Revive Our Hearts Podcast

Your Prayer and God’s Power, Day 2

Leslie Basham: Do you know why prayer is really so important? Dave Butts says, not many people do.

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

Leslie: This is the Revive Our Hearts with Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth for Wednesday, May 4, 2016.

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: Do you ever feel like you just don't know how to pray? I know I do. Yesterday, Dave and Kim Butts shared ways all of us can pray more effectively. I was so encouraged by this conversation.

For instance, they shared how we can pray Scripture back to the Lord. Well, all of us can do that with just an open Bible and an open heart. If you missed Part 1 of the program, you can hear the audio or read the transcript at ReviveOurHearts.com.

All this year we're calling women to cry out to the Lord in fervent, earnest prayer. Let's listen as Kim and Dave Butts continue to help us know how to pray more effectively. Kim picks up on this idea of praying Scripture back to the Lord.

Kim Butts: There's also another really, really practical reason for praying Scripture. How many of you struggle to pray out loud (you don't have to raise your hand), or you're married and you and your husband are trying to pray together and one of you struggles to pray out loud? If you read Scripture together out loud to the Lord, you're praying together. This set so many people free from that struggle of praying out loud.

I have a good story: There is an older lady in a church that we had attended. All her life she had not prayed out loud. I had a group of women divided in groups of four, and she said right off the bat, "If you want us to pray out loud, I'm not going to do it!"

So I thought, Well, okay, I've just got to let it go. I had given them 3 x 5 cards with Scripture on them, and I just had them read the Scripture, and when they were done, I said, "Congratulations!" And they all looked at me. "You all just prayed out loud!"

This lady just burst into tears and said, "That's the first time I ever heard my own voice speaking back to the Lord." It was a really powerful moment, and it just broke everything loose for her. Really, she had been in bondage in that way—not being able to do it.

Not that you have to pray out loud, because God's perfectly capable of hearing your prayers that you think to Him, too, but I think she had really longed for that in her life. There are husbands and wives who don't pray together for that reason.

As you teach them that they can pray the Word over each other and bless each other in prayer—and bring their children into that process—then it becomes a family-wide thing. And you can teach your children how to pray Scripture.

As you start praying Scripture, Scripture starts coming out of your mouth and out of the mouths of your children at times when you didn't realize you'd memorized it! But there it is, and it's just come into your spirit, through the power of the words, and has just become a part of who you are.

So there's a very, very, very practical and exciting way to help people who struggle with praying out loud.

Nancy: Tell me what prayer looks like in your marriage and what you recommend for married couples. I'm a newlywed, and I'd love some counsel here. Just where you are in your journey.

Dave Butts: Well, we would not pretend to be experts on that. We believe in praying together, and that means that sometimes we do and sometimes we don't. There's nothing in Scripture that says, "Thou shalt pray together as husband and wife." It's not a command. 

Kim: But we highly recommend it.

Dave: Yes. What we find is, it's a very good thing. It brings you together.

Kim: And it's very hard to be angry at someone you just prayed with. 

Dave: Have you tried? (laughter)

Kim: I'm never angry with you dear.

Dave: It really does bring you closer together. We pray in the morning, and so at the beginning of the day, I hear my wife pray for my day. That tells me not only of her love, but of her concern and her involvement in my day, and she hears the same from me.

It becomes very, very important in that aspect—whether it's a five-minute, quick time of prayer or whether it's a half-an-hour. There, for a while, we tried very hard to get a half-an-hour in a day, because we discovered that there were so many things for us to pray about that half-an-hour hardly covered it.

But it was important to try to get that much in.

Kim: That's why "pray as you go" is an important thing, too. I don't believe in just putting prayer in a little silo that's called "quiet time," and then check it off and for the rest of the day, that's that. For me, prayer is a living, breathing "who I am."

I'm not very good at that a lot of times, but just that it draws my thoughts back to the Lord—the awareness of God, of Christ in us. By the way, when we were talking about praying the Scripture over each other . . .

Sometimes we just read the Word for information, but in prayer you can read the Word for formation. It forms you. So as we pray for each other, we see God forming things in us in our relationship, deepening that, and in the lives of our kids and grandkids. You can watch God move in response to His Word as you pray together.

We pray the Word over each other a lot. It's important to us. But it isn't just in the morning.

Dave: That's right. 

Kim: When things come up, we don't say, "Oh, I'll pray for you about that." We do it!

Dave: And sometimes that's a thirty-second prayer, and sometimes it's a minute or two, but it's just a sort of thing throughout the day . . . and particularly if you have that time in the morning. And I say morning simply because that's a natural thing to get started.

Now, that doesn't fit everybody's circumstances. You know, there are couples where one of them gets up at three o'clock in the morning because of work or something and the other one doesn't.

But for most, you can start off in the morning. But then through the day it's a matter of, "Oh, let's pray over this." It may be a minute or two, but it becomes a way of life. And then, that goes beyond a couple to the way that I would suggest we all ought to pray. 

We're not looking for the question, "How long did you pray today?" [Answer]: "Well, all day." When it comes right down to it, Scripture holds that model up, of praying without ceasing.

Kim: And we're a house of prayer.

Dave: So, how do you do that? Well, you certainly don't do that by closing your eyes and folding your hands and praying like that.

Kim: Especially when you're driving! We don't recommend that!

Dave: Yeah, we don't have that kind of faith, to drive while praying with closed eyes.

It is obviously an eyes-open pray-as-you-go lifestyle. So, what I believe the great saints of the past have taught us, and what I think you see in the life of Jesus and of Paul, and what I believe many today are striving for, is that prayer that is natural.

Kim described it like breathin, .and I really think that's what we look for. I really see that it makes people uncomfortable, like, "Well, I really need to go and have this prayer time and that prayer time." That's a good thing to do, but even the prayer time does not replace walking with Jesus all day long. My life verse is Colossians 1:27: "Christ in us, the hope of glory." If He's in us (and He is), we have every expectation that that fellowship ought to be continued on throughout the day—just continual conversation.

Sometimes someone else breaks into that, when Kim and I are talking together to the Lord, but the rest of the time it's you just you and Jesus. That's the lifestyle. 

Kim: And cultivating thankfulness, something you're grateful for, and you just thank the Lord for it. Well, that's a prayer time—continually having conversation with the one who created us—to meet with Him in whatever creative way He shows you, or He's wired you.

Nancy: I don't know a lot about your children, but as they were growing up, was prayer a way of life in your family?

Kim: Well, we have an interesting blended family, so I will say yes and no.

Dave: That's a definitive yes and no. Before Kim and I married I, as a single pastor, had adopted a little boy who was in foster care. Often out of that kind background there's a lot of struggle, and there still is.

But he tells us both that he continues to pray, so prayer continues to be a part.

Kim: And he asks us to pray.

Dave: He often will call us and ask us to pray about issues. So I know that, in spite of his struggles through the years, some things sunk in, and he is still seeing the power of prayer.

Our youngest son, David, asks us to pray. He's a policeman, and we do pray anyway, just because of the situations he's in.

Kim: He's much more comfortable with prayer.

Dave: Yes, and he's praying with his daughter, now, and his wife.

Nancy: I have some friends who have young children who have just determined that their houses will be houses of prayer and that they're going to be families of prayer. Some of these families are close to each other, so it's a culture they're creating. It's some of the families in our ministry. 

I've been in their homes. I'm going to have dinner with one of them tonight. It's so sweet to see when these families are together how prayer is such a way of life. They'll have a birthday party for one of the kids, and the families will be together and they'll say, "Let's just pray a blessing on so-and-so."

And a seven-year-old, the sixteen-year-olds, they'll come around this child and pray. They've prayed the most beautiful prayers of blessing for me. I'm seeing these children be so comfortable.

It's not like they're weird children. They're not living a monastic life. It's not like all they ever do is pray, but it's a way of life in those homes, and it's a beautiful thing.

Kim: And what happens, often, when this doesn't happen, is that we basically train prayer out of children. We raise up generations of dysfunctional pray-ers. We've been dysfunctional pray-ers, too.

And that's why it had to be an intentionally done thing. We have to recognize that kids have just as much of the Holy Spirit as we do. They don't have "junior Holy Spirits." We think we need to wait until they're a certain age until they can really understand. But no, they get it now. They get it immediately.

Nancy: You were mentioning something about intergenerational prayer. What do you mean by that?

Kim: I really believe that we have segregated our prayer times in our churches, where the adults are doing the work of prayer, and the kids are watching a fun video somewhere else or doing some other different thing. We haven't invited them in. The difficulty with that is, kids are messy. We don't really know what they're going to say or what they're going to do. But if we start inviting them in periodically, just praying together corporately, they'll know it's not just in our home that we pray but it's corporately as the Body of Christ together. 

Like in the Book of Joel . . . they called everyone from the youngest to the oldest. Everybody was standing there before the Lord. Everybody was expected to be there—even those nursing at the breast, Scripture says. They took it so seriously; that was how that was to come about.

We have separated that out because we're afraid of prayer. A long time ago I wrote a book on family prayer, and I wrote it because I had so many parents who said, "I can't teach my kids to pray because I don't know how to pray."

So, rather than just launching in there and doing it, they just didn't do it. The best way I knew how was to give them some creative ways to do it together so parents didn't just feel like they were the teachers of prayer, but they learned together.

I found so many parents who said, "I learned so much from my kids in prayer. I have learned so many things from just watching kids in prayer." This is kind of like us, too.

I remember a young lady who's now a sophomore at Indiana Wesleyan University. I think it was about when she was three years old, and it was bedtime. Her mom asked her, "Makayla, would you like to pray?" And so, showing off for me, she said, "Oh, yes, I want to pray!"

And this was her prayer: "God, thank You for my ceiling and my lamp and carpet and Barbie dolls and my books and . . ." She went all around her room thanking God for the things in it. You've all heard this.

So, what is in a three-year-old's experience? Everything that they can see and touch and experience. Her mom could have said, "Oh, Makayla, God doesn't really care about your dolls and your lamp and your books and stuff." Then what does Makayla have the next night to pray about? She's got nothing.

So, what does Mom do instead—which was the right thing to do. Mom says, "Makayla, that was a great prayer! So many kids don't have all of these nice things that you have, and you're so grateful. I know that God was really happy with the prayer that you prayed."

And Makayla was like [sigh of relief], "I'm so glad I've done the right thing."

And then her mom did the second thing that was wise. She said, "Makayla, before we go to sleep tonight, we're going to pray one more prayer. We're going to pray for the neighbors down the street who don't know Jesus."

And she named them by name—kids, parents, everybody. Then she led out in that prayer. The next night, what's the first prayer out of little Makayla's mouth? The neighbors down the street who don't know Jesus, and the other neighbors who don't know Jesus, and all the children at her preschool who don't know Jesus and the lady at the grocery store who doesn't know Jesus. Because now it's in her experience, where it wasn't before. The night before that wasn't in her experience.

Well, it's the same with us. Sometimes we feel like we're being dragged kicking and screaming into a prayer experience. But God just wants to stretch us a little. We come to Him as little children, and He'll do that.

We just need to be open and aware that He might do that in creative ways. If we approach it like this little three-year-old and recognize, God can move in us. We can be teachable. We have to recognize that there are still people who are still at that "Now I lay me down to sleep, and I don't know what else to say to God" phase.

But we can stretch them bit by bit by helping them with tools like praying Scripture or understanding how God has created us in new ways.

Dave: One of the things that I think is very, very important, that Kim and I have often recognized and talked to people about, is the fact that there is a strong tendency for Christian parents to allow the church to take care of all of the spiritual education of their children.

So we send them to Bible school. Well, that's certainly not adequate, but at least they do teach the Bible. What they don't teach, typically, is prayer. If you are allowing the church to be the ones that teach prayer, there's a good chance that children will not grow up praying, because they don't know how to, either—to be honest.

That's part of Harvest Prayer Ministries, helping churches grow in the area of prayer. But if parents are trying to let the church teach their kids to pray, no one is doing that. Parents really need to grab hold of that.

Like Kim said, learn with them. You say, "I don't know much about prayer myself," okay, that's good. So you and your kids just learn together as you just experiment in prayer and you grow in this.

One of the things that's very, very exciting is a tremendous growth of a movement of prayer, if you will, among children all over the world. We are seeing some of the most significant movements of prayer take place among children—we're talking ages six to fourteen or fifteen—even younger than that. Amazing!

Kim and I were in Malaysia for the first "Children in Prayer" conference, and these kids were . . . scary!

Kim: We just recognized that they had grown up and had been nurtured in a culture of prayer. "This is just what we do. This is just how we follow Christ. This is how we're formed in Him."

Dave: And we came back with a passion to see that here. We want to see that in our nation! I don't want to just see kids in Malaysia or in Indonesia and other places do that. No.

When we were in Indonesia, by the way, where they have the prayer towers that are day and night. Indonesia the most populous Muslim nation on the planet, but they have over 500 prayer centers that are praying day and night, twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.

Many of them are populated by children who take hours at a time and come in and pray. 

Kim: . . . just crying out before the Lord.

Dave: It's just astonishing listening to these children just crying out for their nation. And, by the way, the church in Indonesia is just growing rapidly—I would even say dangerously—because I think it's going to find itself in some real conflict (it already is, in some places). But it's being fueled by children praying.

I want to see that happen here in the United States. I want our children to grow up passionately crying out to God, and it's going to start in the home. It's going to take Christian parents who catch a vision of teaching children to pray, not just "thank you," but praying for the world.

Nancy: You've written a little book, Dave, I have in my hand here, called Forgotten Power: A Simple Theology for a Praying Church. What prompted that book, and what's the simple theology part of that?

Dave: By the way, my publisher said, "Oh, don't use the word 'theology.' Nobody will pick it up." But that's what it is.

Let me tell you, something that's happened over a number of years for us. Here's what we do (and most people don't know). We travel and teach in local churches, particularly.

I get to do conferences. Kim and I both do retreats and things, and those are fun. But what I love, what is our passion is, is coming into a local church and saying, "How can we help you become a house of prayer for all nations in order to see revival and the finishing of the task of world evangelism?"

Nancy: Let me say, if you want to see this ministry, perhaps in your church, we'll have a link to Harvest Prayer Ministry on our website and you can contact Dave and Kim and see if there might be a way they could be of help to your local church.

Dave: Sure, thank you.

I'm going to just be real honest here. We've been doing this for a couple of decades. Sometimes people will come and say, "So show us some of the churches that are really becoming houses or prayer."

And we look at each other and we start to stutter a little bit, because they are few and far between. We and others like us have been doing this for decades, and we're going, "Well, where are the praying churches, then?"

And there are some, but by and large, when you look out there, there are just not that many.

Kim: Every church has praying people. But when we ask, "What does a house of prayer for all nations look like?" we can't really point to a lot of churches that look like that.

Dave: Right. So we started looking and asking questions, "What are we doing wrong?" To be honest, we can sit down with a group of leaders of a church and say, "Here are some important steps you can take to become a praying church." And they nod and get it, and nothing happens.

So as we've looked at this and prayed, I have become absolutely convinced that, basically—especially here in the United States, though I think it's true in many, many other nations—we have a bunch of Christians who believe in prayer. They know it's important, but they don't know why.

Nancy: That's Dave Butts, chairman of the National Prayer Committee. Tomorrow we'll pick back up on that conversation with Dave ad Kim to hear why prayer is so important. And we'll give you a final thought from Dave on that subject in just a moment.

Now, when we think of growing in prayer, I know a lot of us recognize the need to be praying for our nation—especially as we watch this presidential campaign unfolding. Dave has written a very helpful book on how we can be praying for the country, with a chapter on how to pray for the election.

The book is called, With One Cry: A Renewed Challenge to Pray for America. I've been reading this book myself, and it's been so challenging and encouraging to me, with many helpful practical hints about how to pray for the presidential election and for God's will to be done in our nation and in our world.

We'll send you a copy of Dave's book, With One Cry, when you support Revive Our Hearts with a gift of any amount. Your gift matters a lot at this important time. May is the end of our fiscal year. That's the time we wrap up the annual accounts and start a new budget cycle.

So it's important for us to be in healthy financial position as we budget, and as we prepare for so many exciting opportunities in the year ahead—things like calling at least 100,000 women together, in perhaps thousands of settings on September 23, to cry out to the Lord in prayer.

We're planning a True Woman conference in Mexico next spring. It's where we see God at work in an unusual way, stirring in the hearts of women who are eager for this message. And early next year, we hope to release a book I've been working on over the past several months from Titus 2. It's all about older women teaching younger women. It's called, Adorned: Living Out the Beauty of the Gospel Together. And we're in the process of developing study materials to help women connect over this content together.

In order for this kind of ministry to happen, we need your support. Would you ask the Lord how He'd like you to be involved here at the end of this fiscal year? As a transcript reader, your gift will be doubled by some friends of the ministry who know how valuable it is to be able to get Revive Our Hearts online whenever you need it.

They're challenging you to help continue making this online version possible by doubling your gift. We've set up a special URL for transcript readers. Visit ReviveOurHearts.com/donate/transcript to make your donation and double your effectiveness. 

When you make your donation, be sure to let us know you'd like a copy of Dave's book, With One Cry.

I told you we'd hear a final thought from Dave on why prayer is so important. He says that prayer is a way for God to usher in His will.

Dave: Basically, when God wants something to happen on Planet Earth, He places a thought in one of His people, "I want you to ask Me for this." This is because He also wants to teach us to depend on Him. God wants everything on this planet to happen according to His will when we, the people of God, depend on Him by asking. So prayer ultimately starts with God.

Nancy: Dave will explain more tomorrow on Revive Our Hearts.

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

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