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Focus on the Family Broadcast

Making Prayer a Priority in Your Marriage

Making Prayer a Priority in Your Marriage

Ryan and Selena Frederick describe common roadblocks to a consistent prayer life. Plus, they share stories from their own marriage and offer practical tips to encourage couples to pray for their spouse.
Original Air Date: April 7, 2022

Preview:

Ryan Frederick: It’s impossible to have a healthy prayer life and also have a prideful orientation toward God and a prideful orientation toward one another. Prayer is very, very humbling when you do it honestly.

End of Preview

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Ryan: The problem is that oftentimes, we just crank up the volume on our prayers, and we just pray we get through whatever we need to recite. We forget to let the Lord actually bear His weight on us.

John Fuller: That’s Ryan Frederick, and he joins us today on Focus on the Family, along with his wife, Selena. And together, they’ll be encouraging you to draw closer to God and closer to your spouse through prayer. Thanks for joining us today. Your host is Focus President and author, Jim Daly, and I’m John Fuller.

Jim Daly: John, prayer is an underappreciated activity in the Christian life. It’s not always at the top of our to-do list, but it should be. I saw a study a while back that showed that less than 1% of couples who pray together everyday end in divorce.

John: Hmm.

Jim: I mean, that- that’s amazing, but it shows the power of prayer in your marriage. And I’m reminded of the German pastor, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, he said praying for one another is the heartbeat of the Christian community. And if you’re married, this applies to your relationship with your spouse as well, maybe especially. Uh, Jean and I try to pray together every morning. We read the word together and, uh, you know, some days, we miss it because of schedules and things like that. But more often, we are getting together and doing that, and I’m really happy for us. Uh, we don’t want to induce guilt today. We get the schedules and the kids and stage of life, but we do want to encourage you in this area and give you the tools you need to enjoy the gift that prayer is.

John: Mm-hmm. And as I mentioned, our guests are Ryan and Selena Frederick. Uh, they’re authors, speakers and podcast hosts. Their website is called Fierce Marriage, and they’ve written a number of books and, uh, one, we’re gonna be highlighting today is called 40 Prayers for My Wife, and there’s an accompanying book, 40 Prayers for My Husband. Look for your copies of those books at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast.

Jim: Ryan and Selena, welcome back to Focus. It’s good to have you.

Selena Frederick: Yes.

Ryan: Yeah, thank you for having us. This is a joy, yeah.

Selena: We always love coming here. Yeah.

Jim: Coming all the way from the big state of Washington.

Ryan: Yes, the rainy state of Washington.

Selena: (laughing)

Jim: Yeah, well, we’d like some of that rain, if it’s okay. Hey, let me say, uh, you know, again, I mentioned that guilt complex and all that, but most Christians know that prayer is important but many of us, we just don’t build it in to our regular program. I guess the obvious question is why do you think that is when the power of prayer, the testimony of what prayer does-

Ryan: Yeah.

Jim: … out of scripture, and then we just-

Ryan: Yeah.

Jim: … kinda bump along in this life?

Ryan: Yeah. I… You know, Tim Keller had a thought on this and, uh, I’m gonna butcher the quote, but he said something to the effect of, uh, “We don’t pray, uh, because we don’t think we need God,” right? And I think-

Jim: Wow.

Ryan: … no Christian in the right mind would come out of the gate and say, “Yeah, I don’t need God therefore, I don’t pray.” No, we functionally don’t think we need God-

John: Hmm.

Ryan: … so we go about our day. I mean, I find myself, it’s like, uh, I’m laying down in bed at night and I’m realizing, this is the first time I’ve actually thought about God, I thought about needing him-

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Ryan: … I thought about praying to him, let alone praying for my wife and contending on behalf of my wife. So I think it’s a matter of need and on some level, deep pride.

Jim: Yeah, and I think, you know, ironically, uh, modernity does provide a lot of ease for us. If we were hunting and gathering for our food, I think we’d be praying a lot more.

Ryan: Yes.

Jim: I know I would ’cause I’m pathetic at it.

Ryan: (laughing) Yeah.

Jim: But, uh, you know, only prayer would be, uh, required there, but, you know, that’s part of it, right? Our needs are generally met-

Ryan: Yeah.

Jim: … just through modernity.

Ryan: Right.

Jim: You know, the fact that we go to the grocery store-

Selena: Mm-hmm.

Jim: … that sounds odd, but just stop and think about that, what those that have gone before us had to do. Um, you know, I’m sure they’re praying often just to find something to eat, right?

Ryan: Yeah.

Jim: Uh, let me ask you this, uh, I believe there was a particular season, Ryan, when you struggled to pray because you were consumed with work. I think all of us, men and women, that are working outside the home are going-

Ryan: Right.

Jim: … yeah, I mean, you’re thinking about it, you’re not sure if you’ve done the… you know. All the things that go into that, the 14 things I have to do tomorrow.

Ryan: Yeah.

Jim: It’s… When I hear myself saying all that, it does sound like an excuse.

Ryan: Yeah. I think as a husband and as a man, I think the tendency is to, I want to provide, I wanna be the problem solver, I wanna be the one out, you know, in the community, solving problems in our lives, solving problems. And I just get so self, uh, sustaining, self-focused, right?

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Ryan: And there was a season in our lives and in our work, so we do that we write full time, we- we do the podcast full-time, it’s a business, and it was not going well, uh, recently.

Jim: (laughs)

Ryan: And so I was just wanting to buckle down and work harder, you know, grind harder, put in longer hours, get up earlier. And I just realized, I was doing it completely on my own strength, and the Lord graciously convicted me, and just told me…

Jim: Can I ask you, did that conviction come through Selena?

Ryan: (laughing)

Selena: It always does.

Ryan: It always does. (laughing).

Jim: If your marriage is like my marriage, the Lord speaks through Jean often.

Ryan: Yeah. Yeah. Seriously, and that’s a grace of God, and yeah, to an extent.

John: Hmm.

Ryan: And I think I just resolved with that conviction to open every morning with this line in my journal, and you can see it, uh, just a few months ago, “Lord, I need you more than I need revenue. I need you more than I need to get this done. I need you more than I need… whatever that thing is that I’m putting-

Selena: Right.

Ryan: … that I’m trying to solve myself for.”

Jim: Well, now, you’re touching, um, the soft spots.

Ryan: And it completely calibrates my heart now to work out of a place of God is my provider, not me.

Jim: Yeah.

Ryan: And that’s so freeing and so liberating.

Selena: Which, the same goes for a wife, right, and a mother. We wake up and kids are… They come in hot in the morning-

Jim: (laughs)

Selena: … they’re just ready to go, we’re, we’re-

Ryan: Yeah.

Selena: … starting the day. And so as a mom, I can very easily just jump into making breakfast, jump into whatever. The next thing is instead of humbly calibrating myself-

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Selena: … coming to the Lord first, sitting at the feet of Jesus, reminding myself that these little blessings God’s given to me for a short-

Ryan: Mm-hmm.

Selena: … time to steward, oh, okay, stop and breathe, my savior, he sustains me-

Ryan: Yeah.

Selena: … right? When he was tempted in the desert, he told the enemy, he told the devil, it’s not by bread alone that I’m sustained, right-

Jim: Right.

Ryan: Mm-hmm.

Selena: … but by every word of God, and so how… if Jesus says those things, how dare I step out of that lane, right?

Jim: I so appreciate that, yeah. And it’s… I mean, I can think of those days, I mean, especially with younger kids-

Selena: Mm-hmm.

Jim: … uh, it’s chaos pretty much right from the beginning.

Selena: All the time. Yeah. (laughs)

Jim: You know, you’re in the bed, they’re coming, “Mommy, mommy, mommy,” you know.

Selena: Yeah. (laughs)

Jim: Whoa, okay, what do I have here? I used to get up at five in the morning when I was a little kid, I… my poor mom.

Selena: Oh my. (laughs)

John: Why does this not surprise me? (laughs)

Jim: Yeah. You know, now that I think about it, I still get up at five in the morning. (laughing)

Selena: Just…

Jim: I go to bed early, let me tell you-

Selena: Yeah.

Jim: … but I mean, that point of the energy… And I think the, the question, Selena, I’d ask from the mom side of this, that sounds angelic. In fact, when you were saying that I heard angelic music playing.

Selena: (laughs)

Jim: Stop and say “Lord…” But how do you, how do you practice that-

Selena: Absolutely, yeah.

Jim: … to where it can become a habit for you-

Selena: I…

Jim: … so… a good habit.

Selena: Uh, I don’t, totally right now. I don’t get to… pre-kids, you know, I’ll get my journal, my bible, three hours in the morning, God’s good, right?

Jim: (laughing)

Ryan: Three hours (laughs).

Jim: Sorry, three hours, okay.

Selena: But when kids come around, like you said, kids come, there’s energy, uh, usually, the prayers happen as I’m making breakfast, as we’re doing dishes, “God, thank you that I get to feed these little beings.

Jim: (laughs).

Selena: I pray that I wouldn’t just feed their tummies, but I’d feed their souls. Help me, Lord. Uh, as we wash dishes, that I wouldn’t grumble about the mess, but I would remind myself that you’ve given us this life and that I get to enjoy this mess and this life. Uh, sustain me because I already feel tired and it’s 5:05 (laughs) in the morning.”

Jim: Right. Yeah, no kidding.

Selena: So…

Jim: No, I so appreciate that. And it’s… it is an attitude and getting that attitude of prayer right and… you know, you’re right, it doesn’t have to be on your knees-

Selena: Mm-mm.

Jim: … in front of your couch or something like that. That’s great if you can do that, but it’s in your activities.

Selena: Yep. Praying, praying without ceasing definitely is a… it’s a heart orientation and it’s a humility and a recognition, uh, that I c- I’m not my savior-

Jim: Yeah.

Selena: … I’m not.

Jim: Now, I think a lot of us are going, “Oh yeah, I, I pray for my kids often.” Let’s zero in on praying for our spouses, uh, not so often-

Ryan: Yeah.

Jim: … right?

Selena: Right.

Jim: It’s easy to pray for your kids, I think-

Selena: Yeah.

Jim: … easier. Sometimes, the spouse prayer can be a little more difficult ’cause you don’t know my husband, Selena.

Selena: Right. (laughs) Right.

Jim: You know, that’s one of the things that w- women are gonna say-

Selena: Right.

Jim: … or vice versa.

Selena: Absolutely.

Jim: And, uh, so I guess that right question is how does prayer, the benefit of prayer for one another as a spouse-

Selena: Mm-hmm.

Jim: … how does that benefit your relationship?

Ryan: I mean, just to be completely candid, that’s okay, right, on the show?

Jim: Absolutely.

Selena: (laughs)

Ryan: We were… we had a fight just recently, I mean, within days.

Jim: A discussion.

Ryan: Uh, okay, yeah.

Selena: (laughing)

Ryan: Heated… yeah, discussion, elevated discussion.

Jim: There we go.

Ryan: And I was, you know… had a moment alone and I’m thinking and I’m praying, I’m like, you know, having those prayer thoughts, “Lord, fix my wife-

Selena: (laughs).

Ryan: … fix the situation. Anything but-

Selena: Transform her heart.

Ryan: … anything but, anything but fix me.”

Jim: (laughs) You’re the only husband that’s ever said this.

Selena: (laughing)

Ryan: Yeah, yeah. And as I’m praying, it’s like I’m cringing, something like I’m being humbled-

Jim: Yeah.

Ryan: … right? And I think that’s one of the big keys of prayer, especially as- as prayer relates to husband and a wife is that it’s impossible to have a healthy prayer life and also have a prideful orientation toward God and a prideful orientation toward one another.

Selena: Mm-hmm.

Ryan: ‘Cause prayer is very, very humbling when you do it honestly.

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Ryan: Problem is that we… o- oftentimes, we just crank up the volume in our prayers and we just pray we get through whatever we need to recite. We forget to let the Lord actually bear his weight on us, let the Holy Spirit prompt us-

Jim: Mm-hmm.

Ryan: … in the ways that he wants us to change and be sanctified.

Jim: Yeah. And I can attest to that. I think in Jean and I praying together, it’s almost like the Lord… if you’re… imagine that finger pointing at your wife or your husband and if you’re-

Selena: Mm-hmm.

Jim: … now beginning a healthy-

Ryan: Right.

Jim: … prayer time for your spouse, it’s like the Lord takes that hand and just begins to- (laughs)

Selena: Mm-hmm

Jim: …turn it back at you.

Selena: So gently and so patiently.

Jim: Oh, wow. Okay.

Selena: Yes.

Jim: But it is true. I think I have more awareness of my short comings after a consistent season of prayer for Jean.

Ryan: Yeah.

Jim: Uh, I’m starting to realize, “Oh, okay, Lord. Yeah, okay maybe it’s not Jean, it’s me.”

Ryan: Yeah.

Jim: So, that’s good. Uh, there was a- stories help here, obviously. So I want to lean into that a bit with the books and I think, Selena, you prayed a (laughs) what you described a desperate prayer, uh, for Ryan after you moved recently. Uh, what happened in that-

Selena: Yeah.

Jim: … real life story.

Selena: Moving’s a big transition on everyone and again I think it was around the same season that, you know, you move- we moved to kind of a bigger house and there’s more financial responsibility and then all of a sudden it feels like, “Business is going like this, everything’s kind of just-”

Jim: Downhill.

Selena: “… falling into this rut.” So, naturally the people that you snap at more are the people you feel safe with, and so he just… I could tell that there was this distancing happening, there was this I’m going to put my head down, I go to work. And I try to respect that ’cause there are seasons for that, but it kind of felt like we were disconnected for a lot longer than we usually are. And so, you know, that manifests itself in just fighting, uh, bickering.

Ryan: Shortness

Selena: Shortness, lack of-

Ryan: Lack of grace, -and generosity for one another.

Selena: Uh, any sort of affection. And so, I just prayed, “Lord, help my husband’s heart. I don’t know, maybe I am wrong in this. Like, again, please, God, open my own eyes. Open my own heart to my own sin, but I feel like he’s spinning his wheels. I feel like he’s kind of depending on himself, uh, Holy Spirit, just manifest your, uh, clarity I guess in him.” ‘Cause we can just see things so wrong when we’re trying to take hold and control the situation.

Jim: Now, is this you praying-

Selena: On my own.

Jim: … for Ryan, on your own?

Selena: On my own. (Laughs)

[Crosstalk]

Selena: And, uh, we did pray together though. I feel like that was, that was kind of one of the turning points of praying together, I think you were able to kind of-

Ryan: Yeah.

Selena: …hear my heart and also see what was happening. It’s hard to always see in those situations too-

Ryan: Right.

Selena: …when-

Ryan: So many spouses-

Selena: …tensions are high.

Ryan: … can find themselves in the situation that you were, you were in. It’s that you feel helpless-

Selena: Yeah.

Ryan: …you feel like “I just want something to change and it’s not changing.” And what happens is when we go to God, it’s- we’re recognizing our need, “God, this is your domain. You are the one who changes hearts. I can’t do that, no matter how many times I nag, I’m speaking as a wife, as a husband, or I try to fix it myself. The heart is God’s domain. And so there’s the humbling of myself going to God saying, only you can do this, you be God, I cannot be God. Then I think as we pray for a spouse who, you know, we want God to move, we start to empathize, we start to actually have more compassion toward one another. And that, to me, has been one of the most radical things are, and-

Jim: Yeah, that’s a great outcome of that. And, you know, perhaps we didn’t say this disclaimer, John at the top, but we’re talking about normally, regularly healthy relationships here, not where there’s severe trauma in the marriage. And in those cases, you need help, you know, pastoral help or counseling, and we would encourage you to call Focus, and John will give those details for those. So we don’t want to diminish, and I just picture a wife who’s really struggling because her husband’s addicted to pornography or an alcoholic or, you know, something severe. You do need to pray,

Selena: Yes.

Jim: … don’t get me wrong. But in this context, we’re talking about the general, generally healthy Christian couple who just needs to remember the importance of prayer in this case, and you’re correcting those little things that make life better, and marriage better if you pray together. So let me make that disclaimer. In that regard, the nuts and bolts of how to pray, we’re kind of touching on that. So let’s move a little more in that direction. Let me ask how couples can use the Lord’s Prayer, you mentioned that in the books. How does the Lord’s Prayer enter into your marriage in prayer?

Ryan: Well, it’s the loose outline, right? Um, I mean, of course, just pray the Lord’s Prayer verbatim, top to bottom. I think that’s obviously that’s how Jesus said to pray. That’s great. But I find it helpful as a prompt and an outline. So it starts out, ‘Our Father in heaven.’ Well, there’s two really grounding things in that statement alone, that he is not just a cold, he’s not just a king, he’s not just God, he is our Father. He relates to us in a familial way, in a very affectionate, loving way. He’s our father, and he’s in heaven. All right, he’s above. He reigns above like that is very calibrating. So start with, ‘Our Father in heaven.’ Okay, God you are my loving father. You know what I’m going through, you know the situation better than I do. You know, your kingdom come in the situation, your will be done. You kind of see how that, going through that with your spouse in mind is very clarifying. And of course, there are more kind of rigid outlines that do correlate with the Lord’s Prayer like ACTS, its adoration, confession, thanksgiving, supplication. That’s helpful as well. That’s just one idea.

Jim: Yeah. And that’s the good application. Um, you also recommend praying for your spouse from head to toe, which is great.

Ryan: Yeah.

Jim: It covers all of it, right? He knows every hair on her head. So how about that,

Selena: Yeah.

Jim: … praying for your spouse head to toe?

Selena: Yeah, that’s a great place to start if you don’t know where to start. For Ryan, you know, for a husband I might pray for his mind. God just be in his thoughts. Lead him as he thinks and works and does all the things he does. God be with his eyes, mind the eyes. Like whatever he sees, may temptation flee, may he not be distracted.

Jim: Wow, that’s good.

Selena: May there be you know, purity in what he sees. And then you know, his heart, God do what you’re going to do in his heart because, again, that is your domain. His hands as he puts his hands to work, I pray that uh, he would find purpose in it that is deeper than maybe just what he’s doing.

Jim: Yeah.

Selena: Um, so, yeah, and you talk about, for the wife or-

Jim: Praying for the wife.

Selena: … praying for the wife.

Ryan: So, you know, you had mentioned this in our conversations that you know, you can get in your own head a lot, I do pray for you, again, head to toe starting in the mind.

Jim: It’s that integrated brain.

Ryan: Yeah.

Selena: It is.

Ryan: That that your, that your her thoughts would be centered on you. And that you would be you know that her mind would be gracious toward herself, even though she wouldn’t be overly critical of herself. Even your, the words that my wife says, as she’s mothering our children, that you would give her words that are life giving, um, that she would have words that are from you, that would bring life into uh, the hearts of our children. It begins to just prompt you.

Jim: Yeah, I hear women right now going, “Ah, that sounds so good. I wish my husband would pray that way.”

Ryan: Oh, he can.

Jim: Hey, you can, right? That’s what holding you back.

John: I love what I’m hearing because you’re you’re really reciting a lot of Scripture. You’re not you know, verbatim, but you’re taking scriptural principles and and you’re speaking God’s Word over your spouse.

Selena: Which if you do ever get stuck, praying through Scripture is a very helpful tool as well. (laughs)

Ryan: And that is, I think, maybe at the core of these books that we’re talking about, and the core of prayer, is it’s it’s a response God has initiated. He’s the one who’s initiating communication with us through His Word, through the word Incarnate Christ. And so when we read scripture, and we say, God, you’ve said these things, now I’m going to pray these not holding God hostage. You said this, but more of a

Jim: Right.

Ryan: … this is your promise, this is who you are-

Selena: I’m standing on this.

Ryan: … trust I’m standing on this. Uh, that is us responding to what God has initiated.

Jim: That’s really good. You know, everybody, I, I would hope would have some kind of prompting, whatever it might be. Gary Thomas, who’s a regular guest here at Focus, we love Gary and boy, what a great author he is, and his concepts are so strong. He reminded us one time of a story of a man he encountered who he and his wife were, there was just this thing about making the bed. And he wouldn’t make his side of the bed, and she was frustrated by that. And so then he kind of gave that over, you know, he said, Okay, Lord, I’m going to do that. And then when I do that, I’m going to pray for my wife as well. So he used it as a prompt, as a mechanism to say, every time I’m making the bed, I’m going to pray for her. And even when he would travel for work in the hotel, he would make the bed at the hotel, which I have no clue why you would do that.

Selena: (laughs) Right.

Jim: But for him, it was the act of making the bed and then praying for his wife in that act of making the bed.

Ryan: Yeah.

Jim: So that’s a very sweet way to find a prompt

Selena: Mm-hmm.

Jim: … to uh, remind you to pray for your spouse.

Ryan: Yeah, I find my best prompts, frankly, are just being attentive to my bride.

Jim: Yeah, that’s another good one. (laughs)

Ryan: So, she’ll be going about the day, and I’ll hear her voice something instead of just saying, trying to fix it in that moment. So how can I pray for you right now?

John: Yeah.

Ryan: Let’s hold hands, let’s pray.

John: Yeah. I think last night, I gave my wife a reason to pray for me. She was-

Jim: Is this a confession?

John: Well, we had, yeah, we had a little home emergency, and I was kind of in go fix it mode. And she said, “Is there anything I can do?” And I said, “No.” And I just kept moving. And I’m pretty sure I’m gonna have to ask her tonight. I’m pretty sure she prayed then ’cause it things smoothed out a bit. But I was, you know what I’m saying, right? I mean, it’s, you refer to it earlier. I’ve got to fix this.

Ryan: Yeah.

John: And I’m not doing it in the Lord’s power. I’m just doing it in John’s power. And I think she probably was praying for my heart to just calm down.

Jim: That’s, we all experienced that. Let me ask you um, for advice, where couples, they’re just not comfortable with it. They may be, uh, you know, again, temperament can play into this too. And I didn’t want to pick on introverts ’cause an introvert can be a great prayer warrior.

Selena: Absolutely.

Jim: But if you’re just not used to praying together, how can they break that pattern, and be more comfortable with each other? I mean, there’s times Jean and I when we’re praying, we’ll start giggling about something.

Selena: Mm-hmm.

Jim: You know, the pace at which we’re praying. Jean has an awesome reverence for the Lord. So she’s, in the morning and when we’re praying together, she says, “Okay, I’ll pray first,” and I’ll say, okay, and then there’s like this long pause, and I’m going, “And oh, my God, you’re gonna pray?” “Yeah, I’m just getting my heart in the right place.” You know, and it, so then we laugh about that, you know. But speak to that, I guess what I’m asking is that awkwardness for some couples just to be comfortable enough to pray to God in front of each other.

Selena: I say, don’t let it hold you back. I mean, anything great is never easy and it can always take some time to get more comfortable in that discipline. But as believers we are called to pray. And so uh, it does come down to obedience. So don’t let the awkwardness hold you back. Lean into the awkwardness-

Jim: That’s good, I like that.

Selena: Lean into the awkwardness.

Jim: I think some of it is humorous. I remember a couple times with the boys when we were praying and something was just funny, and boom, we get going of course mom, you guys knock it off. We’re talking to God. That would make us to giggle more. (laughs)

Selena: Right, right.

Jim: Sometimes you just gotta roll with it.

Selena: Right.

Jim: It’s okay. The Lord, He created added a sense of humor and, you know, just be relaxed as well.

Selena: Yeah, and even a tangible, let’s hold hands together. Why do we close our eyes, so we’re not distracted?

Jim: That’s important.

Selena: We can face one another and begin praying for one another. And again, if you don’t know where to start, start with the Lord’s Prayer. It’s okay.

John: You, you you moved through various circles, you’ve known a lot of people. Is it pretty common, and Jim’s onto something here. I think there are oftentimes different prayer approaches that we bring to a marriage. How often do you see that as the barrier?

Jim: Yeah, no, it’s true.

Ryan: I think that gives rise to a lot of that awkwardness that people feel like they witnessed it, in a way, ’cause it’s funny how you can have a conversation like this, and we have a certain cadence to the conversation, we have a certain way of speaking and all sudden when you turn on the prayer switch, something changes.

John: Dear God.

Ryan: Yeah, there’s this, it depends on where you come from, right?

Jim: That’s interesting.

Ryan: Or you might use, you say, God, you know, 20 times for every, you know, 10 words, you’re, you repeat God’s name. Um, and as you, you would never do that talking to somebody in person. But yeah, the awkwardness is real. And I think, I think it starts with recognizing that you are actually interfacing with the person of God, right? He’s not just an ethereal spirit out there. He, God is spirit, but he’s also He became flesh, and He is our Father and, and he’s dwells with the Holy Spirit, and we are responding to that. And the awkwardness, I think, on some level comes down to paying greater attention to other people besides God, like we either paying attention that we might be overheard by somebody, or our spouse might think something about us, or I don’t like the way I sound. Well, on every level, I’m thinking about everybody else, but God.

Jim: Yeah.

Ryan: So when we fix our eyes on God, we fix our eyes on Him, then, again, the calibration happens. I’m talking to the living God. And He has accepted me. And He has said, Come to me, and here I am. So it begins to take the focus off ourselves.

Jim: No, that’s good. I’m thinking sometimes Jean and I are hoping the boys are listening, right?

Selena: Right.

Jim: We’re praying to model it and make sure they know we’re connected to the Lord in that way. I think in that respect, another key question is being able to hear from God. I mean, like anything, if we’re doing all the talking,

Ryan: Yes.

Jim: … we’re not doing much listening.

Selena: Mm-hmm.

Jim: And so the importance again, Jean is so good with that, at the end of our prayer, just to calm our hearts and say, okay, let’s just hear what the Lord’s having to say to us. That’s a great focal point, too. And it it may be harder than praying, is actually sitting and listening.

Selena: Nowadays, especially I think, because there are so many distractions, the pace of life. I want to meet Jean, she sounds like a wonderful,

Jim: She is. She’s awesome.

Selena: … just a wonderful woman. (laughs)

Jim: She is, she really is. Um, you know, we’re wrapping up here, I want to hit three quick things that you mentioned in the book, be hopeful, create margin, pray continually. So just fill those in what they mean.

Ryan: Yeah, I think when we pray, we need to pray expecting that God will move, right? And so one of the-

Jim: That being hopeful?

Ryan: Yeah, that’s the hopefulness. And one of the things we walk couples through uh, in this book is they go through an inventory at the beginning, where they kind of grade their marriage, the various aspects of their marriage. Communication, intimacy, how do we deal with financial issues? How do we deal with conflict, and they graded on a scale of one to ten? Then they commit to doing these 40 days of prayer. And the hope is, at the end of those 40 days, they can go back, and they redo the inventory. They say how has God moved in our communication.

Jim: Wow, that’s good.

Ryan: How has God moved in our… So I think we expect God to move immediately or not at all. And God doesn’t often do that. He moves over time,

John: Mm-hmm.

Ryan: … steadily. He transforms over time, through steady sanctification.

Selena: And then the second piece of creating margin, he has a really good rule like a one-to-one ratio. So if I’m sitting, making my requests to God for 10 minutes, maybe I should at least sit for 10 minutes, and listen and wait for the Lord. Sit and be like Jean. (laughs)

Jim: I know, that’s good.

Ryan: Yeah. And the Holy Spirit will tell you what to pray for in those moments too when you give the margin, that’s the conversational piece. And then the final one, praying continually. You know, Paul tells us, and I think it’s 1 Thessalonians 5:17, prayer continuance, it’s really short verse. But that’s an attitude of prayer. I think early on, we talked about having this kind of awareness. We have a friend who does tactical training, like for civilians, right? He’s an ex-Army Ranger. And one of the things he says is, don’t when you go into a situation, it to be situationally aware, doesn’t mean you’re paranoid, it just means that you’re aware. And so praying continually, I think is a function of being aware of your situation and thinking, I can pray, I can bring this to God right now. And that’s an attitude of prayer. It’s not that you’re constantly, you know, in your prayer closet, hands folded, eyes closed all day long, it’s just that you know that God is with you. And you can converse with him throughout the day.

Jim: So true. Ryan let’s end with you praying for us.

Ryan: All right.

Jim: Can we do that?

Ryan: Yes.

Jim: Pray for the listeners, the married couples,

Ryan: Yeah.

Jim: … who maybe haven’t prayed together much and opening our hearts to doing it.

Ryan: Let’s do it.

Jim: Okay.

Ryan: Lord, we come to you. Thank you um, for the ability to pray. Thank you that you’ve allowed us to converse with you this freely. Lord I pray that it would not be something that we take for granted, but it was something that we would press into, and then hear, and press into hearing back from you through our prayers. I pray for the husbands and the wives listening to this, the marriages, represented by those individuals. I pray that you would teach them how to pray, show them how to pray for one another, show them how to pray with each other, remove barriers, um, remove distractions and awkwardness. But Lord, I pray that they would uh, just experience your goodness and relationship with you through this gift of prayer. In your precious name, amen.

Jim: Amen.

Selena: Amen.

Jim: And this is so good. And I hope folks will get in touch with us. And, uh, you know, for a gift of any amount, if you can help us on a regular basis, a monthly pledge, that would be great, it helps us, but we’ll send you both books as our way of saying thank you, when you make either that monthly pledge or a onetime gift. And I think it’s a great place to start, if this hasn’t been a normal uh, thing for you and your spouse to do, start now. I mean, it is a beautiful part of your relationship. And I think that inventory that you talked about, I’m going to take it. I’ll have Jean and I

Selena: Awesome.

Jim: … take it and see where we’re at. And that’s a great challenge. It’s a playful challenge. It’s not meant to condemn or to load guilt onto you. But what a great thing to measure how you’re doing today, and then 40 days from now, take another look at it, and see what the Lord’s done in your relationship. I would look forward to that.

John: Yeah, and these books are so good. They’re going to be part of my prayer routine with Dena in the mornings, and I hope you’ll be joining us, that this will be part of your prayer routine as a couple. Get your copies of 40 Prayers for My Husband and 40 Prayers for My Wife, when you call 800, the letter A, and the word FAMILY, or stop by focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. And while you’re at the website, be sure to look for our free marriage assessment, which takes just a few minutes. It’ll give you a good gauge on how you’re doing in some really important areas of your relationship. And the link to that assessment is at focusonthefamily.com/broadcast. Well, coming up next time on Focus on the Family, author Jackie Hill Perry explains how God’s grace empowered her to find healing from sexual brokenness.

Preview:

Jackie Hill Perry: And so what I saw Christianity was were people who did a lot of good stuff, that Christians were people who were really good at saying no to things that felt good. Did recognize that Christians were people who God had snatched up and given them a new heart and a new spirit where they were able to say no on the virtue of somebody else’s power.

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