God inclines His ear to those who pray. Dennis and Barbara Rainey swap stories of answered prayer with Ed and Wendy Bjurstrom. Hear what God is doing in the lives of these couples.
God inclines His ear to those who pray. Dennis and Barbara Rainey swap stories of answered prayer with Ed and Wendy Bjurstrom. Hear what God is doing in the lives of these couples.
Bob: Hi, this is Bob Lepine from FamilyLife Today. As we are kicking off today’s program, it is Thursday, September 3rd. It’s the third day of our FamilyLife® Oneness Prayer Challenge, where we have a lot of couples joining us this month, praying every day for your marriage. If you are a part of that group, today’s prayer subject is grace. We are encouraging husbands and wives to thank God for grace in a marriage relationship, asking God to help both of you be grace-givers and to make your home a haven of peace—thank God for the grace you have received through Christ—and help you to be encouragers to one another, ready and eager to forgive one another when we mess up in marriage.
If you are not yet signed up for the 30-Day Oneness Prayer Challenge, you can still sign on and join with us for this month. We will send you a prompt every day, via text message, or email, or on your My FamilyLife app.
Find out more when you go to FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the link in the upper left-hand corner of the screen that says, “GO DEEPER,” and join us for 30 days of praying together, as a couple.
Speaking of joining us, we also want you to consider joining us at an upcoming FamilyLife Weekend to Remember®marriage getaway. We are going to be hosting about 30 of these events this fall in cities all across the country. If you sign up this week or next week, you can take advantage of a special offer we have going for FamilyLife Today listeners. You pay the regular rate for you to attend the getaway, and your spouse comes free. So, it’s a buy one/get one free opportunity. It’s good this week and next week only. Details are online at FamilyLifeToday.com. Again, click the link that says, “GO DEEPER,” in the upper left-hand corner of the screen to find out about the Weekend to Remember marriage getaway. Or call 1-800-FL-TODAY and ask about the getaway and how you can take advantage of the special buy one/get one free opportunity.
Now, let’s listen in to a conversation with Dennis and Barbara Rainey, where I was sharing with them a story I’d heard that illustrates for us how challenging prayer can be for married couples.
Bob: I don't remember who I heard sharing this story, but I could relate to it so much. It was a pastor, who talked about praying with his wife. He said: "We just made the commitment that we were going to be prayer warriors. We were going to pray together." He said, "I remember going in that first night and kneeling by the bed,"—and he said—"We just poured out our hearts to God.
“We just prayed long and hard about all of the burdens on our life." He said, "When we got done,"—he said—"I thought we had been praying probably for a half hour. I looked up, and it had been seven minutes that we'd been praying." [Laughter]
And I thought, "I can relate to that." There comes a point where you really have a heart to want to pray, and you do pray; but you run out of things to pray for unless you've got your prayer journal / you're organized. I'm just not one of those prayer journal / organized kinds of people.
Bob: I have to admit it right here.
Dennis: Well, and all this week, we've been attempting to give biblical advice—
Bob: —which is the same kind of advice you give in the book that the two of you have written—Two Hearts Praying as One is the title of the book. And I know one of the things that led to the release of this book has been your pattern, over the years, of challenging men, you have spoken to, to take a leadership role in this area—praying together, as a couple.
Dennis: You know, I've found that—regardless of the position in corporate America or whatever a man does in his work—all men are equally threatened by the subject of praying with their wives.
I mean, I'm not kidding you! I had one executive, one time, say, "Dennis, I can lead my company to multi-million-dollar profits; but to lead my family in prayer and seeing all those little beady eyes sitting around the dinner table, looking at me while I pray, it scares the daylights out of me."
And so, what we've done is—Barbara and I have put together a book, Two Hearts Praying as One—that has 30 very short chapters. Each chapter is about a page-and-a-half; and it contains 30 topics—the 30 things you need to pray about, as a couple. It teaches you how to pray—it teaches you what to pray about, it teaches you what to do if you quit praying, and it can help you break some old habits and establish the spiritual disciple of what I believe is one of the most important spiritual activities a couple can enter into together—praying as a couple.
Bob: I remember being in a room, one time, when you were talking about this subject. You were issuing this challenge for men to lead in prayer. One of the guys in the room that day was a businessman by the name of Ed Bjurstrom; right?
[Phone Interview with Ed and Wendy]
Dennis: That's right. Ed and Wendy are, in fact, joining us, right now, on the phone. Ed, Wendy, welcome to FamilyLife Today.
Ed: Thank you. It's nice to be here.
Wendy: Thank you.
Dennis: Ed, do you remember a little challenge I gave you a few years back about praying together with your wife?
Ed: Yes, I do.
Dennis: Tell our listeners about that.
Ed: I actually heard you give that challenge more than one time; but according to Wendy, anyway, it was more like four times. [Laughter]
Dennis: And you responded the first time, of course?
Ed: Actually, the fourth time. [Laughter]
Bob: You responded with “No,” the first three times.
Barbara: See—that proves our survey is right.
Bob: That’s right.
Dennis: Yes, really.
Wendy, were you concerned that he had not heard the challenge appropriately?
Wendy: Yes, I was concerned about that. [Laughter] I was giving him, like, elbows in the ribs.
Dennis: Were you really?
Ed: I didn't know why she was doing that.
Bob: Let me take you guys back, even before you heard any challenges from Dennis. When you got married, was Christ at the center of your marriage?
Ed: That's a good question. He wasn't absent, but I don't think He was at the center.
Bob: So, it was a little on the fringe; but your relationship with each other and with Christ has grown over the years—but in the process, prayer didn't just kind of start to happen?
Ed: Not together; no.
Bob: And, Wendy—is that something that you kept expecting would happen?
Wendy: I felt guilty about it—yes; because I would hear things about that, and about praying together, and felt like that was something that we should do—
—but it just never seemed to happen.
Bob: Is it something that you wanted to do?
Wendy: Oh, definitely.
Bob: It's something that you were anxious to have a part of the marriage, but it wasn't happening.
Dennis: Had you requested that of Ed? Had you made that clear to him?
Wendy: I don't think so. I think we kind of—we had an interesting background—the story of discovering the truth—for us—the truth about Jesus Christ. So, we were sort of searching. We were on a search mode and were very tied up in religion. So, we kind of really knew we were looking for something that we were missing; but we couldn't put our finger on it. When we started hearing Dennis Rainey and going to FamilyLife conferences, then I began to realize that there was something missing.
Dennis: Ed, what was preventing you from praying with your wife? Was it religion, as such, or was it your fear?
Ed: Yes, just basic fear. [Laughter]
Bob: You lay it right out there, Ed—yes.
Ed: Well, I had actually thought of it on a number of occasions—but it was just, you know—not really feeling comfortable about it, and not being in any way kind of trained, or didn't know what to do, and just basically being afraid. You know, you tend to go the easy route.
Dennis: What about that fourth time—when you heard the challenge to begin to pray with Wendy—do you remember what happened?
Bob: Your ribs started to hurt—I bet. [Laughter]
Ed: It was really like the first time that I had heard it. [Laughter] I decided, “Hey, that’s a good challenge.” I didn’t think it had anything to do with my state of spiritual development—you know—what God was doing in my life at the time.
Bob: You guys pray in the morning.
Bob: Have you been surprised by the impact of that daily discipline in your marriage?
Wendy: Oh, absolutely.
Bob: What do you mean, Wendy? How so?
Wendy: It has brought us closer to one another and closer to God in such a profound way. It's just been—and not only to each other but to our family / to our children. It's just changed everything about life for us. It's been really awesome—
—and not only—now, I'll say, "Well, this is what I was reading in Scripture," or he'll say that, or we'll pull out a book.
So, that's why he's always late—because, not only are we taking that time to pray, but it's just created an incredible conversation time for us. So, we have to start earlier because, generally, when we don't, he ends up being late. [Laughter]
Dennis: What about you, Ed? Have you seen a difference?
Ed: Oh, yes. It's been really a life-changing thing for both of us / for me—and something that I look forward to very much. You know, it's a lot harder when I'm traveling to try to do that by phone—although, we do that sometimes by phone, but probably—when I'm not traveling, we never miss praying together.
Dennis: What do you all pray about?
Ed: Whatever comes to mind—I mean, God is doing all sorts of different things at different times.
It's mostly the current concerns about family / about things that we're involved in—the expected trials / the praising God for blessings and for the way He's just worked so miraculously in our lives. There is lots and lots to pray about.
Wendy: And I have a real burden to pray for him at work because of things that he faces there. I really pray daily for him for integrity on the job and wisdom to have discernment—because he has such major, major decisions that he has to make in the workplace—and that he will just be true to God and stand with God in whatever God gives him to do in the workplace.
Dennis: Ed, how does that make you feel, as a man, knowing that your wife is praying that for you, as you face some difficult decisions?
Ed: Oh, it's essential. It gives me a tremendous confidence. It helps me to feel personally closer to God and know that. He's always with us—sometimes, we forget that. It's always an effort, in some cases, to just be aware that His presence is guiding and directing us in everything that we do.
Dennis: You know, as you were sharing that, I was thinking—many times, we are concerned about there being prayer in the White House, or prayer at the Capitol, or prayer at the Supreme Court—but in many regards, some of the priests of today are in corporate America.
Dennis: They really need their wives praying for them. And you wonder if some of the scandals that have occurred over the past few years, where there hasn't been solid integrity—
Dennis: —and ethics—if that would have happened if there had been husbands and wives who were praying together, as a couple.
I just want to say, “Thanks,” to both of you for your friendship and your partnership in ministry. You guys have really been champions for the family. God has used you in a lot of ways. We've talked about that in the past, but I want to say thanks to allowing us to interrupt your day here—because I know you're probably late for work. [Laughter]
Ed: Well, I stay late sometimes. [Laughter]
Dennis: Thank you, guys. We sure love you and appreciate you.
Ed: Alright. Take care.
Bob: We'll talk to you again.
[End of Phone Interview]
Bob: You know, as we've talked with couples this week, it's just interesting to think that something as simple as the daily habit of praying together would be as profound as all of these couples have said it has been in their marriage relationship. Yet, it is profound for that very reason—you're invited daily into the presence of the God of the universe. Now, you stop and think about that—
—if you had a daily briefing with the President, you would think of that as a pretty important appointment to keep. Well, you have a daily time, together, before the God of the universe—that ought to be a profound time.
Dennis: It provides a bit of a spiritual wheel alignment for our lives as we evaluate: “Are we living our lives according to God's perspective / according to the Scriptures, or are we living our lives for ourselves?”
One of the thoughts I had about praying together—what Barbara and I have learned, over the years we've been doing this, as a couple is—prayer has been for us a lot like the straps that they use when you get in a roller coaster. Now, have you ever been on a real good roller coaster ride?
Bob: Oh, yes, man.
Dennis: I mean, one of these—
Bob: I've gone upside down on a roller coaster.
Dennis: I don't think I've ever done one of those—
Dennis: —but they always strap you in—
Dennis: —so you can stay with the turns and with the up—
Bob: The gravity—yes.
Dennis: —and all that. Well, prayer, I think, is like the strap.
It straps you in so you can stay on the rails for the ride God has for you. And, many times, as Barbara and I have closed our day in prayer, I feel like we've just finished days of tremendous highs and then a phenomenal drop of a low.
We've battled issues with children, with work, with health / financial. We've had conflict. We've had conflict with them—we've had conflict with family members outside of our family. Prayer, I think, brings us back to the very essence of who God is. As you said—you invite Him into your life, and He begins to change your perspective about how you live this life He's put before you.
Bob: Barbara, if you had to pick one topic that has dominated your prayers—
Dennis: That's easy.
Bob: Yes, I'm thinking it's probably the same topic that any parent in America has had dominating his or her prayers; right?
Barbara: Yes, children. It really is because—
—I think, even if you just have one child, that would probably dominate your prayers—because, as parents, we're so consumed in our children's lives, and what they're learning, and what we're trying to teach them, and what's going on in their lives. So, we've spent a lot of our praying about our children.
Bob: There is so much we can't fix,—
Barbara: That’s right.
Bob: —or control, or make happen—
Barbara: That's right.
Bob: —but God can fix, and control, and make stuff happen. I think most nights, as we start our prayer together, it starts with these words: "Lord, give us wisdom”—
Dennis: Oh, yes.
Bob: —“as parents," because you just lay in bed some evenings and go: "I don't know if I’m doing this right. I'm trying my best, but it sure doesn't seem—the cake is looking a little flat, at this point, in the baking process. Lord, pump it up a little bit, please."
Dennis: And that's Chapter 14 in our book—this is a short chapter. So, I just want to read this:
Praying as a team for the needs of your children will make a difference in their lives.
Over the years, we’ve been enriched when we pray and ask God to work in our children's lives.
When the junior Raineys were little, we prayed they'd sleep through the night so we could get some rest. We prayed that they would be potty-trained quickly and stop wetting the bed. We even prayed for the resurrection of Froggie, the beanbag toad that got partially flushed down the toilet by a toddler one day; and we prayed to catch a thief in the family who was stealing money.
Later on, we prayed for our fledgling teenage drivers to have minor accidents that would not hurt anyone but would get our teens' attention.
Bob: Now, did you pray for that one child to have five different accidents?
Barbara: No. [Laughter]
Dennis: It's actually six—it's six accidents—none of which were life-threatening—but I'm telling you—you just pray God gets their attention.
Dennis: We continue on:
Repeatedly, we asked God for the right kind of friends for each of our children, especially during their teenage years.
We prayed that God would restore the legs of our teenage son, who was stricken with a rare neurological disease that took away his ability to run; and God answered, “No.” And daily, before they left for school, we asked God to keep our children from harm, from temptation, and from evil; and we prayed for Him to make them His representatives among their peers.
Most parents' prayer lists for their children include the following: safety and health issues; a growing understanding of God's love; an increasing ability to identify sin and differentiate right from wrong; the knowledge of God's forgiveness and salvation through a personal relationship with Jesus Christ; protection from the evil one and his influences; a growing knowledge of how to walk with God, hear His voice, and live obediently according to the teaching of Scripture. And finally, we prayed for good friends who will encourage them to walk on the right paths.
Of course, you will add many more of your own petitions to that list. We encourage you to refer to Psalm 127:3 and verse 5, from time to time, to help strengthen your resolve never to abandon your post as praying parents. The Scripture reads: “Behold, children are a gift of the Lord. The fruit of the womb is a reward…How blessed is the man whose quiver is full of them.” Praying together fervently for your children—and, by the way, your grandchildren—will bring innumerable blessings to your family now and provide a legacy for generations to come.
You know, those words are meant to bring hope to parents because I don't know how many times Barbara and I have closed our day in prayer—when we have felt like failures, as parents / where we have been so discouraged, thinking we were raising juvenile delinquents /
thinking we just weren't doing a good job, as Mom and Dad—but prayer, I think, re-energizes hope because it reminds us it is God who ultimately builds the home.
Bob: Yes, I find myself praying most often for my children to really have a hot heart for the Lord because all the other stuff will work itself out—
Barbara: That’s right.
Bob: —all the other behavior issues and all of that—
Bob: —that will all get taken care of / that will get sorted out—if they have a passion for Jesus Christ. So, more than anything else, that's what I want to see developed in them; and I pray it will happen at an early age.
Dennis: Yes. And, you know, we pray for other things besides our children. We pray to know God's will when facing a difficult fork in the road. We have given thanks for health issues that were negative, for work challenges that weren't going our way, for circumstances that seemed to pile up upon our lives / financial challenges—
—for wisdom, as you talked about, Bob, about circumstances maybe facing us, as a couple or facing our family. We've prayed about sin in our own lives, in our children's lives, in other people's lives. We've asked God to give us wisdom in the midst of conflict that's occurring between us or between our children; and we've prayed, importantly, for one another.
I want to end this series this week by just talking about that. I don't know of another topic that is more important for a couple to do as they pray together than to pray for their spouse on a daily basis and to let your spouse know that you are praying for them. There are occasions when I'll call Barbara in the middle of the day and say, "I just want you to know I'm praying for you."
But when we end the evening and we pray for one another—
—in one another's presence—those days and those prayer times are the sweetest times of all—to hold one another's hands / to thank God for the gift of your spouse to you and all that's wrapped up in that gift. Those can be really treasured times in your relationship.
Bob: We've had a number of our listeners, who have emailed us this week, to say they want to make prayer a new discipline in their marriage.
Dennis: And I just want to ask you not to have to wait to hear this four times—
Bob: Like Ed? [Laughter]
Dennis: —like Ed did.
Bob: Don't wait until your ribs are sore.
Dennis: That's right. I want to ask you today to make the commitment to your spouse. When you get home from work tonight, make the commitment to your spouse—you will pray together, as a couple, from now on for the rest of your married life.
Bob: Well, again, we’ve been listening to a conversation with Dennis and Barbara Rainey about praying together, as a couple.
With that challenge in mind, we want to make it as easy as possible for you to accept the challenge. We have a 30-Day Oneness Prayer Challenge going on right now, where we will send you a text, or an email, or notification through the My FamilyLife app, prompting you to pray together each day during the month of September. We’ll give you a subject to pray about and some coaching along the way to make it, again, as easy as possible for you to begin this discipline. We’ve got a lot of couples who are already signed on for this, and you can join as well. Go to FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the link in the upper left-hand corner of the screen that says, “GO DEEPER,” and look for the Oneness Prayer Challenge.
And of course, you can get a copy of Dennis and Barbara Rainey’s book on prayer called Two Hearts Praying as One. You can order, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com; or you can call 1-800-FL-TODAY and order the book by phone. Again, it’s called Two Hearts Praying as One.
And finally, if you have never been to one of our FamilyLife Weekend to Remember marriage getaways for couples—two-and-a-half days in a beautiful setting, where we provide practical biblical help for your marriage—it really is a great getaway weekend for couples. And if you’ve never been, now is the time to start making plans to join us at one of our upcoming fall getaways.
We’re going to be hosting these in about 30 cities across the country. Find out when a getaway is coming to a city near where you live by going to FamilyLifeToday.com. Click the link that says, “GO DEEPER,” and look for the Weekend to Remember marriage getaway information. If you sign up this week or next week, you pay the regular rate for yourself and your spouse comes free. It’s a special offer we’re making to FamilyLife Today listeners. It’s good only when you sign up this week or next week. So, be sure to get in touch with us and plan to join us at an upcoming Weekend to Remember marriage getaway this fall.
Now, tomorrow, we’ll hear a message from one of our favorite pastors—Dr. Crawford Loritts—a message on the importance of prayer—why some people pray and other people don’t. We’ll hear from Crawford tomorrow. Hope you can be here for that.
I want to thank our engineer today, Keith Lynch, along with our entire broadcast production team. On behalf of our host, Dennis Rainey, I’m Bob Lepine. We will see you next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
FamilyLife Today is a production of FamilyLife of Little Rock, Arkansas.
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