Hearing from God When Writing Your Book
- Written by Patrick J. McGuffin
What a massive endeavor – to consider writing a Christian book to assist God’s people in moving forward in their lives. Although excited with the prospect of writing and publishing your book, at the same time you feel overwhelmed with the task before you in representing God’s heart through the written word. Everything inside you reminds you that you are a needy person…needy to connect with God. You may have no trouble talking to God, but how are you at listening? The real issue is hearing from God in prayer. This article will not discuss much about how a Christian writer should pray. As you are in the process of writing your Christian book, we are going to talk about how to hear...how to hear God speak to you, not so much how you speak to him.
Everyone can pray. Most everyone does pray already. It may not happen often, but everyone knows how to pray. Normally people pray when things are going wrong. Their prayer goes something like this: “Oh God, HELP!”
So we know how to pray in one sense. But in another sense, we feel awkward at times, asking God to help us develop story lines, characters or thoughts on our Christian book that we want to publish. We may feel distant from God, ashamed due to some sin in our lives or the way in which we have been living. We also have history in praying, a history that usually includes a feeling that prayers have remained unanswered.
All these collective thoughts contribute to a weak prayer life, and when we do pray, we really don’t expect our prayers will be answered. And if we are not expecting an answer, then we don’t really listen for His voice speaking into our hearts and minds. Sad, but all too normal.
What are the reasons we don’t pray, and that the prayers we do pray don’t seem to yield many answers?
We’re too busy, too tired, and have too many competing things on our mind. We are definitely too unfocused. And we are too full of sin. We find ourselves too reliant on our own understanding, too reliant upon others views and too consumed doing other “good” things. We don’t grasp the incredible opportunity prayer affords us in connecting with God and don’t see what is at risk in us not praying. We feel that our last prayers didn’t get answered and don’t really know what to pray in our confusion. The pull of others and their demands on our life is never ending. Honesty would say we don’t trust God will answer soon, even if we asked. In fact, we are too full of guilt for not following through with something God told us last time we asked. We are too comfortable even in our discomfort. Sadly, we would rather choose our Plan B which might be somewhat sure, rather than relying on prayer. Some don’t really feel connected to God, and may not even be sure they are in a right relationship with God, so why would He answer? And then if we do bother to pray, and even think God will hear us, we aren’t sure we will clearly hear Him speak the answer we need. DID WE COVER ALL YOUR REASONS IN THIS LIST?
Why is it difficult to hear God?
Allowing some sin to remain in our lives is one of the biggest reasons. Not choosing to obey God in what he already revealed is another. Rebellion through being self absorbed in our own methods comes to mind. Not staying connected to the vine of Christ’s life short-circuits us. Harboring (giving a safe place) to unforgiveness sabotages our prayer life. Not honoring your spouse affects your ability to hear God. Lack of confession and repentance puts a wall of self righteousness up between us and God.
Let’s look at what Scripture says about these reasons:
Sin – not choosing to obey God in what He already revealed.
Rebellion – doing things the way we want them done, not His way.
When you spread out your hands in prayer ,I will hide my eyes from you; even if you offer many prayers, I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood; wash and make yourselves clean. Take your evil deeds out of my sight! Stop doing wrong, learn to do right! Seek justice, encourage the oppressed. Defend the cause of the fatherless, plead the case of the widow.
"Come now, let us reason together," says the LORD."Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool. If you are willing and obedient, you will eat the best from the land; but if you resist and rebel, you will be devoured by the sword." For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.
"'Go to this people and say,
‘You will be ever hearing but never understanding;
you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.
For this people's heart has become calloused;
they hardly hear with their ears,
and they have closed their eyes.
Otherwise they might see with their eyes,
hear with their ears,
understand with their hearts
and turn, and I would heal them.’
"Therefore I want you to know that God's salvation has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will listen!"
Not staying connected to the vine.
"I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father's glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples. As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love.”
Not honoring your spouse.
You husbands likewise, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with a weaker vessel, since she is a woman; and grant her honor as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers may not be hindered.
Lack of confession and repentance.
1 John 1:8-10
If we claim to be without sin, we deceive ourselves and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
Have mercy on me, O God, according to your unfailing love;
according to your great compassion blot out my transgressions.
Wash away all my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin.
For I know my transgressions, and my sin is always before me.
Against you, you only, have I sinned and done what is evil in your sight,
so that you are proved right when you speak and justified when you judge.
Preoccupation with our self, our desires, our needs.
What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.
Not seeing that this world should revolve around Him and His agenda and not our agenda .
And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.
Seven Things To Do That Will Allow You To Hear God
- Get to know God’s expectations of you. Life is about God’s agenda, not yours. When writing your book, ask God what his expectations are for your day, week and month of writing. Get in the Word as regularly as you have regular needs – daily. Serious understanding of how to proceed comes to those who get serious. Ask for Godly help.
- Ask God to help you see all your sin, as the destructive and obstructive force that it is. God is not mocked. For us to consider writing a Christian book, and not deal with the issues that are on His heart concerning our lives, is absurd.
- Agree with God about your sin. Know that it separates you from God, and has ramifications in your personal circumstances as well as in your writing and publishing life.
- Renounce and choose to turn away and destroy the sin in your life, through the power of Christ. Get the truth about Christ’s ability to free you from the sin in which you feel entrapped. Take the risk of standing on the truth through belief, trusting that He will give you the strength to make the changes needed. Starve the life out of sin’s growth by not feeding or fueling the part of your life that’s drawn to that wrong activity. Seek Godly, committed help from trusted friends – in other words, don’t rely on your mere strength and resolve. And finally, commit to regular measurable audits through accountability.
- Honor Him in thanksgiving, declarations of truth, and worship. Be prayerfully thankful for all He has done and is doing in your life. This applies to your personal, family, occupational and Christian writing life. Read the scripture out loud. Declare your own paraphrased version. Redeem the remnants of time in your daily life by worshiping God in song and meditating on His word. Take your time captive. Let time in the car by your mobile worship center. Children’s nap time, office break time, etc. are also great opportunities. Finally, be strategic and purposeful and make this time non-optional.
- Make the soil of your life prepared to receive God’s message to you. Just like in planting, nurture the soil of your mind through a good weed and feed program, the soil of your spirit through the refreshing water of the Spirit of God, and the soil of your will by breaking it so it can be submissive when the word comes. Let God’s Word actually change your viewpoints, your method of processing information, and what you allow into your mind. Adopt His truth as truth, rather than your truth and experience alone as the ultimate measuring stick. Allow your affections and desires to be transformed through understanding life through God’s perspective found in His word. The soil of your will must be broken up and refashioned by you deciding to bring your life in submission to the truth, whether you feel like it or not. Do what you don’t want to do, so you can become who you really want to become as an individual and as a Christian writer.
- Be alert to recognize the voice and leadership of God when He speaks. We have to discipline our ear. This happens by spending time with a person – in this case God. We must separate and recognize different competing voices. It is critical to recognize the authenticity of His voice in the middle of all the competing voices presenting themselves to us.
As you read through this brief article, you see that hearing God for the development of your Christian book is no different than hearing God for your daily concerns. We must clear the clutter of life, the sin in our life and other competition in order to hear Him speak and lead us in this critical area of Christian writing.
What a privilege to be a Christian novelist, a Christian self-help writer, and to publish a Christian book! But publishing a book, writing and editing your book, and developing your storyline are all things that need to be immersed in prayer. Knowing how to hear from God when He speaks is critical to capturing His thoughts for you to share with His people through writing.
You must become as focused on hearing God, and in preparing your life to receive His insights through prayer, as you are at the mechanics and focus you give actually writing your Christian book.