Empty Phrases and Many words: How To Pray For Your Spouse – 3 of 8

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In Matthew chapter 6, Jesus teaches his disciples how to pray in a way that is pleasing to God. He cautions them against praying with meaningless repetition or for the purpose of impressing others or God. Instead, Jesus calls us to pray with sincerity, simplicity, and surrender to God’s will. In this episode, we’ll explore key principles from Jesus’ teaching on prayer that can transform our prayer lives.

The Problem with Empty Phrases

Jesus warns his followers not to “heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words” (Matthew 6:7). Here, Jesus highlights two potential problems with our prayers:

  1. Praying without meaning. Some prayers consist of familiar words or religious phrases that have lost their significance in our hearts. We rattle off memorized sentences without really connecting to their meaning in our hearts.
  2. Thinking our words will commend us to God. The Gentiles Jesus refers to pray with “many words” thinking that their many words will get Gods attention or Geet him to respond. They are trying to have a relationship with God by their words rather then truly knowing him.

God sees straight through these issues. He cares about the state of our hearts, not the eloquence or amount of our words. Long, complex prayers do not get His attention or gain His favor.

The Power of Simple, Sincere Prayers

After warning against empty phrases, Jesus presents a stunningly simple prayer as a model – what we now call the Lord’s Prayer. This beloved prayer contains less than 60 words in most English translations. Its straight-to-the-point petitions focus on God’s glory, God’s kingdom, and our daily needs.

Clearly, we don’t have to use lofty language or pray extensive prayers to connect with God. He wants us to come before Him sincerely and speak from our hearts. Our words can be few or many, elaborate or plain. What matters most is that we direct our prayers with humility, honesty, and faith to God who knows us and loves us.

Surrendering to God’s Will

Jesus models surrender to God’s will when He prays in the Garden of Gethsemane. He asks for the suffering of the cross to be removed if possible, but ultimately submits to God’s plan, saying “Not my will, but yours, be done” (Luke 22:42).

Like Jesus, we sometimes struggle to reconcile our desires with God’s will. But we can pray through this by voicing our requests and then yielding to what God knows is best. He calls us to trust His infinite wisdom and sovereignty, even when we don’t understand His ways. As we surrender our will to God’s in prayer, He fills us with patience, confidence, and ultimately His peace.

What Should We Pray For?

Knowing what to pray can be challenging at times. We may wonder, “What should I be praying about?” Especially when it comes to praying for our marriages. Here are some helpful Biblical suggestions:

  • Thank God for His blessings and grace (Philippians 4:6-7)
  • Tell God how you’re feeling about a situation
  • Pray for your spouse’s specific needs
  • Pray for your children
  • Ask God to meet urgent needs of others
  • Pray for someone’s salvation
  • Ask God to deepen your understanding of His love
  • Seek God’s wisdom regarding decisions (James 1:5)
  • Pray for pastors and church leaders (Colossians 4:3)

Of course, this is not an exhaustive list But hopefully will give you a place to start. 

The State of Our Hearts

As we explore Jesus’ teaching and example of prayer, a key truth emerges: God cares more about the state of our hearts than the length or eloquence of our prayers. He wants us to come before Him as beloved children, sincerely and humbly, trusting Him fully whether or not He chooses to say “yes” to our requests.

May Jesus’ words move us to examine our prayer lives carefully. May the Holy Spirit ignite in us a passion to pray with purity of heart, simplicity of speech, and submission to God’s perfect will.

Please listen to this podcast episode to Get more insight into this.

READ TRANSCRIPT

Jennifer Smith (00:05):

Our prayer must not be self-centered. It must arise not only because we feel our own need as a burden, we must lay upon God, but also because we are so bound up in love for our fellow men, that we feel their need acutely as our own to make intercession for men is the most powerful and practical way in which we can express our love for them. John Kelvin.

Aaron Smith (00:25):

Hey, we’re Andrew Jennifer Smith, your host of Marriage After God podcast. Before we get started, I just wanted to share a review we got recently on our show. This is by K 9 5 0 9. The title is Love The Challenges Exclamation Points Gave Five Stars and they said, so glad the podcast is back. You both are gifted in a natural way of sharing the gospel and relationship to our everyday life. I’m so appreciative of the encouragement and scriptures you share to help us navigate the mini seasons of marriage. You guys are a blessing additional review. I simply love listening to you guys. Every episode is refreshing and filled with practical applications to implement in my life. Thank you, Erin and Jen. Also, Jen is hilarious and makes me laugh throughout the show. Yes,

Jennifer Smith (01:09):

Got it. Mission accomplished.

Aaron Smith (01:11):

If you haven’t left us, if you have left us a star rating and review, we wanted to say thank you so much. They really bless us. Also, I wanted to encourage you, if you haven’t left a star rating or review, to take two seconds today and just simply tap on that star rating and if you feel inclined to also leave us a written review, we’d love that. We love reading them and they really bless us as I said before, and we may even read your review out loud on the show. So take a second today, leave us a star rating and review.

Jennifer Smith (01:40):

Alright, we’re back this week. This is part three of our eight part series that we’ve been working through on talking about prayer and specifically how Jesus teaches us how to pray in Matthew six.

Aaron Smith (01:49):

Just a quick note, I’ve been getting more messages lately, private messages on different things based off of this series we’ve been doing. Oh, nice. Yeah, so I thought that was really cool. For some reason it’s striking a chord with people.

Jennifer Smith (02:02):

Cool. Well, we love it and we’re excited to be doing this and one of our biggest goals behind talking about prayer is also in celebration of our book launch, which is coming up in just a few weeks. We are gearing up to launch our newest book, which is 365 Prayers for Marriage. It’s called The Marriage Gift, and you can go to the marriage gift.com to check that out or pre-order.

Aaron Smith (02:24):

And a special note, if you stay tuned to the end, we’ll actually be reading a prayer from the book, prayer number one 12. We’ve been doing this for this series. Usually we pray a unique prayer, but for this series we’ve been wanting to show you examples from the book specifically. So stay tuned to the end to hear that prayer.

Jennifer Smith (02:40):

I’ve really enjoyed talking about prayer and we’ve been inspired because of our book, but I just like it. I’m

Aaron Smith (02:46):

Glad talking about prayer. Sorry to interrupt you. It’s just encouraging me to evaluate my own prayer life, always how intentional I am and the way I pray and when I pray. So this has been good for me. I feel like

Jennifer Smith (02:58):

Believers are always experiencing that ebb and flow of spiritual intimacy with the Lord, and I think there’s some seasons where you just recognize, oh, I haven’t been doing what I normally do or I’m not doing what I know I should be, and so it’s just good reminders all around. But I love to hear that people, their interests are peaked in us doing a series like this, so that’s cool.

Aaron Smith (03:17):

Yeah, so speaking about this being the third episode, the first episode, we dealt with how to pray genuinely and not as a hypocrite. And again, we’re going through Matthew six through actually the Lord’s Prayer. We haven’t gotten to the Lord’s prayer, but we will today, actually, sorry, that’s next week. But we’re going through right now the first few verses right before the Lord’s Prayer about how Jesus is teaching not to pray and not to be like this, and so we’re gearing up for it.

Jennifer Smith (03:43):

So the first one was about not being a hypocrite. The second episode we talked about the power of praying in secret and just that the Lord will reward you.

Aaron Smith (03:53):

And so this episode now is based on verse seven of Matthew chapter six, and I’ll read that real quick. And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do for they think they will be heard for their many words. Do not be like them for your father knows what you need before you even ask him.

Jennifer Smith (04:14):

So I think for a lot of people, many people, they get hung up on their words or even the length of their prayers when it comes to considering praying, taking. I think that’s true, taking a step forward. Our hope today is just to extinguish any insecurities that anyone listening might have about your words or encourage you that your words are meaningful to God, especially as we try and answer the question, what should I be praying?

Aaron Smith (04:40):

Yeah, we just did a podcast recently and the girl we were talking to is explaining how she felt. She didn’t know how to pray well, she could write well, she can, but she didn’t feel eloquent in her prayers and we got to encourage her and say, with what we’re encouraging today is like God loves your prayers as they are the simple ones, even when you feel like you don’t say them right or have the right words. And so that’s kind of what we’re talking about today is and trying to pull from this part of Jesus’s encouragement to his disciples and to us is being meaningful in our prayers and sincere in them.

Jennifer Smith (05:15):

So in this first part, Jesus is basically calling them out and saying, don’t use empty phrases. And so I think we should point out what it says in Isaiah 23 or 29 13. Sorry I read that wrong. It says, and the Lord said, because this people draw near with their mouth and honor me with their lips while their hearts are far from me. I know that’s not the whole thing. There’s a lot more to it, but I just wanted to pull that out because here you can see that the Lord knows when our mouths and lips and words say one thing, but the posture of our heart and what’s inside of our heart is something completely

Aaron Smith (05:51):

Different. Our purposes, our intentions

Jennifer Smith (05:53):

Are they don’t match up.

Aaron Smith (05:54):

Yeah. He’s pointing out that the Gentiles who were not people of God, that’s why he mentions Gentiles, because there’s the Jews who are God’s people and then there’s the Gentiles, which is everyone else. He’s saying the Gentiles think that they’re going to draw near to God or get close to God or get his attention or be heard because they say so many things or because they design their prayers in a specific way. They think that they’re going to somehow convince God to listen to them. And he’s saying, that’s not how God hears us. That’s not how God listens. And the verse you just read, he’s showing. He’s like, he’s not looking for just the words of our mouths to be a certain way. He’s not looking for us to say the right order of things or say the right words. He’s looking for our hearts.

Jennifer Smith (06:38):

When it said, when I read the part, while their hearts are far from me, I was also thinking how sometimes our words when we’re praying can line up or align with things of God and the will of God and sound mature, spiritually mature, but when our hearts are far from him, it’s like every other choice that we make throughout the day doesn’t reveal that same thing.

Aaron Smith (07:00):

So we could say all the right things. Someone can hear us and be like, wow, that was a really great prayer, but our hearts not be right.

Jennifer Smith (07:07):

We talk a lot about the correlation between having intimacy with God, like spiritual intimacy and intimacy in marriage, and I know that probably everyone could attest to this. When you’re in a relationship, there are moments that we do this where there’s lip service with each other where we say one thing because we know that thing matters to our spouse and we want our spouse to hear it come from us, but every other choice that we’re actually doing, every action does not line up

Aaron Smith (07:35):

Or our hearts don’t line up what we are feeling and desiring in our hearts. Have you ever responded to your spouse, all our listeners? Have you responded in a moment where maybe you didn’t really feel like saying it or didn’t believe it, but it said, I love you too. There’s moments you don’t feel like it. Yeah, sure. I love you. Yeah. For

Jennifer Smith (07:54):

Me, I forgive you because there’s been times when I know I should say it like you apologize and I know I need to say I

Aaron Smith (07:59):

Forgive you. This is the right thing to do. I’m supposed to do this. But then

Jennifer Smith (08:02):

Later on in the day, I realized I don’t actually forgive him or you call me out on it because how I’m acting reveals it and you’re like, I thought you forgave me. I’m like, no, I just said it.

Aaron Smith (08:12):

It’s almost better that you don’t say nothing until you actually do mean it. Just like we can sense within our relationship, we can sense true intimacy as off in our relationship. Of

Jennifer Smith (08:27):

Course, God can tell when we’re praying and it doesn’t line up, who

Aaron Smith (08:31):

Do we think we’re kidding when we try and are we trying to go before God and trick him into hearing us? This is what he’s talking about, the Gentiles. We’re trying to in some way force something from God or manipulate something from God or like, Hey, look what we’re saying. We’re saying all these things. Hear us. Hear us, hear us. And God’s like, that’s not how I listen. I’m listening to my people.

Jennifer Smith (08:53):

And maybe the encouragement for you listening, even that you’re doing it intentionally. You’re not trying to trick God, but you actually haven’t even stopped to evaluate, Hey, are the things that I’m praying about matching my action and my heart? Is my heart the same in both ways? Maybe it just is time that we stop and evaluate and asking the question, what should I be praying? It’s like, what am I praying?

Aaron Smith (09:17):

Yeah. Do we believe the things that we’re saying? Do we actually want the things that we’re saying? That’s another one. Do we actually want? Because we could say, I did this for years as a believer when I was dealing with certain things like pornography and last in those kinds of things, I would ask God to take it from me. I would ask God to change me and ask God to heal that part of me. But in reality, looking back, I didn’t actually want him to change those things. I just wanted him to take away the guilt I was feeling. I just want him to take away the shame that I was feeling. It wasn’t until I truly believed like, oh, I actually do want this change to me, and they actually believing that he actually already has. There was a discrepancy in what I was praying and what I believed.

Jennifer Smith (10:00):

Yeah. Well, how does it make you feel if I say something that I don’t believe in our relationship or that I’m not walking in?

Aaron Smith (10:10):

Well, it doesn’t feel real. It doesn’t feel true. It doesn’t feel like loving when you ask questions or if I ask you a question like, Hey, how are you doing today? I really want to know. Right?

Jennifer Smith (10:22):

But I don’t want to talk about it, so I just say, I’m fine

Aaron Smith (10:25):

And I can tell you’re not fine. I’m like, clearly, and I’ve said this before, clearly you’re not fine. What’s going on?

Jennifer Smith (10:30):

There have definitely been times where you’re like, can you just not say that you’re fine and just say, I don’t want to talk about it.

Aaron Smith (10:34):

Yeah. I’d rather you be honest in that way. Yeah. Because it doesn’t feel truthful. I can see something and I’m like, something seems off, but you’re saying everything’s okay, which is not okay. It doesn’t make sense. So if we don’t like that, if that doesn’t feel good for us, I bet you our listeners are thinking, yeah, I don’t think that feels good at all. Then how do we think God feels about us coming to him in that same way?

Jennifer Smith (11:01):

Yeah, that’s good.

Aaron Smith (11:03):

Do you desire to pray more for your spouse? Do you desire to pray more with your spouse? We understand that you may not know where to start or maybe you feel uncomfortable praying or maybe you don’t know what to pray, or maybe you simply want to add something more to your current prayer life. This is why we wrote the Marriage Gift 365 prayers for Our Marriage. We desire that it would be used as a daily reminder and catalyst for you and your spouse to grow a dynamic and consistent prayer life together. This book is a compilation of 365 unique and powerful prayers that cover a range of diverse topics that every marriage deals with. You can read it alone or ideally you read it with your spouse. Also, we hope that the topics that are brought up in these prayers would become a starting point for deeper and more intimate conversations with your spouse and a desire to seek God on these matters together. Visit the marriage gift.com today and order your copy and give your marriage the greatest gift, powerful and meaningful prayer. Visit the marriage gift.com today. I believe God would rather hear five words from us that are sincere in heart than a thousand from heart, far from him.

Jennifer Smith (12:06):

So that brings up the length of prayers, not necessarily like whether they’re empty phrases or not, but let’s go there for a minute because in preparing for this, I actually timed myself reading the Lord’s Prayer, and it only took me about 13 seconds. It was moderately fast paced, but 13 seconds. That’s it. So when Jesus, in his own example in teaching us how to pray, only did a prayer that was like a short one under 20 seconds. I thought that was

Aaron Smith (12:31):

Interesting. Yeah, of course not that all prayers need to be short because Jesus, we have prayers in John chapter 17 that are a chapter or two long, or it’s at least a chapter long. That’s a long prayer. And there’s many times that it says he went off to pray alone for a long time, hours, sometimes like days. And so we’re not saying that all prayers should be short, but I think there’s probably a lot of people that might feel like prayers can’t be short. That wasn’t a real good enough prayer.

Jennifer Smith (13:02):

So there’s a comfort in knowing that they can be and that you shouldn’t have to worry about the length at all. And we should also be able to let go of any excuses we have for why we don’t have time to pray because it doesn’t take that long.

Aaron Smith (13:15):

Here’s some examples of Jesus praying short prayers. Matthew 1125 to 27. It says, at that time Jesus declared, now here’s his prayer. I thank you, father Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children. Yes, father, for such was your gracious will. All things have been handed over to me by my father, and no one knows the son except the Father, and no one knows the Father except the son and anyone to whom the son chooses to reveal him.

Jennifer Smith (13:42):

So I wasn’t timing that, but I think it’s even a little bit longer than the Lord’s Prayer,

Aaron Smith (13:46):

The Lord’s Prayer, but it’s still a short prayer. He is thanking him for revealing stuff to little children.

Jennifer Smith (13:52):

Here’s probably one of the shortest prayers. It’s in Luke 2334. Jesus says, father, forgive them for they know not what they do.

Aaron Smith (13:59):

So if anyone knows, this is when he was on the cross, this is one of the last things he says before he actually dies, before he gives up the Spirit,

Jennifer Smith (14:08):

Which is interesting. If you think about suffering and how

Aaron Smith (14:12):

I was about to say this, keep going. Oh, really? Yeah, keep going.

Jennifer Smith (14:15):

Not in the notes. I was just thinking Jesus was on the cross and he was suffering obviously physically, but he was still offering that heart of worship through prayer to the Lord. So to correlate that to us, especially when we are in a season of suffering, we should absolutely be able to still go to the Lord in prayer. And it’s okay that they’re brief, and I know you brought this up before, but just that Jesus is always interceding on our behalf and what a powerful thing that is. When we don’t have the words or our prayers are brief, we don’t have to be worried that what we need prayer for isn’t being covered.

Aaron Smith (14:47):

Yeah, I was just excited when you were saying that. I was thinking that even in the midst of Jesus’s greatest suffering and in the moments before he dies and even because if you were to understand the science behind how he died, he was suffocating. He didn’t have breath, and so he had very little breath to be able to speak, and he spoke with very little words. He

Jennifer Smith (15:09):

Used it on prayer

Aaron Smith (15:10):

And he used it on prayer. That’s really beautiful. But how many times do we feel like there’s been times in our marriage and strife and conflict and in confusion when I feel like I can’t breathe and I don’t have anything to come out of me right now, I don’t know what to say. And so the encouragement is we can do the same thing in those moments with very little words, still lift up our hearts to God.

Jennifer Smith (15:32):

Well, and going back to that quote that we introed with by John Calvin when he talks about how our prayer shouldn’t be, but that the needs of other men should be just as our own, that we feel that that burden of need to pray for them. And I love that Jesus, when he prayed, he wasn’t asking God to comfort him or relieve the pain or make it all go away. He was still praying for others. And I think that’s also part of his example of how he walked and that we can look to that and in our prayers evaluate them. Are we only ever praying for ourselves and for God to relieve pain and provide comfort because those things aren’t wrong to pray for. But if we’re following Jesus’ example, even when we’re experiencing those hard things, we can, how are we lifting up our spouse? How are we lifting up our spouse or our children or our other fellow brothers and sisters in the Lord or other people who need prayer?

Aaron Smith (16:26):

Well, and he was recognizing not just their, I mean he was mainly recognizing their actual need for forgiveness, exactly what he was doing. The cross and that prayer exemplifies exactly what his mission was and what he was accomplishing, but also recognizing that the burden they were going to feel once they realized what they had done, that these people, these brothers and these people of God, these Jews, that the moment they would realize, oh my gosh, we’ve crucified the risen Lord, whether we’ve crucified the Messiah.

Jennifer Smith (16:58):

I wonder in proximity to him praying what ears heard that specific prayer,

Aaron Smith (17:06):

Whoever was closest to him, and actually at the day of Pentecost, when Peter comes out and prays the tongues of fire come down and the holy Spirits delivered to the disciples, they come on, he comes up preaching and he tells them that they crucified the Messiah, the king of kings, the Lord of Lords. And it says that they were cut to the heart in that moment. This is what Jesus was praying for, that the moment they would recognize this and it says, what must we do to be saved? So he was praying for that moment for them that the moment that I would recognize it, that they would understand that they’re forgiven.

Jennifer Smith (17:44):

So cool. So in just thinking about going back to this original teaching of Jesus in Matthew six, and we’re talking about not having empty phrases and length of words and things like that, I just want to say how wonderful it is that Jesus releases that weight of feeling or belief that the quality of our words determine how God answers us, that we can actually persuade him if we use more words or more eloquent words or the right

Aaron Smith (18:14):

Words, if you have the right phrases, if

Jennifer Smith (18:15):

You have, he took a ton of pressure off of us in considering what we should be praying for, that our words don’t need to be many, and they don’t need to be convincing or powerful or eloquent. They simply need to be lifted up to God in faith. And sometimes our words are as few as, Lord, help me. I need you. I need you. And even still sometimes they are just, it’s being silent before the Lord, being still before him and taking comfort and understanding that heat, the end of that verse that you read, he already knows what we need before we even pray it.

Aaron Smith (18:50):

There’s many times with the kids that we’ll sit down to eat. Maybe I took him out to lunch or something and I just go, thank you Jesus for this. And I just, I truly do thank him that we have this food and they’re simple and genuine, me not trying to fake anything. I genuinely am thankful for that. And so speaking of our kids, this whole idea of our prayers makes me think of our relationship with our own children,

Jennifer Smith (19:22):

That we know what they need. I mean, we’re with them all the time, especially a little still. We don’t have kids that are up doing their own thing outside of the home. So we see when they get hurt or we see and know most of their needs, we’re rarely caught off guard,

Aaron Smith (19:38):

Right? Really. I mean, we’re not perfect and we miss things, but for the most part, we know what they need more than they know what they need

Jennifer Smith (19:45):

And we still want them to come to us and tell us, and we love that interaction with us. But in relating this to our relationship with the Lord, how much more he knows even us adults who live our own life and in our own way have needs. He knows the intricate details of what we’re dealing with and we can trust that.

Aaron Smith (20:05):

And on the flip side, we’re talking about us knowing what our kids need, but when our kids, we get so encouraged to hear our kids pray specifically when they talk to God. We’re just so simple. And most of the time their prayers are short because I mean, they don’t have the vocabulary that we have. They don’t have the experience that we have, but they believe when they’re praying to God that God’s hearing them. And we believe that God loves their prayers just as much as he loves ours, maybe more sometimes. I always tell my kids that he loves when they come to him, he loves that they talk to him.

Jennifer Smith (20:46):

I will remind all of us this, that we are God’s children no matter how old we are.

Aaron Smith (20:50):

That’s kind of what I was getting at. Yeah,

Jennifer Smith (20:51):

He is our good father

Aaron Smith (20:52):

And that’s what next week’s going to talk about. But he’s our father and we’re his children, and we’re not saying that you should only pray with simple words

Jennifer Smith (21:03):

Or short prayers

Aaron Smith (21:04):

Or short prayers. I kind of said that in the beginning

Jennifer Smith (21:06):

Because there are people that do put a lot of thoughtfulness into every word.

Aaron Smith (21:12):

Well, I’d say this, you are much more eloquent than I am. You have a larger vocabulary and you love certain types of words, but to you, a part of the way you present your heart to God, so like you said earlier, are we presenting our words? What we say with faith? Is that what we’re going to God

Jennifer Smith (21:34):

With? Right? What’s the motivation? Yeah. Yeah. So we are saying that they can be long, they can be short, or they can just be still before the Lord. We are saying that whatever works, whatever words, sorry, we choose to use to pray and make sure that they’re not hollow words or hollow thank yous that they’re insincere or hopeless or faithless requests.

Aaron Smith (21:58):

Which leads me to a question for you, our listeners. Do you think people pray sometimes or don’t pray sometimes because they fear it won’t happen or God won’t answer that prayer?

Jennifer Smith (22:13):

Interesting.

Aaron Smith (22:14):

So we keep prayers like, no God, God’s not, doesn’t have that for me. God’s not going to answer.

Jennifer Smith (22:20):

I’ll say this, I do this in our relationship where I don’t even want to bring that thing up or ask Aaron for this thing because I know he’s going to say no. I kind of do that whole answering for you, which we’ve talked about in the past. So if I’m doing it with you, I’m probably doing it the war.

Aaron Smith (22:35):

Well, maybe we avoid if there’s something that we long for. We know people that have had issues in their bodies for a long time and maybe they stop praying God hasn’t changed it, and he’s not going to pray for that anymore. I’m not going to pray for healing in that area anymore. I’m not going to pray for fertility. I’m not going to pray for all these things that we are burned out on, bitter for angry about, and we feel like, oh, God’s not answering. So we withhold those words. So now instead of coming to him with those words, we’re kind of hiding them.

Jennifer Smith (23:10):

I would say for a lot of people it’s probably layered. Maybe it’s not just fear, but it’s also mixed with exhaustion or frustration or bitterness, I don’t know.

Aaron Smith (23:24):

Or lack of trust of God. So I remember when I was younger and I was desiring to be married, but earlier probably 14, 15, 16, when I started thinking about like, oh, I want to be married one day. I was afraid to ask God. I was like, I want someone who loves you God, and I want to be married. But I was afraid that he would just give me someone not to my standards, someone to not what I was looking for and beauty.

Jennifer Smith (23:56):

He wasn’t going to pick the right one for you.

Aaron Smith (23:58):

I was afraid. Yeah. I was afraid to kind of just trust him and who he was going to bring me. And a lot of that was because of my misconceptions about Christianity and misconceptions about him and misconceptions about women, women, lots of, but I was afraid to trust him with my future wife. So I would kind of pray like, okay, Lord, yeah, I do want that. But I didn’t, didn’t know how to ask him in faith because there was a part of me that didn’t trust him with my future wife.

Jennifer Smith (24:26):

So knowing that you have experienced that, how can people pray for something that they maybe are lacking the faith for? How do you still go to God and get over that hump of whether it’s fear or the unknown?

Aaron Smith (24:43):

I think you brought this up last episode or maybe the one before, but one of the most famous prayers is prayed three times by Jesus, and he comes to Jesus and prays for something that he knows is not going to be fulfilled. He knows

Jennifer Smith (24:57):

You said he comes to

Aaron Smith (24:58):

Jesus, he comes to God, thank you. Jesus comes to Jesus. I’m like Jesus. He goes before his father and he prays three times for something that he knows is not going to happen. He knows God’s not going to answer, but he

Jennifer Smith (25:09):

Prayed anyways,

Aaron Smith (25:10):

But he prayed it anyways because in his flesh, what he desired was something opposite of what God wanted. And

Jennifer Smith (25:15):

What I love about that is it reveals where your heart is at. And I think that’s the most important thing is that you’re offering up your true self and true heart to God.

Aaron Smith (25:23):

And it also reveals our weaknesses at times. It reveals our humanity at times. Now, Jesus also came to God with the expectation of God’s will being done. So he was able to share his heart’s desire in his flesh, things that he was actually in that moment concerned about and desired, which he knew was opposite of what he wanted. But then at the same time said, but what I want is actually what you want. God let this cup pass for me, but your will be done, not mine. And so he prayed what he desired but then surrendered to God’s will. And I think we could do that. I think we can come to God. We have an example specifically from Jesus that there could be something we can pray for and at the same time have a surrendered, yielded heart to God and say, but whether this happens or not, Lord, I want what you want.

Jennifer Smith (26:15):

Okay. So going back to that prayer for your future wife when you’re 14, 15, 16, if you can remember, I know it was a long time ago. It was a long time ago. At what point did you finally hand it all over and trust God regardless of what his answer was going to be? Was there a shift in your heart about it?

Aaron Smith (26:31):

Yeah, I think when by the time I was actually ready for marriage, I had gone through a season of just maturity, not wanting it at all and just wanting to pursue God. And then I was like, okay, Lord, I think I’m ready. At that point, when I was 18, 19, I was like, okay, Lord, I’m just going to trust you. And that’s what I literally had to do. I’m going to trust you and I’m going to pursue in a healthy, biblical, safe way. But all the while letting you have the final say, that’s was my heart posture.

Jennifer Smith (27:02):

That’s good. So it’s important that we do recognize that there’s a process when we pray of transformation and that some things that we pray for, there’s longevity too, and we don’t get answers to right

Aaron Smith (27:14):

Away answers wait on the road,

Jennifer Smith (27:15):

But also those same things that we can be praying for over a long period of time can change us the way that we were praying, the way that we’re trusting God, the way that we are having faith in it. And so to stick with it and to keep pursuing those prayers, don’t give up because you haven’t got an answer yet and don’t give up because you’re afraid of what the answer might be, but just slowly pursue God with that thing and be encouraged how he might change you through that process.

Aaron Smith (27:42):

I just thought of another example of this. Believing God for one thing, but trusting His will for another shadow, ached me, shining the be and go. They stand up and they’re like, you better bow to us. And they said, we’re not going to bow, and should you throw us in the fire, God’s going to save us from that. And even if he doesn’t, we’re still not going to bow, not going to bow worship him.

Jennifer Smith (28:04):

Yeah. Even

Aaron Smith (28:06):

If that was them responding to the king, but a heart, it was also a prayer. It was like, okay, we’re trusting God for this, but even if he doesn’t do that, we’re still going to trust God. Yeah.

Jennifer Smith (28:18):

That’s awesome. That’s good. I actually had my sister-in-law, she encourage me with that specific story. At the beginning of this year in January, I was going through a little health thing that I was worried about, and I had shot out a text to her when I was at the doctor’s and she wrote back even if in all caps, in one text, and then she shared about Daniel that story. And it was so encouraging to me in that moment. And I feel like throughout the year there’s been a couple of these, even if moments between me and the Lord or a friend of mine and the Lord, and it’s just been this theme. Well get this, we’re doing a women’s retreat this weekend and my friend, my other friend is kind of hosting it and set it all up and chose the theme months ago. And when asked about it, she goes, I really feel like it should be called even if she talks about Daniel. And I was just like, yes. It was so perfect. That’s awesome

Aaron Smith (29:16):

Love. I didn’t know that. That’s so awesome.

Jennifer Smith (29:18):

I love how the Holy Spirit works through people and community in that way that there’s these themes and messages that God wants us to hear, and if we’re open to it, which usually happens when we’re praying to him and our hearts are in tune with him, that we pick up on these little treasures I call ’em.

Aaron Smith (29:36):

Yeah, that’s exactly what they’re little treasures.

Jennifer Smith (29:37):

So anyways, I’m really excited about that. But we can move on. I wanted to share with you guys when we were writing the Marriage gift, our new book coming up, we started every prayer with some sort of variation of saying, dear Lord, thank you for, and then kind of filled in the blank, A lot of ’em said, thank you for today. Because

Aaron Smith (29:56):

Yeah, a lot of ’em were very generic.

Jennifer Smith (29:57):

They were generic. But that’s because our heart behind it was we know we wanted to start out with a gratitude, something that we were thankful for, and not all of them had to do specifically to that prayer, which if you get the book, you’ll see we tried to make every prayer a different topic in regards to marriage.

Aaron Smith (30:21):

Very few overlap throughout

Jennifer Smith (30:22):

The book, but it revealed that first draft that we did showed that when you look at it all together, all 365, there was a lot of repetition because of this very generic opening first line. And our editor was like, Hey, I totally get that. You guys want, these are prompts. So our cart and encouragement to our readers was making sure, sure that pray like this. Yeah, pray like this, how Jesus taught. And so we wanted that aspect of gratefulness in there, but she just really encouraged us maybe pinpointing, tying it to that specific topic. And I was like, duh, of course. And so there was some rewriting that had to go on there, but I’m so grateful that that was like weeks. There was hundreds of prayer that we had to redo, you guys just be honest here. But we didn’t want that repetitive empty phrase of thank you for today to be the overall what you walk away from in holding this book. We wanted to show that there is variety in how we share our gratitude to the Lord. And it’s such a simple thing. But it really stood out to me when I was thinking about repetition and kind of how we get in

Aaron Smith (31:35):

A mode, well, I would say Fein repetition.

Jennifer Smith (31:36):

Well, how we get in a moat sometimes just in having a habit of prayer, which is a good thing that we start repeating ourselves.

Aaron Smith (31:45):

So the point of this is not necessarily that you can’t say thank you for today, because again, we were just talking about how simple it can be, but is it vain repetition? Are you just saying it because, oh yeah. Okay, thanks. Thanks,

Jennifer Smith (31:57):

Lord. We don’t want anyone to sink into a state of insincerity where it’s just like on autopilot. But this is not the same thing as a continuation of a petition, a request to the Lord that you’re, like you mentioned earlier, we were talking about repetition and you said something that’s on someone’s heart that they’re praying for. Did you give

Aaron Smith (32:21):

Continue to pray?

Jennifer Smith (32:22):

Did you give an example? I dunno if you gave an example. I thought you did. But

Aaron Smith (32:25):

Maybe fertility, they f up a baby and you keep asking God, I want to have a baby.

Jennifer Smith (32:30):

Give me a baby. Okay. So we’re not saying that you shouldn’t be repeating that over years because it’s repetition. That’s not what we’re saying. We’re saying like you said, vain phrases.

Aaron Smith (32:39):

Yeah, vain or repetition. Yeah. Are you saying to yourself, as long as I’m just saying this, I’m putting it before God, versus No, I’m with desperation praying this to God, or I’m with true thankfulness talking to God.

Jennifer Smith (32:55):

So it goes back to what is it that’s leading your heart? Are you just on autopilot or are you seeking the Lord for this thing to be fulfilled? And I just wanted to make note of those two differences, especially in light of answering this question, what should I be praying? And then Erin, maybe you can speak to this, but should we shift things up when we’re praying over years for a specific thing to avoid repetition or I don’t know.

Aaron Smith (33:22):

I would say I don’t think it’s necessary to be like, oh, I need to, again, if there’s this formula, every time you prayed, you got to use different words so that it doesn’t sound like you’re repeating yourself. What’s more important is what’s in the heart. Like that verse you read about the hearts being far from God. When we are bringing our prayers to the Lord, is it just words or is it our heart? Is it sincerity? Is it faith? And so the shifting, what we pray over the years could be a practice of reevaluating our prayers, reevaluating our art. And so maybe it’s like, God, what am I praying about? Is there something I’m missing that I could be asking you for that I should be seeking you on? Is there something in this area of my life that I’ve been praying for that I’m ignoring your actual answers on? So I would say maybe just asking the Lord to reveal if there’s something more that you are something that you’re not seeing, something you’re not hearing.

Jennifer Smith (34:18):

That’s really good. Yeah, it was probably more obvious to me because I had an editor, we had an editor kind of looking over all our

Aaron Smith (34:25):

Be great if we had an editor in our lives,

Jennifer Smith (34:26):

Know when we’re praying, we are not going to have an editor doing that, but we can be our own editors and consider and evaluate heart editors. Heart editors.

Aaron Smith (34:34):

Exactly. Exactly. Are we checking our hearts before our words come out of our mouths?

Jennifer Smith (34:39):

I do want to encourage you guys when, because we’re talking about repetition, there’s a difference between, let’s say you’re going to the Lord in a brief way and just saying, God, I just pray for my marriage. Please bless my marriage or Please help my marriage. Okay? There’s nothing wrong with those prayers as long

Aaron Smith (34:53):

As it’s done with sincerity.

Jennifer Smith (34:55):

But to give you some examples of how we can add variety into these things, Lord, help my spouse resist the enemy. Lord, help us not to be jealous of other couples. Lord, help us with our eating habits. We have not been doing so great. This is kind of what we did with the marriage gift. We wanted there to be variety of things that we are praying over and not just

Aaron Smith (35:17):

By the way, these are actual topics from the book. Some more healing from past hurt, having more fun. How many of you listening, pray and ask God to give you more fun in your marriage? Maybe some of you. But that’s something that I always for that maybe you’re in a hard season, you’re tired all the time where you’re beat down from life and it’s good to ask God, God, I want some more fun. I want some more excitement. Another one is addiction or money management or just rest. And in the book we have 3 56 more topics like that. But that’s something that we desire to show is look at all the areas that you can be lifted up to the Lord. Look at all the areas that you can have a sincere, genuine prayer over.

Jennifer Smith (36:03):

We know and recognize that answering this question, what should I be praying? And knowing what to pray is something that many people ask themselves. And maybe it’s not a constant thing. Maybe it’s just you’re in a season where you’re like, I don’t even know what to be praying for right now. Even I would say prayer warriors who are strong prayers probably have wondered at times, maybe not. I dunno.

Aaron Smith (36:25):

I just got to thank everyone. Maybe not. But I often ask, I’ll sit down with my journal and be like, okay, Lord, what am I? Help me pray. Because the two things come to my mind and I’m like, there’s so many other things that so many people in my life that I should be praying for.

Jennifer Smith (36:39):

So regardless of where you’re at currently, we wanted to encourage you guys on some actual practical, what should you be praying? And so we just wanted to kind of go through a few of these. Some of them have verses along with them so you

Aaron Smith (36:53):

Understand. Yeah. So you can just thank God for something. Philippians four, six or seven. Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your request be made known to God and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus. So thanking God is a heart posture that he desires from us. We are thankful. So when we pray with him, pray to him. We thank him for stuff, for everything

Jennifer Smith (37:21):

That’s good. You can tell God about how you feel in the current state of how you feel about something or just in life in general. Maybe how you feel about your marriage. You can pray for your spouse. We already talked about this, but in a very specific area of their life that maybe they’re struggling with

Aaron Smith (37:38):

Or maybe they need some encouragement or maybe you want to pray for their spiritual growth. You could be praying specifically over specific areas. You

Jennifer Smith (37:45):

Can pray for your children.

Aaron Smith (37:48):

That’s a big one. Pray for yourself as a parent. Pray for someone who’s in need. Ask God to show you how you can help them. Ask God to show up for them in their hour of need.

Jennifer Smith (38:00):

Yeah. Going back to that quote again by John Calvin. He says, because we are so bound up in love for our fellow men, that we feel their need as acutely as our own. Let that sink in.

Aaron Smith (38:10):

Taking that verse, bearing each other’s burdens. We

Jennifer Smith (38:12):

Must be willing to much deeper level. Yeah. Another one is, pray salvation for someone who does not have a relationship with the Lord. And then another one, ask God to help you understand and accept his love for you.

Aaron Smith (38:26):

That’s a big one. I know that at various times we struggle with how can God love me? And so asking Him, God, teach me how you love me. Help me receive. You can pray and ask God for more wisdom regarding current situations. James one five says, if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God who gives generously to all without reproach and it’ll be given him. And then the last one we have here is pray for your church pastors and elders who are spreading the gospel. Paul recommends this in Colossians four, three. It probably doesn’t recommend it. This is like he tells us. At the same time, pray also for us that God may open to us a door for the word to declare the mystery of Christ on account of which I’m in prison. Paul’s saying, pray for me. Pray for us. Pray for all those who are spreading the gospel in our teaching from the Word.

Jennifer Smith (39:14):

Well, that’s our brief list of what you should be praying, that you can’t be praying for today. Our heart is just to encourage you guys to get your minds wrapped around what are you praying for and what’s your heart posture behind it? And specifically, and hopefully praying for others. That’s a huge part of our Christian walk, is praying for others just like we talked about Jesus on the cross with his last suffering. Breath. Pray for us. Prayed for us. Yeah, prayed for others.

Aaron Smith (39:44):

Awesome. Why don’t you read prayer number one 12, what’s the title of it?

Jennifer Smith (39:48):

Submitting to God’s will? And the verse that goes along with it is Ephesians five 17. It says, do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is. Dear Lord, thank you for your word, which affirms the truth that you desire us to do your will. Although our flesh often opposes your will, making it challenging to follow you, we strive to surrender those desires and walk in a way that pleases you. Sometimes we desire to submit to you and serve you as a couple, but one or both of us choose to be foolish and disobey you. Lord, help us not to be judgmental of each other, but rather to gently and earnestly admonish each other to turn toward you. We ask you to fill us with patience as we seek to follow your ways, we humble ourselves and ask you to align our hearts with yours, reveal your will so that we may act in confidence and bend our thoughts, our motives, and our actions to conform to your will so that we can fulfill the purpose you have for us. We desire others to see the reverence we have for you and for them to be close to you. May our marriage stand as a good example of how submitting to you blesses the marriage relationship. Please help us to continue on the path you have for us without growing weary or giving up. In Jesus name we pray. Amen.

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