It’s hard to believe a year has passed since my book baby When Prayer Is a Struggle released. It’s also hard to believe two years have passed since the writing of the book!
I have so much to be thankful for in the whole process: a supportive and patient wife, time to write (and not travel) due to the pandemic, and God’s amazing grace in never letting me give up on this simple idea.
I thought it would be a good exercise for me to reflect publicly for the one-year anniversary of the book’s launch, so here we go…
The Blessed Vanity of Publishing
Once the parade ended, the street sweepers cleaned up the confetti, and I returned the key to the city to the mayor… OK, I know you know that none of that happened. In fact, book launch day, a day I dreamed about for years, seemed like any other day. (I knew it would be so after talking to fellow authors in the past.) All throughout the publishing process I had in mind a few verses from Ecclesiastes:
Of making many books there is no end, and much study is a weariness of the flesh. The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man. (Ecclesiastes 12:12–13)
Every year, many new books hit the market and soon fall into obscurity. There’s a good chance mine will be a short flash in the pan and be forgotten. That’s OK and expected. I’m glad I could put together something to help some believers at this point in history, and I’m incredibly glad to have gone through the learning process not only for writing a book, but for deepening my reflections on prayer, and thus my prayer life.
Confession time: I probably should have published this book a few years earlier. I drug my feet in sending publishers the proposal because I didn’t think we needed yet another book on prayer. But I kept receiving encouragement that this angle (the struggle of prayer) is crucial and will help people. And by God’s grace I have been really encouraged in the feedback I’ve received.
How I Have Grown
The day after I pushed “send” on my manuscript, I began hurriedly to work on my next book project. Heck, I was on a roll with writing, why stop when I have so much momentum? Thankfully, God helped me see how discontent fueled my desire to be noticed, and how I rooted too much of my identity in achievements. Idolatry wears a lot of different masks.
When I bought my house a few years ago, a colleague told me “you can fix anything if you have the right tools.” I firmly believe that is true for many of our struggles in prayer as well, especially the more practical ones like focus and not knowing what to say. (Although don’t forget that Romans 8:26 reminds us that we often don’t know what to pray!) Prayer is a spiritual battle, but God has given us incredible tools with which we can seek Him. I hope my book has helped, and continues to help, many people break through common struggles to persevere in confident prayer.
That’s how God has worked in me. He’s increased my confidence in Him and simple faith that He hears my prayers because of Jesus. That gift alone was worth the countless hours of reading, writing, rewriting, editing, and prayer. Now the challenge is to put into practice all that I’ve learned and teach. Pray for me!
If you want to know the practical tip that has helped me the most, it is simply praying the Lord’s Prayer specifically for a person or situation. This practice makes me confident I’m praying in line with God’s will and helps me pray for so much that I wouldn’t think to pray for. And if you memorize the Lord’s Prayer, it’s a tool you can implement any moment of any day.
I have several ideas for my next book but will probably wait at least six months to a year before I seriously consider sending another proposal to publishers. One idea is a children’s book.
Here are a few things I’m doing related to When Prayer Is a Struggle:
- Next Spring, the Spanish edition of When Prayer Is a Struggle (called ‘Cuando orar es una lucha’) releases with P&R and I’m excited to promote it on my Spanish blog AncladoenCristo.org and on various Spanish language podcasts/radio shows. I suspect the impact of the book will be deeper in Spanish.
- In the next month or two I will launch a free online course through Open the Bible called Pray the Bible that serves as a companion to the book. In the five-part course, I take a more positive approach on the most helpful prayer tool we have, God’s Word, and go deeper on several topics that I touch on in When Prayer Is a Struggle. I’ll let you know when it’s available.
- I also have a few workshops on prayer on the calendar, one at The Orchard EFC – Barrington, IL this November, and an invitation to Latin America (details pending). I’d love to come and speak to your church, too.
I want to thank you, my blog readers, for buying copies of the book, reviewing the book (over 50 reviews now!), for telling others about the book, and for your encouragement. I consider it a great privilege to have you read some of what I write, and I pray God helps me serve you well and deepen your love for Him.
 I use the term ‘book baby’ with great apologies for the wonderful women all over the world really giving birth, especially my wife. 🙂