Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Why I Pray with a Pen (and Why You Might Too!)

At the end of this month, my book Writing to God: 40 Days of Praying with My Pen comes out from Paraclete Press. I've dreamed of and worked on publishing a book for years, so this is incredibly exciting ... and enormously humbling, as I receive feedback from blog readers and book previewers who find that my written prayers somehow help others pray too. (Meanwhile I'm remembering to myself, "I was simply taking a walk that day when a sycamore tree caught my eye" or "That prayer came out of a stressful day when I longed to slow down" or "I just needed a prayer to help me clean the house!")

The book is an invitation to take things to the next level: to not only read my prayers, but to practicing writing your own; to sit down with pen and paper (and your favorite coffee or tea, I often suggest) for your daily devotions; to embark on a 40-day journey through a new spiritual discipline; to make that conversation with God tangible by taking it out of your head and putting it on a book's page; to wholly feel a prayer as your hand moves the pen and your mind develops the words and your spirit encounters the Holy.

Already I'm hinting at some of the reasons why I prefer to pray with a pen in hand. Here are additional reasons why I love it ... and why you might, too!

I pray with my pen because it's time spent sitting still with purpose.

I pray with my pen because it focuses my meandering thought paths.

I pray with my pen because I love to explore words
in conversation with the Word.

I pray with my pen because it helps me process emotion, life, faith,
worry, joy ... and praying with my pen heightens
my awareness of those things too.

I pray with my pen because that time -- whether three minutes or
thirty minutes -- absolutely nourishes me.

I pray with my pen because my brain is better able to hold onto words --
whether words of prayer, or details of a meeting, or items
on a grocery list -- when I write them down.

I pray with my pen because I enjoy language, because I think
that language is a tool for grappling with the Mystery that is God,
because I'm convinced that historically & culturally we have limited
our language for God ... which lends itself too easily
to limiting our ideas of God,
to restricting our understandings of God in community,
to repeating worship as a ritual without relevance or vitality,
to losing that spark of creativity which emboldens faith.
(Now I'm having a soapbox moment.)

I pray with my pen because it is a meaningful
personal connection with God.

I pray with my pen because that written reflection grounds me,
again and again.

You can write to God as a solo discipline or as a small group experience. You can use Writing to God as a companion through Lent or as a tool for any 40-day journey of spiritual growth. However you envision using it, I encourage you to check it out, test it out, and take a new adventure in writing and praying!

(P.S. -- Many online retailers indicate that the book will be available in March; in fact, the printing process has gone smoothly and those who have pre-ordered books should be seeing them by the end of January/early February!)

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