How Good Prayer is Like Good Writing


How are prayer and writing similar? You’ll appreciate this insight I came across recently:

“The author, George Moore, in replying to a question of a young woman on how to go about the business of becoming a writer, suggested to her that she buy a table and a chair, and get a pad of paper and a pen, and then be there. When the muse comes to dine with you, you have to be at home. Being present is a first condition of hospitality. But unless you want terribly to write, you will not be at the table. A thousand legitimate reasons will appear that will call you elsewhere, and anyone who has ever written knows how insistent these calls away from home, these calls from the table, can be. So it is with prayer.” (Steere, Douglas V. Dimensions of Prayer. New York: Women’s Division of Christian Service, 1962, p. 23-24.)

How do you become a writer? By doing what I am aiming to do here and now. Show up. Sit down. Stay put. Listen. Watch for the creative Guest. Don’t fail to be present when He arrives. I must let my desire to write something God has invited me to write to rise above the other desires, impulses, or inclinations. Not easy.

The same is true of prayer. There are a million things I can think of to do other than bring my attention to Jesus, live in His presence, open my heart to Him and enjoy relationship together. In this, prayer is like writing or any other creative effort. Prayer is a creative effort.

Father, help me in this work I desire and intend to do, both writing and prayer. Protect me from letting fears or perfectionism hinder me. These impulses would have me give up today and wait for some “better time.” I could go that direction, but I wouldn’t be glad at day’s end that I did.

For Reflection: What creative work have you told yourself you should do “someday”? Prayer, poetry, writing a story, painting? What if someday were today? What simple first step could you take?

Click here to make any Amazon purchase in support of this blog.
This does not add to the cost of your order, but provides a referral fee to this ministry.
[Click to learn more]

The Essence of Creativity


As I think about my blog posts and the work I’m doing on Unhurried Time, it feels like I’m collecting maple tree sap that I can boil down later to make some delicious syrup.

But a little web research tells me that amount of syrup produced is about 1/40 of the original volume of sap. That’s quite a reduction. Perhaps my ratio won’t be as dramatic (or maybe it will be). But something like this must occur, tapping into inner sources of life, then later editing them down into their essence. I think it works as a metaphor, even if it is a little overwhelming to think of writing that much to get usable material. Creativity is good, hard work.

Click here to make any Amazon purchase in support of this blog.
This does not add to the cost of your order, but provides a referral fee to this ministry.
[Click to learn more]

Unhurried Time: Accepted for Publication


I’m pleased to let you all know that I received the following email notification this afternoon from InterVarsity Press about my “Unhurried Time” proposal: “Your book is quite happily accepted for publication! We like the concept of the book and your approach very much.”

I got the news having just returned from a day at a Trappist monastery in the hills above Jarabacoa, Dominican Republic where I was working on a couple of chapters.

I’ll have a deadline of June 2012. Thank you for all of your prayers and encouragement along the way. I’ll look forward to keeping you posted.

–Alan.

The War of Art


Came back across this helpful counsel on writing and resistance this morning in Donald Miller’s A Million Miles in a Thousand Years:

“I read a book a couple of years ago by Steven Pressfield called The War of Art. The book is about writing, about the process of getting words onto an empty page. Pressfield said a writer has to sit down every day and write, regardless of how he feels. He said you can sit around and wait for inspiration to come, but you’ll never finish your book that way. ‘The muse honors the working stiff,’ Pressfield says. He also says that every creative person, and I think probably every other person, faces resistance when trying to create something good. He even says resistance, a kind of feeling that comes against you when you point toward a distant horizon, is a sure sign that you are supposed to do the thing in the first place. The harder the resistance, the more important the task must be, Pressfield believes.” (Donald Miller. A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2009, p. 15.)

For Reflection:

  • What creative work have you wanted to do your own life? Writing? Music? Landscaping? What? How might you take this counsel about simple, daily faithfulness to heart?

Buy a copy of A Million Miles… on Amazon.com

Click here to make any Amazon purchase in support of this blog.
This does not add to the cost of your order, but provides a small referral fee to this ministry

Unhurried Time Writing Project Update


For those of you who have been following my rather unhurried progress on this book project (and the jokes just keep multiply in my mind), here’s where it stands:

  • I have a 19-page third draft of a book proposal ready to be reviewed by an editor friend.
  • I have a 14-page, 4,500-word second draft of chapter one (my introduction) ready for review.
  • I have a 13-page, 4,200-word rough collection of material for chapter two on the theme of Jesus resisting temptation as an illustration of the dynamics of unhurried (and hurried) living. This needs further work.
  • I have the remaining eleven chapters in various stages from title and a few ideas, to title with research and writing done, to a fairly full first draft of materials needing editing.

I’ve been devoting my mornings to this project since mid-December and will continue through the first week of January. My aim is to have the book proposal and two chapters in good form to submit to one publisher who opened a door to me a while back. I’d be grateful for your prayers as I continue to move into uncharted territory with all of the adventure and terror it involves. Thanks.

 

The War of Art


Came back across this helpful counsel on writing and resistance this morning in Donald Miller’s A Million Miles in a Thousand Years:

“I read a book a couple of years ago by Steven Pressfield called The War of Art. The book is about writing, about the process of getting words onto an empty page. Pressfield said a writer has to sit down every day and write, regardless of how he feels. He said you can sit around and wait for inspiration to come, but you’ll never finish your book that way. ‘The muse honors the working stiff,’ Pressfield says. He also says that every creative person, and I think probably every other person, faces resistance when trying to create something good. He even says resistance, a kind of feeling that comes against you when you point toward a distant horizon, is a sure sign that you are supposed to do the thing in the first place. The harder the resistance, the more important the task must be, Pressfield believes.” (Donald Miller. A Million Miles in a Thousand Years. Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 2009, p. 15.)

For Reflection:

  • What creative work have you wanted to do your own life? Writing? Music? Landscaping? What? How might you take this counsel about simple, daily faithfulness to heart?

Buy a copy of A Million Miles… on Amazon.com

Share

Most-Visited Recent Posts (April)


Today, I am grateful to be taking a rest day after three good solid weeks of ministry. I’ll probably get out and take a good long ride on my bike. I’ll probably read plenty.

So in light of the fact that I’m not working today, I thought it would be good time to schedule ahead this list of most-visited recent posts:

  • Writing” – First, I had the treat of having a small article published in the latest edition of Conversations Journal. It was a response to David Kinnaman’s book unChristian: What a New Generation Really Thinks about Christianity… and Why It Matters. You can download a copy of my article by clicking on the article image on this page.
  • Podcast” – I launched a new audio podcast on March 29th and have uploaded ten episodes now. You can listen to them on the web directly or on iTunes (and your iPod if you subscribe there).
  • A Practice for Burn-out Prevention” – I didn’t set out to address burnout as a primary focus of my ministry over the last ten years, but it has turned out that my work in spiritual direction and retreat leading has borne a great deal of fruit in helping Christian leaders experience God’s refreshment and His sustaining Presence. Here I shared some simple, practical insights about a core practice of our ministry team: one day a month to be alone and quiet with God.
  • Bookstore” – You can see what I’m reading here for the April to June 2010 quarter.
  • Wisdom for the Wayward” – Here I shared a great quotation from the desert fathers on a prostitute who experienced God’s mercy. I love this line from one of the fathers who tells the story: “If a spark can set on fire the sea, then can thy sins stain His whiteness: it is no new thing to fall in the mire, but it is an evil thing to lie there fallen.”
  • A Good Word: Soul-Honest Prayer” – Here I shared one of my all-time favorite C. S. Lewis quotations offering counsel on how to pray.

Share