Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Plug in Your Power Tool ~ Prayer!

We can write words, but only God can touch hearts through those words. And no matter how cleverly we craft sentences, without God’s blessing, our words are merely ink on paper. That’s why it’s important to have prayer support as we write. Prayer is a powerful tool that can impact our writing and readers. But sometimes it’s overlooked.

Several years ago I realized the need for prayer support and asked others to pray for me. If you want to plug in this incredible power tool and enlist prayer support, take these steps.


Pray First, Then List Names

Who could pray for you? Ask God. Then consider relatives, friends, church members, and fellow writers. By e-mail, you can contact people around the world.

List individuals who are mature in the faith, keep their commitments, and take an interest in your writing ministry. In Philippians 2:20 and 22 (NIV), the apostle Paul wrote about Timothy, “I have no one else like him, who takes a genuine interest in your welfare. Timothy has proved himself, because . . . he has served with me in the work of the gospel.” Wouldn’t it be wonderful to have someone like Timothy on your prayer team?

God provided a dozen faithful prayer warriors for me. They rejoice in my successes and encourage me during setbacks. But mainly, they pray. And that’s where the power lies—connecting with God Almighty in prayer.

Contact Potential Prayer Partners

After you’ve made a list, graciously ask these people to consider joining your prayer team. My letter of invitation began, “Dear Praying Friend. I feel an overwhelming need for prayer support in my writing. I need God’s blessing and favor. I also know the enemy is eager to discourage me and thwart plans to advance God’s Kingdom.”

Also tell them what their commitment would involve and what yours would be. But give them freedom to say no. For example, I asked my prayer team to pray for me once a week for one year. I wrote, “I know this is a sizable commitment, so please pray about it. If you can’t, that’s fine.”

In return, I promised to use my writing time wisely and send regular updates.

Send Writing Updates

Your updates could be weekly, monthly, or as needed. I started with monthly e-mails, but prayer needs came up more often. Now I aim for weekly contact.

In your updates, start with answered prayers. I call this section “Give thanks” and list ways God helped me and blessed my writing. Sharing answers gives God glory and motivates my team to keep praying. One member recently wrote, “I’m blessed to be part of your team. I get to share in a fraction of the action of lives touched through your writing.”

Also, God values a grateful heart. Do you recall the story of the 10 lepers Jesus healed? When only one returned to thank him, Jesus sorrowfully asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine?” (Luke 17:17 NIV).

I desire to be like the leper who returned to thank God. To help me remember what God did, I print out my updates and put them in a notebook. Each week I look back at previous requests and include answers in the current update. There are numerous ways to record God’s answers, so choose one that works for you.

After my “Give thanks” section, the “Please pray” portion follows with five or six requests. I list specific writing, speaking, and teaching needs and may include requests for editors, publishers, and readers.

Express Appreciation

Besides thanking God for your prayer team, it’s also important to thank them for praying. I often begin updates with, “Thank you for praying.” Then at the end I might add, “Your prayers are a real gift to me,” or “I couldn’t do this without your prayer support.”

In addition to thanking them in e-mail messages, occasionally I send thank-you notes or small gifts, such as a bookmark, by regular mail. Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Valentines Day are good times to mail cards with a personal note. If your prayer team prays for you throughout the writing of a book, list their names in the acknowledgments page and offer them a free copy.

Also, don’t assume the prayer warriors will pray forever. Though most of my team has prayed for years, I ask them each year if they wish to continue.

Return the Favor

We’re not the only ones who need prayer. Pray for your prayer team and other writers. If another writer asks you for prayer support, if at all possible say yes. And as you send updates to your prayer team, sometimes include a written prayer for them. It can be as short as this prayer based on Nehemiah 8:10: “May the joy of the Lord be your strength.”

Prayer is a high calling. Right now “Christ Jesus . . . is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us” (Romans 8:34 NIV). What a privilege to follow his example and pray for others.

Reap the Benefits

I’m grateful God nudged me to form a prayer team. They have prayed for me through joy and tears, through rejections and acceptances, and through writing a lengthy Bible study for grandparents. Now they support me as I speak to promote the book. Their support not only motivates me to write and persevere, but it also gives me courage to tackle God-sized projects I couldn’t accomplish alone. Their prayers have truly blessed me in countless ways.

If you don’t already have a prayer team, I encourage you to follow these steps and tap into this divine source of power. Then watch God work through prayer!

Lydia E. Harris has accumulated hundreds of bylines by writing book reviews, devotionals, columns, recipes, articles, and personal experience stories for publications such as Advanced Christian Writer, Mature Years, and Focus on the Family magazines. Her book, Preparing My Heart for Grandparenting, is a six-week Bible study for grandparents at any stage of the journey. Visit her Web site and grandparenting blog at www.PreparingMyHeart.net. She attributes her published credits to the prayers of others.

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9 comments:

  1. Lynnette, thanks for the opportunity to share on this important writing tool. Prayer is effective and makes a difference! "The prayer of a righteous person is powerful and effective" (James 5:16).

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  2. Thanks for sharing with us today, Lydia. Prayer really is so important. I'm very thankful for those who've agreed to back my writing with prayer.

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  3. Incredible post. But what if I am not sure that it is God's will that I pursue the writing?

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  4. Saying a prayer, asking God's blessing and guidance on my writing, has long been the most important part of my writing "warm-ups." But the further steps you've listed here are a wonderful way of expanding upon this most important first step. Thanks for sharing, Lydia!

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  5. Kim, at my first ever writer's conference I asked a prolifically published author the same question. He asked me a question in return that I'll never forget, and that was: "Where do you think your desire to write comes from?"

    If our writings align with God's Word and bring glory to Him, we can be sure the desire doesn't come from the Enemy.

    And if the desire comes from a need for fame, fortune and recognition - well, give anyone 6 months in this industry and they'll realize being a writer is not the quickest or easiest way to that end. :)

    That leaves one source. God himself.

    I'll leave you with one last thought that I often tell my kids. God doesn't give us desires, so that he can snatch the fulfillment of them away from us. Desires are a natural way that God leads us down the path He has chosen for us. But we have to be careful in our daily living to make sure our actions align with His Word.

    Hopefully that helps you some, as you continue to prayerfully seek God's will for your life.

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  6. Thanks for your wise words, Lynnette.

    Kim, if you have a desire to write, just start. Attend a writers' meeting or conference (Sally Stuart's Christian Writers' Market Guide lists groups and conferences by state). Prepare to write by reading books about writing and listening to writing CDs. Journal your thoughts. Read magazines in the library. Become acquainted with publications that publish the kinds of things you might like to write. Ask God to guide you, and just begin. Take it a step at a time.

    I started from the beginning this way about 15 years ago, just taking a step at a time. It's a great adventure with God, and He will use those who are available. That's why God has opened doors for me--I told him "I'm available." I'd never written for publication. And I'd never written a book or a Bible study. I simply said I was available to write what God needed written. It's been my privilege to partner with God and impact others through writing.

    Please let me know if you have further questions.

    Happy writing!

    Grandma Tea (as my grandkids call me)

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  7. Lydia, this is so incredible! I always thank the Lord for how willing you are to share your wisdom with other writers. You not only are a prolific writer, you are a prolific encourager. Thank you!
    MommaMindy.blogspot.com

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  8. Thank you so much for the blessing of this post, Lydia. You have inspired me to challenge myself and put this into practice. Not only will it be a blessing for those involved, it will also serve as a constant reminder of my responsibility as a writer called by God to witness through fiction.

    Blessings to you in all your endeavors,
    Nona

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  9. Mindy, Nona, and others: Thanks for your comments. Others who formed prayer teams said it made them more accountable to write regularly. Since others were praying, they felt they needed to do their part and write.

    I know God will bless you and your prayer team. I'm so blessed to have others pray for me weekly, for almost five years now. God works through prayer. To God be the glory!

    Grandma Tea

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