June 04, 2018

Writing and the Daniel Prayer by Susan Barclay

I recently finished reading The Daniel Prayer by Anne Graham Lotz and as I was thinking about this month's Inscribe prompt - "which scripture verses keep you nourished as you travel the writers' path?" - it occurred to me that the points Lotz raises in her book apply to my writing life. As a Christian writer I need to be:

1. Centred on God 
I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. John 15:5

Whether I am writing for the Christian or secular market, I can't do anything without Christ. As I sit to write, I need nourishment from the Vine if I'm to bear fruit. This means reading His Word, understanding who He is and who I am in relation to Him. It means letting Him lead, no matter who my intended audience is or what my work is about.

2. Compelled by God
In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps. Proverbs 16:9 

As a writer, I have ideas and plans for my writing. As a Christian, I need to ask what God wants so that His will is the driving force behind all that I do. I need to submit to Him as His plans for me, and for my writing, are always greater and better than my own. It's not necessarily easy to think like this; as a creative, imaginative person, I can get carried far down the road of a story before it occurs to me to ask God about it or invite Him to be part of it. I can get carried away in my mind before I've captured a single word on paper or on the computer. But "unless the Lord builds the house, those who build it labour in vain" (Psalm 127:1).

3. Confident in God
Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. Matthew 6:31-33
I'd venture to say that most of the readers of this blog aren't making a living wage from their writing. (If I'm wrong, please tell me how you're doing it!) They write because they can't imagine doing anything else - writing is a gift, something that comes as naturally as breathing. As a Christian writer, I'm encouraged to seek God first and to trust Him to provide for all of my needs. Yes, I may be required to have a "day job," but ultimately if I believe that God is a good, good Father, and I am doing my part (writing, polishing, finding an agent if I need one, submitting to publishers, etc.), I can trust Him to do His part, "adding all these things" to my account.

4. Contrite before God
Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in your sight, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. Psalm 19:4
Proverbs 3:34 says that God shows favour to the humble. I can't manipulate God by feigning humility, since He knows my heart, but when I come to Him in genuine repentance over the things that ail me, and pray the prayer in Psalm 19:4, I know that He delights to answer. When my heart is clean and my spirit is right, He will give me the right words and meditations with which to enrich my writing.

5. Clear
A word fitly spoken is like apples of gold in a setting of silver. Like a gold ring or an ornament of gold is wise reprover to a listening ear. Proverbs 25:11-12
Not quite apples, but you know what I mean
I'm not communicating with my readers if they can't understand what I'm saying. Clarity is key. Part of this is knowing my audience. 

  • Academics and professionals use certain language and buzzwords. Am I using their jargon and speaking at their level? 
  • Children are still learning vocabulary but I shouldn't talk down to them. Am I primarily using words they'll understand while introducing new words they can grasp through context? 
  • Teens have a much bigger vocabulary than most children as well as slang that is all their own. Am I familiar with current expressions or do I know some teens I can ask? Can I write with a teen's voice and perspective? 
  • They say that for a general adult audience you should write at a grade eight reading level. This is because most adults whose first language is English should be able to read at this level, whether they graduated high school or not. 
Lotz's book on the Daniel prayer has unintentionally encouraged me as a writer, reminding me to be centred, compelled, confident, contrite, and clear. The scriptures I've indicated remind me of these things as well. I hope these ideas inspire you too.
Susan Barclay maintains a website and currently blogs infrequently at www.susan-barclay.blogspot.com


  1. these are wonderful points, Susan and fit so well with writing, as you said.

  2. Thank you for these encouraging words.


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