Author: Erin Taylor Young

182 – Plugging into the Power of Prayer Teams with Guest Shadia Hrichi, Part 2

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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 YoungEveryone knows that writing is a solitary endeavor. We sit at our computers, lost in our heads and imaginations, trusting God to guide our fingers on the keyboard. And with God at our side, we can do anything. But sometimes we need a little in-person help. And guest Shadia Hrichi is here to show how a prayer team can be exactly what writers need.

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, to the deep. We’re excited that you’re joining us today, and we’re excited to be continuing our conversation with our guest Shadia Hrichi (find part 1 of the interview here).  Join our conversation about plugging into the power of prayer teams. We’re diving in midstream like we usually do.

Shadia, how often would you say that you communicate with your prayer team? I’m sure it’s probably individual for each writer, or will be, but what’s been your experience? 

Shadia: It’s always been once a month. I don’t really know why. Sounded like a good plan, so we just started there, and it’s always been there.

Originally, as I said, I was doing in-person meetings as well as email. As the numbers grew, obviously I couldn’t keep doing it that way since the people were all over the country. So that’s how it’s been, and now it’s all been email for the last couple of years.

Lately, I’ve been including short video messages because sometimes things happen and I’m like, “I really have to share this story, but I feel like I need to just say it instead of trying to write it out.” 

You forget that personal connection, how much it means. I got so many people responding, saying things like, “I just love seeing your face and hearing the passion and the excitement of what it is that God is doing.”

Erin: How did you share that video? Was it a link from YouTube or what did you do to share that? 

Shadia: I put it in Vimeo and then I just put the link in the email. But you could probably do that from YouTube, too. 

For me, my prayer team gets information about things that I don’t make public. Not everything is made public, that’s why they’re on the prayer team. These are things that I don’t always share or I can’t share yet. You know, things like that. 

Erin: Yeah. 

Shadia: Now that we’re kind of past most of this covid stuff, and I’m currently on a book deadline until January, starting in January or February, I’ll be doing prayer team meetings at home again for the local friends who can come. 

That’ll be nice because one of the things that you had said, Karen, about when your team meets, your gals, the Spirit is moving in the center of you and he’s speaking and he might say something through them. That’s difficult to do through email correspondence. 

For me, I became a Christian as an adult. I was thirty years old. I wasn’t even raised in a church. I knew nothing. I mean, how God called me to seminary just makes me laugh. Like, really? I know nothing. 

Do you want to hear a funny story? I wasn’t planning on sharing this, but when I went to seminary, I was walking through the break room and there was a little discussion going on amongst some students about Calvin.

Erin: Ha! You were wondering where he is in the Bible?  

Shadia: No, it’s worse than that. The only Calvin—and I knew they weren’t talking about this Calvin—but the only Calvin I had ever heard of was the designer jeans. 

Karen: Oh, I thought you were going to say Calvin and Hobbs!

Erin: Me too!  

Shadia: Well, yeah, I’d heard of them, too, I guess. But I’m like, “I know they’re not talking about the designer jeans, so like, wow, what am I doing here?” But yeah, just so funny. All right, where was I going with that? I forgot. 

Karen: About meeting in person.

Erin: But wait, let me say that what I love is that you went anyway. You didn’t let that intimidate you. You were obedient, and I bet those people would have been gracious had you wanted to ask. But how many people whine, “I feel called to writing and I don’t know how…” And they don’t do it.

I mean, that’s where we all start, right? Not knowing how? But you weren’t so intimidated that you didn’t go. And after that conversation you heard about Calvin, you weren’t so intimidated that you didn’t go back.

Shadia: Yes. 

Erin: I love that!  

Shadia: I appreciate that. For me, I didn’t realize it at the time when I began writing, but I was just doing what most writers do to begin. Most, not all, Christian nonfiction writers would typically do a devotional blog, right? That’s kind of how you get started. 

I was just doing that naturally because I just felt like doing that. But the more I was doing it, the more I found myself holding back because I didn’t know that God made me to be a teacher—like a teacher, teacher, you know? So I was like, “Well, what if I’m teaching wrong? What don’t I know that I don’t know?” 

I ended up talking to my pastor and he was the one who said, “I think you should definitely consider going to seminary. That would be perfect for you. You’re called to teach, and it’ll give you the confidence to teach correctly.”

I don’t want to teach incorrectly, so I went. Four years later, and blood, sweat, and tears, and I finished. 

Erin: What do the meetings at your house look like? If there are writers out there who might want to invite people over, what would be the format that you do that they might want to think about doing?

Shadia: Well, it’s still also sort of an informal thing. Most of the people who do come to my house are generally people that I know well. You know what I mean? I usually don’t have strangers showing, so like people that live close by, that I’ve known, and so it’s not very different from any other prayer meeting.

If I’ve already communicated through the email some prayers and praises, I’ll have copies with me. Like, here’s the latest one so that they can pray off of those things or celebrate with me those things. But they don’t have to. That’s just there if they want that. It’s very informal.

I’ll make some decaf coffee if it’s evening and put out water and some snacks, you know, and we’ll chit chat as well because these are people that I love and they love me. Then we’ll get to pray for an hour or whatever. I mean, the whole time we’re there has been hour, or an hour and a half at the most. So not very different, I think, from an average prayer a meeting. 

Karen: Right.

Erin: That’s neat. Well, I almost hate to ask this, but we probably should. Have you ever needed to ask someone to leave your team? Would there be a reason for that to happen, or what would be a reason that might happen? 

Shadia: Thankfully, I’ve not had to take anyone off of my prayer team, but I have had to take people off my email list. This actually happened very recently. I was getting this person who, initially, I was like, “Do they need my help?” 

But it was just very toxic communication that didn’t go anywhere, like a person that was not connected. I felt bad, but I’m not called to be a counselor. That’s not my calling. Reaching out to me with those issues is not the right connection. I’m not the right person to reach out to if you need therapy. That happened several times and I thought, “This person’s just confused and this is not where they need to be.”

Because I did respond once or twice trying to be helpful, but I ended up just taking them off the list because the intent was not to get help. The intent was just to be toxic. I felt like it was just something to trip me up or something. 

If it’s an email list, I mean, that’s easy. You just go in and hit delete. If you have a prayer team and a person who for some reason they were not who you thought they were or something and they’re causing disruptions or so forth, if it’s someone you know personally, I would probably reach out personally and try to have a conversation with them.

I wouldn’t do that by email. I would do it at a minimum by a zoom call, or in person if you can. I think it’s just like any other kind of relationship within group dynamics. If there’s one person that’s disrupting the group in some form, they’re not feeding into the group, but they’re hindering the work of the group, whatever it is, you need to have the conversation. 

If that doesn’t work, the Bible says to bring another person along and hopefully that helps. If not, at the end of the day, it’s your house and it’s your email list. At some point they’re just not invited. 

Karen: The other situation could be a break of trust. You say that you share things with your prayer team that don’t get shared publicly, so if you find out that someone has breached the confidentiality or the trust, then that’s something that needs to be confronted and addressed.

Shadia: Absolutely. 

Karen: You give an opportunity for them to reestablish trust if you feel that that’s what God is leading you to do. But sometimes the enemy just brings people who seem on the surface perfectly suited and a great fit, and it just isn’t, because when they come in, they bring their own—we all do—we bring our own issues and our own struggles and our own weaknesses. 

And there are some that each one of us, in the people that we meet, there are some things that just isn’t iron sharpening iron. It’s acid on skin, so it needs to be addressed in that context. Unless God is saying, “No, don’t say anything.” But when there was something that was damaging the group, I’ve never experienced that God has said, “Leave it alone.” Either they have left or I’ve had to confront. 

Shadia: Yeah, sometimes God will fix it for you. The person will move on. 

Karen: Oh look, she’s moving to outer Mongolia. So sad!

Erin: The thing that I love about this conversation still is that, circling back to something you said, Shadia, God was in the center. He was in the center of the relationship you developed with Francine, and the relationship with you and your prayer team, and the relationship with people who you just meet and maybe they’re not on your prayer team, that’s fine. But God is in the center and that’s the thing that we need to trust.

Shadia: He’s always working. 

Karen: Amen. 

Shadia: And he’s on our side. Prayer is important to him or it wouldn’t be, you know, on every page in the Bible almost. 

Erin: That’s a really important point. This is something we can pray that God will bring about, because clearly having people pray for us is something he would absolutely want. So yeah, we can trust him with that. We can put that over in his lap and be like, “Help me.” 

Karen: I think one element of this, too, is that if we go this route, if we try to establish a prayer team, we have to be willing to hear what they have to say to us. We have to be teachable. We have to be humble. We have to not get defensive if they come to us and say, “I just want to express a concern. I’ve prayed about this, and I feel God wants me to bring it up.”

I can’t say that I’m a hundred percent always able to accept it when people say hard things to me, but it’s happened often enough in my life because I tend to be a little bit of a rebel. I also tend to be a little bit of a Tasmanian devil that mows people down without even realizing it.

So there’s been times when people have come to me and expressed those concerns. Unless they come in with an attitude of glee where they get to say this thing to me, most of the time when people come in, it’s with fear and trembling, not of me, but of what God has asked them to do. 

People in the church just don’t do well with confrontation. They’re afraid of it. And they’re afraid that people will think they’re judging, when what they’re doing is being obedient in speaking a truth to someone that God has given them to speak. 

When that happens, and knowing the cost to the person who’s doing that out of obedience, we really need to listen. We really need to keep our mouths shut and take it in and then take it to prayer ourselves, and even offer it to the prayer group and say, “Please pray about this, and if God gives the amen to it for you, please tell me that because I need to know what I need to do about this.” 

Shadia: Absolutely. If we really do think about our prayer team as, well I use the word foundation, it might be a different visual for somebody else. But I think of it that way, and we don’t want a foundation that’s crumbling. 

Karen: Right. 

Shadia: We want a foundation that’s strong and firm and unified together. The Bible says, I don’t remember the verse, but in the proverbs it says that the wise leader has many counselors.

Well, in a sense, your prayer team, they’re listening from God, the Counselor, so it’s wise for us, like you said, Karen, to hear what they have to say. If there is confusion or doubt or whatever, bring it to the team as you said. I love that because if we really do believe they are our support and foundation, we would want to hear what God has given them to tell us.

Karen: Yes. 

Erin: One of my biggest regrets, it was early when I had become a Christian in college and I was tasked with leading something in a group, and I thought I knew the way to do it, and somebody older than me came to me and said, “You know, I think you need to think about the way you’re doing this.” 

I didn’t take it to heart. I still remember that and I regret it. It’s taken me a lot of years to understand that, but he was right. What he was saying was right. I wish that I would’ve had the openness to listen or to even know what to do with that. 

I wasn’t very skilled at this Christian thing, and I certainly wasn’t super skilled at interpersonal communication at the time, but that’s not an excuse. I wish that had gone differently. So, there you go. Everybody out there, don’t let my story be yours. 

Karen: I’ll tell you something, Don and I have had a very difficult marriage and we were in marriage counseling for twenty years. Barely survived it. If I learned anything from years of being in both marriage and individual counseling, it’s how to deal with confrontation.

It’s how to be constructive when you’re the one confronting, and it’s how to listen when someone confronts you, because people just aren’t good at it. People in the church, especially like I said before, are not good at it, and they need to be because we are called to some very difficult things.

Shadia: Yes.

Erin: Because we are the church. We are one body, and we’re not good at communicating like one big team. That is an unfortunate thing. 

As we’re coming to the end of our time here, Shadia, do you have any final words of wisdom or encouragement about this or anything else you feel led to tell us?

Shadia: I was just listening to what you were just sharing about the body, and I think it’s so true that we can have the disconnect. But because Christ is the head of the body, the more we individually and collectively seek him, go to him, try to do everything through his leading, the more united the body will become. 

That’s Christ’s heart. You read that in the New Testament, especially in Paul’s writing. Unity is such a burden on God’s heart. I think this whole topic of prayer and prayer team is one of the ways that we do stay connected. As long as we’re listening to him honestly, the body will work and come together.

Karen: Amen. I really love that. 

Okay, guys, you’ve got your marching orders. Get out there and set up a prayer team. 

Shadia: Yes. You will not be disappointed, I promise. 

Erin: That’s our New Year’s resolution—well, resolution might not be the right word. That’s our New Year’s thought of something to accomplish.

Shadia: Yeah. It’ll only make you stronger. 

Erin: Amen!

Guest @ShadiaHrichi shares how a prayer team may be exactly what you need! #amwriting #ChristianWriter Click To Tweet
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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
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Thanks to all our patrons on Patreon! You help make this podcast possible!

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.

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180 – God’s Questions for You! with Guest Eva Marie Everson, Part 2

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God's Questions for You with Guest Eva Marie Everson on Write from the Deep Podcast with Karen Ball and Erin Taylor YoungOne of the best ways to develop a deeper and more intimate relationship with God is to go on the journey he invites us on—the path of questioning. Guest Eva Marie Everson shares how by exploring—and answering—the profound questions God has for us will change our lives and writing.

About Eva Marie Everson

Eva Marie Everson is the CEO of Word Weavers International, a CBA bestselling author of fiction, nonfiction, and children’s books, and multiple award-winning author and speaker. She is the director of Florida Christian Writers Conference and a frequent speaker at writers conferences and women’s events. Eva Marie and her husband make their home in Central Florida where they are owned by a cat named Vanessa.

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

Erin: Welcome, listeners, to the deep. We’re glad that you’re here with us in this Christmas season. We’re going to be continuing our very cool interview with Eva Marie Everson, and we’re just gonna jump right in. So come with us!  

Eva Marie: The question “Where did you come from and where are you going?” which was the Genesis 16 question to Hagar, took me weeks to answer. I would write a little bit, put my journal away, write a little bit, and put my journal away. 

Because when it comes to the “Where did you come from?” question, that’s an answer that you can start with, well, this is me: “I come from a small town along the low country of Georgia called Sylvania, right outside of Savannah.” And that could be my answer. 

But then I started looking into who my parents were, what my home life was like, my teachers at school, my Sunday school teachers. My friends, activities, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, all the people who poured into my life, who made me who I am, and who helped shape some of the decisions that I made along the way. Some of the choices that I made along the way, the good ones and the not so good ones, you know? 

It took me a long time to answer that and this is the conclusion I came to. Here I was like, you know, in my late fifties, early sixties at this point, and I was like, “My whole life I have flown by the seat of my pants. I never made a logical choice in my life.”

I didn’t realize that until I answered that question. Then here I am now with the “And where are you going?” part of the question. Well, now I know where I’m going. I’m going to sit down and make some logical decisions. That’s where I’m going. 

It truly changed the way I responded, or acted instead of reacted, to things. It changed my ability to make decisions, and to make decisions not just for the betterment of myself, but for the betterment of everybody around me, so that everyone else wasn’t getting caught up in my train wreck. That was a hard question to answer. 

Erin: It takes a lot of courage to wrestle with this. You know, you think of Jacob wrestling with God all night long. That’s the kind of wrestling that we’re talking about here. Wrestling to answer these things and to go into these questions. I think it’s so valuable. Just reading through some of the questions you have in the book, you can just see the potential. 

I love the question, “Who do you say I am?” If writers struggled and wrestled over that question, what a difference it would make in the peace they have on their journey. 

Eva Marie: That’s right. And on that story of Jacob wrestling, at the end of the wrestling, there was a question. God asked him a question. He said, “What is your name?”

Erin: Yes!

Eva Marie: Because at the beginning of this whole brouhaha, he passed himself off as Esau. “I am Esau.” Back when Isaac said, before he gave his blessing, “Who are you? Who is this?”

“I am Esau,” Jacob said.

Now, oh, this makes me cry every time I think about it. Now, God is saying, “What is your name?” 

And Jacob says, “I’m Jacob.” 

Erin: He admits to being the usurper. 

Eva Marie: Exactly. He admits it. “I’m the usurper. I’m the conman. I’m the scoundrel.”

And God says, “Yeah, you are, but I’m going to give you a new name. Israel. Because you wrestle with God and man, and you overcame.”

That’s so powerful. My eyes tear up, my nose clogs up because I just cannot imagine that moment with him. You know that when God said, “What is your name?” that Jacob surely thought, “Oooh… that’s what this is about.”

Erin: Yep. I like that. I like, too, when God says to Moses, “What is that in your hand?” That’s powerful because what does Moses have? He’s just been given this commission, to go tell Pharaoh to let the people go, and here’s what you got. You’ve got God. But also, you’ve got this staff.

Eva Marie: You’ve got a staff. But that was the tool of his trade, right? And he was going to shepherd these people. And that’s why I said that a pen is the tool of our trade. Or our keyboard. Are you willing to throw it down and pick it up in a new and different way? In a way that might be dangerous?

Erin: Yeah. 

Eva Marie: You know, pick up a snake by its tail, and it’s gonna bite you. 

Erin: Right?  

Eva Marie: But that’s what Moses was supposed to do. And if you do it in a way that you’ve never done it before, then God’s like, “Watch what I’m going to do with it. I’m going to bring it back to its original purpose and it’s going to be powerful. It’s going to lead people out of slavery.”

That’s what I want my pen to do. I want my pen, whether I’m writing fiction or nonfiction, to lead people out of the slavery of sin. That’s what I want. 

Karen: In response to these questions, the first reaction is fear. The enemy has got us so tied up in fear about exposing ourselves, about speaking the truth of who we are. About saying what we have, and fearing that what we have will be taken away.

We all need to go back and get solid in our minds the answer to “Who do you say that I am?” Because this God is not a God who’s trying to trick us. He’s not a God who’s trying to take away the best thing in our lives. He’s trying to give us the best, if we will let go of what is less than. 

Erin: Right. And the question, “Where is your faith?” We need to ask ourselves that. When we’ve got the God of the universe with us as he promises to be, how does our faith slide? Where does it go? These are questions that we need to be pondering. They need to be secure in our heart.

I love the way you’ve been talking, Eva, about that deeper intimacy and going deeper. The answers need to be deep in our hearts. The whole idea that God is asking us these things is so that can happen. 

Eva Marie: And about the time that you think you’ve answered the question, you realize there’s more. That’s why I love the journaling. It’s because I get to come back to it and come back to it and come back to it until I’ve just literally poured myself out.

Then there are times when, I don’t know, months could go by. Then all of a sudden something in that question from three months ago will rise up, and it will niggle at my heart, like there’s more to answer. There’s more to this, and I gotta go back to it, and that’s okay. 

Erin: Yeah. 

Karen: First time I did a prayer labyrinth, I was on a silent retreat. As I walked the path and was meditating and praying, it struck me so hard that I was far from the first person to walk this path. That I was walking in the footsteps of countless others who had come to the same place to walk and contemplate and pray and seek God. 

I thought of the history, the legacy, both of the prayer labyrinth, and of the family of faith. And that we never have to face these things alone. We have God, of course, but there are so many others that God puts in our path.

As I put my feet down with each of the changes in each of the angles and the turns, I thought, “People have been here before. People will come behind. I’m a part of something that draws us closer to God.”

Eva Marie: The thing about the prayer labyrinth is you do have to watch your feet. Otherwise, you’re gonna go off course. Then I think about the verse that says, “Your word is a light unto my path and a lamp unto my feet.” But it’s only right where I’m walking. Only right where I’m stepping. I can’t look beyond right where I am. I’ve gotta be in that moment, and that’s what’s so beautiful about a prayer labyrinth. 

Erin: Yeah, and I think the silence. We touched on that a little bit before, but it’s so hard to come by. Not just is it hard to come by, but I think our culture is becoming more and more afraid of silence. For some it’s, “Well, I don’t wanna hear what I’m gonna hear when I’m silent.” 

For others, noise is just the constant in their lives. It’s a distraction. But I feel like it’s almost become the great numbing drug, this constant noise.

So I really like the idea of having that focused silence where you’re not getting input from your phone or news or whatever. You’re specifically focusing on just getting input from God and that’s all. I think that’s a real challenge for us. 

Eva Marie: I say in the book to take your phone and turn it to silent and then put it in another room. Get away from the darn thing because you will inevitably go, when your brain starts thinking about something, “Huh, I wonder where that is…” And now I’m over here checking. 

Karen: Take it off of vibrate, too. Don’t let it vibrate because you still hear that. 

Eva Marie: It could be someone who needs me!

Erin: It’s just a testimony to how our brains really are being rewired by things like the Internet and social media. All kinds of things like that where our brains are expecting that constant new thing to stimulate us. That’s a difficulty we need to overcome. 

I think you’re right, Eva, that literally putting the phone in another room on silent is a good call. Or going outside. We will actually feel discomfort with being away from our phone because we’re so used to being so connected to it. I know Karen had to go without Internet for a while at her house, and that must have been terrible.

Karen: It was brutal.   

Eva Marie: Yeah, we experienced that during Hurricane Ian. I live here in Florida. I picked my fifteen-year-old grandson up from school, maybe a week after Ian, and I asked him, “How did you guys do? That was a pretty intense storm.”

He said, “We didn’t lose electricity, but we lost Internet.”

I said, “Oh, I didn’t realize you lost Internet.” 

He said, “Oh my gosh, I thought I was gonna lose my mind.” 

Erin: Yeah. It’s just that we’re trained. 

As we’re starting to run out of time here, Eva, do you have some final words of wisdom or encouragement that you want to give writers, especially as we’re pretty much in the Christmas season?

Eva Marie: Not a single word.

Karen: Okay, then thanks! Good having you here. 

Eva Marie: Words. I need a word. I just posted this picture of a Shakespearean-era writer with his quill, and you can tell he’s just so intense. I wrote, “What caption would you put under this?”

My caption was, “Word! Half my kingdom for a word!” 

We’re going into the Christmas season and one of the nice things for those of us who are writers not just, you know, for a hobby but are professional writers, is that this is kind of the season where everything slows down and it’s nice. It’s nice to get away from the frenzy of it all and just to take some time and be quiet and reflect.

That’s what the whole Advent calendar is about. To think about who came. It was the Word. The Word came. And the Word was God and the Word was with God. I love that because it’s all about the spoken Word and then the written Word. 

Just take some time to breathe and not get caught up in the frenzy. Take some time to be silent. Take some time to ponder the questions that God asked. Not just in the Bible, but the questions he’s speaking to your heart during this time as to why he came. And the beautiful way he came. And who he wants to be in your life. 

The question that I’m working on right now, and have been working on for a little over a week, actually comes from the Easter story. It was when Jesus was in the garden, and the Roman soldiers and the temple guards came with Judas into the garden of Gethsemene. Jesus asked them this question, “Who is it that you seek?”

They said, “Jesus, the Nazarene.”

Now, most of our translations say that Jesus said, “I am He.” 

But the original transcript says, “I Am.” 

And they fell. They stumbled back and fell on the ground because he had just declared the holy name of God: I Am. 

Erin: Right. 

Eva Marie: When they stood up, Jesus asked them again, “Who is it that you seek?”

They said it again, “Jesus, the Nazarene.”

He said, “I told you, I Am.” In other words, why are you still looking? But the question led me to who I Am is, and who do I want I Am to be in my life. Am I just seeking all that I Am can give to me? That part of the I Am? I Am, the Creator? I Am, the all sufficient one. I Am, the all-encompassing one. I Am, the all-giving one. Is that what I want?

Or do I want more of what Paul said? I want to know Christ and I want to know his sufferings. I want to know the power of his resurrection, but I want to know his sufferings and be like him in his death. So what part of God am I seeking? Is it just the easy part or is it the hard part? 

And then look at what came on that first Christmas morning, or as we celebrate it, that morning of his birth. Who came? What came? What are you seeking? Just like the shepherd. The little drummer boy. 

Who is it that you seek? That’s a good question. It’s a hard question. 

Karen: It is. Well, I hope that everybody who’s listening, I hope that all of us, even the three of us here will take all of this to heart and to seek within ourselves, “Who is the I Am to me ? How do I know him better? How do I come into a place where I accept all of who he is and not just the parts that are easy?”

Thank you, Eva. It’s been wonderful.

Eva Marie: Thank you. 

What are the most powerful questions God has for you? Join guest @EversonAuthor as she shares the deep questions that will change your life and writing journey. #amwriting #christianwriter Click To Tweet
WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU!

Who is the I Am to you?

BOOK BY EVA MARIE EVERSON

The Third Path: Finding Intimacy with God on the Path of Questioning by Eva Marie Everson

The Third Path Finding Intimacy With God on the Path of Questioning by Eva Marie Everson

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