Every Little Prayer, Every Little Kiss

with | October 19, 2012

When Steven Curtis Chapman sings lines like "it's all about love," that's not just some generic pop-song hook, because Steven has a special woman in mind. Hear from Steven and Mary Beth Chapman about how Christ's love sustains and defines their own rich love story.

When Steven Curtis Chapman sings lines like "it's all about love," that's not just some generic pop-song hook, because Steven has a special woman in mind. Hear from Steven and Mary Beth Chapman about how Christ's love sustains and defines their own rich love story.

Every Little Prayer, Every Little Kiss

With
|
October 19, 2012
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Bob:   Do you ever get so locked up with your spouse that you don't know how to get unlocked?  Well, that's happened with Steven Curtis and Mary Beth Chapman.  When it does, here's how Steven prays.

Steven:  “God, all I know to pray right now is You have to show up because I can't do this.  I know she can't do it, and neither one of us even want to try.  We don't even know what the next step looks like.  God, we need You desperately.”  Without fail, God—we're sitting here today—without fail, God has answered.

Bob:  This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, October 19th.  Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I'm Bob Lepine.  Steven Curtis Chapman and his wife, Mary Beth, take us past the airbrushed pictures today to give us a real look at what is a sometimes challenging relationship.   Stay tuned.

And welcome to FamilyLife Today.  Thanks for joining us.  I have another resume point.  You know, we've been talking about some of the things that people don't know about me—but that are notable in my own personal musical career and background.  We talked earlier this week about the fact that I sang background vocals in a concert for Steven Curtis Chapman once. 

I also—I actually performed a medley of Steven Curtis Chapman's songs with a friend of mine—at his house.  Do you remember this?  It's when we all came out for the barbecue—

Steven:  Yes.

Bob:  —a bunch of radio people out at the Chapman's house for a barbecue.

Dennis:  And did you imitate him?

Bob: No, we didn't imitate him.  Both of us acted like we were lounge singers, basically.  We divided it up, and we did a whole—

Steven:  Why don't I have these things on tape?

Bob: We did a whole—Billy, Billy, BillyBillyBillyBilly, BillyBillyBilly, you're a very busy man.  We did a whole—you don't remember that whole thing; huh?

Mary Beth:  Yes, Bill Hurn.

Bob:  Yes, do you remember that?

Steven:  Yes, yes, yes.

Bob: It was obviously a traumatic experience for Steven—hours of counseling.

Steven:  It was; it was.  I'd blocked it; but he’s brought it all back, crashing down on me, again.

Bob:  It's one of the highlights of my life that I remember.  Of course, Steven forgot it—which kind of crushes me.

Steven:  It was a low light of my life.

Dennis:  I'm wondering, Bob, do you have a Steven Curtis Chapman imitation?  You've imitated Pat Robertson here on FamilyLife Today—Gary Smalley, Jim Dobson—

Steven:  You have?  [Laughter]  This is another hidden talent I didn't know.  He sings John Denver songs, he—

Dennis:  Can you get his guitar and imitate him?

Bob: No, I've worked hard on the Paducah accent, and it's just beyond me.  I think it's something you have to either be born with or just—to live for a long time.

Steven:  You have to be born with it.  It’s a spiritual gift.

Dennis:  Enough of this nonsense—we have, as our guests today, Mary Beth, along with her husband, Steven Curtis Chapman.  Welcome back.              We've found fresh ways to insult you.

Steven:  Yes, thank you!  It’s all—

Dennis:  Coming to your house and being a lounge singer.  [Laughter]  Well, one thing that we have in common—you all don't perhaps realize this, but I listened to an interview that you all did together.  You have a spiritual discipline in your marriage that Barbara and I have in ours.  

When we were first married, a number of years ago, a man challenged us to pray every day together.  We started doing that in our first four months of marriage.  Over 30 years later, we pray every day together.  As I was reading this interview of you all, it sounded to me like there is a similar spiritual discipline that you have in your marriage.  Where did the idea come from in the first place?

Steven:  Well, I grew up praying every night.  That was just a habit that became very important.

[Singing Still Listening—about praying at night time] 

When Mary Beth and I—our first date—I think we ended our first date with prayer.  Really, at the very beginning of our relationship, I remember making that a real central part of our relationship, as Mary Beth did, too.  Both of us knew that was the only place we were going to have a relationship that was going to last—even dating—was going to be really grounded in the reality that Christ is the center of this relationship and—

Dennis:  Yes, and I have to stop you there.  You also—you, not only prayed with her on your first date, but you also put a smacker on her, too. 

Steven:  No!

Mary Beth:  Yes.

Dennis:  Yes, you did.

Mary Beth:  You’re in trouble now.  Moms are going to start calling.

Dennis:  And we're going to talk about the kissing-thing in just a moment.

Bob:  That's right; that's right.

Dennis:  But I want to reel it back in because—

Steven:  Please do.  Thank you.

Dennis:  —because Barbara and I finished a book called, Two Hearts Praying as One.  It's a book designed to take a couple, who do not pray together right now; and over 30 days—through very simple, learned experience together—begin the process—the spiritual discipline—of experiencing God through prayer together daily because I believe it will change the course of a marriage and of a family.

Now, I want to ask you, “What's your ritual?  What characterizes your prayer time and how does that occur in your marriage?”

Steven:  Well, usually—what's most regular is—we’ll pray at night, as we're in bed and going to sleep.  A lot of times—depending on what’s going on in the lives of our kids, and our own marriage, and struggles or challenges, or obviously, around the adoption—again, those kinds of things that bring that—stepping into those places where God takes us—sometimes out of our comfort zone.  You begin to realize your dependence on Him, and you cry out to Him together. 

Sometimes in the mornings—usually, our day is crazy—getting the kids out the door—and this, of course, is when I’m home and not traveling.  But almost every night—that we come to bed together—when I'm in the studio or when I'm working late—you know, usually, I'll climb in bed beside her, and pray, and know she's already asleep. 

But we pray just about the events of the day.  We pray for our kids. 

Every night, we pray for God's wisdom—I think of ministry, the things we've been talking about.  You know, we're always saying, "God, if You've got a new direction for us, show us what it is—our time we're spending in China—our heart for adoption, right now.  Show us what Your plan is for that."  Doing that, on a consistent basis, and just continuing to—really, for us, it's finishing the day, thanking God for His faithfulness for another day.  You know, thanking Him for His presence.

Dennis:  You pray for Mary Beth, at the end of the day.  Demonstrate, for our listeners, how you would pray over your wife and what you would pray for her.

Steven:  Okay.  “Father, I do thank You for the gift of prayer, as I do pray, probably every night.  I thank You for the privilege of coming before You.  It is an awesome gift.  It is one that—Lord, we cannot—thank You that we cannot exhaust it, and we can't overuse it.  Lord, may we not treat it with too much familiarity.  May we not treat it lightly—the gift it is to come into Your presence—before the God of the universe—and know that we're invited to come to You.

“Lord, I thank You for the gift of my wife.  I thank You for the incredible mystery that You have brought about in bringing us together, and what You reveal to me about my need for You through my wife, and what I've learned from her. 

“Lord, I pray for strength for her, as a mom.  I can't imagine the challenges, as a mom, to have all the things going on, and the schedule, and the trying to keep their lives in order and straight; but I pray for her to have wisdom, to have patience, and to know how to come alongside me, and know how to challenge me, when she needs to encourage me. Lord, I thank You, again, just for the gift.  Give me wisdom to know how to honor her, how to encourage her.  I thank You for her—in Jesus' name, Amen.”

Bob: Amen.

Steven:  [Singing Savior—about looking in the mirror and seeing a weak man who needs a Savior] 

 

Dennis:  The reason I wanted you to do that is I think some men think we need to break into some other voice that sounds different from how we've just been conversing.

Steven:  Yes.

Bob: Speaking King James English.

Dennis:  That's right; but I found that your prayer sounded the very same that we have been talking to one another, around the table.  I mean, it was the same voice.  I think that's how we approach our heavenly Father—certainly, with reverence and realizing it's a sacred privilege as you thank God for that privilege and not to take it for granted—but to go into His presence.  There is no spiritual jargon—no insider-language.  It is just a heart that wants to come before Him and express needs.

I just want to say it is very important for us, men, to pray for and over our wives.  I just think it's very important for the Christian family today.  We need more men who are covering their wives, their families, with this spiritual discipline of prayer.  I personally think if we did that, I think we'd see the divorce rate slashed, within the church.

Bob: I do wonder what might have happened to your marriage if the discipline of prayer had not been a part of it.  Have you thought about that and wondered, “If you hadn't been praying every day—?”

Steven:  I have.  I definitely have because I am a clueless man when it comes to loving anybody besides me.  I mean, the reality is we all do that really well because of the fall and because of our sinful heart.  Thanks be to God that He has redeemed us, and He is changing our hearts, and doing heart surgery; but when it comes to really knowing how to love my wife, to really enter into her life, to care for her, to know how to even begin to meet her where she is—it is only by the grace of God.

And there have been several times that I've even thought—I think about that with my kids—I think about, “How many times, how many different ways, has God answered and honored those prayers.”  I've seen it—times when we've just been completely at the end of ourselves.  Times when we've both just been saying, "You know what?  I don't know how we're going to take another step right now because this is just so painful.  We feel so far apart from each other.”

Dennis:  Yes, at opposite ends of an issue.

Steven:  Yes, yes.  I'm just saying, "God, all I know to pray right now is You have to show up because I can't do this; and I know she can't do it.  Neither one of us even want to try.  We know all the right things to do; but right now, everything in us—we don't even know what the next step looks like.  God, we need You desperately."  Without fail, God—I mean, we're sitting here today—without fail, God has answered.

It hasn't always been immediately, and the feelings are great, and warm, and fuzzy.  Sometimes, we have to go back and—like our pastor says, "It feels like embracing a porcupine."  You know, you go back and you pursue each other even, though you're going, "This is going to hurt.  Everything in me right now wants to go, ‘You know what?  I don't want to talk to you.  I don't want to move towards you;’ but, God, I've called out to You.  You are faithful.  I’m going to move in faith, knowing that You are faithful and You will do what You promised You'd do."  God has over and over—without fail—He's responded.  He's answered our prayers.

Dennis:  Let's talk about embracing the porcupine for a moment because you questioned my integrity when I said that you kissed her on your first date—and said, "No, I didn't!”  Your wife, who was an eyewitness—

Bob: She was a lip witness.

Steven:  It’s all—it’s a technicality.  The reason—

Mary Beth: I was a lip witness—technicality?

Dennis:  No, no, no.  I don’t want anything from you on this.  Were you not there?

Dennis:  You've already said you didn't do it.  What happened, Mary Beth?

Mary Beth:  I know what he's going to say—

Steven:  Define "first date".

Mary Beth:  Define—did you hear that?  He said, “Define ‘first date’.”

Dennis:  What was that? 

Bob:  He said, "Define the first date."  Red Lobster®, you show up two hours late—is that your first date?

Mary Beth:  That is, technically, the first date.  What he would argue is that we spent a lot of time walking around campus, getting to know each other, walking each other to class, dadadada, yadayadayadaydada. 

He asked me to Red Lobster.  He's two hours late.  He knows he's in trouble when he gets there because he is two hours late.  So, he comes sashaying into the room to pick me up and just lip-locks me.

Bob: Right—the first thing?

Mary Beth: He says, "I'm sorry I'm late."

Bob: Not even at the end of the date?

Mary Beth: Real dreamy, he just says, "I'm sorry I'm late," and kisses me.  So, see, I say he kissed me on the first date.  He says, “It's not a first date because we spent weekswhich—that's not true because we had only been in school a couple of weeks, walking around and getting to know each other.  He's over here, raising his hand.  He's going to have some spiritual reason—

Dennis:  He does not have permission to speak yet.

Mary Beth:  So, what would you define that as?  It's the first time we physically went anywhere together.

Bob: And he bought your dinner and that stuff; right?

Mary Beth:  Yes.

Dennis:  Bob, let's vote on this.

Bob: It sounds like a date to me.

Dennis:  I think it's a date.

Bob:  Yes, I think all that other stuff—

Dennis:  It sounds like a kiss on a first date.

Bob: I mean, are you going to kiss her on the way to class?

Mary Beth:  To me, it sounds like a kiss before the first date—technically.

Dennis:  They went to a Christian school, too.  There's no way he's going to kiss her, going to class.

Bob:  That's a good point.  He kissed her before he took her out on the first date.

Dennis:  They hadn't even officially left the house yet.

Bob:  That's exactly right.  That is exactly right.

Mary Beth:  You're in trouble now, Mister!

Bob:  Alright.  Now we'll allow the witness to speak.  Would you care to defend yourself?

Steven:  [Laughing]   The witness—

Dennis:  I wish our listeners could have seen that.  He’s just dying over here.

Mary Beth:  —with his hand raised.

Steven:  I would love to speak—

Bob:  Yes.

Steven:  I would love to speak.

Mary Beth:  Guilty, as charged.

Steven:  A first date.  Technically, it was a first date.

Mary Beth:  Thank you.

Steven:  Technically, it was a kiss before the first date.

Mary Beth:  Thank you.

Steven:  You know—I was just irresistible.  She couldn’t handle it.

Mary Beth:  You kissed me.  I didn’t kiss you.  You kissed me.

Steven:  Yes, she didn’t.  You didn’t.

Bob:  Did she kiss back?  Did you kiss back?

Steven:  You kissed back.

Mary Beth:  I didn’t have time.  It was just on me.  There they were—3D, coming at me!

Steven:  You didn’t run.  You went with me.  [Laughter]

Mary Beth:  I was in a 16’ by 16’ dorm room.  Where was I supposed to run?

Steven:  Yes, see?  She’s not telling the whole truth.  So here's the deal; okay?  The reason I am a little resistant to that idea of kiss on the first date because it was not like, "Hey, I've seen you a couple of times."  Hey, I’ll call you up, “Hey, you know, hey, I’m Steven Chapman.  I've seen you in the hallway."  You know, "Yes, I know you.”  “Hey, would you go to dinner with me sometime?" and, "Yes, okay," and, I walk in and kiss her.  It wasn't that.  That's what it sounds like when you say, "Kissed on the first date." 

Our first date happened, like, two weeks after we had met, and spent hours and hours together—talking, walking, getting to know each other, and finding out.  So, by the time I kissed her, I knew—

Bob: —you were good friends.  You were attracted to each other—

Steve:  Hey, can we go back to the prayer conversation?  Don't forget, we prayed.  I had already prayed.  Hey, does it count that I had prayed with her a dozen good times before I kissed her?  Does that count?

Bob:  That is good.  That is good, yes.

Steven:  I knew before I kissed her—I just want to be clear—the air to be cleared—that I wasn’t just running around.  I didn’t date any other girls during this time; and it wasn’t like any first date, I just kissed a girl.

Bob: I have one other kissing-related question. 

Steven:  [Reluctantly]   Okay; fine.

Bob:  This has to do with another regular spiritual practice of yours.  Kissing has become a spiritual discipline in your marriage; hasn't it?

Steven:  Yes, it has.

Bob: And not just any kiss, but you actually time your kisses.

Steven:  The eight-second kiss.

Mary Beth:  It's called the "eight-second kiss".

Steven:  The idea of an eight-second kiss—it doesn't actually have to be timed—but the idea is it's not just a quick peck on the cheek on your way out the door—but it is a kiss, you know, that tells the kids, "Boy!  Mom and Dad are—it's kind of gross, but they actually love each other.  [Laughter]  They actually kind of diggin' on each other right now.  I'm a little uncomfortable with it, but I'm also really thankful to know that.”

It's just been one of those fun but important things for them to see—us just being intimate—and have that security of knowing, "Boy!  My mom and dad are—this isn't just something—they're enduring each other because they have to, but they really seem to be enjoying this."

Bob: Mary Beth, you've told your daughter, Emily, on particular evenings, "Don't come knocking on our door."

Steven:  This is a parental—this may—do we need to put some kind of a little parental guidance on this?

Mary Beth:  I have.

Bob: You don't mind letting her know that Mom and Dad are going to be having a little private time tonight?

Mary Beth:  Yes, I don't mind that.  I am just—again, don't know where this came from—but I'm just a huge advocate in, obviously, communicating with my children about everything; but, in particular, modeling the type of dating, and marriage, and intimate relationship.  They need to know that, in their mind, “It is Mom and Dad.”  I want them to model that relationship after Mom and Dad, not what they see on television, or see on the movie previews, or whatever. 

He gets a little blushed sometimes—maybe I go over the line a little bit in what I say, but I think it's making for a very healthy daughter.  I think she might act embarrassed or get "Grossed out," —she says—but I think she just really appreciates our candidness—my candidness.

Dennis:  Better to hear about her parents having a little private time—within the context of a commitment over a lifetime—than to view it on television, movies, hear the songs that are sung about it on the radio—one-night stands that are not a picture of what God designed marriage to be.

Mary Beth:  Right; right.  Unfortunately, the argument that can be had in our household—as any married couple well knows—those can come quick and out of nowhere.  The accelerator gets pushed and, all of a sudden, you're in the middle of an argument; and the kids are seeing it.  They're standing there, and they're watching you.  They see that.  So, if that's all they see—they see that passion, on the negative side.  We need to be more intentional about showing them the passion, on the good side of that.

Bob:  —which is what has led you guys to this practice of a passionate eight-second kiss, in front of the kids.

Steven:  Yes.

Bob:  And not only kissing in front of them, but writing and singing songs about kissing; right?

Steven:  Steven Curtis Chapman singing kissing songs!

Mary Beth:  Kissing me!

Bob: Well, why not?  You know, first date—he's all over her.

Steven:  Oh, fine!  Wow!  See where they go with this?  See how they treat me here?  Wow!  Okay.

[Steven sings With Every Little Kiss—Remembers, with every little kiss, how wonderful it is to be in love]

Bob:  How was that; huh?!  I like that!

Dennis:  And it all started on the first date.

Steven:  And it all started on the first date, after two weeks of spending a lot of time together—getting really close, and lots of prayer.

Bob:  Lots of prayer—and, of course, at this point, to be pro-kissing—nothing wrong with being pro-kissing, at all.  In fact, Steven is going to be joining us onboard the Love Like You Mean It™ marriage cruise, Valentine’s Week, February 11th through the 15th.  We’re headed to Key West and Cozumel, leaving out of Miami.  Kari Jobe is going to be joining us.  We have a great speaker team:  Voddie Baucham, Priscilla Shirer, Dr. Eric Mason is going to be along with us.  Ron Deal is coming.  It’s going to be a great event.

I was checking with the team.  We have really just a handful of cabins still available.  I said, “Well, let’s do something to try to get this thing filled up before the end of the month.”  What they’ve agreed to do, in honor of Steven being on FamilyLife Today and the fact that he’s joining us on the cruise—if you contact us—go to FamilyLifeToday.com and click on the logo there for the Love Like You Mean It cruise, or call 1-800-FL-TODAY—let us know that you’re interested in going on the Love Like You Mean It cruise.  Use my name—use “BOB” as the promo code.  If you do that, for the next seven days, they’re offering a $400 discount on the stateroom.  The two of you get a little bonus if you sign up between now and next Friday. 

Again, go to FamilyLifeToday.com.  Click on the Love Like You Mean It cruise link; or call 1-800-FL-TODAY.  Mention my name—say, “Bob sent me.”  You’ll be in line for this special offer for the Love Like You Mean It marriage cruise.  We’d love to have you join us, again, February 11th through the 15th.  Again, get more information, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or call us at 1-800-FL-TODAY.

And with that, we have to wrap things up for today.  Thanks for being with us.  Hope you have a great weekend.  Hope you and your family can worship together this weekend.  And I hope you can join us back on Monday when author and pastor, Max Lucado, is going to be here.  We’re going to talk about grace.  He’s got a new book out on that subject.  We’re just going to talk about the goodness of God’s grace and how that applies in marriages and families.   I hope you can tune in for that.

I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, and our entire broadcast production team.  On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I'm Bob Lepine.  We will see you back Monday for another edition of FamilyLife Today

Steven:  [Singing With Every Little Kiss—about continuing to be drawn to his wife, in love, over the years]

 

FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas. 

Help for today.  Hope for tomorrow.

©Title:      Still Listening

 Artist:     Steven Curtis Chapman

 Album:   Heaven in the Real World ℗ 1994 Sparrow Records

 ©Title:     Savior

 Artist:     Steven Curtis Chapman

 Album:   Declaration ℗ 2001 Sparrow Records

 ©Title:     With Every Little Kiss

 Artist:      Steven Curtis Chapman

 Album:    All About Love ℗ 2003 Sparrow

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