The Shepherd’s Song was a different writing experience for us.
After twenty years of writing children’s books for the general market we were now writing our first book for God. The books we wrote before were from a Christian worldview. What made this book different was our desire to submit every word to God and to reflect in our words what He would say. An overwhelming task on our own.
But what if we could connect with God and hear from Him as we worked? C.S. Lewis wrote once about “taking dictation” from God. The connection with God was key. But how?
As we shifted from our writing for the general market to the that we would write for God, prayer became important and critical. We prayed individually, together in groups with others and we enlisted a prayer team to pray for the writing of the book.
Three times stand out as we reflect back over how prayer entered our work and kept us grounded and focused as we wrote The Shepherd’s Song.
The first came at the beginning of our efforts. When we began writing together, we were full of enthusiasm and ideas. We both took off with to do lists and ideas and quickly we became stressed and anxious. A book by Andy Stanley, Visioneering, pulled us back and helped us focus.
The book challenged us to look at whether we prayed first, then acted, or acted first, then prayed.
The question was convicting – the notebooks full of our plans and ideas were the evidence against us. In our enthusiasm we had gotten ahead of God. What to do? We stopped and made two decisions:
We decided we would stop all action and spend one week just praying for the book and for direction.
And we also agreed we would never move forward on an idea or action unless we were unified through prayer about the decision.
Throughout the week anxiety vanished. Clarity came, peace descended. As we individually surrendered the work to God He brought us into unity.
The second prayer time came later. The book was finished and accepted and paralysis set in. Now what? The second book, The Father’s Prayer, was drafted and outlined but we were blocked. At the same time we were working to build a platform and determine what we should be doing for marketing the first book.
Was it right? How did we know? We stopped again and brought the work and ourselves into a time of deeper prayer.
This time God spoke to us through a book by Mark Batterson, Draw the Circle, The Forty Day Prayer Challenge. For forty days we read the devotions and “circled” our work in prayer during our personal time with God. It was amazing how God used these devotions to speak to us separately and together as we submitted to Him through these prayer times.
Reading this devotional series together and praying through Batterson’s forty days helped us to connect with each other and with God and allowed God access to us through our time with Him.
The third was a prayer for protection. During the year leading up to publication we both went through difficult times with friends and family, mostly medical issues. We were both pulled off track and struggled to keep focus while undergoing struggles to take care of those we loved. We remembered our great grandfather’s favorite scripture from Ephesians 6, the armor of God.
We began to pray this daily for each other. Each morning we would turn to this passage and pray each article of armor for the other—belt, shield, helmet, breastplate, sword, shoes. As soon as we started, peace reigned and through our outward circumstances did not change, we had peace and we able to resume our work on the book.
The end result?
The end result for us is peace. We have no regrets about the writing, no doubts about any decision along the way. We have assurance that the book is in God’s hands to use as He will.
Our prayers continue. Now we pray for each reader of the book. That God would use our words to accomplish His will in each reader’s heart.
Prayer is the key.
The Writing Sisters, Betsy Duffey and Laurie Myers were born into a writing family, and began critiquing manuscripts at an early age for their mother, Newbery winner Betsy Byars. They went on to become authors of more than thirty-five children’s novels. Their first book for adults, The Shepherd’s Song, is being released in paperback April 2015.
You can connect with Laurie and Betsy on their monthly newsletter where they send out updates and their popular free devotional books. Contact them at WritingSisters.com and find them on Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest.
Follow the incredible journey of one piece of paper—a copy of Psalm 23—as it travels around the world, linking lives and hearts with its simple but beautiful message.
“The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. He makes me lie down in green pastures…”
Shortly before a tragic car accident, Kate McConnell wrote down the powerful words of Psalm 23 on a piece of paper for her wayward son. Just before she loses consciousness, Kate wonders if she’s done enough with her life and prays, “Please, let my life count.”
Unbeknownst to Kate, her handwritten copy of Psalm 23 soon begins a remarkable journey around the world. From a lonely dry cleaning employee to a soldier wounded in Iraq, to a young Kurdish girl fleeing her country, to a Kenyan runner in the Rome Invitational marathon, this humble message forever changes the lives of twelve very different people. Eventually, Kate’s paper makes it back to its starting place, and she discovers the unexpected ways that God changes lives, even through the smallest gestures.
With beautiful prose evocative of master storyteller, Andy Andrews’s, The Butterfly Effect, this story will touch your heart and remind you of the ways God works through us to reach beyond what we can imagine.