Posts in category Prayer

The most courageous thing a husband can do with his wife



Over the years I’ve challenged men to take the initiative and improve their marriages in another way. This action requires bedrock courage.

No, it’s not initiating sex.  By comparison, that’s risky indeed, but nowhere nearly as challenging as … praying daily with your wife.

Courageous husband

Now some men already are praying daily with their wives. But I’ve seen that look of hesitation and even fear in the eyes of many men when I’ve given them this challenge. It’s way outside of their comfort zone.

I am not certain that Barbara and I would still be married had it not been for this spiritual discipline of experiencing God together in our marriage. It has kept us from building walls in our marriage, it has forced us to forgive one another, and it has kept us focused in the same direction.

The power of praying together

A businessman who works for a well-known corporation took my challenge a number of years ago. He and his wife had been married for years and had two children.  At the time, he was experiencing some difficulties in his marriage — he was angry over the lack of time they spent together, both relationally and physically. He had begun drinking (again) and they had been sleeping in separate bedrooms for two years. They were not considering divorce and remained committed to the marriage, but, in his words, “we were both on different pages, spiritually and mentally. She wanted to have Bible studies together and pray, but I was not willing, due to my inner anger at her.”

A few years later, my path crossed his again, and he wrote me that when he took the initiative to pray daily with his wife, their relationship was transformed.

Over a period of time and consistently praying together, we have seen amazing changes in our lives. Quickly the level of anger subsided. Each night our prayers became easier and meant more. We quickly seemed to move onto the same page, our attitude toward each other changed, and we began liking each other again.

We also saw changes in our parenting. We started talking more and having in-depth conversations. Over the last few years our conversations have turned to deep meaningful reviews of our lives and the mistakes we’ve made. We share hurts, frustrations and worries. We both seem to want to help each other and support the other in times of need.

As we learned to love and respect each other, our sex life has grown into a beautiful expression of our love and is more satisfying than ever.  Our walk with God has grown deeper, individually and as a couple. Our lives seem to be connected on a spiritual level as never before. As with any marriage, problems still arise, but now we feel equipped to deal with the issues in a positive way.

The Lord has done a mighty work in our marriage and we contribute much of that success to the fact that every night we approach the Throne of Grace together. It truly is His grace that has sustained us. In fact, many times we have grinned that we know God exists. Only He could salvage our train wreck of a marriage and not only make it survive, but thrive.

Can you imagine what would happen in your marriage, in your family, if you showed that type of initiative and courage? My encouragement is to try it.  If you miss a day, then pick up again tomorrow and pray together.  I’ve found that the men who initiate prayer with their wives have a dramatically different relationship with them in less than two years.

 

Adapted by permission from Stepping Up: A Call to Courageous Manhood, © 2011 by Dennis Rainey, FamilyLife Publishing.

 

25 ways to spiritually lead your family



Ideas for men who want to leave a spiritual legacy.

NYResolutions

Well, 2012 is just about completely in our rearview mirror as we knock on the door of 2013, ready to enter.  Are you a man (or woman) of resolutions?  Many go through the motions of making resolutions to accomplish something in the upcoming year that they want to pursue, complete, start, quit, or attempt even when they know full well they may not be successful.  Sometimes that’s because the resolution is something that is good for them to accomplish at some level.

For men, something that often makes the resolution list is to “spiritually lead your family better.”  If it doesn’t make the list with weight loss, exercise, etc., it’s probably because so many of us don’t know what that looks like.  We think it just means more work.  And, many of us didn’t see it modeled well growing up.  Maybe we’ve turned over the spiritual aspect of our family to our wives.  That is not how God intended it to be in our home.  So, as you consider your resolutions for 2013, here are some things that you can do to help you accomplish the goal to spiritually lead your family better in 2013 than you did in 2012.

The list below, even if it’s not a resolution, is still good to read through and deploy.  Make it simple … don’t choose all 25 but choose your top 3 to accomplish in 2013 or schedule them throughout the year.  Here’s the list:

1. Pray daily with your wife.

2. Write a love letter that she’d like to receive.

3. Discover her top three needs and over the next 12 months go all out to meet them.

4. Buy her a rose. Take her in your arms. Hold her face gently. Look into her eyes and say, “I’d marry you all over again!”

5. Take her on a weekend getaway.

6. Read the Scriptures to her.

7. Replace the “D” word with the “C” word! (D=divorce; C=commitment).

8. Court her.

9. Remain faithful to her.

10. Fulfill your marriage covenant.

11. Have a family time at least one night a week.

12. Use circumstances to teach your children to trust God.

13. Protect your family from evil.

14. Restrain your teenager’s passion.

15. Set spiritual goals for your children.

16. Take one or two of your children on a mission trip.

17. Catch your kids doing something right — and let them know you caught them.

18. Date your daughters.

19. Inspect what you expect.

20. Do a Proverbs breakfast Bible study with your teens (15 and older).

21. Hug and kiss your sons and daughters.

22. Ask your children for forgiveness when you fail them.

23. Pray with them.

24. Call them to a spiritual mission to do what God wants to do with their lives.

25. Persevere and don’t quit.

Did any of these scream to you, “PICK ME, PICK ME”?  Which ones will you work on in 2013?  Share some thoughts below to help you be accountable to moving forward with leading your family spiritually in 2013!

 

The one thing a man of courage does



manafraid

Over the years I’ve challenged men to take the initiative and improve their marriages in a way that requires bedrock courage.

No, it’s not initiating sex. By comparison, that’s risky indeed, but nowhere near as challenging as … praying daily with your wife.

Now, some men are already praying daily with their wives. But I’ve seen that look of hesitation and even fear in the eyes of many men when I’ve given them this challenge. It’s way out of their comfort zone.

I’m not certain that Barbara and I would still be married had it not been for this spiritual discipline of experiencing God together in our marriage. It has kept us from building walls in our marriage, it has forced us to forgive each other, and it has kept us focused in the same direction.

A businessman  who works for a well-known corporation took my challenge a number of years ago. He and his wife had been married for years and had two children. At the time, he was experiencing some difficulties in his marriage — he was angry over the lack of time they spent together, both relationally and sexually, he had begun drinking (again), and they had been sleeping in separate bedrooms for two years. They were not considering divorce and remained committed to the marriage, but in his words, “We were both on different pages, spiritually and mentally. She wanted to have Bible studies together and pray, but I wasn’t willing, due to my inner anger at her.”

A few years later, our paths crossed again, and he wrote to tell me that when he took the initiative to pray daily with his wife, their relationship was transformed:

Over a period of time and consistently praying together, we have seen amazing changes in our lives. Quickly the level of anger subsided. Each night our prayers became easier and meant more.

We seemed to move onto the same page, our attitude toward each other changed, and we began liking each other again. We also saw changes in our parenting; we started talking more and having in-depth conversations. Over the last few years, our conversations have turned to deep, meaningful reviews of our lives and the mistakes we’ve made. We share hurts, frustrations, and worries. We both seem to want to help each other and support the other in times of need.

As we learned to love and respect each other, our sex life has grown into a beautiful expression of our love and is more satisfying than ever. Our walk with God has grown deeper, individually and as a couple. Our lives seem to be connected on a spiritual level as never before. As with any marriage, problems still arise, but now we feel equipped to deal with the issues in a positive way.

Jesus Christ has done a mighty work in our marriage, and we attribute much of that success to the fact that every night we approach the Throne of Grace together. It truly is His grace that has sustained us. Only He could salvage our train wreck of a marriage and not only make it survive but thrive.

Can you imagine what would happen in your marriage, in your family, if you demonstrated that type of initiative and courage? My encouragement is to try it. If you miss a day, then pick up again tomorrow and pray together. I’ve found that the men who initiate prayer with their wives have a dramatically different relationship with them in less than two years.

Do you have a similar fear of prayer?  Not sure you’d say it right or that you might not say it well?  God isn’t interested in your posture, words, or vocabulary.  He’s interested in you, your heart and your family.  When you take the initiative to lead in this way, God will do some supernatural work you have not even thought about.  And, I bet your wife will actually find it romantic when you lead her in prayer with sincerity and intent.

Give it a try.

If you have a story about praying with your wife, challenges you faced and overcame, or hesitancies today, share them below because I can guarantee you that you’re not the only one who struggles to lead your wife/marriage in this way.  Be strong and courageous, men.

Adapted from the book, Stepping Up™ by Dennis Rainey, FamilyLife Publishing, 2011.

10 keys to make your marriage work: advice from some experts



making your marriage last

There are a lot of stats //thrown around when it comes to marriage.  Quite honestly, we may have heard them so often that we’ve kind of become numb to them.  And you can be sure, as real as they are, we never think that we will be one of the casualties when we are standing in front of friends and family sharing those special vows.  We don’t say “I Do” thinking “It won’t (last).”

Being bombarded with numbers can make us numb to their meaning, but it’s important that we keep them in front of us.  It’s like telling people that smoke about the hazards that await them if they decide to continue.  At least they’ve been informed.  Here are the 2009 statistics from the Center for Disease Control, which houses the National Center for Health Statistics.

  • Number of marriages: 2,077,000
  • Marriage rate: 6.8 per 1,000 total population
  • Divorce rate: 3.4 per 1,000 population (44 reporting states, plus Washington, D.C.)

Here’s the key: 3.4 divorces versus 6.8 marriages.  I was pretty good at math growing up, but even those who are math-challenged see that’s a pretty high divorce rate.  How are we doing?  If no one thinks they’ll be a casualty when they wed, but millions become one year after year, what happens between “I do” and “It’s over”?

What can you do to make your marriage last?  Perhaps we would be wise to do what experts at identifying counterfeit bills do — study the real bills to identify the bad.

In an article previously published in FamilyLife’s Marriage Memo newsletter, couples who had been married 50 years or longer shared their successes and how they beat the odds of becoming a casualty to divorce.  Here are the 10 things that could help you to make your marriage work and last a lifetime:

1. You need a Savior. “We didn’t realize that it was two sinners who married each other. Two very sinful people who needed a Savior.” (Mona Sproull)

2. Stay committed to one another. “Love is not a feeling, it’s a commitment … no matter what, I will stand by your mom.” (Charles Powell)

3. Pray with your spouse.  “Rather than each of us having ourselves at the center of our thinking, there enters a willingness to let God be at the center.” (Jerry Bell)

4. Forgive one another. “All I could think of was if God could forgive me of all of my sins, who am I not to forgive my husband.” (Joan Fortin)

5. Realize that there’s no such thing as a perfect husband or perfect wife.  “Christ has given me understanding and lets me know that everyone does something wrong sometimes.” (Mattie Foy)

6. Have faith that God knows what He is doing.“A lot of people would ask me, ‘No children yet?’ And I’d say, ‘No, but I am sure having a good time telling you how to raise yours.’” (Jodie May)

7. Trust that God gives grace and direction as we trust Him. “How can a parent trust the Lord when they lose a child? It takes a lot of faith.” (Richard Long)

8. You’ll need to make compromises.“You can’t always have your way. I think that marriage should be a give and take situation.” (Nelda Davenport)

9. Be objective and take the emotion out of problem solving. “If I say something to you that’s disrespectful to you and I don’t really know it, you need to trust my heart.” (Mona Sproull)

10. Love your spouse. “The love comes from God.” (Mattie Foy)

Any of those just hit you right between the eyes?  See any patterns?  There’s probably nothing in this list that you don’t know or haven’t heard before. But when men and women who have been married more than 50 years share very similar reasons about what makes marriage work, you tend to take notes and pay attention.  Do you want your marriage to work for the long haul?  Then sit down and determine which one of these you (not your spouse) need to consider as your next step to solidifying your marriage? Now is never too late.

Are you man enough? 10 questions to ask your wife



man enoughFor many years, Tom Elliff and his wife, Jeannie, have taken time away from their normal routines to get away and be together. They’d have some romantic dinners and fun conversations, and generally just have a wonderful time talking about their lives. One year Tom decided to elevate the discussion and, in the process, open himself up in a way few husbands ever do. He developed a list of questions based on issues he knew were of concern to Jeannie, and then he was man enough and sprung them on her during a retreat in the Rockies:

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12 things I’ve learned from my mentors



For many of us, mentoring is a word we are familiar with from the academic and business world.  Yet most of us haven’t really experienced what it means to be a part of a mentoring relationship.  Here are two things I know and believe with all my heart: Men need a mentor, and men need to be a mentor.  And for many of us, one is harder than the other.

To a man, I can guarantee that almost all of us want to be mentored.  But we don’t see that we have anything to offer others so we don’t feel adequate to be a mentor.  Yet without one, there isn’t the other.  Without a mentor, there is no mentoring.  So as you grow in your manhood, it’s time to start thinking and praying about opportunities to mentor another man.

As a man stands on the manhood step, it’s a good thing to be facing upward, thinking about mentoring. As you contemplate becoming a mentor, I want to encourage you to begin asking God to give you a couple of men to mentor. This may not be the most courageous thing you’ve ever done, but I promise you, it will be one of the most important and satisfying things you will ever do as a man.

Previously I shared a list of 12 things that I teach those I mentor. Here are just a few of the things I’ve learned from mentors who’ve come alongside me through the years:

  • The best measure of what a man can do is what a man has done.
  • Making bad decisions helps you learn to make good decisions.
  • Once the facts are clear, usually the right decision jumps out at you.
  • Communication is not what is said but what is heard.
  • Every man needs margin in his calendar for the unexpected at work and at home.
  • No amount of success at work will compensate for failure at home.
  • Debt is dangerous.
  • Lifelong male friendships are challenging, but every man needs a friend who can speak truth into his life.
  • A man needs to be accountable to another man.
  • Praying with his wife is the most powerful thing a husband can do every day.
  • Every man is leaving a legacy, so why not be intentional about the legacy you leave?
  • A life lived without God, the Scriptures, and complete, daily surrender to Jesus Christ is a wasted life.

What about you?  Was there a man or group of men who invested some of these truths into your life ?  Do you have someone you can turn to when life whips you into discouragement or even despair?  Do you take the time to invest in someone else?  Are there boys in your life (church, neighborhood, work, etc.) who are without a dad or could use another man’s perspective on life … yours?

If you wait to feel adequate enough to mentor, you never will.  God doesn’t equip those who think they have all the answers.  He honors those who take a courageous step of faith.  He equips you to accomplish what you’ve taken the initiative to do when it’s done for His glory.  And, taking care of the next generation and preparing them for God’s work is for His glory.

You can do this, men.  You can be the man God uses in the life of another young man to unleash him toward God’s purpose.

It takes a little courage.  Are you that man?  Step up and see God work.

Excerpted from Stepping Up (Kindle Locations 2297-2314). FamilyLife Publishing®. Kindle Edition.

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