As writers, we hope and pray that our words will reach readers’ hearts and minds. That our work will influence them to go deeper with God. But there’s another way we can open ourselves for God to use us, and that’s to use our words in prayer. Guest Lenora Worth shares how God has blessed her through being a prayer influencer.
About Lenora Worth
A member of the American Christian Fiction Writers Honor Roll, Lenora Worth writes romance and romantic suspense for Love Inspired and sweet romance for Tule Publishing. She also writes for Kensington Books. Three of her books have finaled in the ACFW Carol Awards. She received the Romantic Times Pioneer Award for Inspirational Fiction. Lenora is a NY Times, USA Today and Publishers Weekly bestselling writer and a 2019 RWA RITA® Finalist. With one-hundred-plus books and novellas published and over three million books in print, she enjoys adventures with her retired husband and loves reading, baking, and shopping … especially shoe shopping.
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Erin: Welcome to all of you, our wonderful listeners in the deep. We’re thankful that you’re here with us. We have a guest, and we’re thankful for that, too!
Karen: Our guest is Lenora Worth. She and I worked together years and years and years ago. When I was heading up fiction at Multnomah Books, she was one of my authors when I was the managing editor there. I always enjoyed her books and loved her humor.
She’s an ACFW honor roll member. She writes inspirational fiction for Harlequin’s Love Inspired and sweet romance for Tule Publishing. She also writes for Kensington books. This is one very busy lady! She helped launch the Rodeo Nights Western Romance imprint. Her Love Inspired Suspense novel Body of Evidence made the New York Times bestseller list. She’s also a USA Today and Publishers Weekly bestselling author.
She is amazing! In 2016, she received a Romantic Times Pioneers of Fiction Award, and when her 75th book published, she received the ACFW milestone pin at the same time that Debbie Macomber received the same pin. Lenora said she was more excited to share the stage with Debbie Macomber than anything else. I don’t blame her! Debbie is amazing, too.
Three of Lenora’s books have been nominated for the ACFW Carol Award, and she is an RWA Rita finalist. She’s written a hundred plus books and has an estimated 3 million books in print. She loves cheesecake, shoe shopping, walking on the beach, and reading. And she has an amazing prayer ministry, which is what we’re going to talk about today.
Erin: Yes! Thank you, Lenora for being here. Welcome!
Lenora: Thank you for having me.
Erin: So, we love to ask everybody, what does the deep mean to you?
Lenora: The deep. You mean this deep we’re in now, or any deep?
Erin: You can decide. It can mean whatever you want.
Lenora: Well, with you two, it means fun, I’m sure! Deep into fun. But I think when I hear the words in the deep, it means going to those places you might not normally go and exploring the fiction you might not think you can write. And taking up on the challenges that you’re afraid to step into. Sometimes we go in the deep and we get in trouble, but most of the time we go in the deep and we find exactly what we’re looking for.
Karen: I love that.
Erin: And since you’re speaking as a person who obviously has taken on a lot of challenges with your hundred plus books, those are good words.
Lenora: Thank you.
Karen: Lenora and I belong to the same online group of published novelists, and we have always had what they call a Monday morning prayer time, or a Wednesday morning prayer time, where one of the members posts a prayer for the requests from the whole group. Lenora took that over…how long ago was that, Lenora?
Lenora: You know, I was trying to remember that the other day. I think it has been about a year now.
Karen: I think so. I’ve always loved reading the prayers from the different writers who have shared them, but there was something different about Lenora’s prayer ministry. She made it so personal and so encouraging. Yes, it was the prayer requests, but it was also things deep from her heart to share with these other writers. It was just moving. The first time I read one of her posts, I just, I almost wept. It was so moving and so personal.
What led you to doing that? I mean, obviously you’re a very busy woman. What led you to taking on the prayer ministry for this online group?
Lenora: I really don’t know what happened to me. I mean, I just thought somebody needs to do this. You know, we started it out as prayers for our children, and it would go from one person to the other. We would gather the prayers and then we would repeat them in one long prayer post so we could pray over these people.
But sometimes when I was in charge, it took longer for me to get it together. And I thought, well, prayer is urgent. If it’s a small prayer, a big prayer, it’s urgent. Why not just do it once a week, like almost live, as live as possible?
Lenora: That’s what made me volunteer to do it that way on every Wednesday. Because you know, I grew up Baptist. Now I’m a Methodist. But we had Wednesday night prayer meeting and vespers and things like that. I thought midweek, you know, we’re rushing through the weekend and it would be a midweek uplifting time even during urgent prayers.
So, that’s how it started. And Karen can tell you, once I get to talking, I don’t want to stop. Once I get writing, I don’t want to stop either. So it just kind of organically happened.
I was really shocked when people started responding to it. I’m like, well, what did I write? I mean, I put thought into it, of course, because I really deeply want these prayers to be answered in one way or another. It’s just really whatever’s in my head that morning. Something grabs me that I can relate to the prayers that people are asking us to pray.
Karen: It was amazing to me because I always respond to prayers. I used to say I’m praying, but I wasn’t really. I mean, you know, if God brought it to my mind, I would pray. But these were so personal. It’s like you brought us into each other’s lives in such a way that it reminded us, “Oh, this isn’t some random prayer requests. This is a prayer request from someone we know, we like, we respect, we care about.”
It humanized the prayers in such a way that as soon as I started reading your requests and the things that you added in to help us to do that, to step in the other person’s shoes, I would pray right off. And that’s what I do now, when I read your prayer. I pray right off. I’m like, “Yes, Lord. I agree with that in the authority you’ve given us.”
You have done that for so many of us. You have spurred us, through what you do in humanizing this, into intent and serious prayer. And into rejoicing. It is like a worship service. It is like being uplifted. That’s really phenomenal.
Lenora: Well, as usual, the Lord just let me stumble into it because he knows me. He’s like, “You can do this.” And I’m like, “Well, I don’t think I can, but I’ll try.”
You know, when I walk on the beach, I talk to God. I guess that’s where it stems from, too, because that’s my private place to have talks with God. A lot of things have happened on the beach that I knew God was involved in.
So when we do our Wednesday prayers, and we’ve known each other for so long, probably 20 or 25 years, and it is all women. We’re all mothers, sisters, aunts, cousins, daughters. All the things that women go through. The men made us kind of leave the other group. We scared them with some of the things we were talking about.
We talk about health issues, and children, and moving, and not being able to move, and losing a job, or not being able to write that next book. These are things that we as writers all identify with. I think that’s why to me it became more personal because, you know, prayers are urgent. We need them right now. So, everybody can know that on Wednesday morning, I might be a little late, but I’ll get there, and we will have a prayer meeting.
Erin: What’s so fascinating about this, too, is that you have that time on the beach where you’re talking to God, but this is just another medium when you’re writing out this prayer. I think that’s really a neat thing for especially writers to think about. If they’re feeling like their prayer life maybe is lacking or could stand some expansion, you know, that’s true for all of us probably, it would be neat, you know, do we write out our prayers? That would be fun and could be an exciting new way to connect with God.
Lenora: Well, it’s how I’ve always connected with God. I grew up on a farm and I was the last of seven children. I was more like an only child because they were all up and grown, and they had given me such wonderful examples of what to do and what not to do.
I would go down to what we call the branch. It was like a little stream, and there was a tree there that would wave. I called that my God tree, and I would talk to that tree and then I’d feel better about things. I did that all through high school until I left there.
So to me, talking to God is very personal. I’m not a biblical scholar, but I love Jesus. And so, I like to put that in when I’m talking. When I feel like I’m talking to this group as a woman to other women, I like to put that in there. You know, he’s here with us always.
Karen: Yes. It’s the encouragement, it’s the affirmation that you share with us. It really is like we’ve all gathered together in a living room, and we’re sitting there, and we’re together. I know for those of us who are writers, we spend so much time writing our books or whatever, and we can look at prayer sometimes as an add-on, you know? Like, “Yeah, I’ll pray for that when I have time.” Or, “Lord, I’ll pray for that when you bring it to mind.”
And yet this is stopping and taking time to get personally invested in praying for each other. To get personally invested even in the words of encouragement and what for me are encouraging devotionals. Just short little devotionals that you give us to remind us of who we are in Christ and of what prayer means to us and to each other.
So my question is, what have you discovered about yourself in this process as a writer?
Lenora: Well, that I can do things if I let God lead me. I mean, with every book I send out, I think, “Oh, this is the worst book ever, but God led me to write it.” I feel like, “Well, if God led me to write it, it’s going to be okay. If it doesn’t sell a million copies, it’s going to be okay. If one person reads it and it helps that person, it’s going to be okay.”
That’s how I’ve written every book. I always start, before I even write one word, I just hold my fingers on the keys and let God flow through me. I ask him, “Please, give me the words.”
As writers, words are our life, and why not expand that to our prayers, too? Use the thing we love the most to talk to God in a way that God can feel it, and you can feel it, and you can help someone else.
Karen: Very cool.
Erin: How do you feel like you’ve been impacted personally through what you’ve been doing on Wednesdays with these prayers you’re writing?
Lenora: Well, it helps me to get grounded and settled, because we all have problems in life. With the last few years with everything that’s been going on in the world, it all becomes personal sometimes, and you’re like, “I just can’t do it anymore.”
This has helped me know that I have a place to go, that I can share things in confidence with people who understand, because they’ve been through the same things, and they’re dealing with the same things.
Lenora: It’s important to me, myself, to be there, to show up because God wants us to show up. Like Karen said, to actually pray for these people. Pray for the new requests that come in, ask people about the requests that have passed, you know, “How are you doing? Are you doing better? Would you like to update us?”
There’s some people on there that don’t want to talk about anything, but they’re included because we know that he is with them, too. So I always try to include them and say, “If you have unspoken prayers or requests, we’re listening. We’re here.”
Erin: I think that’s so important, what you’re talking about, this need for connection for us as a body. I believe that God made us that way deliberately. He made us a body and built into us that need for connection. I love that it can take a lot of different forms. You guys have this great online group that works for this connection.
I have been a part of writers groups. I currently am a part of a mastermind. These women are where I go for that connection and that prayer and, oh my goodness, what a difference it makes. So I just want to encourage everybody out there. Find a connection, find a group.
Karen: Even if it can’t be face to face. This group is very large that Lenora and I are part of it and it can’t be a face-to-face thing. I’ve seen now that just doing a prayer list or posting the prayers that are needed and the requests that have come in, that that can be a very personal, intimate thing. You find yourself drawn to God’s throne as you’re petitioning for the people that you care about.
Lenora: I think that’s what helped me, to still answer that question, it has helped me to be closer to Christ. That’s something I needed. And with the pandemic, we don’t get together as much as we used to.
Lenora: Hopefully that will happen again. But to gather as women, because women, you know, women follow Jesus. They believed in Jesus. They held these things in their hearts and pondered them. So we as women, it’s our time to be us and to be females who are dealing with difficult situations or joyous situations. We can talk to each other, honestly, without knowing that the whole world is listening. It’s just us and Jesus.
Karen: I love that.
Erin: Well, the honesty part, again, we live in a curated world, even like, look at social media, people are just seeing what we choose to put out there. We’re losing that place where we can drop the mask. Where we don’t have to fear being seen, because really we all want to be seen.
It’s such an interesting paradox. We’ve been talking at our church about a book by Curt Thompson, I think it’s called The Soul of Desire. But he talks about how we want to be seen, but at the same time are afraid to be seen, because we’re thinking we’re imposters or we’re worried about what others are going to see.
So this kind of connection, and especially prayer, there’s something about prayer, that helps us drop the mask and be authentic with each other. It is so needed. I think it helps our writing too.
Karen: It definitely does. It informs our writing because especially in today’s publishing world where publishers are bringing in sensitivity readers, and suddenly we find ourselves in the hot seat for writing the stories that God has given us to write and not using the right terms that we’re supposed to be using.
It gets so frustrating, and it gets so debilitating for writers, where we’re afraid to put our hands to the keyboard. But when we’re grounded in this sense of prayer for others and even for ourselves, and when we remember that God is with us and we don’t have to be afraid, we can let go of trying to be “politically correct,” and instead focus on being “God correct.”
Be correct according to what Scripture tells us, what God is moving you to say. Write what God tells you to write. Put your fingers on the keyboard, like you do, Lenora, and just let him fly through what you have to share. Through what he’s given you to share. I think we spend way too much time trying to do the right thing in the world’s eyes, rather than doing the God thing.
Lenora: Well, you’re right. You know, one of my recent posts was about being a prayer influencer. That’s the new catch word. “Oh, one need influencers.” There are social media influencers. Why not be a prayer influencer? You know, help people who need the prayer, want the prayer, understand the prayer. Spread that while you’re spreading your books. And your social media platforms, use that, too. So that’s one thing that I realized. We have such an influence.
Karen: It’s an influence that God has given us by his blessings and his guidance over our careers. Definitely we need to be using that to share our hearts about Him.
Lenora: Yeah, that’s right.
Erin: I love that phrase: “prayer influencer.” That needs to catch on.
Lenora: We can make it happen.
Erin: So do you feel like what you’re doing has also impacted you then as a writer? Speak a little bit more about how writing these prayers out has impacted you personally as a writer.
Lenora: Well, it really has. As I said, it grounded me, and even when I’m having a tough time writing, it brings me back to the core. “Why are you here? What message do you want to give? What is the core of the story you’re trying to write?”
When you go through a difficult time with a book, the edits might be horrendous, or it’s just not coming together, or you’re rushing toward a deadline, I find that now, I just sit there and calmly bring myself back to my center. I focus on what has to be done and take it one step at a time.
I think the post I posted yesterday was about how our pastor taught about “God math.” God has a different math than we do. God’s already calculated everything and he has the answers, and we’re frantically typing and trying to calculate, “How many words do I need to write a day to get to this deadline?” Or, “How many chapters do I need to finish this book?” And, “How am I going to get dinner done? I need to be done here so I can go there.” God knows all that.
Lenora: And so I thought, “Why do I get so frantic about these things? He knew me before I was born. He knows the hairs on my head, which are not as many as there used to be. He knows it all. So just relax.”
So now if I have a problem with edits, I talk to somebody. It might be my editor or some friends who can help me through it. And pray, of course. Always pray.
I started this little blog called Read, Write, Play, Pray. You can find it at askelnora.com. I think I’ve had about five posts so far, and I talk about that there. You know, we write, we play a little bit, we pray a little bit, we read a lot. These are the things that we love as people who write. I hope to keep developing that.
That was another thing that I thought. I needed to blog again. I’d stopped blogging because I got overwhelmed, and I thought, “I just need to blog again.” It’s not for a social media platform. It’s not to gather numbers. It’s just the place for me to write, kind of free write. You know, freestyle.
Erin: Yeah, I love it. We’re almost out of time. It’s gone so fast. Out of your wisdom of a hundred plus books, do you have any final words of wisdom you want to leave with our listeners?
Lenora: Well, if you’re a writer, write what your heart tells you to write, and don’t compare yourself to other writers.
Lenora: Let God lead the way. If you’re a reader, read the books that can teach you a message and help you heal and help you enjoy life. You want to have joy, because you know, there’s darkness and then there’s light. We want to give light to our readers. That’s important.
Karen: Well, Lenora, thank you so much for coming here and sharing with us. I so appreciate everything that you’ve talked about and how you’ve shared your heart with the listeners here on our podcast, but especially in the prayers that you share and in the prayers that you do for the group that we’re both a part of.
You’ve reminded me of the foundation, of being conditioned to turn to God. This has clearly helped you to make your instantaneous response to struggles and obstacles and joy and all of that, to be to turn to God. May we all learn that. May we all be so conditioned that we can relax. We can rest in him and we can let him take us where he wants and know that our only job is obedience and he handles all the rest.
Erin: Amen.Guest @LenoraWorth shares how you can become a prayer influencer for readers and other writers! #amwriting #christianwriter Click To Tweet
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