Seeking God TogetherSeptember 11, 2015
Are you and your spouse seeking God together? Author Sam Ingrassia talks about the benefits and blessings of praying the Scriptures with his wife each day and encourages other men to follow in his footsteps.
Are you and your spouse seeking God together? Author Sam Ingrassia talks about the benefits and blessings of praying the Scriptures with his wife each day and encourages other men to follow in his footsteps.
Seeking God Together
Bob: This is FamilyLife Today for Friday, September 11th. Our host is the President of FamilyLife®, Dennis Rainey, and I’m Bob Lepine. Sam Ingrassia joins us today to explain how praying together, regularly, with your spouse can revolutionize your marriage relationship. We’ll hear his story today. Stay with us.
And welcome to FamilyLife Today. Thanks for joining us on the Friday edition. We’re talking a lot about prayer this week—and in fact, for the last couple of weeks, as we’re encouraging listeners to start praying together every day in your marriage. In fact, we’re not just encouraging it—but we’re helping to make it happen—by sending our listeners a daily prayer prompt, either as an email or as a text message.
It will give you coaching tips on how you can pray together each day. And we’ve got lots of couples who have signed up to do this with us. Today, the focus of our prayer prompt is on the importance of teamwork in marriage—recognizing one another’s strengths and working together as a team. We’re encouraging husbands to pray that God will give you wisdom and strength to work together, as a team, to battle against the cultural and personal forces that lead us toward isolation in marriage.
We’re encouraging wives to pray that God will help you to accept and appreciate each other’s differences and to see how those differences can make you a better, stronger marriage team. Again, you can sign up for the prayer prompts when you to FamilyLifeToday.com and click the link in the upper left-hand corner of the screen that says, “GO DEEPER.”
And this issue of prayer that we’ve been talking about for the last several days—this really is a passion issue for you—
Dennis: It is.
Bob: —in your life and your ministry.
Dennis: It is. I have challenged a lot of men to pray with their wives and have asked them to shake my hand if they would do it, and I can make the promise to them—if they’ll begin to do this every day with their wives—at the end of two years, their marriage / their spiritual lives with their wives and their family will be strengthened and be much stronger because they have entered into a relationship with God, together, with their spouse.
[Previously Recorded Interview]
And our guest on today’s program has written a book called Just Say the Word. Sam Ingrassia joins us, again, on FamilyLife Today. Sam, welcome back.
Sam: Thank you. Great to be with you guys.
Dennis: Sam has been married to his wife Vicki for 39 years. They have three children. He is a graduate of The Dallas Theological Seminary. He’s a church-planter with e3 Partners Ministry. Some of you are aware of—
Bob: I am Second®.
Dennis: I am Second—yes; the other ministry they have.
Bob: You’re connected with that; right?
Sam: That’s correct. I am Second is sort of a subset ministry of e3 Partners—although, they’re very much integrated. God’s doing some great things. It’s a web-based ministry that has films of personal testimonies for Jesus Christ. It’s basically the stories of how people got their lives wrecked up, one way or another, and how Jesus Christ restored them and rescued them—relevant, powerful issues of life—testimony after testimony.
Bob: And you were telling me that the one with Brian Welch has been the most-viewed one. He was with the band, Korn—a heavy metal band. I’ve watched that online—it’s a compelling story. But—the Duck Guys—you just did one with them; right?
Sam: Yes, we got an opportunity to—
Dennis: Bob, Bob, Bob, Bob. It’s not the Duck Guys. [Laughter]
Bob: Everybody knows—
Dennis: It’s Duck Dynasty.
Bob: Everybody knows who I’m talking about.
Dennis: Give some dignity to it.
Bob: The Duck Boys.
Sam: Duck Dynasty guys—yes, we got an opportunity to film the testimony of—it’s actually kind of a three-part or four-part film. It interviews Phil, Miss Kay, Jep, and Reed. They tell their story. It’s just an amazing—you need to see the film on iamsecond.com.
Bob: You guys have got to figure, at this point, that if the person has a long beard—it’ll be a compelling video! [Laughter] That’s all it needs.
Dennis: Well, let’s talk about your book here and praying with your spouse. You hit a snag in your marriage, where your wife looked you in the eyes and said, “You’ve failed me, spiritually.”
You’re a Dallas guy—you graduated from Dallas Theological Seminary. You were trained in the Scriptures; and yet, you weren’t praying with your wife!
Bob: You’d pastored churches, you were taking people on missions trips, and you were teaching them how to evangelize. Prayer together, as a couple, was an irregular thing for you.
Sam: Yes, it’s kind of—kind of crazy, almost; isn’t it? We’re so busy—running in life and ministry—and taking care of everybody else and doing everything else—in ministry. I’m telling you—I’ve talked to spiritual leaders, by the droves, in this messaging. The consistent testimony is that: “We’re dropping that ball.” I mean, even among spiritual leaders—and you know what? That’s exactly where the enemy wants us.
And that’s where all the harm begins to go—distancing in the marriage—the wife desires spiritually connectivity / the guy desires physical intimacy—but he’s denying his wife emotional and spiritual intimacy. We expect her to show up for us, physically / he’s not showing up, emotionally and spiritually. It creates a lot of confusion.
Dennis: I think you just explained to me why guys come back to me—after I’ve given them the challenge to pray with their wives—a couple of years later, they’ll come back; and they’ll say, “You know what? You’re right. I can’t believe how this changed our marriage.” The reality is—praying with his wife changed him.
Dennis: He became a different man because of that accountability—
Dennis: —and because he had to deal with his shame.
Sam: Exactly—and think of the very issues that I’m struggling with in my life—those sore points—those sins and struggles and mistakes and failures. You know what? It just very well may be, if I can get to the Word of God with my wife, in a prayerful union, God might just have some spiritual answers there for me. The very healing is in the place we opt out from.
Sam: So, guys have put themselves in this penalty box. They’re just boxed up, and they’re not coming out. I say to guys: “I have an idea. Why don’t you just stay in the penalty box until you feel like you’re good enough? I mean, when’s that going to happen?
“So, we need to step toward our wives, in faith—come into the light / let the Word of God do its work—just step slow / just step simple—your wife will welcome you.”
Dennis: Some baby steps.
Sam: Baby steps.
Dennis: Where does a guy begin, though? First of all, explain expository prayer. Now, that sounds like a lofty term; but it’s basically praying through the Scriptures; right?
Sam: It’s Scripture praying. It’s simply this—my wife and I read a few verses together. We commit to praying through a book. Right now, we’re praying through the Gospel of Mark. It’s not a race. We go very slow—read a few verses—
Dennis: Like how many?
Sam: Oh, my, sometimes, three verses—two verses. There have been times where it’s been one verse—truly, one verse—
Dennis: Until something hits you.
Sam: —just something sort of strikes me. Usually, I sort of decide how many verses we read—but just a few verses. We read it. We sit quiet—listen for the Lord to speak to our hearts. I like to listen to my wife first: “Honey, what jumps out at—what do you see here?”
We just identify some ideas from the text—some key words, some topics, some ideas, some blessing, some praises—whatever we see. We use those as what I call prayer points—we pray those things. We share in a prayer time and pray the guided Word of God over our marriage and over our kids. That’s basically it—expository praying.
Bob: Dennis mentioned that he and Barbara pray together at bedtime. What has been the pattern for you?
Sam: Vicki and I—what works for us—we’re empty-nesters. So, morning works for us pretty good; but a lot of times, a guy’s said to me, “When are we going to do this?” I basically say: “Look. I don’t know your business, your marriage, or how things work;”— but, basically, what I say is—“You solve hard problems at work. Solve this problem at home, Sir!”
Sam: I say:
You know what? Serve your wife. If she’s a morning person and you’re a night owl, get up. You know, if it’s vice versa, you bend over more—
—to serve her need, to meet her, step toward her to initiate, and meet her where she’s at.
You know what? Because you’re her husband, your prayers with her—regardless of how simple you may feel they are—they’re more vital and they’re more effective than anybody else who prays with her because you are her one-flesh partner in life. That’s what Genesis tells us about one flesh in marriage.
Bob: There were some key passages—you mentioned Genesis. There were some key verses that kind of jumped out at you, from the Scriptures, once God started to stir on this in your heart; right?
Dennis: Yes. And before he comments on that—for the guy who’s listening, who wants to know how to get started—what Sam is about to give you is a cheat sheet. These are three passages of Scripture he’s going to share with you, where you could begin this process of praying together with your wife. We’re going to make them available on our website.
Sam: Yes, these verses are, in a sense, really more the backbone of why it is that God’s calling us into this.
So, the first one’s in Genesis, Chapter 2, verse 24: “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united with his wife, and they will become one flesh. The man and his wife were both naked, and they felt no shame.”
What hit me here was the power of the concept of one-flesh. You know, in a Christian marriage, we have God, husband, and wife. It’s like a triangle—one, plus one, plus one, equals one Christian marriage. That’s transparency, and intimacy, and oneness—the unique oneness of marriage that God has designed for us.
So, if we will pray the Word of God, with our wife, you’re literally putting the Word of God in the middle of that triangle to create great power and guided prayers in the will of God. The one-flesh power is something that really struck me.
Bob: You, and your wife, and God sitting down, every day, to have a conversation together—about life, about what’s important, about what God has already said in His Word—that should strengthen that triangle; shouldn’t it?
Sam: Well, it certainly would. I want to correct one thing—it’s not daily. It’s still not daily for us. That would be ideal; but I’ll tell you—the pace of life—it’s almost like impossible. I mean, I travel. It’s all kind of—busy schedules, and people are sick, and the kids, and our granddaughter—but the point—what I tell men is—if I call them to something daily, they’re going to fail.
Here’s what I call them to—a path of spiritual connectedness with your wife / praying the Word of God—that’s more intentional than it’s ever been because you have a path. It’s more regular than you’ve ever been. So, when you miss—and you’re going to miss, all the time—just come back to where you were.
Sam: I just shared with you—we’re praying through Mark, Chapter 1, right now. It’s not happening every day.
Bob: So, if it didn’t happen yesterday, how do you initiate this with your wife? If you don’t have a regular time set up every day, do you just wake up one morning and say, “Okay, let’s do it today”?
Sam: Well, again, we start—we creep—I guess what I call kind of a routine, once you start down this path.
Sam: For us, it’s in the morning before I go to work; and we both know that. That’s, generally, the way it works for us. Whatever routine works for you, follow in that routine. That sort of becomes your pattern, but it’s not this slavish thing—you know, 8:30 every morning—and feeling guilty if we miss and all that kind of thing.
Bob: And if you have a breakfast appointment, or something, and you miss it that day—you’re out of town—you don’t feel like you have to call in from the road and have your prayer time over the phone?
Sam: Well, sometimes, we may even do something like that; but do I feel like I have to do that? Well, no.
Dennis: You know what let’s do? Let’s call Vicki, right now—and let’s just find out what works for her and what she thinks about this.
Sam: If that’s what you want to do. [Laughter]
Dennis: It’s our show; right?
Sam: I’ll tell you where she’s at, right now.
Dennis: Where is she?
Sam: She’s on her knees, right now.
Dennis: Good. Here—Vicki!
Vicki: [via phone] Yes; hi.
Dennis: We just want a little validation of what Sam’s talking about here. [Laughter]
Sam: Vicki, tell them what I told you to tell them. [Laughter]
Bob: We want an eyewitness to all that Sam is testifying to here. First of all, tell us about the last two years.
Dennis: Oh, no, no. Tell about the backlash—when you whacked him on the side of the head and said, “You’ve failed me.”
Vicki: I just—you know, I had never said those words before. I had felt it for a while, but I just felt that was pretty harsh to say this to somebody—but it was just a God-thing. All I can say is—we were sitting there, talking. I just—it just kind of came out of my mouth; you know? Then, I was like—“What did I just say?”
His response was totally a shock to me because I had felt like I had said what I wanted to say but in different ways—but evidently, that day, I spoke his language when I used the f-word—“You’ve failed me.”
Dennis: Yes. He heard you.
Vicki: He heard me in a way that he didn’t hear me any other time. It was God’s timing.
Bob: You adjusted. You looked to the Lord and dealt with life as it was; right?
Vicki: Exactly; exactly.
Bob: So, Sam said to us that praying together, as a couple, has been a game-changer in your marriage.
Bob: Do you agree with that?—if so, why?
Vicki: Well, number one, he has taken the initiative. It’s no longer me feeling like: “Should I say something? Should I ask him, ‘Can we pray?’—you know, I don’t want to be a nag.”
It’s been a game-changer in that, when we do sit down and pray—it’s mostly just a sharing time and how it applies to our lives, at the right moment—has just been very incredible.
Bob: But explain to us—because as he explains it, you’re talking about what?—five or ten minutes in the morning?
Vicki: I would say—yes; I mean, 5 or 10 minutes. Sometimes, it’s been 20 minutes, maybe; but that’s not the norm. It’s 5 or 10 minutes—I would say.
Bob: Why does that 5 or 10 minutes a day make a difference in the other 23 hours and 50 minutes?
Vicki: Because you’re connecting with each other, and you’re connecting with God—you’re sharing your heart, and you’re on the same page. You don’t feel so alone. You don’t feel so isolated.
Dennis: Vicki, you’ve been a good sport to take our call and allow us to interrupt your day.
Vicki: Oh, don’t think about that.
Bob: Well, one last question, though, and I just—I want you to be real honest here.
Bob: Has this changed how attractive Sam is to you, as a man?
Vicki: I think the transparency, the humility, the admitting the weakness and the failure was the attractive part—which is a backdrop to every time we pray together. It’s just the backdrop. You feel it in your spirit and in your emotions; and then, your physical, of course, feels it. So, it’s a full-package, then; you know? It’s a complete thing.
Dennis: That’s a great answer. It really is a great answer, Vicki.
Dennis: You really are a good sport to allow us to throw you out here on national radio.
Bob: And we know you’ve been praying for your husband while he’s been with us. We just want you to know he’s been doing a great job sharing what’s on his heart on this subject.
Dennis: But he’s not—
Vicki: I’m not surprised because it’s his passion. God birthed it; you know? He promises—what He starts, He will finish—complete it and bring to where He wants it. We’re just riding the wave; you know? We’re just—“Okay, Lord, whatever….”
Dennis: Well, I want to tell you to get back down on your knees because he’s not done here. He needs to finish strong on this broadcast. [Laughter]
Vicki: Yes, he will.
Dennis: You guys get back after it,—
Dennis: —and we’ll finish up here.
Bob: Thank you, Vicki.
Dennis: Thank you!
Vicki: Thank you so much.
Bob: Well, it’s good to get straight from the horse’s mouth—
Bob: —what the impact this has on a marriage and on a wife.
Sam: Yes, that was great. That was great.
Dennis: I was looking at you, as she described the answer to your attractiveness. That was an interesting answer—when a man can admit fault and have humility—
Dennis: —confess his sin to his wife—
Sam: When we did a video taping of me teaching this in my brother’s church in St. Louis—at the end, we had sort of a question-and-answer dialogue—a lot of men in the room. They turned, again, the table on her and said, “Hey, Vicki,” and asked her some comments.
The thing she said to the men is this: “Guys, your wives know you. They know your shortcomings, your problems, all your issues. But you know what she wants? She wants you to step toward her in humility—just step toward her and toward Christ. That is an attractive thing to her. So, I challenge you—come out of the penalty box, step toward your wife in just small, simple ways. She will welcome you.” That was her answer. It was, basically, the same again today.
Bob: Sam, you mentioned that part of the impetus for you praying, regularly, with Vicki was that your oldest daughter had wandered from the Lord. You guys were not praying regularly, together, about that—
—that was one of the areas of failure; but you had an Easter morning, in 2008,—
Sam: Oh, yes.
Bob: —that was a miracle morning for you.
Sam: Yes. We really did. It was, actually, the Monday after Easter. God had just broken into Christina’s life in a miraculous way—reached out into the pigpen, broke her in half, and she came home that day. We were never estranged from her—we were always there, door open—a loving relationship. She never renounced the Lord, but she was far from Him—and a lot of foolishness. Our relationship was strained because she knew what we stood for, and we weren’t going to compromise any of that.
But when God brought her home, it was like Luke 15 come alive. I’ll tell you—in over 30 years of ministry, I think I could say to you, I’ve never seen such a clear, profound repentance as I saw in my own daughter that night.
She came home, broken. God brought her back. He’s built a beautiful young woman of God in my daughter Christina—and my other daughters as well. I just praise Him to be able to share that story with you.
Dennis: There are three kinds of marriages that are represented—who are listening to us, right now. There are those couples who may be facing a time of suffering. It may be around a prodigal—a child that has become wayward—but it could be a business failure, a health issue, maybe, an extended family member, that is forcing you to consider prayer.
There are those who are just in their marriage, and they’re in a rut. Maybe, their marriage is in trouble because of that spiritual rut. Maybe, their marriage is just blasé—it’s just flat. They need God to become the unifier of their marriage and help them to go deep together.
Finally, there’s one other group of people listening.
That’s those who have a good marriage—who, maybe, pray together frequently—who just need to revive that experience / refresh it by getting into the Scripture, and by, again, going deep together, as a couple.
Sam, I think you’ve done a great job—not only in your book, but here on the broadcast—of exhorting all of us, in our marriages, to not grow weary in well-doing but to truly disciple our wives and to, really, represent humility—admitting our faults. I just appreciate you, your ministry, and all that you’re about. I hope that a lot of guys are going to read your book—
Sam: Thank you.
Dennis: —and begin to lead their wives, spiritually.
Sam: Thank you.
Bob: We have copies of the book in our FamilyLife Today Resource Center. So, our listeners can go to FamilyLifeToday.com and click the link in the upper left-hand corner of the screen and look for Sam Ingrassia’s book, Say the Word—gives you a great opportunity to start praying together in marriage.
By the way, this is the last chance I have to remind you about the special offer for those of you who would like to attend a FamilyLife Weekend to Remember® marriage getaway this fall. Our offer over the last couple of weeks has been this: “If you will pay for yourself, we will pay for your spouse. It’s a buy one / get one free opportunity”; but it’s good through this weekend.
So, if you’re interested in taking advantage of this special-offer opportunity, you need to call us today at 1-800-FL-TODAY or register, online, at FamilyLifeToday.com. Again, click the link that says, “GO DEEPER,” and look for information about the Weekend to Remember marriage getaway. So, again, FamilyLifeToday.com is the website; or call 1-800-“F” as in family, “L” as in life, and then, the word, “TODAY.”
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And with that, we want to wrap things up for this week. Thanks for being with us. Hope you and your family are able to worship together in church this weekend; and I hope you can join us back on Monday when we’re going to hear a message from our friends, Dave and Ann Wilson, about the importance of demonstrating our love to one another in marriage through physical intimacy. We’ll talk about that Monday. I hope you can tune in.
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 back next time for another edition of FamilyLife Today.
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