FamilyLife Today®

Prayer–A Man’s Battlefield: Brian Goins, Ed Uszynski, and Darrin Mabuni

with Brian Goins, Darrin Mabuni, Ed Uszynski | February 7, 2024
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Why is prayer important? Because prayer is a battlefield. Brian Goins, Ed Uszynski, and Darrin Mabuni discuss the roles of praying as a husband and how prayer can be intimidating for men. Discover mind-blowing ways to make prayer a superpower in your marriage and everyday life. Brian, Ed, Darrin, and host Dave Wilson are contributors to FamilyLife's all-new Art of Marriage group study! To learn more or order your copy, visit artofmarriage.com.

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  • About the Guest

Why is prayer important? It’s a battlefield! Brian Goins, Ed Uszynski, and Darrin Mabuni discuss prayer roles as a husband and ways to make it a superpower in marriage and daily life.

Prayer–A Man’s Battlefield: Brian Goins, Ed Uszynski, and Darrin Mabuni

With Brian Goins, Darrin Mabuni, ...more
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February 07, 2024
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Brian: We tend to want to go right to the titles, or right to the roles, like, “Let’s talk about men’s roles. They need to be leaders in the home, and they need to be head of the household.” We throw these terms around that are biblical. It talks about headship and all that type of thing, but when you start with, “Love as Jesus loved,” it has very little to do with dominance [or] priority. It’s all about, “What was that model?”

Shelby: Welcome to FamilyLife Today, where we want to help you pursue the relationships that matter most. I’m Shelby Abbott, and your hosts are Dave and Ann Wilson. You can find us at FamilyLifeToday.com.

Dave: This is FamilyLife Today!

Dave: Alright, it is man’s day on FamilyLife Today. I don’t know if I’ve ever had a men’s panel sitting around the studio on FamilyLife Today in my history, and I’ve been here for like 50 years, so I don’t know—

[Laughter]

Brian: This is Dave’s Den.

Dave: Dave’s Den. This is Dave’s Den, Dave’s Lions Den. I have three lion men in here.

Ed: It’s exciting.

Dave: Okay, we have Brian Goins, Ed Uszynski, and Darrin Mabuni in the studio. You tell our listeners: what do you guys do? I know you and Ed hang out in hotel rooms. [Laughter]

Brian: It’s just gotten dark really quick.

Ed: It’s a creepy way to start.

Dave: Well, tell them what I mean by that. [Laughter]

Brian: There are a lot of different directions we could go, but basically, Ed and I have been working together pretty tightly in terms of helping to revamp Weekend to Remember®. You guys are all on the team, and so it’s been great to do that and to see how we’ve been able to restructure it and reimagine it for future generations. If you haven’t been, I definitely encourage you to go, especially if it’s been a while. It’s worth checking [it] out again. It’s not your parents’ conference anymore, let’s just say that.

Dave: Yes.

Brian: We really had a great time doing that, and then, for some reason, they said, “Well, since you reimagined that, how about reimagining this series, the most popular series ever that FamilyLife has done.”

Ed: Yes, that’s not been intimidating, right?

Dave: Of course you’re talking about the Art of Marriage.

Brian: The Art of Marriage.

Dave: So, when I say you’re in hotel rooms, you’ve been traveling the country interviewing couples, and men and women, and, again, that means you’re getting a hotel room and spending time there. Tell our listeners what we’re doing here.

Brian: We’re working closely with RightNow Media. They’ve been partnering with us to make this six-part series on marriage, which was a flagship resource from 2010; in 2011, it came out. Millions of people have seen it, right? People are familiar with the Art of Marriage classic(now we’re calling it). But again, they just wanted us to freshen it up, maybe see if we could take that same source material and reimagine it, is the word we keep using.

I think we’re running out of imagination. [Laughter]

Ed: That’s right.

Brian: We’ve used up about all we have. We’ve been working the last two years pretty intensely on that and are super excited about what it is right now, and hoping it’s going to help people have conversations about marriage they most need to have.

Dave: Yes. We’re going to discuss some of the things that actually are in the Art of Marriage, right?

Everyone: Yes.

Dave: Man stuff.

Ed: Yes.

Dave: Darrin, what do you do?

Darrin: What I’m doing now is working with FamilyLife Expansion. When I heard that FamilyLife was reaching the masses, but that we want to go from “the many to the every,” I got excited.

Dave: Explain that, “the many to the every.”

Darrin: We’ve done the radio program, we’ve done materials, we’ve done resources, and done a great job at it. But when I started hearing FamilyLife Local, on the ground, reaching out to people in their homes where they [are], I got excited.

Brian: Yes.

Darrin: So, I made the switch because I wanted to be a part of that.

Ed: Right in the community, right?

Brian: Darrin’s really on the front end of helping to equip people to be FamilyLife where they are, so it’s not like—

Dave: —yes, what we call guides.

Brian: Guides, yes, just people that are helping to guide others towards Jesus, towards oneness, so it’s not dependent upon things that happen here in Orlando.

Darrin: Yes.

Dave: So, obviously the Art of Marriage is a tool for guides. Hopefully, guides are going to share this with (like the last one) millions. We’re in a group; sitting here are four men in a room, and there are men listening.

Ed: That’s right.

Dave: One of the things we know, as all four of us are husbands, and we’re all four dads. I’m the only grandfather.

Everyone: So far.

Dave: Yes. So, when I walk into church and I talk to men, and I mention our call as husbands, most men in the church know this passage. I’m going to read it to you. It’s Ephesians 5:25. It says, “Husbands, love your wives just as Christ loved the church and gave Himself up for her, to make her holy, cleansing her by the washing with water through the Word, and to present her to Himself as a radiant church without stain or wrinkle or any other blemish, but holy and blameless.”

And you know, there’s more, but let’s just talk about the first part: “Love your wives as Christ loved the church.” How do you guys do that?

Brian: Unfortunately, Dave, I think when people hear—I heard somebody say this before. We tend to want to go right to the titles or right to the roles, like, “Let’s talk about men’s roles. They need to be leaders in the home and they need to be head of the household.” We throw these terms around that are biblical. It talks about headship and all that type of thing, but when you start with, “Love as Jesus loved,” it has very little to do with dominance [or] priority. It’s all about, “What does that model look like?”

You have to go back to, “What’s your poster on your wall for what does it look like to be a husband?” And if you don’t start with Jesus and you start with, “My idea of what headship looks like,” or “My idea of being the man of the house looks like,” then you miss it. You tend to end up becoming a pretty dangerous man.

Ed: Immediately you think, “How did Jesus love the church?” Again, He died. So, you don’t really even need to read anything beyond that to have the bar set pretty high. I die first to serve her, to study her, to create an environment where she can flourish instead of just trying to have a “me” marriage, where I get all [of] whatever my needs are or my desires are. That becomes secondary if I’m doing it right.

Darrin: I like what you’re saying, but I think we tend to take it a little differently as men, because we look at Jesus dying, and think, “I’ll die for my wife.” One time I’ll die. I’ll put it all on the line. I will do that for my wife, my kids, my family, everybody. But will I really live for her day to day? And that’s what you’re talking about: dying to self, day to day. And that’s the harder part, because we take the end of the gospel when Jesus died, and we forget Jesus living for us, and living for them. So, that’s, I think, the bigger challenge.

Brian: Yes.

Dave: Yes. Later in the passage, he uses two words, “cherish” and “nourish” your wife. I don’t know if you’ve ever done this, but years ago I looked up the definition of cherish, because I think love often in our culture is just—what’s it mean? “I love Jesus, I love burgers.” Cherish—I looked it up; do you know what it means? It means “attach high value” and it means “pricey.” If you cherish something, it’s valuable and it’s pricey, and you spend money on it.

Brian: That’s good.

Dave: I thought—you guys tell me if you feel the same way: men are good at cherishing stuff. I do. I cherish a car, a set of golf clubs.

Brian: Your motorcycle.

Dave: My motorcycle. I have several guitars. Here’s the joke in our home. I literally have a room that has four or five guitars hanging on the wall—electric, and there are more in the closet, and that room used to be a bedroom. It is the most humidified room in the house. [Laughter] I have a humidifier in there because they’re wood, right? And we’re in Michigan, so you know, being in Ohio, it gets dry.

Ed: Right.

Dave: So, this humidifier is on my phone. I know the humidity in that room any second on my phone, and I take care of it. My wife said to me one time—we’re literally getting into bed, and she said, “My nose is so dry at night. Can we not have a humidifier?” She’s saying, “Would you humidify me?” It was like, I cherish the guitars. She often hasn’t felt cherished. I don’t know if you guys are like me, but we cherish other things, and sometimes we don’t cherish the most important person in our life.

Ed: Well, I wonder where it goes, because I think it’s true that when we get married, I think most guys would say that they cherish this woman that they’re about to marry, that they place a super-high value; they’re ready to leave everything behind to be with her. But then somehow that seems to fade over time, right? And it’s much easier to get more enamored with a guitar than it is this person that God has given me to create an environment for so that she flourishes. I just don’t think about that anymore. So, yes, what happens to that? Where does that go over time?

Brian:  I think a lot of it, too, is there was something about that goal of getting married, where you didn’t have to tell me to cherish Jen.

Dave: All the time.

Brian: But once we get married and that newness—in fact neurologists will talk about love drugs and how you’re enamored. You have these endorphins that are released in your brain that last for about 36 months. There’s just something about that person that draws you, too. So, depending on how long your engagement was, dating was, and your early marriage, those can wear off.

Ed: Okay.

Brian: And then you’re just left with, “Well, where do I really get my energy from?” For most men, we get our energy from other things other than our wife, than getting to this goal of marriage. So, whether that’s work, whether that’s sports, hobbies, collectibles, whatever it might be, there’s some value that we feel comes back to us. If I feel value from those things, I’ll put more value into them. Unfortunately, we kind of take that person for granted over time. I know I’ve done that with Jen, and it’s easy to do.

Dave: Are there times in your marriage where you feel like you’ve cherished her? I mean she said, “I feel loved. I feel cherished?” And if there are, what are you doing? What does that look like?

Brian: Even just saying it like that, I think men have to stop guessing, “When does our wife feel cherished?” and just ask.

Dave: Right.

Brian: Like, “Jen, when do you feel most cherished by me?” I’ll tell you what she’ll say: when I pray with her, which I did not do for 23 years of our 27 years of marriage. We pray before dinner. I knew I should pray with her, knew that she wanted to be prayed with, but to lead in that way, I felt so intimidated, so insecure. I just wouldn’t do it; and yet, I knew she wanted it. When I pray with Jen she feels cherished. She feels like I’m humbling myself before God with her.

I didn’t mean that there weren’t times when we prayed. Our teenagers were going their own crazy, stupid ways, and yes, that will drive you to your knees. So, there were definitely times, moments, but consistently going, “Let’s pray together.” I heard you on the radio speaking, [and] I’ve heard Dennis Rainey say, “The best thing I ever did for my wife was pray every night.” I felt so intimidated by that.

Dave: Really?

Brian: I felt like a failure.

Dave: Do you guys find the same thing? Because when Brian said that, I know for my wife, she loves when we pray together.

Ed: Yes.

Brian: Yes.

Dave: I try to do it every single day, and it isn’t just because I want to cherish her. I want it to be an overflow of my own walk with God. I don’t know if that’s true for every wife, but I think it is for most Christian women. They’re leaning their heads right now saying, “Honey, listen to this. Would you please do that with me?” Is it true for you guys?

Darrin: I agree. Viv loves that. When we pray together, she is a lot more open to me, just in general. I think a lot of times prayer, because it’s so intimate, becomes challenging for men.

Dave: It’s almost scary.

Darrin: It is, because I wasn’t taught to really get in touch with a lot of my feelings when I was growing up, so when we talk about feelings, all the guys kind of shut off, like “Oh, feelings.” [Laughter] Where do I go when it comes to feelings? I go immediately to my secondary emotion; that’s anger. Instead of being able—I don’t know how to deal with my feelings, so when we get places like this, when we talk about cherishing, valuing; things are easier than people.

Dave: That’s probably why.

Darrin: So, I know how to do certain things but then I have to, because my wife is not static; she’s dynamic, and so here we go. “I knew how to help you when you’re here in this one spot.” [Laughter] “But now what do I do, because you moved across the room?” And now I’m baffled, like, “Oh, wait. I think the game’s on.” So, I think it is intimidating.

I think it comes back even to me getting to know how I’m feeling, how I’m doing. And prayer actually helps because I’m doing something that’s spiritual. I’m talking to the Lord and talking with the Lord, but it’s also intimate, so it begins to tap into something in me, and there’s a connection with my wife, and now all of a sudden we are talking.

Dave: What’s the fear thing?

Ed: I don’t know man. It’s so weird.

Dave: Because I’ve experienced it. I’ve shared here before, and maybe you’ve heard me say it even at a Weekend to Remember. It’s easier for me to stand on a stage and pray fervently and lead strong to thousands of people than in a family room or a kitchen or even a bedroom with one woman that I’ve given my life to. I know this. She would love for me to pray right now, and I’m—

Brian: —feel lethargic, feel insecure.

Dave: Yes, or it is so intimate, it is sort of scary, so it’s easier to do the man thing rather than that. Have you guys experienced that? Because I know she lights up when I do the right thing, but sometimes it’s just hard.

Brian: I was thinking about two things: one, I think there’s something about it, and we hate to say it, but if we get real, when we’re in those moments there is something about performance for men that kicks in. You hate to say it.

Dave: You’re talking about the public.

Brian: Public, whether I’m preaching, whether I’m praying, or teaching, there’s something about, “I’m in front of people,” and I can’t divorce my motives, my fleshly motives and my spiritual motives. They’re in sync.

Dave: Yes.

Brian: When I’m alone or with my family, they know me, and they know that I’m—I’m not in front of anybody, it’s just me, my wife, and the Lord, and there’s a sense of, “Okay, what”—

Ed: —you’re exposed, man.

Brian: I’m exposed.

Dave: You feel naked.

Ed: It’s vulnerable.

Brian: You feel naked. Just even thinking about, for us, it was just being vulnerable enough to say, “I’m going to initiate, and I’m going to trust the Spirit in this moment.” That’s the beauty of the gospel. The beauty of the gospel is it’s not about what I’m doing and performing for God. It’s about how God wants to perform in me and through me in that moment that I don’t feel confident. When most men don’t feel confident about an area, we don’t move.

Dave: We freeze.

Brian: Yes, we freeze, and that’s when the Spirit is saying, “Okay, now follow Me. Follow Me in the freeze. Follow Me when you feel least able to do it, and I will give you the words to even do it.” Just really quickly, the enemy wants nothing more than to create distance between us and God, and us and our spouse. Prayer is the one thing that draws us both to God and to our spouse at one time.

Ed: Yes; good.

Brian: That’s the last thing the enemy wants, is more men praying with their wives.

Ed: So, it makes sense that it’d be a battleground, right?

Brian: Yes.

Ed: We shouldn’t be surprised by that. As you guys were talking I was just thinking, “When am I best at initiating prayer?” I think even the guys listening to this, we are all in some sense professional ministers, right? We’re vocational ministers where it becomes part of the expectation of our job. Most guys are not in roles like that. They’re businessmen, they’re teaching, they’re working construction or whatever, so prayer doesn’t naturally pop up in those environments, unless you’ve made that a part of who you are.

I’m at my best with Amy when I’m already in the habit of talking to God through the day, right? And I go through seasons where I’m doing that really well, and I go through seasons where I get quiet between me and God. So, no one’s going to make me take care of my own soul and make sure that I’m talking to Him. When I talk to Him as a way of being, it’s much easier then to incorporate, “Hey, let’s just talk to God together, Amy,” about this or that or whatever.

When I’m not in that habit or in that practice, it’s like trying to start working out, when you haven’t worked out in a long time. It’s hard to get going again; or trying to eat better, and you’ve been eating terrible for a long time. Man, there’s this transition time where it’s just going to hurt, but I have to do it if I want to get to this new place. I have to push through and say, “Okay, Amy, let’s pray. Let’s talk to God together.”

Dave: Let me ask you: on a scale of one to ten, where are you guys in this area, praying with your wife, right now? What would you say? Ten being “I’m doing really good, I’m great;” one bad.

Ed: I’m at a two or a three. Again, I didn’t know we were going to talk about this to this extent, but—

Brian: —yes, I’d be praying before.

Ed: —as I’m thinking about it at this moment, and how I’m rating myself—I rate myself in two ways: when I think we should pray, am I actually executing praying, or do I flee away from that, and am I making that just a regular thing that’s happening? I’m not doing that very well right now. The reason I’m giving myself a two or a three is only because most of the time when I think, “We should pray about this,” I’m making myself do it. Does that make sense?

Brian: Oh, yes.

Ed: When it crosses my mind I grab her hand and pray, or say, “Amy, let’s just talk to God for a second.”

Dave: Yes, seize that moment.

Ed: Yes, I’m saying “yes” to that more often than not, but we don’t have anything regular built in. It’s actually been bothering me a lot lately. Again, I don’t know why we’re camping on this right this minute. [Laughter]

Dave: That’s why.

Ed: Maybe that’s it. Let’s talk about something else.

Dave: Are you guys above a five, Darrin and Brian?

Darrin: I was going to say I was about a five or a six, maybe six; but even then, whenever you talk about prayer, I think, “I’m just a three.”

Brian: Why six, though? What are you doing good right now?

Darrin: We haven’t been doing this lately, but we go in seasons where we walk and we pray. It’s like walking every day, and we pray. In fact, just yesterday we talked about it. She said, “I miss walking and praying together.” I said, “I do, too.” So, it’s one of those things we like doing when we do it, and it’s become a normal thing, but then we get busy and stop doing it.

Brian: I think what you said—I would give myself probably, in this moment right now, I would say a five, just because the last week we were doing too many different things, ships passing in the night. I think what Darrin said is key. When I’m doing well—I never give myself a nine or a ten; I’m always hard on myself, I’m probably a six or seven.

But it’s when I create the context that forces me to do what I don’t feel like doing. Someone once said, “It’s easier to act your way into a new way of feeling, than to feel your way into a new kind of acting.” I never feel like praying. I rarely do, rarely do; but if I act my way into that feeling, the feelings follow.

Ed: Yes.

Brian: Giving yourself a context; “when we walk, we will pray.” For Jen and me, we bought two chairs, two recliners. The Lord just said, “Hey, why don’t you start praying? You know you’ve been needing to do this. You’ve been avoiding me; you’ve been avoiding her. Start using these chairs as”—it was kind of a pattern interrupt.

I said, “Seven o’clock, before the kids get moving and get going, let’s just pray before the day goes on.” She had a list of stuff, and we would just pray through that list. So having something tangible helped me. For most men, if we don’t have something tactile, and if we don’t have some plan, the old adage is, “If you fail to plan, you plan to fail.”

Dave: Yes.

Brian: So, I think having that context and creating that context gets my number up a little bit more.

Dave: You guys know this: it doesn’t matter what our number is. It only matters what she says our number is.

Everyone: Yes. [Laughter]

Brian: You should ask her how we’re doing.

Dave: Exactly. I do think—guys listening—ask your wife, because I would tell you right now, the reason I asked you guys is Ed, I think I’m where you are. I’m a one.

Ed: Why is that?

Dave: You guys know Ann. She’s a ten prayer warrior.

Brian: Yes, she is.

Dave: She is always, and I can’t tell you how many times—I think I’ve gotten lazy. It’s like you just said, Ed, I think, “We should pray right now,” and I don’t. I let that moment pass, and I’m just confessing right now. I need to step up in this area, not because it’s going to make her loved and cherished, although it will.

Brian: Right.

Dave: It’s a guarantee [that] it will. I’m not going to do it for that; but even if I wanted to love her, I should do it for that, just to say, “I want to love her.” So, step up. It’s almost like, “Dude, Dave Wilson, step up.” We talked about it. I can do it publicly, and it’s part of my job. I’m supposed to. I do it here on FamilyLife Today:“Let’s close in prayer.” But I need to love her in our kitchen.

Brian, I think you’re right. I would tell guys to figure out a way to do something tactile, whether it’s a chair or a spot—

Brian: —or a walk.

Dave: —or a prayer journal or something, or a walk. I guarantee your wife would love to go on a walk and pray.

Ed: Just on the way out the door, I was going to say, that’s such a practical—that’s probably, as I think about it for myself, I think about that more often than not, before I walk out this door, just turn to her, because I usually get up and leave before she does. Just turn to her and pray. It’s that simple.

Dave: Maybe just pray for her.

Ed: Yes, right, or the kids or the day or, “God, just bless us today.” Dave, you said this: “Help us.” It doesn’t have to be super flowery, and I don’t need to get overwhelmed at the thought that, “I don’t know if I’m going to be able to sustain this for the rest of my life.”

Brian and Darrin: Right.

Ed: And then I just don’t do anything. It’s like, you have today. Do the right thing today. Just take advantage of this day.

Dave: Think about this (I know you guys can see this vision): if men around the country, because of what we just talked about, start praying with their wives, it’s going to change their home. I don’t think we understand it as men. If that one thing happens because they listened to this, and they said, “We’re going to start praying together,” whether it’s every day or somewhat regularly, it will transform your marriage.

I think we, as men, think, “No, I have to do this and this and—” No, this one thing could change everything.

Brian: It really could. I’d just say, a lot of guys right now are probably feeling guilty.

Dave: Yes.

Brian: They’re probably feeling a sense of shame, and that’s the enemy. My one caveat, I think, is listen to Jesus say, “Follow Me. Follow Me into a place that I know you don’t feel comfortable, follow Me into a place that I know you don’t feel confident, and watch Me work.” If you fail tomorrow, [a] favorite verse on manhood is in Proverbs, where it says, “The righteous man falls down seven times, but he gets up.”

Ed: Get up.

Brian: Let’s just get up.

Ed: Try again. Try again.

Brian: Get up and follow Jesus.

Shelby: I’m Shelby Abbott, and you’ve been listening to Dave Wilson with Brian Goins, Ed Uszynski, and Darrin Mabuni on FamilyLife Today. It’s been a great conversation, and I’ve been super encouraged by it.

Around this season, we’re starting to think about the spring, and a lot of small groups start up in the spring, whether that be with a ministry you’re involved in or the church that you’re at. If your small group could use something a little bit more inspired, I think we can help with that.

If you’re looking for a study that’s connecting and thought-provoking, that has materials and discussions that make everyone want to scoot forward and lean in, with the kind of group conversation that leads to vulnerability, kind of like the vulnerability you heard in today’s men’s roundtable, the Art of Marriage is for you.

As soon as you press “play” on it, it generates a lot of deeper knowledge of God and a deeper knowledge of each other, because you’re getting vulnerable with one another. We’re going to talk about stuff that’s relatable, and has relatable stories, spoken word poetry; vulnerability, as I mentioned, man-on-the-street interviews, helpful input from marriage experts, and stuff just like you heard today.

If you’re interested, you can go to the show notes or ArtofMarriage.com to learn more and grab your leader kit today. We’re really excited to share the all-new Art of Marriage with you and hear stories of how it impacts your marriages.

If you know of anyone who needs to hear conversations like the one you heard today, would you share from wherever you get your podcast? And while you’re there, you could really help others learn more about FamilyLife Today by leaving us a review.

Tomorrow, the whole group is back again for the Art of Marriage men’s roundtable to talk about ways to love and cherish your wives spiritually. We could all use help with that, right men? That’s coming up tomorrow. We hope you’ll join us.

On behalf of Dave and Ann Wilson, I’m Shelby Abbott. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.

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