“Praying the Scriptures for Your Marriage:” With Jodie Berndt

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“Praying the Scriptures for Your Marriage:” A conversation with Jodie Berndt

July 17, 2023 -

“Praying the Scriptures for Your Marriage:” A conversation with Jodie Berndt

“Praying the Scriptures for Your Marriage:” A conversation with Jodie Berndt

“Praying the Scriptures for Your Marriage:” A conversation with Jodie Berndt

Jodie Berndt joins Dr. Mark Turman to discuss why praying the Scriptures help draw us closer to God, uplifts our marriages, helps us get started talking to God in creative ways, and why Christians should make praying with our spouses a habit.

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Show notes:

Jodie Berndt shares her testimony, how she met her husband, and how she became an author of the acclaimed series on praying the Scriptures (3:32). She reflects on why she prays with the Bible, how to share your heart with God, and heroes of the faith who’ve inspired her (14:06). Berndt discusses why it’s so encouraging to pray the Scriptures over your marriage and how her new book leads couples (20:28). She shares why it’s so hard for spouses to pray together and how Praying the Scriptures for Your Marriage can uplift marriages into new spiritual depths, including how it has helped her marriage (30:04). Berndet closes by talking about her chapter on kindness, encouraging people in difficult marriages, and explaining why her book is not just for wives (46:21).

Resources and further reading:

About the host

Mark Turman, DMin, is the executive director of Denison Forum. He received his DMin from Truett at Baylor and previously served as lead pastor of Crosspoint Church.

About the guest

Jodie Berndt is bestselling author of the Praying the Scriptures book series, which includes volumes for Children, Teens, Adult Children, and Life, plus the brand new Praying the Scriptures for Your Marriage. Jodie has been a trusted speaker, Bible teacher, and prayer warrior for over thirty years. She and her husband, Robbie, have four married children, and they live in Virginia Beach, Virginia.


Transcribed by Otter.ai

Mark Turman  00:01

If the Dennison Forum Podcast is an instrumental part of your understanding of today’s news, culture and faith topics, please consider a summer campaign gift to Dennis and poram. We’re looking to raise $474,000 By the end of July, so that we can continue our work and keep expanding our efforts to be digital salt and light your culture in need of both. If you stand with us, please give today at DIA podcast.org And know that any gift today will be doubled by a generous matching grant of $75,000 visit de F podcast.org to partner with us today. Welcome to the Dennis and Forum Podcast. I’m Dr. Mark Turman, Executive Director of Denison forum and host for today’s conversation. Thank you for joining us. The Denison Forum Podcast is about having conversations that matter about faith and culture where they intersect, how they can be redeemed through our walk with Christ. Our goal at the Denison forum, is to equip the church to understand the culture so that the church can be used by God to be redemptive in the culture. And thank you for being a part of this. Thank you for valuing our podcasts. And as we often say, if what we talked about is helpful to you. Please share this with your family and friends and rate review us on your podcast platform that will help other people to find us and to be a part of the conversation as well. Today we are talking about one of the most fundamental aspects of the life of faith, we’re talking about prayer. And we’re going to be talking with Jody Burns, who is a speaker and author. This is her fifth book in a series called praying the Scriptures. And in this particular case, praying the scriptures for your marriage. She’s had previous books about praying the scriptures for your children, teens, your adult children and life generally, she lives in Virginia Beach with her husband, Robbie, she has for adult married children and grandchildren as well. So we’re excited to have Jody as a part of the conversation today, if you like many Christians have struggled with prayer and understanding how prayer is a part of the life of faith. You know, one of the things that really gets under my skin sometimes is when people say prayer works, which I think a better interpretation of that is that God works but he works in response to our prayers in many ways. So we’re gonna learn a little bit more about that with Jodi today. Thank you for being a part of the conversation with us. Jodi, thank you for being a part of the Denison Forum Podcast. We’re glad to have you with us. Hey, Mark,


Jodie Berndt  02:53

thank you. I’m a huge fan. So it’s a treat to be on with you.


Mark Turman  02:57

So tell us about life in Virginia Beach, everybody. That’s one of those places. Everybody wants to go to Virginia Beach. Well,


Jodie Berndt  03:03

it’s a great spot. I would say y’all come on, we are a wonderful resort city. And yes, my husband, Robbie, and I live here I kind of went to high school here feel like I grew up here. And we now have four adult, married children. And we are just so very excited, because three of the four of them actually live in Virginia Beach right now. So we have a full and wonderful family life here. And you’re right. It’s a great town.


Mark Turman  03:32

That’s awesome. Well, tell us a little bit about your faith journey. Did you grow up in church? And when did your faith become? What a big when did it become real for you?


Jodie Berndt  03:43

Well, I love that question. Because I have a journey that may be not unlike some of your listeners. I was raised in a church going home, where my father was a pillar of the community. And he did all the right dead things coaching softball and teaching Sunday school. And he came home one day when I was eight years old. And he said he’d been to a meeting that was held by a group, which was then called the Full Gospel Business Men’s Association, and some of your older listeners might be familiar with that. And he said, You know what I learned today, I learned that it’s not about being a good person. It’s actually about knowing that you’re a sinner in need of grace. And so for him, that was a light bulb going off. And he accepted Christ in his own life at that moment, and asked him to be his savior. And he came home and sat us down as kids down. I was eight years old. And I’ll tell you what, I knew even as an eight year old that I was a sinner. So it made perfect sense to me that Jesus would have had to die for me maybe it’s as we get older, it’s harder to wrap our minds around that but as a child that made sense. And so I prayed that day when I was eight years old with my dad. Um, to receive Christ and honestly, I would say I never looked back now have I wrestled with doubts and worries, have I been a bad girl in my life? Sure, all of those things, but never since then would I say, I walked away intentionally from the Lord. And he has been so very faithful in my life teaching me from the Bible I surrounding me with friends who know Him and love Him, and who will help keep me straight. So, yeah, it’s kind of a boring testimony, no great, scandalous details. But um, but I’m grateful for that.


Mark Turman  05:34

Yeah, that’s, that is encouraging a lot of ways I have, you know, I have a number of people in my life who would say, you know, there’s nothing, I don’t have a great gutter to God story. And so I’m not sure my testimony matters that much. And I’m like, You know what, that’s the way. That’s the way it’s supposed to be, you know, the, remember what Paul’s says about Timothy’s life, you knew the Scriptures from your infancy, and that you were brought up in this environment, as some, you know, my wife would say that she was just in the air that they breathe, that faith was all around from her first breath. And that that’s an incredible blessing. And people should never discount that kind of, of experience. Now, we’re going to talk in a moment about


Jodie Berndt  06:16

mentioning that about Timothy, because I think that’s really encouraging to have a biblical character that you can relate to like that. So I’d never really drawn that connection. So I really appreciate you just pointing that out. And for anybody listening who’s feeling like they don’t have a great testimony, just grab all the jimothy and take it and be grateful for it. I love that. Thank you, Mark.


Mark Turman  06:37

Yeah, yeah, I find myself trying to identify with somebody in Scripture that kind of puts puts the theories in and theoretical statements, the theological statements into real life, and what did it what did it look like for them, and how that might parallel us now, you got to tell us a little bit about how you met your husband, because we’re going to talk about praying for your spouse and a little bit. So tell us a little bit about how you and Robbie came together and your life together? Well,


Jodie Berndt  07:07

true story we met in college, and I thought he was super cute. But he was not pursuing Jesus in a real intentional way at the time. But I still thought, golly, he’s worth setting up with somebody. So I matched him up with my sorority sister thinking they’d be a great pair. And during the, the time that it took for them to get to know each other, he and I continued to get to know each other. And I found myself kind of really falling for him. And I thought, Oh, what am I going to do here? I don’t want to give my heart to somebody who’s not fully in love with the Lord. But golly, God is so good, because Robbie will tell you, he didn’t feel like he could turn around at UVA, you know, big state public school known for its party culture. He felt like he couldn’t walk down the street without meeting a Christian. And thanks be to God, a lot of other people came alongside him, pointed him to Christ. And he did decide that that really mattered to him. And he gave his life to the Lord during his time at UVA. And so, you know, I will say we were college sweethearts. When we got married, we started having kids, we sent them all to UVA. And they’ve had a great experience there, too. So yeah, thanks be to God. That’s how we met through me trying to set him up with someone else.


Mark Turman  08:28

Fantastic, fantastic. So this is now the if I counted, right, the fifth book that you’ve written on praying scriptures in a targeted applied way, which is one of the great things about the way that you’ve written these books, but tell us When did God kind of lead you to start writing? Number one, there’s lots of things that you could write about as a Christian. How did he lead you to write specifically about building a healthy prayer life?


Jodie Berndt  08:57

Well, I never set out to become an author, I, we moved from Virginia Beach to Atlanta with Robbie’s job. And I went to a Bible study and met a woman named Judy blue wife of Ron blue, some of your listeners may be familiar with him as a financial planner and counselor. And he had written a book called master your money, and the publishers were hot after him to write some more books. And he didn’t have time because he was running this big company. And when his wife heard that I was a television writer, which I was in my previous life. She said, You’ve got to meet him and write with them. And I thought, oh, golly, I don’t write books. I write words, like stay tuned and up next, you know, TV kind of words. But we met and I began writing books with him, which Robbie calls a great gift from God because I learned a lot about financial management doing those books with Ron. And then so I realized I really did enjoy the writing process, the book writing process, and by that time, we were having children, and I was very aware of my need for God’s help. Again, not just in managing our money, but in managing our household and our kids. And so I’d always been somebody who read my Bible. And I’d always been someone who prayed who talked to God, whether, you know, it was for my kids to have help on a spelling test or feel better if they had a fever or any of that. But somewhere along the way, and I think it was probably when I began getting involved with a group called Moms in prayer, moms in prayer.org, if anybody wants to know more information about that group, they really take the Bible, not just as something you read, but as something you pray. And when I began to do that, reading these verses like Ephesians, 429, Let no unwholesome talk come out of your mouth, but only what’s helpful for building others up according to their needs that would benefit those who listen, I would read a verse like that, and think, Wow, that is good advice. And then I would think that’s a great prayer, Lord, help no unwholesome talk come out of my mouth out of my kid’s mouth, you know, let the things we say be helpful and beneficial. So you see what I’m saying, as we read through the pages of Scripture, it can be so much more than just something we read, but something we pray something that I call a starting place in a conversation with God, because he’s given us all of these words as his half of a conversation with us, and we can read them and respond to them in prayer as our half of the conversation back to him. So I really began to delight in using my Bible this way and praying this way. And I began to see God working in just some powerful ways, which shouldn’t really come as a surprise. I mean, it was exciting to me. But as I look back, I think, well, golly, we know Hebrews, For His Word is alive and active. We know John 15, where Jesus says, If you remain in me, and my words remain in you, you can ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. So all through Scripture, we see the Lord telling us to pray and telling us even to use his words to shape not just our prayers, but our thoughts and our desires, so that it all comes together. And so I began praying that way, again, seeing some great answers. And I thought to myself, I wonder if other people are doing this or other people praying this way? So I pitched the idea of a book to my publisher, and they said, Yes, go for it. And I sent out a survey for that first book, which was called praying the scriptures for your children. And in the survey had just one question it was, if you could ask God to do anything, for your kids, for your family, what would it be? And you can imagine your listeners, I’m sure can imagine the kinds of things people want for our families, we want our kids to have good friendships, a relationship with the Lord, character traits, like wisdom and compassion, selflessness, all of that. We want them to use their gifts wisely, to have a sense of purpose in life, to marry the right person, you know, so all of these things kind of came together, I took the top 20 or so, desires and requests people told me about and use them to shape the table of contents for that first book. And then I started researching what the Bible had to say about all these things. What did he have to say about our faith and our future, our relationships. And you know, as well as I do, there’s not anything that we’re going to face or desire. And a need will have that he’s not already covered. In his word, I see you nodding as we’re talking here. And so that was just exciting for me to be able to dig deep, to be able to do kind of the hard work of mining the pages of the Bible to find these prayers, and then put them out arrange topically in each chapter. So other parents could come along and just pick up the book and say, I need a prayer for my child’s relationship with their sibling. Oh, let’s look at the chapter and sibling relationships are worried about that. Get the principles and promises there and then have the specific prayers we can pray. So that’s how these books started long answer to a short question. But you know, did the praying scripture for your children, then my kids get older and became teenagers realize we had a whole new swath of either driving and all? Yeah, so


Mark Turman  14:01

if you’re if your prayer life is lacking, just have a teenager? Stronger?


Jodie Berndt  14:06

Exactly. Yeah. And then I did praying the scriptures for your adult children, children when our kids went off to college and starting careers of their own. And then I kept hearing from readers and listeners and followers on social media saying what do you what about me? What about my own life not to be self centered, but I want to talk to God about my needs as well, my fears, my worries, my sufferings in grief, my use of time, my job. And so then came praying the scriptures for your life, which really just hits on about 31 different topics that we all might face in our in our life, you know, big things, little things, all of it. And then you’re right, the last one praying the scriptures for your marriage. So and that one just came out. And my husband helped me with that one. So that was that was done.


Mark Turman  14:50

Yeah, yeah. So it’s really just kind of tracked with your life as it’s evolved and opened up from one chapter to the next to the next. Right.


Jodie Berndt  14:58

Right. Yeah. It’s kind of All out there.


Mark Turman  15:02

Yeah. And kind of indicative of how our our prayer life goes is it’s what’s on our mind what’s on our heart what’s causing us a sleepless nights. That’s a lot of what we live. And that’s a lot of what we pray. So I pastored churches for 35 years here in Texas. I don’t think I’ve ever met a single person that felt like they had a great prayer life. And does your experience.


Jodie Berndt  15:28

Yes. And I’ll tell you, I speak all over that country. And people introduce me as now here’s prayer expert, you know, God burnt and I just want to cringe because I’m like, Oh, my gosh, I’m so not a prayer expert. I’m just somebody who’s deeply aware of my need for the Lord and deeply grateful that scripture says, he bends down to listen, he cares about everything in our lives, even the smallest details. And I meet people all the time, we say, you know, I don’t want to be bugging God. He’s got cancer and world hunger and a pandemic, on his plate, all these things, but I don’t want to talk to him about my fight with my husband or my kids loneliness. He’s got bigger things. And I think, Oh, my goodness, do you not know, you know how much he cares about the smallest detail how much he delights in hearing from his children, just like we want to hear from our own kids. So I just always encourage people, nothing is too big to talk to God about but there’s nothing too small either.


Mark Turman  16:23

Yeah, I’ve heard people say to me, you know, well, if I still know how to pray is like, well, that’s the thing you do pray about ask God to teach you how to pray. And it’s, it’s not surprising, right? That this is the only specific request that the apostles the apostles never said to Jesus teaches how to heal a blind person or a lame person teach us how to do a miracle teach us how to feed 5000 people, they never asked any of those questions, they asked one specific thing Teach us to pray, because they can sense they could sense that there was something particularly unique and uniquely important about the way that Jesus would pray. And, and they asked for that instruction. And he gave us the the ultimate model prayer. And then, you know, Jesus also knew we would tend to give up because this is a spiritual endeavor. And so Luke 18, he tells, he tells the stories about you’re always to pray and not give up and that this is a good father, and he’s gonna, he’s not gonna give you a scorpion scorpion. He says, if you ask for his help, he doesn’t turn around and give you a bad gift like a scorpion that’s going to hurt you. But it’s just interesting to me how almost no Christian no matter how long they’ve been a Christian ever feels like they have a really good handle on this most fundamental aspect.


Jodie Berndt  17:44

And you’re so right about it being the thing, you know, as we look at Jesus’s last words, and this, you know, John 15, and John 15 1617 are really the cornerstone, the backbone of each of the praying the scriptures books, because you look at Jesus’s time in the Garden of Gethsemane and it to your point, he could have spent those last words saying, Okay, guys, let me go over again, how you feed 5000 people or you know, how you heal people? How do you preach a great three point sermon, but he didn’t go in any of that. Instead, he was just like, I just want to tell you how to pray, how to remain in me how to have my words remain in you. And then he prays for the disciples, he prays for all of us. And you think, wow, as he’s drawing nearer to the end of his earthly life, what’s he focused on? He’s focused on prayer on relationship on talking to the Lord.


Mark Turman  18:32

Yeah. So in your own life, and in your own experience, God had there been some mentors for you in this area, some people either in history or just people that you’ve known who you’re like, okay, that I want to learn to pray, like that person prays, obviously, you can find those people in the scriptures, you can find them in the Psalms, particularly which are all prayers in a certain way. Have you had those? Some of those people in your own life that have been kind of living examples for you to follow and to be inspired by?


Jodie Berndt  19:06

Well, thank you. Yes. And you’re exactly right. I love researching and reading how biblical people real life people with real life fears and flaws and all the things we have how they talk to the Lord. But then there have been others as well. Jennifer Kennedy, Dean is an author. She is no longer living here on earth with us, but I loved her writing. She did a book called live a praying life and that really helped open my eyes to some of the beautiful things. Tim Keller, another mentor his book on prayer is one of my favorites. So I think I spend a lot of time reading books and and loving the wisdom of people who are often older but always wiser than I am. So yeah, I think we all kind of need need each other to help because you’re right. We don’t talk about prayer. You told me your sermon in church last weekend was about prayer which is Great. I think our churches don’t really do a great job of teaching us to pray, I think we think, oh, you know, the Lord had just come naturally just talk to him. And yet I meet people all the time, people in their 70s and 80s, who’ve been in church their whole life who say, I never really knew, I never, I never knew about praying the scriptures. You know, I didn’t know how to use the Bible as my prayer book. And I never really felt comfortable or confident talking to God. So I think you’ve really hit on something there, Mark.


Mark Turman  20:28

So one of my, I get you to respond to one of my pet peeves about prayer. So, as a pastor, I’d often hear people say, somewhat flippantly, maybe a little glib prayer works, prayer works, you should try it, prayer works. And it almost sounded like they were talking about their favorite formula, or they just found a new recipe. And it for me, it’s not really correct to say that it’s not that prayer works. It’s it is that God works. It’s not that you find some kind of a magic formula for this. And if you look through the Scripture, you see people praying in all kinds of situations and all kinds of problems. My favorite prayer is the man whose son the the apostles couldn’t heal. And Jesus said, If you believe he said, I believe Help my unbelief is by far my most repeated prayers. What is it about praying the Scripture specifically that you think is so critical? And what I love what you what you write about, I love what you just said, which is, basically all of Scripture can become the content of what our prayer should be. In recent years, I’ve started to say to people, Look, everything that you hear in my sermons, or anybody else’s sermons ought to be translated into a prayer at the end of the sermon or during the sermon. But why is it so important that we anchor our understanding and practice of prayer in the actual scriptures themselves?


Jodie Berndt  22:08

Well, part of it, I think, gets to exactly what you are talking about when you say prayer works. And yet, what are we looking at there? Yes, I love when we ask God for something. And it’s like a vending machine where you put the request in and the answer comes out. But you know, as well as I do, that prayer isn’t about results as much as it is about relationship. You know, Jesus gives us that model again, in John 15. If you remain in me and my words remain in you ask whatever you wish, he’s like, You, I want you to ask, but I want you to ask out of the context of our connection of our relationship of you, abiding and me, and my words, all of Scripture kind of abiding in you, taking root in your heart. And so I would not say that praying the scriptures is the only way that you can pray. But I’ll tell you what it really for me, has opened a window into God’s heart. So I begin to understand that things that he longs for that he wants to do my perspective. And my desires begin to line up with his to line up with what he’s already doing, when I allow the Bible to shape my request. So I think that’s really an important reason why we want to pray scripturally, we can know that we’re praying according to His will. And the Bible tells us that when we pray, according to His will, we have the assurance that He hears us. But not only that, on a very shallow but sincere level, I will tell you that for me, when I began praying the scriptures, my prayer life got so much more interesting and creative than it had been when I was just trying to kind of come up with conversation topics or requests on my own. Because God thinks about things that go so above and beyond anything that we might think, to pray about on ourselves. And you know, this new book is about praying the scriptures for your marriage. And I read a chapter like Ephesians five, which is kind of the classic New Testament passage on how marriages are supposed to work. And there are just so many nuggets to pull out there to turn into prayers Ephesians, five, two, the whole chapter starts out with Paul saying, you know, walk in love giving yourself up for one another, like Christ gave himself up for you. And I’m like, wow, help me, Lord, to walk in love toward Robbie to be willing to give myself up for him. And secular research has shown that the more we choose to serve our partner to serve our spouse to put their needs and desires ahead of our own, whether it’s something simple, like, you know, bringing them a cup of coffee in the morning or getting up early to let the dog out or get up with the baby in the middle of night, or something much bigger that has to do with you know, honoring their desires with our in law. cause or, you know, moving across country for someone’s job, whatever it is, the more we do those things, walking in love giving ourselves up for the other, as Christ did for us, the more that creates what researchers have identified as an upward spiral of generosity, that makes our spouse want to be that way, toward us, and, and Robin, I have seen that dynamic inaction. In our own marriage, we heard Tony Evans preach years ago, we were newlyweds. And he said, he and his wife were having a little competition where they would try to out serve each other. And Tony was getting frustrated, because he said his wife was so good at it, she kept thinking of different ways to honor him to bless him to do things for him. And he said, she’s beating me, she’s out serving me. And I’ve got to get creative to think of how I can keep up. And we took that to heart early on in our marriage, and it has been transformational. Because, again, when you choose to walk in love that way, it creates that kindness spiral, it creates something in us that we want to cherish our husband or our wife back.


Mark Turman  26:10

And so good to remind people that, hey, your marriage is intended to spiral up into greater and greater joy and meaning and satisfaction, it doesn’t have to spiral down that and that prayer is a huge part of that. done some research at the Denison forum recently about who has the most satisfying marriages. And some people might be surprised at this. But it’s not simply people who go to church, but people who take their faith very seriously. And that’s usually manifested in a predominant way by praying and praying together. What do you think it’s difficult for Christian couples, even couples that go to church on a consistent basis? Why do you think it’s difficult for them to make prayer as a pattern within their just normal married life together?


Jodie Berndt  27:05

I think part of it goes to what we were talking about earlier that we just as individuals, not even as a married couple, but we just don’t always feel comfortable praying, know how to pray, aren’t sure where to begin a lot of times, but I think within the context of marriage for couples, I know for Robbie and me, it’s been a challenge, because we have different personalities, we have different prayer styles. I love to journal, he can pray all day long. And remember what he prayed about last month, I need to have written it down. I love to pray out loud, he loves to pray silently. I love to pray very topically and strategically, almost without lines, not really, but just kind of as I’m thinking through stuff. And he can pray much more in a freeform way. But I remember being on a walk with him a few years ago, and I just said, you know, I want to pray more together. And I think that’s probably the heart cry of a lot of a lot of wives and probably a lot of husbands do. And he said to me, Jodi, I would like to to, but I’m telling you, it’s just kind of awkward. And so I think we have to burn through that. And that was one of my goals in writing this book was to give couples a tool, they could use sort of a neutral playing field to say, you know, your style might look like this, and his or her style might look like that. But how about coming together and picking some of these prayer verses and you know, you don’t even have to read the whole stories of other couples, I put them in there so that folks will know they’re not alone and making glean some principles and promises. But really, I think the strength of the book comes at the end of each chapter where there are questions for discussion and reflection that spouses can talk about with one another. And it’s even some simple things like on the chapter and having fun together would you would think is natural, right? You marry somebody you like, of course, you’re gonna have fun, but busyness and life kids jobs get in the way. And sometimes you can find yourself just plowing side by side rows, and you’re going, when have we laughed? When have we had fun? When have we done? You know, enjoyable things we get to rekindle that. And so there’s a chapter in there. And one of the questions is, you know, what would you like to do what looks fun to you that might surprise me or, or when can you remember that we’ve had fun together and just kind of to spark these things. And then specific prayers that you can pray together or on your own. And I’m, you know, not pretending that everybody’s gonna have a spouse that wants to pray with them. And for the husband or wife Who feels alone in this area. I want to just encourage you, you’re never alone. The Holy Spirit is always praying with you. So even if your husband or your wife doesn’t want to do this, doesn’t want to go through the book together doesn’t want to be praying with you. You can still be praying the scriptures for your marriage and you can be praying in partnership with the Lord himself with the Holy Spirit. And that is powerful. That is powerful. So that I think that’s it. I think that that we’re not taught to do it, we sometimes feel like it’s awkward. And I really hope the book helps to just make it a lot more doable.


Mark Turman  30:09

And that’s one of the things that I think really unique about this book is that it gives you a real approachable, accessible plan to build a rhythm. And that’s so important within marriages, we get so busy, we get caught up in just the normal pace, and you know, your job and your kids and everything will it will just, it will just kind of take over. And part of what it means to live a life of faith and to live a life of prayer is to intentionally swim against the streams sometimes, like you said, even when, you know when you’re when you’re newly in love. And when you newly married, it seemed like fun is just natural. But over time, those kinds of things get swept away not by any intention, but it just seems to everything else just seems to take over. And that can be true with prayer as well, that you can have a good rhythm at times as a married couple praying together, even going to worship at a local church, and then all of a sudden you turn around and it’s been weeks or months since those kinds of things happen. We like to talk about Dr. Denison here at the Denison forum talks about that prayer is not a vending machine, it’s not about getting God to do what you want. Rather, it’s about positioning you to receive all that God wants to give you because he wants to give you the best. And prayer is about putting us into a place where God can bless us those in those ways, rather than the ways that we might want to be blessed. They’re probably short sighted and, and not in our long term best interest. But we’re, you know, I’ve encouraged people, most Christian couples would say, Well, you know, we at least pray over our meals, or at least some of our meals. And I would tell people that’s a, if you’re not comfortable praying out loud, that’s a great place to start. Just start praying simple prayers with each other over your meals. But then you there is an intentionality from what I’m hearing you that you, you just have to push past some of the initial awkwardness of this right? You just have to know that the devil is just trying to trip you up with that awkwardness, right?


Jodie Berndt  32:17

It’s trying to trip us up with that awkwardness. And I think Dr. Dennison is so right, because it really isn’t the vending machine thing. It’s about positioning ourselves to receive all the good things that God wants to give. And, and we know from reading scripture, that prayer really can release it does release God’s provision. And the thing is, I think sometimes we put prayer in the bucket of something that is mysterious, and deep and theologically complicated. And yet God cares about the most practical, day to day realities of our life, our relationship with our in laws, our communication patterns, how we talk well how we can listen with love, and not interrupt each other. You know, that’s something I had to learn in our marriage, how we be generous with our time and our money, how we can be humble how we use our time how we parent, how we handle conflict, or finances, our intimacy, you know, in our, in the bedroom, he cares about all of these things. And that’s why in this book, like, I took 20 different topics that were really nuts and bolts of marriage, not, not these deep theological things, but these things we all as husbands and wives need and want God to provide. And it’s just so exciting to think he cares about all of these very things as much as we do. He’s not trying to be far off and, and unaccessible. And, you know, just a theory. He’s just the most practical, loving, approachable guide, and he wants to invest in our marriage. I just, he’s the God of romance. He’s the one that invented marriage. Right. And you said it earlier, I think he loves marriage, because marriage is designed to reflect His love for us, right, is the gospel. And every day, we have a million little chances to live that out as we choose to walk in love as we choose to, you know, Philippians, to look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others, considering their needs ahead of your own family, we get to imitate Christ. And that’s exciting, I think and marriage is a great crucible in which to do that.


Mark Turman  34:18

Yeah, I have a friend that says whenever he does a marriage ceremony, for a couple, he says, You need to remember that at the end of the day, your marriage is not really so much about you as it is about being a window of revelation for the way God loves us. And that’s really what Ephesians five is talking about. And that, you know, we it’s kind of a theme, a theological mystery when Paul says, I’m speaking about Christ in the church when he’s been talking about a husband and a wife serving each other and caring for each other. But what he’s saying is, is that when, when a Christian man and Christian woman are loving each other well in marriage, they’re actually creating this window through which they and other people can See the love of God in dramatic ways. So if somebody picks up your book and they they just really are wanting, as a Christian couple to move in this direction, set some expectations, what what kind of hopes and expectations should they have? When they say, Hey, I found this book, I want us to look at it together, I want us to see if we can develop a real meaningful prayer life together, what would what would be the right expectations for them coming into this?


Jodie Berndt  35:32

Well, I want to give you kind of a two part answer because I want to speak to that Christian couple who’s who’s willing, you know, to dip their toes in the water and do this. But then I also want to talk to the person who’s listening who is like, I’d like that, but my spouse just isn’t gonna go there. You know, either. He’s not a believer, she’s not a believer, or they’re just not interested in that kind of activity praying together. But first to the Christian couple who’s willing, I would say, expect, expect intimacy to deepen a secular research points to how prayer works in a marriage to reinforce the idea that you’re on the same team to give you a chance to come down. When maybe your you got your knees in a wad you’re hot and bothered about something. And when you step back and take a time to pray about it, it can really do that for you just just reinforce the idea, hey, we’re on the same team. My spouse is not the enemy. And we know that, you know, Satan is our adversary, it’s not our husband, it’s not our wife. So so all of those things. Again, secular research says prayer will make you feel Kinder toward your spouse, feel better about your marriage, increase your sense of satisfaction in your relationship and your own sense of emotional well being as a person. But beyond the secular research, I would say spiritually, prayer opens the door to intimacy with one another, and with the Lord. We can’t help it it we’re inviting God into the conversation. And he responds so quickly, and with him with great joy, because that’s all he wants is relationship with us. And so I would say expect intimacy. Also, expect to start small if this is new for you. There’s a 31 day prayer challenge at the end of the book, and folks can download things like prayer calendars on my website at Jody burton.com. Because we can get our heads around this, we can tell ourselves, oh, unless I have a half an hour to hold my husband’s hand or my wife’s hand, and, and really, you know, storm, the gates of heaven, that is not going to work, it’s not going to count, I will tell you, Robbie, and I will have times where it is two minutes on one of our way out the door, when we will just see our prayer calendar posted on our refrigerator. And we will say to one another. Okay, you know what? We need wisdom today. Look at the 17th of the month, may we be wise making the most of every opportunity and Lord knowing your will that’s a proud of Ephesians, five, verses 15 to 17. Or maybe, maybe it’s a desire for friends, give us friends who will love not just with words, but also with actions. That’s first John 318. Those are tiny, short, little prayers. And anybody can do them that doesn’t require a background in prayer. It doesn’t require a knowledge of Scripture, you can just take one of these prayers, that’s a sentence or two, rooted in God’s word, and pray that together, and then guess what you’re done. You have prayed with your spouse, and it might have taken you a minute or two. Now, can we build on that? Sure. But I think for couples who are new, who are putting their toe in, just start there. But I want to again, speak to the person whose spouse doesn’t want to pray, who’s listening to this whole conversation and thinking this sounds really great. And I wish I had a wife like Mark’s or a husband like Jodi’s who will do this with me. But that’s just not the reality in our house. And I would say, you know, pray as you can not as you can’t do what works. And Robin i for years lead marriage courses at our churches, at our church and elsewhere. And we love the material put out by the folks at alpha, they have a thing called the Marriage Course. And one of the things that the developers of that resource say is a lack of prayer in marriage doesn’t equal a lack of love. It doesn’t mean that you and your spouse don’t love one another. It could just mean you’re just not there yet. And one of the things that they encourage us and we encourage encourage other couples to do is if you can’t say how can I pray for you? Maybe you can say what’s something I can do to support you this week? Or how can I let you know you are loved and conversations like that? How can I support you? How can I love you? Those things can be intimacy openers, and I love what Pete Greg and other prayer author he’s, he’s another mentor of mine. He wrote a book called How to Pray. And one of the things he says in there is he draws our attention To Malikai three, verse 16, which says that those who feared the Lord those who honored the Lord talked with each other. And God listened and heard. And I just think that’s such a cool concept that God Almighty is listening in on our conversations. And in the context of marriage is we’re talking about, how can I support you? How can I let you know you’re loved? You know, I believe that he can receive those conversations as prayers, because he knows the cry of our heart, the desire of our heart, we don’t have to form actual words for him to know what we’re desiring what we’re praying. And as we’re talking with our spouse in the context of marriage in this relationship, that is designed to reflect His love for us, the whole idea of how can I let you know you were loved can be breathed as a prayer. And it can really put us on the path to intimacy to prayer, to having that connection with our spouse, and with the Lord. Even without having this formal. Honey, let’s have prayer time together. So I just want to encourage folks pray as you can not as you’re


Mark Turman  41:04

moving in that it’s moving in that trajectory, for sure, you know, and the other thing I would say, and this is been true at times in the busyness of our relationship, that I love what you said, from the off, of course, that a lack of prayer doesn’t mean a lack of love. And many, many couples would say, well, we don’t pray together, like we want to, or like I want to, but I know that my spouse is praying. And I know that I pray for my spouse. And so I think it’s always a good idea. To say, you know, if you know your spouse has a particularly hard thing coming up or hard day at work or the situation to say to them, I’m praying for you. And you can say that in a text message, you can say to that email, you can say it as they walk out the door. Or you can ask them to pray for you. And just that acknowledgement, that invitation that offer, your engendering the thought process that, hey, there’s a third person in our marriage. And as a cleaner, you know, I love reading Ecclesiastes, for at every wedding ceremony that I do that is a cord of three strands. It’s not just a husband and a wife, it’s a husband and wife, and the Holy Spirit that are building this relationship. One of the things that is good about your book is the preventative nature of bringing up conversations, before they actually become a conflict or a crisis. Can you kind of unpack that a little bit? Because, you know, yes, you’re gonna put every couple anticipates if they’re, if they’ve lived any length of time at all, especially together, they know that stuff is going to happen, because it happens, stuff happens to everybody. And we all I suspect go to bed at night, wondering, well, you know, our friends are facing this, what would we do if we were facing that? How can this? How can this book spark conversations that become prayers? Hopefully, that are also preventative for what couples may experience? How does that work?


Jodie Berndt  43:11

Well, I love that question. Because, you know, again, it is easier to build a strong marriage than to fix a broken one, right? And I think every day we have a million little decisions that are either building one another up or tearing one another down even just in something as simple as are we paying attention to the other person or when they come in the room? Are we scrolling our phone, you know, little things like that. And I think that folks can approach this book. And while a chapter on conflict, or a time within laws or forgiveness, there’s a story in the chapter on forgiveness of a, of a heinous betrayal of infidelity. And to see how this wife was able to forgive her husband, I won’t, you know, give the whole story away, but it was as bad as you could ever imagine. And I would, I would pray and hope that that would not be a journey that Robbie and I would walk. But honestly just watching how this couple have navigated that that has equipped me to forgive in the in the smaller offenses that as we know crop up every day in marriage, I want to be equipped to forgive the big the small to everything. And I want Robbie to be equipped to forgive me. And I want to be able to be vulnerable, to be able to ask for forgiveness and we hate feeling needy. We hate feeling like, oh, we can’t do it on ourselves or we’re not competent or we’re flawed and yet it is that very admission of our need for help our need for forgiveness. That is freeing. And and you said it earlier with your Ephesians four that the husband, the wife and the Holy Spirit. What I think this book does is reinforce the do that, you know what, we don’t have all the answers, we are going to face stumbling blocks every day in our marriage. And yet, that’s okay. Because God is at the ready to equip us to help us to teach us to love. I cannot love my husband, the way that I know, in my head, I need to or the way that God wants me to, I’m too selfish. And yet I can turn to him, I can turn turn to the Lord and I can pray these prayers, asking him to help me not interrupt my husband, to pay attention to him to serve Him to forgive him, you know, to do that walking in love again every day. So I think that’s where it can be really practical to start building that foundation before you come up against it. And then if you are already coming up against it, you know what, that’s okay, too. Because God can redeem the worst. We think, Oh, I’ve blown it. I’ve ruined it. There’s nothing that can turn the ship around. Now we’re goners. And yet, nothing that we can do is bigger than God’s power and his desire to redeem. I mean, how arrogant to think we might do something or say something that would forever destroy our union, God would say no, no, if you say that you’re putting yourself or your problems is bigger than I am. And that’s not the truth. I’m bigger than all of it.


Mark Turman  46:21

Yeah, absolutely. And there’s, there’s, as as Dr. Dennison likes to say, it’s always too soon to give up on God. Always. So go just a few more minutes, but want to kind of drill down in and give one practical example. So as a pastor, well, Jimmy Evans is a pastor who writes in works in the areas of marriage ministry a lot, he says, the number one way to kill your marriage is dominance. Instead of serving each other, you tried to dominate the other. And that’s almost the surest way in his opinion, to kill your marriage. Another really good way to kill your marriage is with criticism or contempt, or really got a lot out of reading the chapter about kindness and just the ability of spirit driven kindness to change the whole temperature of a relationship, can you you refer to it a little bit earlier? Can you unpack that a little bit more? And just, you know, kindness is one of those things like being nice. It’s actually better than being nice. But kindness is a fruit of the Spirit. Why are you talking about you? There’s a whole chapter in the book about just praying kindness for each other and to each other. Why is that such a practical reality and necessity in marriage?


Jodie Berndt  47:36

Yeah, it’s funny, you, you, you’re drawn to that one, I’m drawn to that chapter as well. And, and you think, well, golly, that just sounds like such a vanilla kind of Chapter kindness. It’s not as, as exciting or sexy as chapters on intimacy and conflict and financial management and parenting, you know, kindness. And yet, you may be you may be familiar with the gunman’s. They are nationally known experts and psychologists in the area of relationships and marriage in particular. And they


Mark Turman  48:05

father own marriage.


Jodie Berndt  48:07

They really hard to get. They their research is solid, and they have studied, you know, 1000s of couples. And one of the things they say is that it’s kindness, that glues couples together more than any other thing more than sexual compatibility, good communication, no money troubles and everybody thinks, oh, money is the big problem. No, no, it’s, it’s kindness is what glues us together. And contempt, as you said, is what tears us apart. And so we might not think it’s something worth praying about. We might say, you know, this is something you’re naturally kind or you’re not. And yet we know the more we lean into the Holy Spirit, kindness is one of those fruits that comes along as he’s animating our hearts in our lives. We can ask God to fill us with more of His Spirit. And as he does, we will be filled more and more with kindness. And the Gottman say kindness works like a muscle they say it gets stronger with us. So you might be not naturally the kindest person and you might think, oh, you know, I’m just not that nice. Well, the more you exercise, that kindness, muscle, the stronger it grows, until you actually become through your own exercising and through the indwelling work of the Holy Spirit, someone who is actually kind and can be kind, even when everything in your flesh recoils against it, and you just don’t want to respond in love. You want to say something stinging and yet, the Lord will help you be kind.


Mark Turman  49:32

Now, and it’s, you know, I know as a young married couple, my my pastor used to say watch the zingers, right because it’s the the words that you use if they don’t have kindness in them, they become like Barb’s and and that Barb, tell tears away at the flesh of your relationship of your connection with each other. And, you know, it’s kindness is more than the way you talk, but it’s not less than the way you talk. And it’s just so important to think about that, you know, at times we, we talk to people we work with a whole lot better than we do, the people we live with, which is


Jodie Berndt  50:11

I want to be at least as nice to my spouse as I am to the, you know, person at the grocery store that’s checking me out. And I mean, that’s a low bar meeting bar we all need to set.


Mark Turman  50:21

Absolutely, absolutely. Well, thank you for your work in this. And thanks for the conversation. What is your, when you think about this book at night, and you think about wow, I wrote that book. And you know, I get to talk about that book. I’m hoping people buy that book and read that book and use that book, what is what is your ultimate hope that will happen with couples because of what you’ve written?


Jodie Berndt  50:43

Well, when I started out the book, I really wanted it to be something not just wives would pick up because I have 38 books about marriage on my own shelf. I think I think we women are consumers, especially when it comes to relationship how tos, I wanted it to be something that a man would look at as well. And that was where Robbie came in, he read every word he had made me go back to the drawing board countless times, which, you know, was hard, but I think it really made the book better when he would say, Okay, I don’t think a man is going to understand that or relate to that, or you need to be more helpful here, you need to dig deeper here. Um, so my hope is that couples would come away feeling both encouraged about their marriage and also equipped, whether they’ve been praying their whole lives, or this is something brand new, whether they are engaged, or newlywed, or whether they’ve been married 60 years. I want to see people be able to pick this book up and let it transform how they talk to one another. And even more importantly, how they talk to the Lord.


Mark Turman  51:40

Absolutely. Well, it’s a great, great resource. Thank you for the labor of love putting it and the other books together as well. Give us again, your website so people can get other resources and also get the book.


Jodie Berndt  51:53

Yes, thank you. And I would hope people would check that out. It’s Jody byrne.com, J, OD i e, b e r n d t. And folks will be able to find free printables. Their prayer calendar is a marriage blessing that I actually like to print and put in with wedding gifts for people. So all of those things, as well as the books are available there. So I hope folks will check it out. And thank you, I just have to say thank you. I have listened to the podcast, I read the Daily article, all of it for so long and just love it. So I’m just so grateful to you all for the work that you do to equip and strengthen families.


Mark Turman  52:29

Well, thank you. We’re glad to be in partnership with you and with others and we hope that our conversation today is making a difference in the lives of our listeners. If you are being blessed in that way. Please rate review us on your podcast platform that’s helped people find good information. Please share this with family and friends. And Jodi again, thank you for making time for this conversation today and thank you for your work. We look forward to future conversations.


Jodie Berndt  52:56

Thank you so much




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