These open-ended prayers offer unexpected blessings from God.
Today’s guest blog is by James C. Magruder, who blogs about the writing life at The Writer’s Refuge.
I recently tried something different, even unusual, in praying. In the past, I have tended to present my request to God and then tell Him more or less how He should answer it. Sound familiar?
But recently I found new focus and power in praying one-word, open-ended prayers. For example, as I traveled to a recent Christian writers’ conference, I focused my prayers on four words: learning, direction, blessing and surprise.
I asked God to help me learn new things to advance my writing career so I could help advance the Kingdom of God in a hurting world. I learned how a vast social media presence is as critical in publishing today as the quality of writing. I learned how to pitch to an editor, land an agent, sell everything I write and more.
Fiction or non-fiction? I write both. So, where should I invest my talents to best serve Him? Five agents asked for fiction manuscripts. One agent suggested that my novel could be converted into a powerful nonfiction book since the premise was about how God often reveals Himself to us in glimpses. Convert a novel to non-fiction? This idea took me down a road I never imagined—and provided a creative new direction.
At the writers’ conference, I prayed that I’d be blessed as well as a blessing to others. The first day, I met Daniel, a young writer who wanted to publish and had never attended a conference. I befriended him, showed him around, answered his questions, prayed with him and attended the same classes. He blessed me with his humility, teachable spirit and prayers for my writing ministry. On the second day, the co-director of the conference asked to have dinner together. She reviewed my articles and books, complimented my writing, offered guidance and encouraged me as to why I’m uniquely qualified to write my novels.
I asked God to surprise me. I had no preconceived notions for how He should respond. (That would ruin the surprise, right?) I found joy in waiting for His answer. On the third day of the conference, I had lunch with one of the keynote speakers. He suggested some writing tips to strengthen my weaknesses, offered to send me a template of a book proposal to help me pitch my books and invited me to contribute to this blog. On the final day of the conference, I pitched an idea to write a men’s devotional tailored to executives. I shared the idea with another author who will soon have a similar devotional published for women in business. “Wouldn’t it be nice to market these books together?” she suggested. “I can introduce you to my publisher.” I never saw these surprises coming.
I think it’s amazing how God chose to answer my one-word, open-ended prayers with multiple, clear answers. Who knows? He may do something similar for you. Why not try a few one-word, open-ended prayers of your own?