Month: November 2021

154 – Why Your Day Job Matters with Guest Tom Nelson

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Why Your Day Job Matters with Guest Tom Nelson on Write from the DeepMost writers would love to be writing full time, but it isn’t financially feasible. Enter the day job, which, let’s face it, can sometimes feel more like a curse than a blessing. Author and pastor Tom Nelson is here to tell you why your day job matters far more than you know. In fact, your work is built into God’s very design for humanity. You’ll come away with a whole new appreciation for the wonder of God’s plan, and come Monday, you’ll be ready to face your day with renewed hope and energy.

About Tom Nelson

Tom Nelson is president of Made to Flourish, a network that seeks to empower pastors to lead churches that produce human flourishing for the common good. He has also served as senior pastor of Christ Community Church in the Kansas City area for over 30 years. Tom is the author of several books, including Work Matters: Connecting Sunday Worship to Monday Work, Economics of Neighborly Love: Investing in Your Community’s Compassion and Capacity, and The Flourishing Pastor: Recovering the Lost Art of Shepherd Leadership.

Karen: Hello, friends, and welcome into the deep with us today. Boy, have we got a treat for you! We have a guest, and I’m going to let Erin introduce him. 

Erin: I get to introduce somebody! I’m excited, and I am delighted. I get to introduce Tom Nelson. He is the author of several books, including Work Matters: Connecting Sunday Worship to Monday Work. We’re going to be talking about that today. He’s got another book coming out soon. Tom is the president of Made to Flourish. That’s a pastors network for the common good.

He’s also served on the board of regents for Trinity International University. He’s a regular speaker and facilitator on faith, work, and economics. If that’s not enough, he has a doctorate from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School. On top of all that, he’s been a senior pastor at Christ Community Church in Kansas for almost, I’m thinking, thirty years. Now, the reason I know Tom is because when my husband and I moved to Kansas, this happened to be the first church on our church shopping quest.

We thought it was going to be a long and arduous quest. Some of you guys might be familiar with that church shopping thing. Well guess what? For us, we went there and we never tried anywhere else, because one visit was enough for us to know Christ Community needed to be our church home. Now, Tom Nelson is a humble guy, and he’d probably want to tell you that it is not all because of him that this church is the wonderful place that it is.

But I’ll tell you, I think a big part of it is because of Tom’s example as a genuine and caring servant leader. And that carries through the entire church leadership team and down into the congregation. We feel like we’re on mission together. My husband and I are delighted to be part of the church, and now I am delighted that Tom could be here with us today. Welcome, Tom. 

Tom: Wow, Erin, that’s wonderful. Thank you. It’s a delight to be with both of you on this podcast. I’m thrilled and excited to have a conversation with you guys. You seem like pretty amazing, amazing people. 

Karen: Yes, of course we are. But you see, now you have to answer the question every guest on our show has to answer. What does the deep mean to you? 

Tom: Well, when I think of the deep, I think of St. John of the Cross, the great Spanish mystic who labeled this experience of the Christian, and maybe it’s an experience of all humans in their journey, as the dark night of the soul. So when I think of deep, I think of dark, right?

Or our place is difficult. And for me, when I think of the deep, however we understand that time, I do see it both as a time of disorientation and a time of orientation, or reorientation, because in my sort of journey in the deep, there’s some clarification in the deep, and I’ll just say a couple of things that really stand out to me. 

The deep experience, whether it’s in my own relationship with God, my work, my creativity, whatever, it helps me to separate adequacy from competency. I have to continually remember that I have a stewardship of competency in my life, but that I’m never adequate. God is my adequacy. So the adequacy/competency dynamic becomes more clear in the dark. 

Another one would be intimacy versus accomplishment. I mean, I need constant reorientation that intimacy is the most important, and that actually accomplishment flows out of intimacy. Intimacy is foundational. Sometimes I get these things confused. I’m busy, and adequacy and competency sort of comes together. I get the wrong convergent there. Intimacy/accomplishment gets out of whack. 

Other than that, I’d say mystery versus creativity. I think that’s really true for writers because the dark helps me to not miss mystery. Sometimes I confuse mystery with creativity. So it helps me prioritize mystery over creativity. 

I think lastly, would be a sense that the deep for me helps reinforce where my hope lies. Not ultimately in the seen, but the unseen realm for my security. So, you know, the deep is disorienting. It sounds negative. But it does have a potential to reorient our lives to greater wholeness and greater flourishing, I think. That’s what I think of when I think of the deep. 

Erin: Yeah. I love that. 

Karen: That’s wonderful. Thank you. 

Erin: Very cool. So, I said we were going to talk about Tom’s book Work Matters. You guys, I really liked this book. It has a lot of great perspective about work, which, let’s face it, that makes up a lot of our day, whether you’re a full-time writer or whether you have a day job on top of writing. I know that there are writers out there who maybe don’t love their day job, and that’s where this book can really help us.

So, Tom, let’s just start with some groundwork here. In the book, you talk about how humans were created for work. Why do you think that’s true? 

Tom: Great question. And again, I am assuming that my answer to that question, at least my comprehensive, integral answer to that question, is found in Torah, which is the first five books of the Old Testament. So that’s where I’m coming from in terms of my framework. 

If we look at the early chapters of Genesis and the Torah, which means instruction, this great repository of wisdom from the past, what we have in the first three chapters in Genesis, which again is the first part of the Torah, you have a profound picture of a God who works and who reflects that working aspect of his being in making humans. 

The emphasis of the first two chapters of Genesis, the primary emphasis, is work. God’s works for himself. God is a creator God. In fact, the first verb in the Genesis account is bara, it means to work, it’s to create. So God introduces himself, where he’s introduced, one true God, in the Hebrew standpoint, as fundamentally a worker. 

Now we understand he’s more than that. He’s a personal God and so forth, but that begins to be unveiled later in revelation. So if you didn’t know anything about the God of the Hebrews, you would begin to realize right away that God is a creator. God is a worker. God’s an active God. 

Then he makes humans in God’s image in chapter one. Right after he says male and female are made in God’s image. Image here, selem, this brilliant Hebrew word, has a sense of reflection and connection. The two main semantic threads. Humans reflect God’s image, and they do that in terms of reflecting what God is like, what he does and his personality, his creativity, but also in not only reflection but connection—that God is deeply relational. That his created expression is deeply relational and humans are that, of course.

Then right after that, in verse twenty-eight, there’s five Hebrew imperatives put together, which is very unusual Hebrew. It’s a picture of how humans fit into the integral creation. So you have this beautiful, integral creation, an integral God, and he says be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, subdue it, and have dominion. We can unpack this at great length, but what we understand is that humans have a job description. That’s the picture. They have a job description.

Then in Genesis chapter two, you have another full picture of how humans fit into work. There’s an incompletion. There’s water, bush, land, but there’s no human to work the ground. So God creates Adam puts him in the garden. And in chapter two, verse fifteen, you have two Hebrew infinitives. Again, writers love this, I trust. Language really matters, right? Language really, really matters. The artistry and the etymology and morphology. 

So in Genesis 2:15, you have this picture that God puts Adam in the garden, right? Because the garden was not complete without Adam, without man, a human guide. There’s an incompletion, okay? That’s the picture that they’re to cultivate and keep the garden. That’s the English translation. So the idea of cultivate, nourish, keep, and protect. So you have this brilliant picture of how humans fit into that created order. And then you have this scripture where God says, “It’s not good for Adam to be alone. I’m gonna make a helper.” 

Now, helper is not at all demeaning. It’s not less. It’s a very misunderstood word. It is a sense of a partner. And the question is, why is it not good for Adam to be alone? Yes, there’s a relational component and marriage is going to respond to that. But the primary focus of the Genesis text is a job description and it’s not, you know, cultivate the garden, protect the garden, it’s not to do the work without Eve. 

So, I mean, I did a little more of that because there’s so much emphasis of work in the Genesis text as we’re introduced to God and our creator and our place in creation. So it’s not that we worship our work, because of course, that’s idolatry, but our work paid or unpaid is a real big part of our worship.

I’m going to wrap it up there, but I’m just saying, if we understand the early chapters of Genesis, if we don’t get the book end of the story right, if we don’t get the front and the end, we’re going to miss this story. So the early chapters of the story, of the biblical story, are so important, and a major thread, a MAJOR thread, of that story and how humans fit into it, is the work they do. Your work is fundamentally contribution, not compensation. It is our creative contribution for the created order. 

Our work is fundamentally our creative contribution for the created order. #amwriting #chritianwriter @karenball1 Share on X

Erin: I like that. Now, in Work Matters you also talk about this distortion of work dualism where one type of work is seen as maybe a higher vocational calling than another. For writers out there who feel tasked by God, called by God to write, are we in danger of falling into this distortion if we think our writing is a higher, more sacred calling than, say, our day job? And if that’s bad, how can we change that view? 

Tom: Yeah, it’s very bad. It’s very common for all vocations. Let’s go back quickly to theology and then I’ll press some more into it. If we go back to Genesis chapter two, I mentioned verse fifteen that we were created to cultivate. That word cultivate in creation is avodah and in the Torah avodah, or to cultivate, actually work the garden, is a seamless idea. In other words, it’s used to describe a priest in the tabernacle doing priestly things. It’s used to describe a farmer in the agrarian context working the land, and it’s used to describe someone worshiping God. 

Now this is very important because there’s no separation. The picture early is that all of life is meant to be a seamless act of 24/7 worship. 

The picture in Genesis, chapter 2, is that all of life is meant to be a seamless act of 24/7 worship. #amwriting #christianwriter #dayjob @karenball1 Share on X

Karen: Yeah. 

Tom: Again, Genesis, chapter 3, comes in and disintegrates that. But the good news of the Bible story is that Jesus came to bring integral-ness back and new creation back. My point is, Paul will often say whatever you do, do it heartily as unto the Lord. There’s no place in the biblical story for a platonic dualism of the secular and sacred. 

Here’s another reason why. Because regardless of what a writer does, how will we make our loving, whatever we do, if we’re changing diapers, if we’re helping grandchildren, if we’re helping a neighbor, if we’re working in the garden, if we’re running a company, whatever we are doing or writing, we live and breathe and serve before God, our audience of one 24/7. We were created to worship God in all that we are, all that we think, all that we do, and every relationship we have as an act of worship. 

So again, what is so perilous about a secular sacred dichotomy is it impoverishes God’s worship. God should be worshiped in everything we do and say. So we have to reorient ourselves that worship is not just what we do on Sunday. That matters, right? I mean, if you’re a Christian, you’re a part of a church, or a faith community, we do have a joy of corporate praise or worshiping, but our primary place of worship is Monday, wherever God calls us and whatever we do.

Our primary place of worship is Monday, wherever God calls us and whatever we do. #amwriting #christianwriter #dayjob @karenball1 Share on X

I don’t worship God more when I give a message or preach than I do when cleaning a bathroom at home. All of it is to be an act of worship, and that brings such fullness and meaning and joy, even for the most mundane task. Even when our economic engine, you know, to help us provide, is not the same passion as our calling. And many of us find that. 

Karen: I’ve always kind of been aware of this because my dad was a pastor of the same little church for forty-five years. He and my mom pastored there. But the church was so small that it could never pay him a salary. So he was bi-vocational. His job was as the program director at the YMCA here in the Rogue Valley. And the work that he did there with kids, and the things that he did to support those kids and encourage them, especially young men who were from very difficult backgrounds, that was as much a part of him and his ministry as his work was in the church. 

We lost my dad in 2016, and I was both amazed and yet not amazed that so many of those kids that he impacted just by being who he is, came to his service and talked about the change that had happened in their lives because of Dad. Even if they didn’t accept Christ, which I continue to pray that they will, but he was the first positive influence, man influence, for a lot of those kids.

He looked at everything that he did as an outgrowth of who God made him to be and what God made him to do. 

Tom: Yeah, and that is so true. What a great example. Theologians, I’ve heard this said by a handful, but I think it’s true, that the greatest heresy of the 20th century in the Western church is the sacred secular dichotomy. The damage of elevating one kind—now again, we’re not diminishing missionaries and 501C-3 workers and pastors, that’s an important calling—but to raise their calling at a higher level than a stay-at-home mom or stay-at-home dads, or whatever, that is really unbiblical, and it’s damaging to the church, to our world.

So many people, you know, I run into this as a pastor, will come up to me and say, “I’ve always felt like a second-class citizen because I didn’t go into full-time Christian ministry,” which again is another terrible phrase. I was with someone who was a good soccer player in college. He knew I was a part of a Christian organization. He said, “Because I didn’t go on staff in that kind of organization, I went in corporate international business, I always felt like I was on the B team.” 

Like pastors and missionaries were, using an athletic metaphor, the A team, and he’s the B squad. This is so common across our nation and even similar parts of the world, tragically. This is one of the greatest perils. We need to work very hard at having a biblical understanding that everyone is called to serve God in different places, different ways, whether they’re paid or not paid. And they’re to do it for the glory of God, and love of their neighbor. The transformation would be amazing. 

Karen: Don’t you think that dichotomy, that dualism, is what plays into the whole celebrity status of so many high powered pastors and pastors of mega churches. And then it contributes to the fall because it gets so focused on them as the center of what’s taking place. 

Or for authors as well. Best-selling authors. People treat them like super-humans, and they’re not. I can tell you, they’re not. Not in a negative way. But they struggle every day, just like we do, and they’re discouraged and they’re disheartened. When we hold them on those pedestals, we do them such a disservice. 

Tom: Yeah. I couldn’t agree more. There’s a whole combination of factors at work there, but fueling that, like you’re saying, can be a sacred secular dichotomy that leads to some people viewing that they have a greater ministry or are more important because it’s bigger. You know, both sides of those are very true. It’s like if we have a sacred sector dichotomy and pride to evolve that, what happens is some people think they’re way too important. Like, “I’m really used by God!” And other people live under the terrible cloud. Like, “I’ve just not done enough for God. I’m just not as good.” And so one leads to great pride, one leads to discouragement and despair, and it’s so dangerous. 

Karen: On that issue of believing you’re better and you’re all that, in publishing we call that believing your own press. That’s never a good idea. 

Tom: That’s true for pastors, speakers, all kinds of celebrity stuff. Very perilous. 

Erin: Let’s talk a little bit about another thing you wrote in your book, which I found so fascinating. You were talking about Jeremiah’s message. This is in Jeremiah 29, verses four through seven. You were talking about how Jeremiah tells God’s covenant people, they’re in exile, they’re in Babylon. They hate it there. And yet, Jeremiah says, “Hey, settle down. You’re going to be there for awhile. Seek the welfare of Babylon.” How does that apply to writers? Maybe not just in their writing, but also at their day jobs. How do they seek the welfare of Babylon?

Tom: Yeah, it is surprising because I think the Jewish people at that time thought, “Babylon’s so bad. I just want to get back to Jerusalem.” It is stunning. And the language that Jeremiah uses is, you know, picture a family, economics, work. It is truly seeking the best of a very pagan city and really being, I’ll use James Hunter’s language, a faithful presence there rather than separate from culture, or accommodating the culture. To be fully present there for the glory of God and the good of our neighbor. 

A couple of things come to my mind as I think about writers or what we are doing. A good understanding of creation—I’m gonna go back to that again—tells us that God’s creation was good. You remember the word good, good, good. At the end of Genesis two it’s very good. 

Erin: Yeah. 

Tom: When Genesis three comes, I’m going to go back to this, but we have to get the first part of the story right. Then you have a massive disintegration of God’s good creation, but you don’t have the eradication of it. There’s still a remnant of goodness, right? So that’s where common grace comes from. I think writers need to think about the difference between saving grace and common grace. That everyone has God’s image print on them. That humans haven’t fallen as far as they could have. There’s a gracious aspect that everyone gets part of the story right. 

So what is important, I think, in common grace is to look at my workplace, look at my context, and to have a posture of humility, a posture of curiosity, a posture of respect for others. And to realize that God’s creation is still good. It is fallen, but it’s still good. It’s worthy of our encouragement, to try to build that culture, to love people, respect people.

And then to remember we are in a moment of human history and redemptive history where we are in the “already-not-yet.” One day, yet future, it will be as it ought to be, but I live in the “is” moment. Like what is now. And I am called to be a redemptive agent in that. How I love people, how I do my work, how I serve.

In this already-not-yet moment we are in proximate context. We’re not in the full perfection context. So I just encourage people to say wherever God has called you, God has specifically called you there. And common grace is there, and love is there. And to do your best to nourish that common grace. 

You don’t have to agree with everyone. Obviously we’re going to see things differently. But how important it is to be present by your words and your deeds in that place of work, and do good work and love your employees, or love your fellow colleagues. I’m just saying live in the common grace, and understand how important it is in your Monday world, again, whether you are actually doing your writing or supporting your writing, or whatever. 

Then stay curious. I think we need to have not a life of certainty but that of teachability. I think writers need to constantly be observers who can be teachable and curious. One of my favorite bumper stickers—I’m not a real bumper sticker fan, y’all—but it said: stay curious. It’s a simple two words. Stay curious. What is God up to? What’s going on in the world? What can I learn here? How can I be teachable? To be a sponge that way. 

Erin: Yeah. I had an example. I used to work in a library, and I had to explain something to a man who was kind of hostile. “Kind of” is probably a nice way of phrasing it. He was angry, and I had to explain, I had to take him through a whole process of doing a self-checkout, which he did not want to do. But for many reasons, I had to do it that way. This ten second process for most people took like five minutes. And he was, you know, he did it wrong and was frustrated and was angry.

For whatever reason, God gave me an amazing patience with this man. I have to say it was God. We went through this process and, finally he left. He still wasn’t happy, but he got what he needed and he left. I didn’t know that there was a librarian nearby, just because of the setup, and she was listening to this whole interchange. 

She said to me afterwards, “How in the world did you answer that man so kindly and so patiently through that whole process? I could have never done that.”

I got to thinking about that and I’m like, “Oh, yay, I’m so glad someone noticed that,” was the first thought I had. Then the second thought I had was, “You know what? Yes, I was shining God’s light and that was purely God’s grace. But even if nobody saw that, I still am called to shine that light, and to treat this man as an image-bearer. He deserves my respect, even if he’s not nice,” which, you know, we dealt with nice people, and we dealt with not nice people.

Anyway, the next thing, or the last thing really, we have time for is I’d love to know if you have any other tips or advice for writers who are struggling with their day jobs. Maybe they feel creatively stifled or physically or emotionally drained. Any thoughts that you have for them? 

Tom: I don’t know if I have any good wisdom. I always encourage people—because I can relate to that, I mean, I have multiple tasks on my plate when I’m writing. There are many things I’m doing and sometimes it feels like it takes away from my best energy. A couple of things I encourage is that God doesn’t waste anything. And sometimes it’s frustrating if we feel like we have too many distractions. I’m not saying we shouldn’t plan well and build margin that can create a space to think. I mean, obviously that’s part of our stewardship. 

But interruptions, things that come at us that we think take us away from our writing can actually be used by God as a remarkable opportunity that comes back into our writing. I think of that over and over again, where I’ve been frustrated because like, oh, I’m trying to get this chapter done. I got this, this, and this. Then there’ll be something, not always, I’m not trying to be Pollyanna, but there’ll be something where I felt like it was a distraction, but actually God used it, not only to teach me, but it found its way into my writing very soon. 

Things that come at us that we think take us away from our writing can actually be used by God as a remarkable opportunity that comes back into our writing. #amwriting #Christianwriter @Karenball1 Share on X

Pastors are known for this, right? I have people kidding me, “Hey, there’s an illustration for you, Pastor.” I’m not minimizing that. You know, life is hard. Work is hard. It’s meant to be worship, but sure it’s hard. It’s fallen. But I just find that the writing process is always live. The question is are you depending on your competency or adequacy? Do you have a good sense of God’s presence and timing? And patience? 

Transparently, one of the hardest things for me, I mean, I plan for my writing because I write best early in the morning. I should do some planning. I think that helps, but it’s a mystery. It’s a faith journey. My adequacy has to be in the Lord. As much as I want to be competent. 

But some of my struggles and frustrations around my life, whether it’s personal relationship or it’s work, actually can be a space where I’m more centered when I recognize the dependency on God, and God uses some of that in ways…I’ve just been stunned. Like most of my writing has come out of my failure. I never imagined I would write on work or economics because I made some bad mistakes or failures as a pastor. God often uses our frustrations and failures if we have a longer time horizon. 

Karen: Nobody can say God doesn’t have a sense of humor.  

Tom: Yeah. Often it’s our weakness or some of the hardest times that God uses the most. 

Erin: Right. 

Karen: Tom, this has been so delightful. I have loved hearing everything that you’ve shared with our listeners. I just know that God is going to use this to bless them and encourage them. It’s been a delight for me because I’m realizing that I’m really simpatico with you. I actually have a whole talk that I do, two of them. One is “Nothing is Wasted in God’s Economy.” And the other is “The Detours are the Journey.”

It’s really important for us to recognize that everything that comes to us comes by the hand of God, and everything that comes to us is there first and foremost to, as you said, make us into a reflection in God’s image, and to refine us, and to give us that sense of who he has asked us and called us to be as his children, in whatever context he has put us.

Tom, thank you so much. We will have to have you back again. I say this to a number of guests, but it’s because as I listen, I think to myself, this guy is a wealth of wisdom for our listeners. Thank you so much for planning to put us in your schedule and taking time out of everything that you have to do to be with us.

Tom: Thank you. It’s a delight to be with you both. 

Erin: Thanks, Tom!


Do you have a day job? Have you seen any ways you can use it to serve the common good?

Books by Tom Nelson Mentioned in the Podcast

Work Matters by Tom Nelson

Work Matters: Connecting Sunday Worship to Monday Work by Tom Nelson


The Flourishing Pastor by Tom Nelson

The Flourishing Pastor: Recovering the Lost Art of Shepherd Leadership by Tom Nelson


We’re so grateful for the sponsorship from the Novel Marketing Podcast, with host Thomas Umstattd Jr. It’s the longest running book marketing podcast in the world. We know and trust Thomas, and his podcast is full of great information and advice—like Novel Marketing’s 10 Commandments of Book Marketing, which we’ve been bringing you.

Today we’re talking about commandment #4: Thou shalt measure thy marketing.

It doesn’t do you any good to spend time or marketing dollars on tactics that don’t generate sales for you. And the only way you’ll know is to measure it. To look at the data. We writers have limited resources in time and money, so we need to be wise in how we invest.

You also have to be careful about copying someone else’s tactic that worked for them because it might not work for you. Worse, it might not even work for them, because they may or may not have measured their own data.

Another bonus to measuring your marketing is that it frees you from blindly following any marketing fads or superstitions that may be out there. You don’t have to feel guilty about not doing some hot new thing everyone else is doing if you know it doesn’t work for you.

For more book promotion and platform help listen to Novel Marketing in your favorite podcast app or at


Thanks to all our patrons on Patreon! You help make this podcast possible!

Thanks so much to our November sponsor of the month, Stacy McLain. We’re praying for you on your writing journey, Stacy!

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


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153 – Deep Prayer with Guest Brandilyn Collins, Part 2

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Deep Prayer with Guest Brandilyn Collins Part 2 Write from the Deep podcast

Ever feel like your prayer life lacks power? Or like it’s more cursory than robust? How would our prayers—and our writing life—change if we understood how to hear God’s Spirit, and knew how to stand firm in our authority as God’s children? Guest Brandilyn Collins shares a powerful, game-changing model of transformational prayer.

About Brandilyn Collins

Best-selling novelist Brandilyn Collins is known for her trademark Seatbelt Suspense. Her harrowing crime thrillers have earned her the tagline “Don’t forget to b r e a t h e . . .” She also writes insightful contemporary novels with rich characters. Her awards include the ACFW Book of the Year (three times), Inspirational Readers’ Choice, and Romantic Times Reviewers’ Choice. Brandilyn is also known for her distinctive, deep-level teaching of the craft of fiction and for her nonfiction book Getting into Character: Seven Secrets a Novelist Can Learn from Actors.  (Affiliate link)

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

Erin: Welcome, listeners. We’re excited to have you back. Hopefully you’ve heard part one of our interview with Brandilyn Collins. We’ve been having a great conversation, and today we’re bringing you part two, the rest of our conversation. We were just so blessed by Brandilyn, and I know you will be, too. So here we go.

Brandilyn: When Christ offers salvation, the gift of salvation, just because he offers it doesn’t mean everyone is saved, right? You have to accept it. In the same way, once we are saved, he holds out his gifts of authority and his gifts, many, many gifts to us. The gift of peace, many gifts to us. The gift of walking in no fear, but we must accept those things. We must walk in them. 

Karen: When we think about that as a believer, I tell people, I don’t have some great conversion story. I came out of the womb saved, because my mom and dad were so steeped in faith and steeped in the Lord. And yes, there came a point when I embraced faith for myself, and it became mine instead of my parents’ faith.

So, I’ve heard these kinds of terms that you’re talking about and these kinds of things, and I’m sure many of our listeners have heard them as well, most of their lives, or through most of their walk with Christ. And yet we just kind of blip over those things. For me, the miracle of all of this is that it’s moved me to go deeper into understanding what all this means. Understanding who I really am as a child of God, who I really am as a coheir with Christ, who I really am in what I do every day, whether it’s writing, or whether it’s working in my garden, and praying, whatever it is. 

I don’t have to be afraid. I don’t have to be afraid of demons. I don’t have to be afraid of what’s happening in the world because God is in control. Almighty God has it all in his hands, and I don’t have to freak out. 

My mother-in-law went into the hospital earlier this week and just this morning had a pacemaker put in. My husband flew out to Illinois to be with her and with his siblings because they weren’t sure what was happening. But unlike other times when I’ve prayed for people, I’m learning because of you and your ministry, Brandilyn, I’m learning to go to the Lord and to say, “In your power, Jesus, you already have dominion over all of this and over her body, your will be done.”

The most powerful prayer for me is to seek God’s will for whoever is involved in this, and to seek God’s will in whatever I do in my writing, in my standing, whatever, and to not walk bowed down, but to walk in the sure knowledge that my Father’s got this. It’s just an amazing thing to me. 

Brandilyn: Isn’t it? It is the most freeing thing because the biggest tool, one of the biggest weapons that Satan uses against us is fear. No fear is of God. If we start walking in fear, we can know that that’s not of God. That’s a good check for us. Because again, if we sit in the authority of the heavenly places right next to Jesus, what in the world—in any world, in any spirit level world—would we have to fear if we understand we are coming from that place and we have authority?

This helps me every day to renounce fear and to walk with God, listening to his Spirit. 

I am also learning, boy is this a big lesson to me, our words have great, great power. This is why the Bible says there’s the power of life and death in the tongue. What we speak is what we are aligning ourselves with. Do you understand? If we start speaking in fear and allowing ourselves to walk in fear, we are not aligning ourselves with God’s Spirit.

So, I’m learning to be very careful in what I speak. This does not mean that some emotion of fear or trepidation or something won’t enter my head, but you know, that’s why Paul says to take every thought captive. Immediately, when the emotion comes into my head, I can see it for what it is. I can take the emotion before the Lord, but I never ever turned the emotion into fact. 

Karen: Right. 

Brandilyn: I can say, “Lord, this scares me, but I understand I should not be scared in you.” I will speak loud and I will say, “Oh God, I will not give into fear. I do stand on my authority that you have told me in Ephesians and Colossians, and I speak against any entity which would cause fear in my life, and I stand in the authority you have given me, and I stand in your peace, and I totally trust you. Oh God, I totally trust you.” 

Those words spoken aloud out of my mouth gets me back on that path, straight and narrow. It’s not denying emotions that might hit me at the time. It’s simply teaching me to walk in victory above any emotion that hits me in time. Aren’t you glad that the truth of God is not dependent on our ephemeral emotions? 

Karen: Amen.

Erin: Brandilyn, you just gave us a really great sample prayer for dealing with fear. I love that. I’m a practical person here. I’m thinking, like for that writer who’s going to sit down and start writing, but before they write, they want to seek God’s Spirit and be in touch and in tune with their place in the heavenly realm. What kind of sample prayer—I’m not meaning that this needs to be some routine or something—but what kind of prayer would you do if you were right about to start your novel?

Brandilyn: I would say something like this, and actually this goes with any task that the Lord gives us. It certainly covers writing, and it covers any other tasks that you might be given, whether it’s to speak to someone about God or, you know, any task before you. It’s what I do when I sit down to pray each day.

I say, “Lord God, good morning, here I am. Thank you for being with me for another day. I am now coming before you in the calling that you have given me. Lord, align me right now with your Spirit. Open my ears to your Spirit, and yours alone. I don’t want to be led by my desires, or any other spirits’ whisperings to me. I want to align only with your Spirit. Teach me, lead me, guide my words. Thank you for this task. I know that you have called me to it. I know that you are giving me every bit of power that I need to complete the task, for you would never call me to this without giving me the power and the victory over it, to complete it, according to your will. And so I align myself with your will and hey, God, let’s go for the day.”

That’s what I do. 

Karen: I love that. 

Erin: I love that, too. The next thing I was going to ask you was if you had any tips on how we can be better listeners to God, and you answered that in part just now, because that prayer was about listening. It was about asking God to help us hear God’s Spirit.

Do you have any other thoughts or tips for us? Because I know a lot of writers are trying to find God’s will and they struggle to hear God. Do you have thoughts on how to do that better? 

Karen: Before you do that, let me just tell you something that happens to me when I pray that kind of thing that Brandilyn was praying, or when I hear her pray this, I get chills. 

Erin: Right?

Karen: Chills that travel from my head all the way down to my toes. It’s like my body suddenly wakes up to God’s power. There is nothing like that sensation. There is nothing like it. I don’t even have to say, “Lord, is this from you?” Because it’s so clear that it is. I love that about God. I love that when we open ourselves to him, he comes in and he does his part. He does his thing, and he uses us for his purposes. Okay, your tips. 

Brandilyn: Yes, absolutely. That’s getting in the glory, Karen. That when he’s releasing some of his glory on you and you feel his Spirit. I know what you’re talking about.

One thing I do when I pray, and I pray a lot for other people, and with some, and I ask God, well, let me just say this. When I first start to play, my first words are “Lord, how do you want me to pray for so and so?”

I’m immediately aligning myself to him. Then I stop and I listen. And he begins to tell me how to pray. He will speak to me. Sometimes, you know, it’s an odd thing. They may come to me and say, “I need you to pray for XYZ in my life.” And God says, “Pray for ABC.” 

I mean, it’s something totally different that I didn’t know was going on in their lives. He will tell me something totally different because I’m aligning myself with his Spirit. 

I will say, and I’m learning this, that it is a lifelong process to hear God’s voice and become very attuned to his voice. This is something that I have really embarked on in the last year. I pray every day, “Lord, you know I want to hear your Spirit. You know I want to hear your voice even more, even better, even on a higher level than I currently am. Teach me to hear your voice in all the different ways you may speak to me.”

Oh boy, that’s a prayer God loves to answer. He knows what we need. When we start out trying to listen to his voice and it’s hard for us to discern, he may speak to us a little louder. You know, he may hit us over the head with it so we go, “Oh, okay. I know that’s you God.” 

Then as we attune to his Spirit every day and say, “Lord, help me to understand, even hear your whispers. I’m learning now to hear the different ways you speak to me.”

You know, it’s not uncommon, it’s very common, you hear it as those who are mothers who learned the different cries of their baby. Even in a nursery with twenty babies and they hear a cry and know it’s their child. This is a tuning to a voice because you are listening, and you are experientially everyday growing in the knowledge of that voice and what the different things that voice and the tone of that voice may mean at any given time.

I’m constantly aligning myself with God’s Spirit in this way, saying, “God, lead my prayers.”

Then I sit and listen. When I’m actually praying with other people, I will warn them. I will say, “If I sit and I’m quiet, I’m listening. Don’t feel you have to fill that void with words or anything. I’m listening. God will speak to me. It may just take some time.” 

So they’re understanding that part of praying is sitting and listening to what God has to tell us, right? 

Karen: Right. 

Brandilyn: So, it is a process. It’s not something any of us are going to learn right away. But if we sincerely seek his voice and say, “I want to be attuned to your voice and yours only,” and ask him to do that every day and then use that tool in our prayers every day, asking him to lead our prayers, he will do that.

Will we mess up sometimes? Yeah, sure. But we go to him with that and we say, “Oops, Lord, I messed up. But you know my spirit, you know what I want. I want to be closer to you, Jesus.” And he will help us in that. This is what Jesus said, “Seek ye first the kingdom of God and all these other things will be added to you.”

So seek first his voice to be closer to Jesus, to be closer to God’s Spirit, seek that first. And all the other things of completing your task of finishing your book, or whatever your writing is, or doing whatever other tasks you have to do, or having peace in your life, or whatever it is, those things will be added unto you.

Erin: Yes!

Karen: Amazing. Brandilyn, thank you so much. Thank you for being here. Thank you for sharing the things that God is doing in you. Thank you for helping us to better understand again what we as believers leave on the table, and we need to take those things and embrace them and utilize them for his purposes and for his glory in our writing, in our lives, all of that. Do you have any final words of wisdom that you want to share? 

Brandilyn: I would just like to pray over the listeners. May I do that?

Karen: You may indeed. 

Brandilyn: Oh, dear Jesus, lead my prayers right now for the listeners. For God, you know who is out there and what they need to hear. Thank you, Lord. I see, actually I see tears out there right now. Oh, God, I feel their tears. Oh, thank you, Lord, for giving me the empathy. I feel the tears of those who are saying, “Oh, God, I haven’t been doing this.” Or “Lord, I don’t know how to do this.” 

Jesus, you are such a compassionate, loving Savior, and I know that you love to wipe away such tears and say, “Let me lead you.”

I know that you will guide them. I know that you will open the listeners’ hearts to your Spirit and you will teach them their authority in you. You will teach them how to walk and speak in your authority. How to align their words only with words that are in line with your will, oh God. 

Open their hearts to you, and then pour out your Spirit and your glory upon them, Lord. Thank you that they have come to hear this podcast today, oh God. We love you, Jesus. In all your majesty and glory, we glorify you and bless your holy name, oh God. Almighty King above all names, all power and glory due your name. Thank you, Jesus. Amen. 

Erin: Amen. 

Karen: Amen.

Guest @Brandilyn shares a powerful, game-changing model of transformational prayer for writers. #amwriting #christianwriter @karenball1 Share on X

How do you think we can we be better at letting God’s Spirit lead our prayers?


We’re so grateful for the sponsorship from the Novel Marketing Podcast, with host Thomas Umstattd Jr. It’s the longest running book marketing podcast in the world. We know and trust Thomas, and his podcast is full of great information and advice—like Novel Marketing’s 10 Commandments of Book Marketing, which we’re going to be bringing you.

Commandment #3: Thou shalt persist in thy craft.

Let’s face it. We all learn to write in grade school and we can make sentences paragraphs and sometimes even use punctuation properly. But writing well, communicating well on the written page, knowing how to create a good structure for a book, and all that, well, that’s another story. To say that anyone who can make sentences on a page can write a great book is like saying anyone who can talk can win an academy award for acting.

Most writers simply don’t know what they don’t know. We encourage you to read books on craft, get help from professionals, and read and study great books in your genre. Writing is a skill that deserves your best effort.

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Thanks so much to our November sponsor of the month, Stacy McLain. We’re praying for you on your writing journey, Stacy!

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