Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Your Prayer and God's Power, Day 1

Leslie Basham: Have you ever told someone, "I'll pray for you"? Kim Butts says making that promise isn't enough.

Kim Butts: It's one thing to say, "I'm praying for you." It's another thing to actually do it. And one of the things we subscribe to is: Pray now.

Don't tell somebody you're going to pray because how many times do you forget and the surgery's over, and you went, "Oh, I forgot." And then later they go, "Thank you for praying!" And you're, like, shhh . . .we've all been there. So don't wait.

Leslie: This is Revive Our Heart with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth for Tuesday, May 3, 2016.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: I was very excited to learn that Kim and Dave Butts were in the area on this very day when we're recording for Revive Our Hearts. They're on a sabbatical and not supposed to be doing what they're doing right now, so don't tell anybody. (That will be our little secret!)

They were with the director of our ministry, Byron and Sue Paulus, and I texted Byron and said, "Is there any way they could come over and talk with us about the subject of prayer?"

We're attempting to make a thrust throughout 2016 . . . Now, we want it to be a thrust for every year. This ministry has been birthed in prayer, bathed in prayer, saturated in prayer. We would not . . . I would not be doing what I'm doing if it weren't for an amazing group of praying friends who are praying for us today, have been praying for me over these past weeks as I've been preparing. And so we believe in prayer. We live by prayer. We're dependent on so many things from the Lord that come by His hand through asking in prayer.

But in 2016, we're especially making a thrust, an emphasis on the need for prayer and different aspects of prayer. When I think about that subject, Dave and Kim are on a short list of people I know who really have a heart for this subject.

Dave has been for a number of years the chairman of the National Prayer Committee and is an author and a speaker. Have you been a pastor, or are you a pastor currently?

Dave Butts: I was. I have been a pastor, but I've been traveling now so a church wouldn't want me.

Nancy: Yes, you are in so many places.

Kim: He'd never be home.

Nancy: We run into you in a lot of different places, but you have been dear friends of our ministry and encouragers. And I love the heart God has given both of you for prayer. So we're just going to have a conversation here. But I'd love to know, Dave and Kim, and maybe you could each answer this: How and when you first really got interested in the subject of prayer? Did you grow up with praying parents, or did you have an experience as children? Did God touch you then? When did a heart for prayer first begin to come in each of your lives?

Kim: I grew up in a religious home but not a Christian home. My first memories of prayer were sitting around the dinner table, and my Dad would say, "Whose turn is it to pray?" and all of us would go . . . because the last one who put their thumb up would have to pray. And then we always prayed the same prayer. It was always, "Thank You for this food."

I didn't become a believer until I was twenty-five. I remember the first time I was really exposed to prayer in a meaningful way was in a group of women, just like all of you. At the end of a Bible study, everybody got in a circle, and everybody held hands, and I started to sweat because I had no idea what was happening.

And the first person started to pray, and then they were kind of going around the circle, and I thought, Oh my gosh, they're going to expect me to say something! I was like frozen. Then the person next to me said, "Don't worry, just squeeze the hand of the person next to you.

Nancy: If you want to pass?

Kim: Yes, to pass it along. So I did that and heaved a sigh of relief. That was my big introduction to prayer. But actually, those ladies taught me a lot about prayer later on. I got in another group of women that prayed in all kinds of different ways. I caught prayer in being in groups of women that prayed, and I really learned it from that.

But really, it was not until I was an adult did I get comfortable with prayer.

Dave: Well, when it comes to background in prayer, mine is a fairly different story from Kim's.

I don't ever remember not praying. Some of my earliest memories are as a little boy laying in bed praying goofy prayers, childish prayers, but I had parents who prayed and grandparents who prayed.

I tell people I think I was born in the church nursery. I just had one of those homes. My dad was not a preacher, but he was an elder in the church, and Mom was a Sunday school teacher. We lived a block and a half from the church, so I was there all the time.

Prayer was always important. I didn't always know why, but that's just what you do: You talk to the Lord.

Interesting enough, for me, what really hit me was when I became a pastor. Prayer becomes increasingly important out of desperation, and two things happened to me that was significant.

One, and this is going to sound strange to some people and not to others, but I kind of grew up in a very conservative, Bible-believing church where if you wanted to hear God, you opened the Bible and read. That's pretty much the only way I thought that God could or would ever say anything. That still, small inner voice was something I never grew up with. Even though Scripture does talk a lot about that still, small inner voice.

So, for me, somewhere back in the early '80s, I suddenly realized that my prayer ought to be a conversation and that it was not me doing all the talking. As a matter of fact, it would probably be better if I just shut up and listened a lot more. And suddenly my prayer life took off from that.

What took it to a whole new level and actually launched us into ministry was connecting prayer and missions. I was getting really, really excited about world missions. We're living in a day and age where it's really possible to see the completion of the task of world evangelism, but it's going to take a church that's awake and on fire, revived, and that's going to depend on becoming a person of prayer.

As I began to study and learn and grow and connect more and more with prayer and missions, that's where it became obvious to Kim and I that we've got to do something. So we began a ministry called Harvest Prayer Ministries. And it's named on purpose—Harvest Prayer. It's all about the harvest. It's all about seeing this world won for Jesus Christ.

But the key to that, really, it's just learning how to communicate with God. And when we do that, everything else begins to fall into place, including the revival of the church and the gospel going to all nations.

It's a long answer, and it's very different, but God put us together then with very different stories. But it's really been good because Kim's story is so prevalent in the world today and in the church—people who are in the church. So mine may be a little more unique, but it's also important as an encouragement for what could happened if you grow up in church. So both of those stories make our ministry stronger together.

Nancy: Thinking about this connection between prayer and missions, not long ago in our church one of our pastors or elders said as we were praying for one of the missionaries our church supports, "Sending missionaries to the mission field without prayer support is like standing in a burning house without a fire hose."

The thought that we would pay money and send these people over but not send, not lift them up with prayer support is scary.

Dave: I work with a lot of different missions because I'm really passionate about world missions. So working on mission boards, we often set requirements saying, "You must have 70% or 80% of your budget raised before we allow you to go overseas." What a statement if we say, "And you also must have this amount of intercession raised before you go overseas."

We understand, it really isn't just about dollars and cents, but it's about intercession. It's about prayer, if we're going to be effective.

Look at Paul. Paul was passionate about getting people to pray for him. He connected the prayers of other people to the effectiveness of his ministry. So I'm guessing if Paul needed that, we do, too. So that's why we're very passionate about that and see how critical it is.

Nancy: I find that it's not so difficult for me, and I know people have different stories. You said it was hard for you to pray in a group that first time.

Kim: Yes.

Nancy: I actually have an easier time praying with other people than I do praying by myself. Do you ever struggle with this? You know, your mind wandering, what to say? How to pray? When it comes to our personal prayer life, am I the only one in the room who ever struggles with this?

You talk about prayer being a conversation, tell us just some things that would be helpful as we're seeking to have a personal prayer life with the Lord?

Kim: It's interesting that you say you pray in groups more easily because most people will say it's easier for them to pray by themselves than in groups. So that's kind of a fascinating thing that there are people there.

This is where the creativity piece comes in. One of the things that's a passion thing for me right now is teaching, women especially, how God has uniquely created each of us to meet with Him, and that we aren't all created the same way to do that. So the way I was taught how to pray didn't always resonate with who God created me to be as I met with Him.

So prayer became kind of a boring thing for me often until I discovered that each of us has different personalities, different learning styles, different spiritual gifts, different natural gifts, different interests. Everything that makes us up is different from everyone else.

And you look at the creative God who created all that is. You look at Genesis, and you see the creativity of God, and then you look at the creativity of Jesus, who never did anything the same way twice. He never healed people the same way. He never said things to people the same way. He told different stories to illustrate different things.

I'm realizing that we all have this great realm of creativity to draw from in prayer. Now it's become a place for me to share with women, men, families (we do a lot of family prayer training) how the different ways to connect with God might resonate with you that might not resonate with the person sitting next to you.

Nancy: Can you give us some examples of that?

Kim: Yes, I can.

Dave: Oh, does she have examples.

Kim: Watch out; we can go for hours!

Here's a big one. I have found that this probably blows the doors off of everything. Some of you probably pray this way already, but you can do this in additional creative ways, but that's praying Scripture.

Like Dave was saying, when he thought he could only hear God in one way and that God didn't speak in any other way. Well, God speaks very loudly here. 

Dave: In Scripture.

Kim: In Scripture. And when you know that this is the God who created you, and when you know that this is the truth, there's nothing here that you can pray that is outside of His will. So the biggest question we get asked in prayer ministry is, "How do you know what the will of God is?"

As you're praying His Word back to Him, it helps people in so many different ways:

Number 1: It gives you vocabulary for prayer. So many times you just run out of words to praise God more than, "Lord, I praise You. I worship You." Well, there's multitudes of ways in here.

"How do you seek after the longing that you have in your soul and your spirit that you want to express to God?" It's here. Just look at the psalms of David, crying out to the Lord.

There's ways to bless in prayer. I bless people all the time. I take blessings out of the Bible and pray them for people, over people. I send emails to people with blessings.

Our youngest son, when he was two it just became a thing between he and myself. I laid my hand on him and prayed a modified version of Numbers 6, that iconic blessing. I said, "David, the Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face to shine upon you and give you peace." It's very simple. A two year old can handle that one. When he was four, he put his hand back on me and blessed me back.

Nancy: You'd been doing this regularly?

Kim: Had done it regularly, yes.

Nancy: During that time?

Kim: Yes. And even on the phone, when we were gone, separated.

Dave: I would occasionally be the fill-in.

Kim: The night before he got married, he came into the bedroom, knelt down by the bed, and asked me for that blessing.

Nancy: Wow.

Kim: So you know, now he has a little girl of his own, and a little boy, and it's been a very special thing to know that that was important enough to him, it was something he wanted to pass along.

So using the Scripture to bless is very, very important. And you can take any blessing, lay your hand on someone, or even not, but just pray a blessing over them, God's perfect plan and will. And can you imagine somebody doing that for you? It's a really, really gripping, precious thing, a gift to give someone.

Dave: Yes.

Nancy: Kim, let me just ask you, this might seem a little unusual, but could you just pick a short passage or paragraph or verse there and pray that Scripture? We're going to join our hearts. We're going to pray. It could be a praise or intercession.

Dave: As she's looking for that, I just want to tell you, she and I pray differently, and we just learned that's really good. One of our goals is not to try to pray like somebody else.

Nancy: What do you mean when you say you pray differently?

Dave: For instance: I love lists. I'm a list maker.

Nancy: You can't hear this on the radio, but she's just shaking her head and said, "I don't do this."

Dave: So, on my phone, I'll hold up my phone here, and I've got lists on here. On Mondays I pray for these things. And on Tuesdays I pray for these things. And Wednesdays I pray for these things. My wife does not like lists.

Kim: I lose lists.

Dave: She loses lists, yes. She draws.

Kim: I pray in color. I can't draw worth a lick, but I can doodle. So I just get a piece of paper, have some worship music, and I'll just make some doodles. I'll start writing in the names of my family members or a nation I'm praying for or a Supreme Court decision—whatever it might be that I'm praying for. I'll write in Scriptures. I'll use different colors. It's very creative for me, and I'm a visual person. It's very visual for me.

This is the kind of list, if I fold it up and stick it in my purse, if I'm stopped at a train, I can pull it out and "phoom," I've got right there in front of me lists.

Dave: Yes. She's a very interesting person. I'm a very boring person. But we pray differently.

Kim: And I've been blessed with each of you.

Nancy: Okay, let's pray. Would you just pray that as a blessing?

Kim: Sure. This is out of 1 Thessalonians. I was going to go to 2 Thessalonians, but there's a good one here, too. So I'm just going to pray over you all: "May our God and Father Himself and Jesus our Lord direct our way to Him. And may the Lord cause you to increase and abound in love for one another and for all people so that He may establish your hearts without blame in holiness before our God the Father at the coming of the Lord with all His saints."

Dave: Amen.

Kim: So you can pray any passage for people, say, "Oh, this is a passage that my son needs today. This is something my missionary friend would be so blessed by." Just take time and type it in an email and say, "I'm praying this for you today."

It's one thing to say, "I'm praying for you." It's another thing to actually do it. And one of the things we subscribe to is: Pray now.

Don't tell somebody you're going to pray because how many times do you forget and the surgery's over, and you went, "Oh, I forgot." And then later they go, "Thank you for praying!" And you're, like, shhh . . . We've all been there. So don't wait.

That's what I'm saying. Use the power of the Word to pray. I don't ever pray without my Bible. I often pray things, obviously, that aren't, but it helps jumpstart your prayer life if there's something, you have that longing in your heart, and you just don't know what to do: Go to the Word, and God will gift you with words to pray.

Dave: Let me jump in on that as well because, for us, there is nothing more I could tell you, that we could tell you than praying Scripture. There are lots of other things, but that's absolutely the most important.

Kim: It's huge.

Dave: And it changes. When you say you struggle in prayer, and most of the people we talk to struggle in prayer, and yes, we do, too. Of course we do. Sometimes I think I need to sit and listen to my own tapes, CDs, listen to my own teaching.

But here's the truth of the matter: When I have the Bible with me, when I have a copy of Scripture, and nowadays, with my phone, I always have a copy of Scripture with me. I can continue to pray in ways that I never could pray before because I allow the Word of God to formulate my prayers, as Kim said.

Sometimes you simply read it. Sometimes you take a passage of Scripture and you just start praying it. You start talking to God about what you're reading.

Nancy: Can you demonstrate that, I mean, with Psalm 145 or something that would . . .

Kim: Psalm 145 is a good one.

Dave: Oh, absolutely. That's a good one, but you know what I love? Let me tell you the story. As I was leading a group of people at our church, we were doing a twenty-four-hour prayer focus, and I had a two-hour segment. They asked me to lead a two-hour segment. So I'm going to the Lord, "What am I going to do for two hours with people coming in?"

So I just told them when they came in, "We're going to start praying through Ephesians." And so I started leading and encouraging people to join in as they did. We were there for two hours. We almost got through the second chapter. Now, it doesn't take that long to read Ephesians.

Just to give you an example, I'm going to start here: "Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ."

Lord, how amazing. Absolutely everything that You have to give us, You've given us in Jesus Christ. Every blessing that's in the heavenly realm is ours through You, Lord Jesus. We're just super rejoicing that we're absolutely in awe of the fact that You have given us everything. It isn't something that we're begging for. It's what You've already given us in Jesus.

Help us, Lord, help me to understand more and more of the riches of what You have given us in Christ Jesus. "You chose us in Him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in Your sight."

Lord, thank You for the blessing of being chosen. Lord, I remember as a kid not being very good at sports, and being one of those you just kind of hope someone eventually chooses you so you could be on the team to play. Lord, thank You that I don't feel that way with You. You chose me. You chose me before you ever made the world. You knew exactly what You were going to do, and You chose me to be on Your team.

And You chose me particularly, Lord, to be holy and blameless. Show me more and more how to live that out. What You've already made me to be, show me in a practical way how to do that.

And I'll just say, "Amen."

Kim: And now you see how they didn't get past the first chapter.

Dave: I'll say, "Amen," but you see, when we have the Bible in front of us . . . I tell people, "Here's how to pray: Open eyes; open Bible." Open eyes because I don't have it all memorized yet. And so you're just reading Scripture, and you're praying this, and you could pray for hours.

Now, I'm not a gifted intercessor. And I know people don't always like that term and stuff, but there are people who are really, really good at prayer. You can just throw them in a room together, and they're going to pray for hours. I struggle.

I always tell people that when I was in high school, my youth minister gave me E.M. Bounds book, The Power of Prayer. It's a great little book. It tells about all these great people, men and women of God who prayed for hours and hours at a time. It's a little book. It doesn't take long to read. I read that thing, and I'm going, "Wow, this is great! I'm going to pray for an hour."

Okay, I'm in high school. I remember it so vividly. I closed the door to my bedroom, and I knelt down by my bed, took off my watch, set it on my bed, closed my eyes, and I began to pray. I prayed, and I prayed, and I prayed. I prayed for everyone and everything I could think of. And then I opened my eyes, and I looked at my watch. Five minutes had gone by. Five minutes!

I got up off my knees, and I said, "I don't know what these people did for hours!"

Okay, I do now. I know what they did. And not because I'm so much better at prayer, but I'm reading the Bible. I'm praying Scripture. And you can pray. Every single person listening can pray for hours with their Bible.

People get hung up a little bit here. They say, "How did you do that again? Remind me how." It doesn't matter because there's no right or wrong way here to do that. You simply allow the Word of God to format and to place the thoughts of God into your mind and you start praying those back to Him. And that's what's exciting. Everybody can do that.

Nancy: We've been listening to part one of a conversation I recorded with Kim and Dave Butts. They've been showing us how to pray more effectively by using Scripture to guide our prayers.

Today's program is part of a year-long emphasis on prayer here at Revive Our Hearts. We'll be hearing several series on prayer leading up to the Cry Out! True Woman '16 conference in September.

On Friday night of that conference, Friday, September 23, we'll be having a simulcast nationwide prayer event for women, crying out to the Lord.

I'm asking the Lord to raise up at least 100,000 women to join us that evening in thousands of locations—homes, schools, other venues—across the United States to cry out together in fervent prayer for such a time as this.

And we're developing resources to help all those women keep crying out to the Lord after the event is over.

Revive Our Hearts can only call women to prayer in these ways, through the radio program and through events like Cry Out! thanks to listeners like you who believe in this ministry and see what God is doing through it in our day.

Now the month of May is the end of our fiscal year, which means we wrap up the budgets for the year, and we evaluate the financial health of the ministry moving forward.

Now, as we head into this new season of ministry, there are a lot of challenges, and there are also many, many opportunities. Calling together 100,000 women, or more, to cry out on behalf of our nation is humanly difficult, if not impossible. We're asking the Lord for His ability to do this and also to provide the funds needed to get the word out.

We're making these plans while getting ready to enter the summer months, when we typically see a drop in donations. So this is a faith venture for all of us here at Revive Our Hearts.

That's why I'm asking if you would provide a much-needed donation here in May to help our ministry end the fiscal year in a healthy position and to prepare for what I think may be the most fruitful season of ministry just ahead.

Some friends of the ministry are aware of the current needs and the opportunities, and they've offered to match the gifts of every transcript reader here in May. That means that your gift of $100 will become $200 when you give it as part of this special matching challenge.

When you support the ministry with a gift of any size during this current season on prayer, we'll send you the brand new book from our guest, Dave Butts. It's called With One Cry. I've been reading this book, and it's chalked full of great historical illustrations of how God has moved in the past, and practical ways to know how to pray at such a time as this.

Just ask for the book With One Cry when you call with your donation. The number to call is 1–800–569–5959, or visit ReviveOurHearts.com.

Thank you so much for supporting Revive Our Hearts as together we watch what God is doing during these exciting times. The needs of our world are great, and they're desperate, but we know a God who hears and answers prayer. We want to partner with you to pray, to share, and to hope in the Lord for such a time as this.

Leslie: Thanks, Nancy.

Tomorrow our guests, Kim and Dave Butts, will be back.

Dave: Basically, especially here in the United States, though I think it's true in many, many other nations, we have a bunch of people, Christians who believe in prayer, and they know it's important, but they don't know why.

Leslie: They'll begin to explore why prayer is so important, tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth is an outreach of Life Action Ministries.

*Offers available only during the broadcast of the podcast season.