February 01, 2023
When talking with God, it is helpful to pray as if you are talking to and sharing with a very good friend. David and Karen Mains share how this new-to-them technique has enhanced each of their individual prayer lives.
Think of praying as being like what happens when good friends get together. I’m allowing that to begin to mark more my prayer time.
David: In your head Karen, I want you to think of someone you would call a really good friend. Doesn’t have to be your very best friend, but someone you would say “I really enjoy company.”
Karen: Okay, I’ve got someone in mind. Now is this just me who’s doing this little exercise or are you doing this exercise as well?
David: I’m doing it and I’m hoping that people will be captured by the thing I’m excited about and I’m telling you about and they will get excited as well.
Karen: So, we’re asking them to think of a good friend, right? Get someone in mind.
Intro: Welcome to the Before We Go Podcast featuring Dr. David Mains and his wife noted author, Karen Mains. Here’s David and Karen Mains.
David: Okay, you have that person in mind or a couple people in mind maybe? Okay. Now I want you to think about what kind of things are talked about when good friends get together.
Karen: Right now I’m thinking of how much we laugh with our good friends.
David: Okay, that’s neat.
Karen: And that kind of comes from memories that we have. Remember when we did such and such and we traveled here together and lost our way and it got worse and worse. So that sort of stuff, you know, is one of the great gifts that we give in friendship, I believe.
David: Yeah, I think that people express feelings much more than normal when they’re around good friends. Good to see you again. You know, in fact, I was looking forward to this all along that kind of a thing.
Karen: And they, and I think we generally say, “How have you been doing? What’s going on with you”?
David: Yeah, and take your time. I want to know.
Karen: And it’s not just the sharing of good things that are going on in our lives. You have a confidence in friendship of safety. And so often you say, “Well, this has been great, but I’ve got something that’s really troublesome to me. Do you mind if I share that with you”?
David: I did this with a good friend just this week. I said, “You know, I’m needing to process something, but I can’t get over the hump in my head. So, if you just let me talk about it a while, that would be very appreciative.” “Oh, yeah. Happy to go ahead.” And it was a wonderful conversation, and it resolved the issue in my mind, which was very helpful.
Karen: Yeah. I think that we pay compliments easier in friendship. This is something that I really love about you. I have one of my good friends is the fiancée of our oldest son. We’ve gotten to know her better and better. She’s from the Philippines. We’re going out to spend time with them this month and I was thinking well what Judith and I’ll do is we’ll take off for the resale shops. She is a much better resale buyer than I am.
David: But you’re both passionate about it.
Karen: Both passionate. So, we’ll say goodbye to the guys and say okay let’s do and I do our thing together and that’s really fun. Something we share.
David: Another thing that’s shared is funny experiences. You said, “Laugh about it.” I think good friends laugh together because they have memories that are mutual, or they’ve listened to a person tell a story and they feel like they have been a part of that as it actually went on. Here’s what I’m wanting us to hear as to a lesson from this okay. Think of praying. We’ve been thinking of praying because at our church they’re doing this series. It’s almost two months on prayer. Think of praying as being like what happens when good friends get together.
Karen: Okay that’s a new thought. Yeah, let me see if I got it. Think about praying as being like what happens when good friends get together. So, I’m praying to the Lord but I’m going to add this pattern of thinking that I’m talking to my best friend.
David: Yeah, that’s the opposite of saying “Oh man I should pray more.”
David: They’re making me feel guilty because I don’t spend time in prayer, or I don’t think I do it that well. I’m not sure what petition means. So that kind of thing. Just think about it as good friends coming together and I’ve been doing that, and it’s been very interesting to me because there is a personal sense that I haven’t experienced before. In fact, I said to the Lord this was a couple days ago. “You remember Lord what happened. You called me to be one of the guys who got to spend his life entirely in ministry and people would pay me to do that.” It’s like when Jesus said you come you can be one of my disciples you know. I feel so fortunate and at the same time I’m saying I wasn’t the brightest bulb in the whole clam you know.
Karen: …and the whole ministerial crowd.
David: I was thinking of my first baptism, and I said “Lord, you know I can think of so many dumb stupid things I have done in my life.”
Karen: Let me set the picture here a little bit for our listeners. We met in a Teamsters Union Hall. That was a miracle in itself. We grew to 500 people over those 10 years and we were allowed to meet there free without paying for rent on this beautiful building. But it did not have a baptismal time.
David: So, what we had to do because there was a new convert, he was from another country, and he was here in the hospital and one of our staff members called on this gentleman and led him to the Lord. And one of the first things this man said was “I want to be baptized.” And then we had another woman who was a part of the church, was a Christian for a long time but had never been baptized and wanted to do this. So, I said “We need to schedule one”, and I had my staff look around to find a church that would be somewhat nearby anyway where we could have the baptismal. One was found, it was a Japanese Christian Church. It was a rectangular building. It would seat maybe 150 I would think. There were two side aisles and a middle aisle. There wasn’t a platform as much although there was a raised step to what we would call a platform and the baptismal tank was on that one step up. So, you’re a little bit above where the congregation was. I had not been there before. The first time I went there was the night of the baptismal and it was terrible, terrible snowy night. I mean, wind blowing, it was Chicago at its worst or best whatever you want to think.
Karen: But we had a small dedicated group that came to see this baptism.
David: There were some relatives of the gentleman who had been healed. Anyway, I kind of wondered what this is going to be like because one of the women, she wasn’t heavy, but she was tall and I thought I wonder if I baptized her if it’s going to be hard to get her up which is kind of stupid when you think about it now. But this was all new to me. I was a young man.
Karen: I remember you having some practice sessions with our kids in the living room.
David: Right. Have you helped me, but you didn’t want to be a part of it. So anyway, the evening came and there were probably 30, 35 people there. I was telling the people “This is the basement, this is where you go when you can dry off and such and you’ll have privacy.” And I hadn’t thought about it a whole lot more than that. Now it was time to start the people saying a couple of hymns and it was my turn to go up and walk down the stairs into the baptistry and oh my goodness It wasn’t cold water. It was ice water. I mean they had never used the baptismal, they said. So, it’ll be interesting to see if somebody uses it. I thought I don’t know if I can stand this. This is so cold. So anyway, I got down there and the lady who was to be baptized she came down…
Karen: Remind people that she was tall…
David: …so I thought if I baptized her it’s going to be hard to get her up. Anyway, I said I baptized you in the name of the Father, the Son and Holy… to put it on…She came shooting out that water.
Karen: You didn’t have to help her out…
David: Didn’t need anything from me. She was cold. She walked up the stairs. She walked down from there which was right into where the main auditorium was and they kind of looked around and I had not thought “What do you do after.? She started walking left, there was a door over there. She opened it and it was a broom closet. Then she blues, blues, blues, to the other side all the way across the church to the other side. There’s another door she opened and it was the outside door the wind blew with snow coming in.
Karen: And I think I remember that before you took them down into the waters, they kind of gave a personal testimony
Karen: …that meant you were in that cold water even longer.
David: It was so cold I can’t even feel it.
David: …then she blues, blues, blues, blues, blues walked on the main aisle which took her to the back where the best of you was. And then she went downstairs. Now I’m still standing there and doing a little dance. The gentleman who I had not met but I knew his story, he came down and I said, “I want you to tell a little of your story.” Now what I meant by a little of your story was not what he meant by a little of his story because he talked and talked. And finally, I came up behind him because I’m now tiptoeing just try somehow. It was terribly cold, and I said, “You know what we need to schedule a time when your complete story will be told. Why don’t I just finish your story for you now because it’s a little cold in here.” So, he was very polite. He let me finish his story in a matter of maybe a minute. And then he said, “And let me add”, and then he started over again. And finally, I kind of walked up behind him. Now, this is a rectangular baptismal tank. There’s come down the front side of that rectangle. And so, he’s kind of leaning over the edge. And I’m coming up to now I need to kind of scoot him over because where I had baptized the lady, it was the whole tank I had. But now those stairs were taking up some room. I didn’t think about it that much. I just thought, I am so cold. I will be fortunate to live through this. And I said to him, “We will have that time when you can tell it all.” And I said, “Now I baptize you in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit.” I leaned him back. Quack! I hit his head against, not the stairs, but the side. Yeah, and I thought “He had a miraculous healing. Now I’ve killed him.” Not really, Karen. He hit the water. Boom! And I thought, praise the Lord, he’s alive.
Now he is blues, blues, blues, blues, blues, blues, blues, down the center aisle. I thought, you know, and I’m saying to the Lord, while I’m reviewing this in my mind, “I don’t know why you called me.” I’m just very grateful because I’ve done so many things that are stupid and dumb in ministry.
Karen: So how does this story fit into our overall theme: praying as though the Lord was your friend?
David: Yeah, actually, I think the Lord was kind of thinking, “You know, you don’t know the half of it, David. You were really bad. I love you anyway. You have accomplished some things in your life.”
Karen: You’ll get better as you go.
David: And we’re still good friends. You know, that’s kind of the thing. And I remember I’m all alone, and I’m telling this story to the Lord. He knows what happened. And he didn’t add a whole lot in my mind. He just kind of let me tell it and realize that I wasn’t that great a minister. “But I still love you, you know”? But it’s this sharing of feelings on a friendship basis.
Karen: Of our experiences.
David: Yeah, which is not at all. I normally start with praise. You know, “I praise you that you are all knowing. I praise you that you are personal.” And I go into thanks. And then I begin talking about my family. And I have this procedure that I go through.
Karen: That you do in your personal life.
David: And I’ve never had a good. laugh with the Lord for a long time. And it was very wonderful that way. And I think Karen, there’s an exact opposite of that, because what do good friends do? They talk, stories that are funny, and then they cry.
Karen: This was a past pain in my life, and it’s still a pain in my life.
David: I said to the Lord, not the same prayer time, but I’m trying to get this more personal sense, just where we come as friend to friend. I said, “I remember a time when I kind of felt totally abandoned. It was when our son died. He was 42, and he had cancer.” I had hopes that the Lord would heal him. It went for a period of months every day was less than the day before. I was in this hospital in the city all alone with Jeremy. He couldn’t talk, and I couldn’t talk, couldn’t even talk to him. I knew he was going to die. The reason I knew it, the doctor had come in while I was there, and she kind of teared up, and she said, “I’m so sorry.” And when she said that I knew that this was over, and I just stood there. I said to the Lord, “I never felt more hopeless, yet I knew you were there, and I knew you were going to make sure he was in good hands.” He loved the Lord. There’s no question in my mind about that. I’ve thought a lot of these things, but I never said them out loud to the Lord, and it was incredibly personal. Now I’m going to go back to that sentence that we wrote. Think of praying as being like what happens when good friends get together. I’m allowing that to begin to mark more my prayer time.
Karen: So, this is what I’m thinking. I have a series of books called The Divine Hours. It’s Philisticle. The subtitle is A Manual for Prayer. It has a formula. It’s very formulaic, but it’s very, very helpful, and I’m trying to pray in the morning when I wake up. First thoughts are Jesus, if I can get that discipline in my life, and then just pause in the middle of my day and use her book to go back into her manual for prayer, and then there’s one in the evening before I go to bed, and I haven’t reached that goal yet, but I’m working at it. However, this concept of praying to the Lord as though your good friends can easily be adapted to this as well. So, for people who already have a formula for their prayer life, and that’s not negative, I don’t mean that because we do need those. those things to carry us along in our disciplines very often. Those formulas can be adapted. I saw “The Chosen”, the television series on the life of Christ. And what that did for me was show me the humanity of Jesus in a way I had never felt or thought about it before. I’ve always thought of him as God’s Son, the Lord of Lords. Your majesty, I created intimacy. There was intimacy in that knowing of him. But this Chosen showed me in a way I had not understood before about the humanity of Jesus. They did such a beautiful job with that. That I kind of fell in love with Jesus as human in a way I hadn’t before. But to apply this concept of friendship then to that even richer understanding of Jesus in his humanity, I think will make it even more beneficial to me as I work to apply what you’re talking about, this relational quality, this relational understanding to my daily prayer system, but then also to the way I think about Jesus and his humanity. And that’s very helpful. I’m eager to get started.
David: Karen, good friends can vent. They can say, “Just let me talk a while.”
Karen: Let me get this off my chest.
David: Get it off my chest. That’s a good phrase.
David: I’d give an assignment to people if they would like just to say, okay, I’m going to process this in my own mind. This is Psalm 109. It’s a psalm or a prayer of David and he’s met his hops.
Karen: He is duped.
David: So, you need to read Psalm 109 and just when it’s all over say, you know, “How is David feeling that style”? He’s met it someone, very mad. It’s in a positive but read it through maybe next time because we certainly haven’t exhausted this topic. We’ll come back to it again and give additional thoughts as far as treating your prayer like you’re talking with a good friend. One of them is just to say, see how David handles this and he doesn’t hold back that he is really ticked and he’s not giving instructions how to act toward people. He just say, “This is where I’m coming from.”
Karen: This would be an example of a prayer that is casting a curse on your enemies. I think.
David: Yeah. Everything you can think of. Anyway, let’s go back to that sentence because it’s a new thought that we’re giving to people, and they just need a chance to process it. Let’s talk about it again next time. I think it’s a good idea. Think of praying as being like what happens when good friends get together. What is it like when that person who you’ve known for a long time you say, “Yeah that’s someone I would put in the good friends category, a very good friends category.” Now when you come to your prayer time, don’t think, “Oh man I got to do this.” If they have another month on prayer I’m going to croak, but rather just say “Yeah it would be neat in my life to have a whole new element that is bringing refreshing good.”
Karen: The formulas and that’s a good thing. The disciplines that use those are spiritual practices, something that is refreshing these spiritual practices that I have put already into my life.
David: You think God really is a good friend?
Karen: I do. I think he is.
David: Is he more than being a good friend?
Karen: Yeah, he is.
David: But he’s also a good friend.
Karen: I laugh with him. I’m honest with him. I vent with him.
David: Yeah, I think God sometimes says, “You know that Karen, she’s got a funny laugh. Once she’s praying.” Okay I think we’ve brought this to a close. I’m going to say it one more time because it’s a new thought. Think of praying as being like what happens when good friends get together.
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