“May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer.” (Psalm 19:14 NIV)
This is one of my favorite verses, and I love to pray it over my writing. Recently though, I hit a brainstorming block that left me winded and unsure how to move forward. I swung from feverishly scribbling notes to mapping out the story on a whiteboard, hoping that a different view would help. I spent several hours agonizing over the problem before I admitted to God that I needed His wisdom to proceed.
When I ran into some vehicle problems, I called my dad much more quickly. But, similar to how my dad loves me and is delighted when I seek his help, I believe that God is delighted when we ask Him to guide our writing process and shape our stories.
Those of us who love books know the impact a story can have. Characters to inspire. Themes to encourage. A journey to influence thought, ignite hope, and prompt change. This is why praying over our manuscripts is so important as Christian storytellers—regardless of the market we’re targeting, or whether our books contain overt or subtle spiritual themes.
Sometimes, however, we’re uncertain what to focus on when we pray. So, here are some topics I’ve begun praying about specifically, and at the end, I would love to hear how you pray over your writing as well.
Writing involves a thousand decisions on everything from story world to characters to themes to sensitive topics to the book’s tone. The publishing business spawns a thousand more decisions, from finding an agent or an editor, to selecting which project to work on, to determining when a story is ready.
When one piece of advice contradicts another, we need wisdom to decide who to listen to. When we’re addressing sensitive topics and wondering how far we’re permitted to go, our judgement can be so colored by personal experiences, logical assumptions, and cultural views that we need God’s wisdom to help us tailor the story’s tone and theme for our intended audience. And when success seems paramount, we need wisdom to remember that our worth is not based on manuscript requests or reviews on Amazon.
2. Humility and Confidence
Pride and ego can be a massive hindrance since editing is the soul of good writing. If we cannot accept criticism gracefully, then we often have to accept it painfully. Praying daily for the humility to see necessary changes and embrace valuable revisions can be so beneficial.
At the same time, we may struggle to have confidence in our work, especially after receiving a blistering critique or failing to satisfy our own perfectionism. This can lead us to dance around difficult issues, to refrain from pushing our characters into the journey of growth, or to let doubt cripple us every time we sit down to write. But praying for healthy esteem in our skills can give us the courage to dive deep and tell bold stories.
3. Empathy for Characters
The ability to empathize with others is a virtue, but it is especially vital for storytellers striving to create characters who readers can empathize with. So, while it may sound strange, I’ve started praying that I’ll feel empathy for my characters.
Having empathy for secondary characters breathes life into them so they have a larger purpose than supporting the main characters. Having empathy for antagonists enables us to present them as more than cardboard cutouts who exist solely to harass our protagonists. Having empathy for main characters ensures that we allow them to grow and make mistakes like real, flawed people. It also prevents us from forcing them in directions contrary to who they are or will become. And whenever our characters are from an ethnic, cultural, or religious background that is different from ours, writing from a place of empathy fosters a connection with the readers who will identify with those characters.
4. Christian Themes or Elements
How and when to weave Christian themes or elements into our stories is a matter of hot debate in Christian writing circles, with writers and readers falling in various places along the spectrum. Since the story that encourages one reader may be starkly different from the story that resonates with another, we need fiction across the entire range.
For me, the answer to that question fluctuates slightly for each new story, and I imagine it might be the same for others. I think we can agree that themes are powerful, and choosing when to include or exclude a Christian motif will greatly impact readers. An inherent sense of responsibility comes with that knowledge. So, regardless of the types of stories we tell, if we’re going to bathe any aspect of our work in prayer, I believe this should be it. We can pray before we begin and then throughout the process over how, when, and where to position Christian themes or elements so that the story may uplift its intended readers.
5. Love for Readers
This is stepping beyond the writing process a bit, but whether we’re already published or still building a platform, authors need readers. We can easily get preoccupied with gaining interactions on social media posts, book sales, or Amazon reviews, rather than seeing the people behind those numbers.
Yes, publishing is a business, and I’m grateful when my books sell. But when I focus on numbers over people, I wind up feeling disconnected from the heart of why I write, which can breed an attitude of discontentment or frustration. Praying that we’ll love readers and recognize them as blessings can help us refocus when our efforts aren’t paying off as we had hoped.
6. Peace and Patience while Waiting
Writing and waiting go hand in hand. Whether you’re waiting for feedback, a response to a query, a contract, a book release, or the development of your next writing idea, being patient is hard! But the more I read Scripture, the more I see how God uses seasons of waiting (sometimes lengthy ones) to sculpt, prepare, and draw people closer to Him. Praying for peace and patience during those waiting periods can help us view them as opportunities for growth instead of discouragement.
The Spark of Truth
Whether the story I’m writing features elves or spaceships or happens at the ice cream parlor in the neighboring small town, I pray that my books contain a spark of truth that will connect with at least one reader. To offer joy when he feels discouraged. To show that beauty shines beyond the brokenness. To remind him that heroes can be the small, the forgotten, and the outcasts too. To point him toward hope and, ultimately, the source of that hope—Christ.
Maybe that’s a lot to expect from a story. But then I remember the king with the hands of a healer and the lion who is not safe but good. Those are only sparks. But sometimes a spark is all a reader needs to start searching for more.
How do you pray over your writing? We can pray over our writing and the struggles authors face in many more ways. I would love to hear what story topics or writing struggles you frequently bring to God.
Gillian Bronte Adams is the sword-wielding, horse-riding, wander-loving fantasy author of THE SONGKEEPER CHRONICLES, rarely found without a coffee in hand and rumored to pack books before clothes when she hits the road. Working in youth ministry left her with a passion for journeying alongside children and teens. (It also enhanced her love of coffee.) Now she writes novels that follow outcast characters down broken roads, through epic battles, and onward to adventure. And at the end of a long day of typing, she can be found saddling her wild thing and riding off into the sunset, seeking adventures of her own (and more coffee). She loves to connect with fellow readers and wanderers online through her blog, Facebook page, and Instagram.