181 – Plugging into the Power of Prayer Teams with Guest Shadia Hrichi, Part 1

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Plugging into the Power of Prayer Teams with Guest Shadia Hrichi Write from the Deep podcast with Karen Ball and Erin Taylor YoungThere are partners out there that you, as a writer who is serving God, MUST have. They’re prayer partners! Guest Shadia Hrichi shares her experiences and guidance for putting together your own power team of prayers to help ensure you stay on the path God has for you.

About Shadia Hrichi

Shadia Hrichi is a passionate Bible teacher who loves seeing lives transformed by the power of God’s Word. She holds a master’s in biblical and theological studies and a master’s in criminal justice. Her Bible studies include TAMARHAGARLEGION, and WORTHY OF LOVE, endorsed by Francine Rivers, Liz Curtis-Higgs, Chris Tiegreen, Bible Study Magazine, and others. Shadia enjoys speaking at retreats and events, and loves to visit the ocean each week for “a date with Jesus.”

Thanks to our sponsors on Patreon, we’re able to offer an edited transcript of the podcast!

Erin: Welcome, listeners. We’re glad that you’re joining us here today in the deep, and we’re excited to have an interview! A guest! Hurray! I’ll let Karen introduce her. 

Karen: Shadia Hrichi is a passionate Bible teacher who has a heart for seeing lives transformed by the power of God’s Word, as we all do. I love that that’s something that excites us all. She’s the author of several Bible studies, including Hagar, Legion, and Tamar from her Behind the Seen series, and she often speaks at churches, conferences, and other events.

She received an MA in Biblical and Theological Studies, I so envy her for that, from Western Seminary, as well as an MA in Criminal Justice from the State University of New York. She resides in Northern California and she loves to visit the ocean each week for a date with Jesus. Shadia is a past guest on 168 and 169 about sharing the depths of God.

Welcome, Shadia.

Shadia: Oh my goodness, thank you so much for having me again. This is so fun!

Erin: We are delighted again! We had such a fun time last time. 

Karen: Yeah, that’s just it. It was like, alright, we have to have her on again. That was great . 

Erin: Let’s start our journey today with what does the deep mean to you? It may or may not mean the same thing as it did last time. 

Shadia: You know, I don’t remember what I said last time. When I think of the deep now where I’m at, I’m thinking a little bit more of a personal sharing of deep connections with God. Sometimes I feel like I miss that in seasons where I feel like I don’t hear God’s voice as clearly.

Lately, I’m just trying to make room for him more so I can hear from him a little bit more deeply in my heart. So that’s kind of where I’m at right now. 

Erin: I love what you said about making room because it’s so easy to get drowned out by everything else vying for our time and attention. If we don’t choose to make room, how are we going to keep any relationship going? So I love what you said. 

We want to talk, as the new year starts, about prayer teams. Shadia has experience with this, and I would love for us to be thinking about this as writers as we start this new year.

But let’s start with a simple question: What is a prayer team? 

Shadia: The way I think of a prayer team, ultimately, it’s a group of people praying in sync with you for your ministry. But when I think of a prayer team for any ministry, I think of it as a foundation.

Christ is the foundation of our salvation, and I think of a prayer team as sort of another aspect of foundation where they’re the ones that are providing the support for the ministry by lifting and holding it up. So that’s how I think of a prayer team. It’s going to impact the strength of the ministry because it serves as the foundation.

Karen: The thing I like about prayer teams, too, is that they serve you as the person who’s writing, as the person who has asked them to come together. They serve you, but they serve you in truth, and in understanding. 

Sometimes what your prayer team comes to tell you is not something you’re expecting or that you’re really all that excited about hearing. But you need to hear it because God has made that clear to them as your partners. 

Shadia: Yes, that’s beautiful. 

Erin: It’s interesting to me that the Apostle Paul, well, here’s this giant, and he says in the letters that he writes to the churches, “Pray for me. Pray for us.”

He certainly prays for others and he mentions that he does, but he also knows that he needs prayer. If he needs prayer, how much more do we? 

What do you think about writers particularly? How do you think they might be benefited? Do they need a prayer team?

Shadia: I would say absolutely. Words have power. As Christians, anything that God entrusts to us to do, whether it’s a ministry or a secular job, whatever it is he’s entrusted us to do, we’re serving him. 

Words have power. It’s essential for writers to have prayer support because we’re acting as a steward of the gifts and the talents, of the words that he gives us, and it’s a ministry. Because if you’re planning on sharing these words, whether you’re published or unpublished, if you’re planning to sharing these words, you’re representing Christ. Whether you see it that way or not, regardless of the genre, you’re representing Christ as a Christian. 

The enemy, he doesn’t want Christ to get out in any form, indirect, direct, through your words. He is fighting you whether you see it or not. So like any other ministry, you want a prayer team to pray against the enemy attack. 

As writers, all of us know that we have those seasons where it’s just plain hard. I mean, I know I’m not the only one who literally just throws my hands up in the air, gets up from the computer, goes in the living room, and paces in circles like, “God, I can’t do it. I just can’t do it. It’s too hard.”

I mean, how many times have we said that? That it’s just too hard?  

But that prayer team behind you, whether you’re aware of it at that moment or not, having that prayer support, if God has called you to it, he’s going to use them and provide support and encouragement for you.

Another thing is that you want a group of people to celebrate with you because you might not always have someone with you when you hit those milestones. You know, I live alone. I write alone. I’m alone a lot. I hit a milestone and I’m like, “Um…yay…” But where’s the confetti and celebration? With a prayer team, you can get right on your email, or however you connect with them. You can get right on that list and share right then. If you wanted to do an impromptu email or video, you could. 

I have a little bit more structured of an outlet, but I’ll make a note in that moment that I want to share this with my prayer team. Then you get feedback from them. They’re celebrating with you. 

One of the most important things about having a prayer team is that it reminds you that you’re not alone. 

Erin: Yeah, definitely, and that’s a good thing. But how do you find people for this? What kind of people do you want to look for? 

Shadia: When I started my prayer team, and I probably should have looked up to see how long it’s been, but it’s been at least five years and probably quite a bit longer because Covid messed me all up. I don’t know what years are what anymore!  

Erin: It’s been a mess for everybody!

Shadia: But yeah, it’s been quite a number of years. When I first started the prayer team, it was very informal. It was smaller. It was the people that were already praying for me: my close friends from church, my bible study group, my intimate church family and the closer friends. Initially, I basically just said, “Hey, I think I want to make this a little bit more structured.”

We would meet at my house once a month. I would schedule a meeting once a month at my house and whoever could come, could come. It was out of these people. This wasn’t that many people. I’d invite nine or ten, something like that. Maybe three or four or five would come.

So initially, it was really the people who were already praying for me. They were already invested. They were my people, my friends. 

Erin: Yeah. 

Shadia: From there, the next step that I took was when I was teaching one of my Bible studies at my own church. There was maybe a few hundred women in the women’s Bible study group. Most of them knew a little bit about me, and by the end of the ten weeks, they knew me very well.

At the end I did the normal thing. I said, “Hey, who wants to get on the email list?”

But I also had a place on the signup form that said, “If you want to keep up with me and you want to pray alongside me, check this little box and I’ll put you on the prayer team.”

A lot of the women from that group joined the prayer team. After that it was more like just people that I knew were already supporting me. If I got an email from somebody that said something like, “God just put you on my heart. I’ve been praying for your ministry,” then I’d reply, ” Hey, would you like to be on the prayer team?”

I never did a big thing to my whole email list asking who wanted to be on my prayer team. I’ve never done that. Now, maybe somebody wants to do that. Maybe if you have a smaller list that would be a good a place to start. 

Ultimately I feel like if God has put this on their heart, because you know, well, one of the things I share sometimes is that none of us can pray for every conceivable ministry you cross paths with.

Erin: Yeah. 

Shadia: You just can’t. You can’t effectively, and God has not necessarily put all of those on your heart. Some needs are only just in the moment for something specific. But there are other certain things that he has called each one of us to, saying, “You’re going to partner in this ministry in prayer.” 

I present it that way. In other words, “You’re not hurting my feelings. If you’re not called to this, then it should not be a connection. But if you are, then please join.” That’s it. 

Right now I have about 85 people. 

Erin: Wow! 

Shadia: It’s been pretty much the same all that time. That’s kinda where it stays. Like I said, if I get an email from someone specifically, even if I don’t know them very well, and they feel like they’re really wanting to pray and be a part of it, I’ll say, “Hey, I do have a prayer team that gets different updates. Would you like to join?” And that’s it. 

Erin: That’s super low key, and I like that because, I mean, it can feel like a big favor if it’s presented wrong, you know? 

Shadia: Yeah. Like I was saying, we can’t all pray for everything that people would like us to pray for on a regular basis. We have jobs, we have families, and God knows that. We’re limited. He’s not. But he’s got lots of people and he can put on our hearts those to pray for. Wherever it is. Whatever it is. He’s the one to put it on your heart. 

So I always want to say it that way. You’re not really asking for a favor if they’re already feeling the nudge to be a part of it. They want to know what’s happening with your ministry. They care about you. They’re excited about what you’re doing, whatever that is, and that is tugging on their hearts. 

You’re not asking a favor. You’re basically just providing an opportunity to stay better connected and continue doing what God’s already asking them to.

Karen: I have a group of women, all writers, who I consider my sisterhood in writing. We meet once a year at one of the writer’s homes and we brainstorm together and pray together and have a lot of fun together. But anytime any of us has a prayer request, we come in—and we do this all the time—we come in and we make the prayer request.

But one of the things that I like about it is they’ll say, “Pray as God leads. If you have something that he nudges you to share, then please share that.”

Nobody feels as though, “Okay, I have to sit down and I have to really pray about this until I hear what God says.”

It’s because we love each other so much, and so we go to prayer asking God to show us if there’s something that we should share. Again, it’s about serving each other and loving each other, and it’s because we care. When any of us are struggling, it matters that we can enter in to prayer and express our concern and our love for each other in that way. 

Shadia: That’s beautiful. It really is. I especially like how you said where it’s always a two-way street. You’re supporting one another and serving one another. 

Erin: I think, too, Shadia, this comes about because you’re putting yourself out there and you’re developing relationships with people. You never know where a relationship is going to lead. You never know who you’re going to meet when you put yourself out there.

Some people will be friends. Some people will be great friends. Some people will be encouragers. And some people will be on your prayer team. I know you were saying you had a fun story about meeting Francine Rivers, of all people, who’s become a great friend? 

Shadia: Yes! My goodness, that really is a fun story. I met her, I believe it was 2015, at a Christian Writer’s conference. I’ve always been a non-fiction reader. Well, I’m no longer only that, but I’m more a non-fiction reader than a fiction reader. 

As a Christian, I certainly knew her name. I knew that she was a well-known, well-loved fiction Christian author. But I had never seen her face because I’d never read her books. None of her things. I was probably the only person in the conference who didn’t know anything about her. 

I was in a mentoring group and the leader said, “By the way, friends, I heard a rumor that Francine Rivers is at the conference.” 

Everybody was all excited, and I was just like, “Oh, that’s cool. I’m so happy for all of you. I hope you get to meet her.” That kind of thing. Because I didn’t know her. That was my brain. 

At dinner the next evening, or whenever it was, I got to the dining room a little bit late. I’m scrambling, and I got my meal and so forth, and I’m looking around and there was not a chair anywhere. There was just nothing. I was like, “Am I going to have to sit on the floor?” It was so full. 

Then I saw, back way in the corner kind of tucked up against the wall, there was a table with several people and a two or three empty chairs. I’m like, “Well that’s where I’m going, I guess.”

I go over there and I just said to the ladies, “Hi, may I join you?” 

Very graciously a woman—I didn’t know it was Francine—said, “Yes, please.”

I sat down right next to her and she was not wearing a name badge. I’m thinking—I know it’s a podcast and listeners can’t see my body language, but I’m sort of straightening up—I’m thinking, “I’ve been to this conference several times. I know my way around this thing now. I know what you’re supposed to ask at dinner. You introduce yourself and you ask, ‘So what do you write?'”

So I turned to Francine Rivers and I said, “Hi, my name is Shadia Hrichi. It’s so nice to meet you. What’s your name and what do you write?”

She had the most gracious response. She said, “Well my name is Frannie and I write Christian fiction.” I forgot exactly how she said it, but basically Christian Fiction.

Then she started describing one of her books or something and I turned to her, because then I finally figured it out, you know, lame! I’m like, “You’re Francine Rivers!”

I think the entire table behind us turned around because I said it so loud. 

She said, “Yes.” She’s very gracious and humble.

Anyway, we had this great conversation. Then she, of course, wanted to know what I was writing because we all knew what Francine wrote! I did not need to ask her that! And she just was excited to hear about a Bible study at that time that I was writing on Hagar.

She said, “That sounds so intriguing.”

Then there was like sort of this pause in the conversation and I was thinking, “Oh, this would be the great moment to ask if she’d read it.” But you know, everybody in the room wants to ask, “Would you be willing to read this?” 

So I thought, “I can’t ask her that. Everybody here probably asks her that.” So I didn’t say anything. 

But she turned to me and said, “I’d like to give you my email. I really would like to read the first chapters that you wrote.” 

I just gasped and I’m like, “You’re kidding me.”

From there, God just blessed me with her kindness and her gracious, gracious heart and her tremendous encouragement. I mean, thankfully it was good writing. I can’t imagine what she would’ve said afterwards. Like, “Oh, well thanks for sharing.”

Obviously God was in the center of all of that. She ended up endorsing the study and so forth. She’s been a tremendous blessing, and like you were saying, Karen, she’s become a friend. Truly, truly a dear encouragement. 

Karen: I’ve been to a lot of Christian writers conferences, and I’ve been to a lot of secular writers conferences. The thing that has always struck me is how the people at secular writers conferences often try to lift themselves up as greater and bigger and better than they are.

If you don’t know their name, they look at you and scoff like, “Well, don’t you know who I am?” 

I remember meeting Nora Roberts once, and she clearly did not have the time to spend with this young, inexperienced Christian fiction editor. It’s just a very different attitude and world. It’s about receiving the accolades, you “deserve.” 

Yet at the Christian conferences, you meet people who have every right to expect to receive their due accolades. And they don’t. They don’t put themselves up on a pedestal. Like Francine will say, “God does the writing, but my hands are on the keyboard.”

I know so many other well-known, bestselling writers who come in with the attitude that what they do is obey God. That doesn’t make them special, it just makes them believers. And I love that. I love that about who God has made us to be in the context of writing for him and with him.

I think that’s why it’s so important to have a prayer team. Because in doing this, in accepting the task to write whatever he tells us to write and to share the truths that he gives us to share, we have to be so careful. 

Shadia: Yes. 

Karen: There are so many temptations. So many pitfalls. So many ways to believe your own press. So many ways to compare yourself to others and feel totally inadequate and afraid and depressed. The enemy loves it when we start to give in to those voices.

Our prayer team members become the warriors who step up and unleash the armies of heaven upon us when we start to lose our way. They’re the ones who step up and celebrate when things go well. And they’re the ones who will say things that we need to hear whether we want to hear them or not. 

I’ve always looked on prayer teams as a kind of power pack that you plug in to and it surges into you. Their prayers, their love, their service surges into you and grants you clarity and a better understanding of what we’re doing and why we’re doing it, and who is this God that has given me this horrible, awful, terrible, no good, very bad career that I have to do where I have to put everything on the line and then listen to every wannabe writer and editor tell me how I used commas incorrectly in my 142,000 word manuscript!

Shadia: Yes!

Karen: There is so much that we’ve talked about and so much to think about. Because of that, we’re going to finish this up on our next episode instead of trying to blow your brain with even more information. Join us in our next episode for the second half of Plugging into the Power of Prayer Teams.

No writer should be without a powerful foundation of prayer. Guest @ShadiaHrichi shares her experiences and guidance for how to build your very own prayer team. #amwriting #christianwriter Click To Tweet
WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!

Do you have people who pray for you and your writing?

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Thanks so much to our January sponsor of the month, Priscilla Sharrow! She’s working on her memoir called Bonked! Life, Love, and Laughter with Traumatic Brain Injury, which will come out with Redemption Press. Learn more about Priscilla at her website priscillasharrow.com and follow her blog for the TBI/PTSD community.

Many thanks also to the folks at Podcast P.S. for their fabulous sound editing!

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