in marriage, a greater sense of emotional wellbeing. Uh, 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-”

Jim: Uh-huh.

Jodie: … “uh, 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, “Um, all right, you know, between us here, we probably have 150 years of marriage wisdom, or- or maybe, maybe 100.” Um, get everybody to- to weigh in with- with what they think. And one of the best pieces of advice came from my son-in-law, Jeff, he said, “”You know, you wanna remember when you’re in a conflict, it’s not about trying to win, you don’t wanna 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. So how can you work through your conflicts to get to that point of grace, so that it’s a win?”

Jim: And what you’re describing is selflessness.

Jodie: Yeah. Yeah.

Jim: Which is really hard for us-

Jodie: Yeah.

Jim: … especially in those relationships, or- or, um-

Jodie: But you know, selflessness is the key, isn’t it?

Jim: It is, totally.

Jodie: Like 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 interest 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.

Jim: Yeah, the, uh… I was gonna touch on this one, ’cause it’s kinda close to home. I have a friend.

Jodie: I have a asking for a friend. Yeah.

Jim: (laughs) I have a friend-

Jodie: I love asking for a friend questions.

Jim: … that I know really well.

Jodie: Yeah. Uh-huh.

Jim: And this is the one where you share, you learned how to pray for your husband when he left dishes in the sink.

Jodie: (laughs)

Jim: That one. I’m familiar with something like that.

Jodie: Yes. Familiar like that.

John: You must have had a guest that talked about it before.

Jim: (laughs)

Jodie: Asking for a friend. Yeah.

Jim: Maybe it’s- it’s the laundry again, but-

Jodie: Yeah, this was so good.

Jim: Yeah.

Jodie: Um, this was actually, um, true confession. This was my mom who is remarried. And my father had died, uh, when he was 60 of a brain tumor and mom, uh, got remarried. And i- in her new marriage, she noticed that her husband was leaving the dishes in the sink, and it was kinda annoying her. But then she thought back to something that she had seen in or had learned in their premarital counseling. And I love that on a second marriage, when you’re, uh, 69 years old, that you’re gonna go to marriage counseling, they did that. You know, we- we’re never too old for that. I love it. But she said one of the things that they learned or they- they’d seen a- a man talking about how his wife always left the cupboards open in the kitchen. And he went into the kitchen, it would bug him day after day. But then he said, “You know, I wonder how long it takes me to close the cupboards.” And- and he realized it took them 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 gonna 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 gonna 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.

Jim: She sounds very proficient at loading the dishwasher. 13 seconds.

John: (laughs)

Jodie: Well, maybe-

Jim: That’s like Olympic speed.

Jodie: … maybe he didn’t leave that many.

Jim: Yeah.

Jodie: She might be fast.

Jim: (laughs)

Jodie: I don’t think she’s as anal about doing it as I am.

Jim: She wasn’t throwing them in the dishwasher.

Jodie: She might have if you met my mom.

Jim: John! Crack. Bang. Uh, you discovered that you needed to be more emotionally aware one day and-

Jodie: Oh, you hold all of the-

Jim: … taking a test with Robbie.

Jodie: … dirt out-

Jim: Yeah.

Jodie: … didn’t you? (laughs)

Jim: You know, this is what we love about authors that bare their soul.

John: Yeah. You wrote it.

Jim: Yeah, you wrote it.

Jodie: Oh, yeah. Oh, yeah.

Jim: But, uh, but was it like an assessment or pers-

Jodie: We were-

Jim: Uh-

Jodie: This is the worst part, we were teaching a marriage class. Robbie and I-

Jim: (laughs) This is even better.

Jodie: Yeah. 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.

Jim: (laughs)

Jodie: 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- the question was, “In 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.”

Jim: (laughs)

Jodie: 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, uh, 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, um, 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.

Jim: No, that’s really good. I give both of you credit because that, uh, 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.”

Jodie: (laughs)

John: Or zero.

Jim: But the honesty to do that, and then your-

Jodie: A zero. Yeah.

Jim: … then your response-

Jodie: Yeah.

Jim: … to be able to ask the right questions-

Jodie: Yeah.

Jim: … to say, “Okay, what’s going on here?”

Jodie: Well, I don’t want a zero. No wife wants to score zero.

Jim: Yeah.

Jodie: (laughs)

Jim: Now, did you have a frying pan in your hand when you were (laughs)-

Jodie: (laughing)

Jim: … or- or some kind of-

Jodie: No, I love y’all.

Jim: … weapon?

Jodie: And you know, “Whenever I talk to my wife, I hold her hands.” And we’re like, “Yes, that’s so that she can’t hit you, right?” (laughs)

Jim: (laughs) But that’s good. I think that’s a good dynamic discussion about something-

Jodie: Yeah. Yeah.

Jim: … ’cause you made an assumption.

Jodie: Yeah. Yeah.

Jim: And he still needs that kind of affirmation and things.

Jodie: You know, and I think it didn’t matter how long you’ve been married, going back and asking some of those questions, ’cause we change, don’t we?

Jim: We do.

Jodie: You know?

Jim: Yeah.

Jodie: And, uh, even those, 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.

Jim: Sure.

Jodie: It’s good to keep re- revisiting those tools.

Jim: We’re down to the end now, but I do want to ask one more question. And we’ll come back next time and- and ask more questions about how prayer can strengthen your marriage and how-

Jodie: Yeah.

Jim: … to do it effectively together. Uh, this last question, how does prayer help, uh, bond you closer to your husband? And how does it protect your marriage? And I- I think in the context for me, you know, we’re always dealing with issues within marriage.

Jodie: Yeah.

Jim: But the whole concept of how God has constructed us-

Jodie: Yeah. Yeah.

Jim: … body, soul, and spirit. And so when you talk about physical intimacy.

Jodie: Right.

Jim: That’s important.

Jodie: Right. Right.

Jim: But spiritual and emotional-

Jodie: Sure.

Jim: … intimacy, I’m learning from Jean, to be honest, is-

Jodie: Yeah.

Jim: … really important.

Jodie: Yeah.

Jim: And sometimes that can be such a- a valley for a lot of spouses, for a lot of women-

Jodie: Yeah. Yeah.

Jim: … particularly, ’cause they don’t feel like they’re getting that closeness. But prayer can help.

Jodie: Prayer can help. Prayer really does open the door to that intimacy. And I think it helped, as we talked earlier, um, you know, because there gonna 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 wanna pray with me?”

Jim: Mm.

Jodie: “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- 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- if your spouse isn’t comfortable praying together, maybe start with the question, “Um, 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, um, 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, “Okay, bow your head, we’re gonna 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.

John: What wonderful encouragement from our guest Jodie Berndt about how husbands and wives can find a deeper connection with each other through prayer. And I think it’s pretty obvious why this was one our most popular programs of the year.

Jim: Uh, Jodie’s message is especially relevant here in December as we reflect back on all the challenges facing families today. Uh, you know, it’s easy to let issues and the culture and the world overwhelm us, but the fact is and this is the (laughs) good news, God is at work and he is in control. And I’m reminded of a comment we received from a man named Greg who said, “I called your counseling line and cried on the phone to someone I will never meet. I expressed my shame at not being able to provide for my children, but he used the Bible to reassure me. He reminded me that in God’s eyes I’m a success because I love my kids and teach them about him.”

John: Mm.

Jim: “We don’t have to be in a big house but we have a loving home. I will be forever grateful for the kindness Focus offered me when I was at a very low point.” That’s why Focus is here, uh, to give-

John: Wow.

Jim: … families that hope and to share God’s love and encouragement in those, uh, points of need along your journey. And your financial support is a big part of the equation. That’s how we get this thing done to help and to love others. Um, when you do that, you’re part of it. Uh, God’s economy’s different. You’re providing, you know, dollars that allow us to do the programs, but I believe God allows that to accrue to your account because of your hard work and then passing that on to Focus on the Family. Uh, you know, we’ve looked at the numbers here at Focus and surprisingly, less than 1% of the listeners give to Focus financially, but can you imagine what our impact would be if we worked together to simply double or triple that to 2, 3%? We would be able to touch so many more lives.

John: Yeah, I love the vision Jim, and it’s a great opportunity for you the listener because we have a special year-end marching campaign going on right now. Any gift you make to Focus on the Family today will be doubled dollar for dollar. Uh, your giving can bring hope and help to twice as many marriages and families. So please, donate today generously when you call 800, the letter A and the word FAMILY, 800-232-6459, or find us online at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. And we’ll say thank you for your donation by sending a copy of Jodie Berndt’s book, Praying the Scriptures for Your Marriage, along with those prayer cards that we mentioned earlier. On behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team, thanks for listening to Focus on the Family. I’m John Fuller inviting you back next time as we continue the conversation with Jodie Berndt and once again help you and your family thrive in Christ.

Today's Guests

Praying the Scriptures for Your Marriage Bundle

Receive the Praying the Scriptures for Your Marriage Bundle and the audio download of the broadcast "Praying For Your Marriage is Essential" for your donation of any amount! Right now, you can DOUBLE YOUR DOLLARS to GIVE FAMILIES HOPE through our YEAR-END MATCH provided by generous friends of the ministry.

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