Two are better than one, especially when it comes to prayer. Dennis and Barbara Rainey, authors of "Two Hearts Praying as One," talk with Brett and Carrie Chaffer about the benefits of praying together as a couple.
Two are better than one, especially when it comes to prayer. Dennis and Barbara Rainey, authors of "Two Hearts Praying as One," talk with Brett and Carrie Chaffer about the benefits of praying together as a couple.
Bob: Hey, it’s Bob Lepine from FamilyLife Today. Just before we start our conversation today on the subject of prayer with Dennis and Barbara Rainey, today is Day Two of our 30-Day Oneness Prayer Challenge, here on FamilyLife Today. We’re encouraging listeners to pray together each day.
You can still sign up to receive a prayer prompt from us every day, via email, or text message, or on the My FamilyLife® app. We’ll coach you on what you can pray about each day. In fact, today, we are encouraging listeners to thank God for your differences in your marriage. Husbands can pray, thanking God for your wife’s strengths and how you benefit from her strengths in your marriage. A wife can pray, asking God to give you both gratitude and understanding, especially when your differences create tension in your marriage relationship.
So, again, if you would like to sign up to be part of the 30-Day Oneness Prayer Challenge, go to FamilyLifeToday.com and sign up to receive the email or the text message for your prayer prompt each day.
Let me also mention—while you are on our website, you can find out more about the Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway. This week and next week, we are offering FamilyLife Today listeners an opportunity to attend one of our upcoming getaways at a reduced rate. When you and your spouse sign up today for an upcoming fall getaway, you pay the regular rate for yourself and your spouse comes free. So, it’s a buy one/get one free offer. It’s good this week and next week for a FamilyLife Weekend to Remember marriage getaway. This is our two-and-a-half day event for couples, designed to provide practical biblical help for your marriage and family in a fun and relaxing environment. Find out more about the special buy one/get one free offer when you go to FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the link in the upper left-hand corner of the screen that says, “GO DEEPER.”
Now, this week, we’re listening in on a conversation that I had with Dennis and Barbara Rainey and with a number of other folks who joined us to talk about how important prayer is in a marriage relationship.
Bob: This is one of those pound-the-table issues for you. Really, throughout your marriage and throughout your ministry, you have been challenging people to the daily discipline of prayer, as a couple.
Dennis: I have—and have probably had several thousand men and women take me up on my challenge. As a result, many of them have written back and told me that no spiritual discipline like daily prayer together has changed the course of their marriage and family. And prayer, at its very core, Bob, is an expression of faith—because faith believes that God is. That's what Hebrews, Chapter 11, teaches.
As a boy, I remember going and visiting my Grandma and Grandpa Ray—
—O.T. and Bertha. They had a cistern that they would catch rain water in, and then a bucket that could be lowered into that cistern to get water. Later on, they got a little more modernized and had—
Bob: Had a pump?
Dennis: —a little hand pump; but it wasn't electric.
Bob: Oh, yes, a hand pump—right.
Dennis: It was a hand pump; but for years, they lowered a bucket into that well to get the water out of that well. And I think what faith is to prayer is what that bucket is to the well. You have to lower the bucket down into the well to get the water. If you lower a small bucket, you're going to get a small amount of water. If you lower a big bucket, the chances and opportunity you have to pull up a sizeable quantity of refreshing water are greater.
And I think what God calls us to is to begin to exercise our faith where we are; and maybe, we start with a small bucket.
We begin to pray and ask God for small things—we lower our bucket into the well, and God begins to meet those needs. As we grow, what Barbara and I have learned is the size of our faith increases because we get to know God. As a result of knowing Him, we learn to trust Him for bigger and bigger things—and exercise that muscle increasingly. That's really what we're calling couples to do—is to take their bucket and begin to express faith—and begin to pray together every day.
Bob: Barbara, you've talked with enough women through the years to know that this is a longing on the heart of many women. There are a lot of women who wish they were praying more often / more regularly with their husbands. And as we speculated earlier this week, it is the women who have the greater desire and the women who feel less intimidated by prayer. Yet, you encouraged women to be faithful—to pray, to persist, and to be a spiritual encouragement to their husbands in this area.
Barbara: Yes, I think women are more naturally-bent toward relationship. That is going to hold true in a relationship with God just as it does in a relationship with people. We have a greater capacity for that and a greater longing for that. So, I think wives need to be persistent and need to continue to encourage that in their marriages and pray for that in their marriage relationship. They shouldn't give up and say, "Well, this just isn't going to happen for me"; but I think wives need to stay after it.
Dennis: And if they do, I think they'll discover many benefits of praying together. What I wanted to do on today's broadcast is just share a number of benefits or reasons why couples should pray together. This first one is really the most important—if you pray together, you'll discover God—you'll experience Him, and you'll find out what His purpose is in your life and your marriage.
I love a billboard that was, I think, down in Houston that read:
"Loved the wedding. Invite Me to the marriage." It was signed, "God." And I think what God wants to do is—He wants to, not only be invited to our wedding ceremony and celebration, but He wants to engage us on a day-in and day-out basis in our marriages. And if we do that by praying together, I think we can begin to see our lives change.
And sometimes, when a couple gets married, one person may be very open to God—as Barbara was talking about—and the other person may come from more of a structured / more of a tradition-oriented religious background, and they may not feel comfortable praying together. But we've learned, over a lifetime—if they'll begin to exercise prayer together, as a couple, those traditions begin to meld two hearts together into one.
And as we mentioned earlier this week, Bob, I sent out a little email to several thousand of our email subscribers.
Bob: Just a little email.
Dennis: Yes, just a little email—about 100,000 or so—and asked them if they would share with me stories of how they have prayed together, as a couple, and the difference it had made in their lives, their marriages, and their families. And I received one from a couple from Grand Rapids, Michigan. Brett Chaffer, along with his wife Carrie, join us on FamilyLife Today. Brett, Carrie—
[Phone Interview with Brett and Carrie]
Brett: Thank you.
Dennis: It's good to have you. Say, “Hi,” to Barbara—
Brett: Hi, Barbara.
Carrie: Hi, Barbara.
Barbara: Hey, how are you?
Bob: I'm here too. [Laughter]
Dennis: —and Bob Lepine.
Carrie: Hi, Bob.
Bob: Let me start off by asking you guys—when you got married, did prayer immediately become a part of your relationship?
Brett: Yes, I think it did—though it has grown considerably over the years. Praying aloud and together—it was always a part of Carrie's life, growing up in her family; and it was very important to her that we take that up right away.
Dennis: But it was not so with you; was it, Brett?
Brett: Well, no.
We were both Christians, but I grew up in a very traditional Lutheran family. Any kind of freeform, unstructured, unscripted prayer was fairly foreign to me—and especially praying out loud—that was new. Praying was something you did silently and alone.
Bob: And, Carrie, did you see your parents pray together? Did you pray together, as a family, growing up?
Carrie: Oh, yes. That was something that was instilled in me when I was just little. Praying with the family was very normal—before meals, before bedtime—prayer has always been an everyday occurrence for me.
Bob: You had to know, when you started dating Brett, that it was different for him—right?
Carrie: Oh, yes. He was very solid in what he believed / I was very solid in what I believed, and somehow we had to make that come together. And the praying part of it was just night and day. I'm not one to back down from a challenge, particularly. So, just slowly, through example and kind of pressing the subject a little bit—
Dennis: I've got to stop you there because, in the email that Brett wrote me, he felt more than just a little pressed by you. [Laughter] He said it was your "bulldog determination" that stayed after him that ultimately resulted in him learning how to have a relationship with Jesus Christ.
Brett: Subtlety is not her lot. [Laughter]
Bob: Brett, let me ask you about that because—I mean, here is the girl you're dating and she's going—what was she doing? Was she saying, "Come on, pray, buddy!" or what?
Brett: While we were dating, there were a number of occasions—especially when we were with her family—she expected me to pray out loud with their family. I did my best—I was so nervous / it felt really awkward. I clearly remember—on our wedding night, though, her expectation that we spend a fair amount of time praying together. And I guess I'm a pretty quick study—
—I learned right away: “This is how it's going to be.” [Laughter]
Barbara: “You better get with the program”; huh?
Brett: “Get with the program,”—exactly.
Dennis: And so, do you remember that time of prayer on the wedding night, then?
Brett: Yes, I certainly do. I don't remember specifically what we prayed that night, but that type of vulnerability before Carrie and before God was new.
Dennis: What was so threatening about it, Brett? You wrote, in different ways in your email, to me that it was a shock—it was difficult / it was hard—there were old habits to break. Was it just the switching of tradition?
Brett: Well, it was new and uncomfortable, I think, just because it had never been practiced. I'd heard Carrie and her family and some others that we knew pray beautiful extemporaneous prayers. I didn't feel in any way equipped to do that; but I think, really, what it was exposing in me was the fact that I’d never really talked to God / never really talked to Christ.
The faith that I had, growing up in my church as a child and a young man, was really based on doctrinal minutiae—not based on relationship at all. We would pray memorized prayers—the Lord's Prayer and others.
I think there is some place for that—very different than any kind of conversational relationship-based prayer. And so, I think part of what made it uncomfortable was—you are right—I was trying to converse with Someone new / Someone that I really hadn't met.
Dennis: I'm going to ask both of you to comment on this. First of all, Carrie, I'd like you to: “What would you say to a woman, who is married to a man who may be like Brett—who doesn't feel comfortable—doesn't know how to talk with God and feels like the whole thing of prayer is a big threatening issue in his life?”
Carrie: First and foremost, I would just pray. I would pray to God about him, about that relationship, about prayer. I think that's the number one thing we can do for anything—is to pray about it. It may not be with him—it just may be God and me—but just to pray about it. I know that prayer works. I did that for a long period of time, and I know it works.
Second is to not give up—and just to be an example—try and include him, and ask him to pray occasionally, and just draw him in—but not be a nag. Make sure he knows that “This is definitely a part of my life,” and it’s something that is not going away. Through prayer with me and God and prayer with my husband, I would just expect changes.
Bob: Let me ask you, Brett, about that: “Did you ever feel like Carrie was nagging you?” Did you ever feel like, "She's going to be really mad if I pray a stupid prayer again tonight"?
Brett: Well, I knew that she had specific and fairly-high expectations. I guess—advice I would give along those lines is—don't lower those expectations. I think that, oftentimes, God puts wives in our lives that are particularly well-equipped to shine a light on areas of our lives that need attention.
Dennis: I agree with that, by the way. [Laughter]
Bob: I can add my "amen" to that as well. And I think what you're pointing out is something really significant here. Carrie was not—she wasn’t prodding you about something that was some selfish impulse. It wasn't something that she wanted you to do because it would benefit her. She was trying to nudge you to grow in your own relationship with Christ.
Brett: Yes, that's certainly true.
Bob: And there's nothing wrong with a wife nudging her husband to grow in his relationship with Christ—as Barbara Rainey has done with her husband Dennis and as Mary Ann Lepine has done with her husband Bob. So, we're all in the same boat.
Dennis, you've said many times that one of the reasons God gives us wives is to finish the process of growing us up.
Dennis: Yes. As I read Brett's email to me—just reading about Carrie—because most of the email was really about her persistence—I think that any kind of persistence has, many times, been tagged "nagging." There is a way to be persistent and not be a negative nag. I want to know how you did that, though, Carrie.
Carrie: Well, I guess I'd have to just go back to the prayer. I just prayed about it a lot and prayed that God would give me patience, and the correct attitude, and to not be perceived that way—
—for it to be a positive influence—not a nagging influence. And that just all comes through God in prayer.
Bob: Well, I'm guessing, Brett, that at the same time that Carrie was encouraging you to articulate your prayers / to speak up—I'm guessing that she still showed love and respect for you. She didn't downgrade you because you weren't performing the way she wanted you to perform.
Brett: That's certainly true. She was patient, as she was in a lot of areas of growth for me. I didn't put up a lot of struggle here. We were both on the same page in terms of knowing this was important to our spiritual life. She wasn't exactly dragging me, kicking and screaming; but, again, if she hadn't been persistent, I would have been very comfortable continuing in my old ways. I would have missed out on a lot of spiritual maturation.
Dennis: I love the way you conclude your email to me. You're speaking of yourself, Brett, when you wrote me—you said, "Today, I am still, in many respects, a husband in need of being fixed up; but Carrie has grown attached to me, much like you might an old house.
“She doesn't seem to mind the ongoing husband-improvement projects; and for this, I love her very much."
So, Carrie—good job on fixing up your husband. [Laughter] It sounds like you've done a good job with the improvements there; and I pray that God will continue to use you guys to impact many, many families there in the Grand Rapids area.
Brett: Thanks very much, Dennis.
Carrie: Thanks so much.
Bob: Great to talk to you both.
Carrie: God bless.
Brett: Thank you, Bob.
Brett: Take care.
[End of Phone Interview]
Bob: That's a great picture of what you describe, Dennis, as one of the benefits of praying together, as a couple: You not only grow closer together but, together, you grow closer to God. That's just a great picture.
Dennis: And the picture we just heard here is how God used a woman to really draw a man's heart into a more—well—an interpersonal relationship with the Lord God Almighty.
And this first benefit for praying together, as a couple, is really important. Acts 17:27 is a portion of Paul's sermon on Mars Hill. He talks about how men are seeking God if they grope for Him and possibly find Him. The reason, he says, is because "God is near,"—God is near.
You know, God is near every married couple. They just need to bow their necks, to bend their hearts, to bend their knees, and to say to Him, "Lord God, would You come into our marriage and begin to transform our lives, through the Lord Jesus Christ and through Your Scriptures, and begin to make us into the couple You want us to be?"
Bob: As you look back over years, as a couple of praying together, what do you think have been the primary benefits the two of you have experienced?
Barbara: Well, I think one of them is that, for us, it's a daily submitting our lives to Christ.
It reminds us, on a daily basis, who we belong to, who is really in control of our lives—and who is in charge of everything anyway—because so often we get troubled by all that's going on in the world and going on in our lives.
But at the end of the day, when Dennis and I come together, we resubmit our lives to the Lord; and we say: "Lord, thank You that You're in control. Thank You that You are in charge. We trust You with what's happening in our lives,"—and we often ask for wisdom. It’s one of the prayers we pray most often, I would say. But, again, it's a daily reminder of who is in control and who is in charge. It keeps us focused on God / keeps us focused on Christ as the authority in our lives and in our marriage.
Bob: And it's healthy, in a marriage relationship, to remember that ultimately neither one of you is fully in charge; right?
Dennis: Oh, I think that's the key to making a great marriage / a godly marriage. I think the hope of two selfish people is that they can both surrender to One who knows what He's doing—that's Jesus Christ.
And if prayer has done anything for us, on a daily basis, it has been a regular reminder that both Barbara and I are to surrender our lives, anew and afresh, and to recognize His absolute claims over our lives—that I don't have any rights—that He is my Master and I am the bondslave / and that I may be holding onto my rights; but perhaps, it's time I opened my hands.
Bob: Is there one other thing, Barbara, you'd point to / that you'd say: “This has been, maybe, a profound benefit for us in praying together”?
Barbara: Well, another thing that I think of, too, automatically, is that it causes us, every day, to thank God for what He's doing too. It gives us an opportunity to obey the command in Scripture that says to give thanks in all things. Now, we may not always, every night, make a list of everything; but we do, on a pretty regular basis, say: "Thank You, God, for what You are doing in our lives. Thank You for the circumstances of our lives.
“Thank You for what You have done." We often say, "Thank You for how You have been involved in our lives and how You've blessed us," because, when you pull back and look at what God has done, we have so much to be grateful for.
Dennis: All of what we've talked about here today really goes back to: “Whose will is going to be done? Is it going to be my will, Barbara's will, or God's will?” Now, there could be a struggle between those three wills; and I love what C.S. Lewis writes about this struggle. He said there are two kinds of people—those who say to God, "Thy will be done;" and those to whom God says, "Alright, then; have it your way."
I think God does let us have it our way, and that way is going to turn to dust—it's going to be foolishness / it's not going to work. That's a part of what He's trying to do—He's trying to get our attention to say: "Look, I long for a relationship with you. I want that through prayer.
“I want that through the Scriptures. I want that through you engaging in a local church."
But I'll tell you, Bob, I think for many, many couples, the first place they need to start, as a couple, in order to really grow spiritually is to begin to pray together every day.
Bob: There is a passage in Philippians, Chapter 2—that we don't always think of in the context of marriage—but it really fits with the book you've written. It begins by saying: “If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, any comfort from His love, any fellowship with the Spirit, any tenderness and compassion, make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in Spirit and purpose,”—two hearts praying together as one.
Dennis: And how else are two hearts / two selfish, deeply—well, I hate to use the word "depraved,"—
Barbara: But it’s the right word.
Dennis: It's the right word—two hearts that are depraved—how are those two hearts going to become one?
We’re going to set up a war against one another if we do not settle the issue of ultimate surrender to Jesus Christ.
Bob: Well, again, we’ve been listening today to a conversation with Dennis and Barbara Rainey about praying together in marriage. We, also, again, want to thank Brett and Carrie Chaffer joining us to talk about their experience praying together.
And we’d love to hear from you—especially if you are taking part in FamilyLife’s 30-Day Prayer Challenge. As you go through the next four weeks with us—praying together, using the prayer prompts that we are sending out via text or email each day—we’d love to hear from you about how God is at work in your marriage and in your family through this discipline of praying together.
And if you’re not signed up yet for the 30-Day Prayer Challenge, there is still time. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the link in the upper left-hand corner of the screen that says, “GO DEEPER.” Look for information about the 30-Day Oneness Prayer Challenge.
You will also find information on our website about Dennis and Barbara Rainey’s book, Two Hearts Praying as One. You can order that from us, here online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY to order.
Finally, I want to remind you about the upcoming season of FamilyLife’s Weekend to Remember marriage getaways. If you have never been to one of our getaways—spend a weekend learning more about what it means to have a marriage according to God’s design—we’d love to have you join us for two-and-a-half days of a fun, romantic, relaxing getaway for couples. Find out more at FamilyLifeToday.com, or call 1-800-FL-TODAY.
And if you sign up this week or next week for one of these upcoming getaways, you can take advantage of a special offer we are making. You can pay the regular rate for yourself, and your spouse comes free. So, it’s a buy one/get one free opportunity—the best price we offer all year on the Weekend to Remember—
—but we need to hear from you soon if you’d like to take advantage of this special offer. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com. Click where it says, “GO DEEPER,” in the upper left-hand corner of the screen; or call 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY.”
Now, tomorrow, we want to talk about how it is that God uses prayer to draw us together / closer together in our marriage relationship. I hope you can join us for that conversation.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch—a special thanks to Mark Ramey for his assistance on today’s program. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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