A Matter of Trust: Vulnerability in an Online Prayer Group

Cover photos of all six books being given away in the Transformational Fiction Giveaway Tour.

Remember that time Jesus said something about being kind to “the least of these brothers and sisters”? I often feel that’s what the ladies in the Transformational Fiction online prayer group did for this sister when they took me in!

I was flattered when Elizabeth Musser invited me to be part of the online writers’ prayer group she was forming, but not stunned—not at first.  She’s been a friend, a mentor, and my head writing cheerleader for years. But when I found out the names and accomplishments of not only Elizabeth, but everyone else in the group, that’s when genuine amazement set in.

These ladies are power houses of Christian writing and publishing—best sellers, award-winning (including lots of Christys), with loads of books published and contracts for the future. And then there’s me. An indie author with two novels out there.

Robin Grant, Elizabeth Musser, Susan Meissner, Sharon Garlough Brown, Deborah Raney, and Lynn Austin.

When we meet together, we generally talk about what’s going on in our lives in general and our writing lives in particular. Then we pray for one another and make a commitment to continue praying during the month, until we meet online again.

I’ve been in face to face prayer groups in a wide variety of denominations and settings.  When people meet together to talk about prayer needs—for themselves, for loved ones, for colleagues or church friends—there are pitfalls.  Some groups encourage a little too much sharing that can slip into gossip, or long therapy sessions where the focus is mostly on self. Others encourage so much “faith” and decorum that a lot of needs go unspoken. A lot of big smiles cover up hurting hearts.

Doing a prayer group the right way requires trust. You need to be able to trust the others not to divulge sensitive things you’ve told them, but also trust they won’t look down on you if, say, their prayer need is to be able to meet that three-book contract deadline, and yours is that you haven’t been able to write at all for weeks because of your caregiving responsibilities and full-time day job.

When you share prayer requests about your life, you make yourself vulnerable. You have to, or there’s not much point in being there. You naturally have to share your insecurities, your needs and concerns—or projects that aren’t quite going the way you’d hoped. That’s true of any prayer group, but it really gets interesting when a group who are in the same profession—who theoretically are business competitors—get together to pray about their writing issues.

Think about that for a minute. Can you picture Microsoft and Google and Apple execs sitting down and talking about their plans for their companies, their missteps, their fears? Trusting one another not to use that inside info against them? One admitting they need guidance while another’s new techie gadget is selling like hotcakes?

When Elizabeth started the group, her vision wasn’t so much to bring together a group of her friends for therapy and blessings, although we get that too, but to help us all grow closer to Jesus. To learn more and be better able to discern his will for our writing and use it to his glory. Tapping in to that vision, I think, helps us with the trust and selfishness issues.

I only knew one of these ladies before we started meeting together, but I can honestly say I have learned to trust them. I think I’ve earned their trust, as well. And that is an honor, indeed.

How about you? Have you participated in a prayer group, online or otherwise? Did you have any problems making yourself vulnerable or trusting the other members? I’d love to hear from you in the comments!

And now, about the giveaway…

To enter the giveaway for my book, Summer’s Winter, please sign up for my newsletter! The winner will receive their choice of paperback or ebook.

Transformational Fiction Blog Tour giveaway includes Summer's Winter by Robin Johns Grant.

If you have already signed up for my newsletter, thank you! However, for you to qualify, I’ll still need record of your entry through the link above. (Don’t worry! You won’t be signed up twice.)

To enter the grand prize drawing  (all six novels),  enter each giveaway of the Transformational Fiction Giveaway Tour. Visit my sister in faith and fiction Susan Meissner for her post “How to Start Your Own Online Prayer Group” and a chance to win her novel As Bright as Heaven!

Ends Sunday, March 10, 2019 at 11:59pm CST. All Transformational Fiction Giveaway winners will be announced Monday, March 11, 2019, and will have 48 hours to claim their prize or thereby forfeit to the runner up. Participants must enter all 6 giveaways to be considered for the grand prize drawing. Limited to US residents only. Must be 18 or older to enter.

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“So…are you still writing?”

Kitten sleeping on keyboard
By Remedios44 [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons
A lot of people have asked me lately whether I’m still writing.

I can understand why. It’s been around three years since I published Jordan’s Shadow—and I haven’t even blogged or sent out a newsletter for ages. You very seldom even hear from me on Facebook. So no wonder the questions, in an age where most writers put out more than one book every year.

So, if you’re one of the ones who still cares—THANK YOU!!!! I’m so grateful you even remember I’m a writer. And second, here’s the answer: YES!…I think…maybe…I hope.

I’ve been in sort of a weird place about writing for a while now.

Working full-time and having the usual family responsibilities plus being one of the main caretakers for my elderly mother leaves me very little time and energy for anything to do with writing, and for a long time after publishing Summer’s Winter and Jordan’s Shadow, most of my energy went into marketing efforts and outreach on those two books. I got way behind on producing any writing, even though I was trying to limp along. So I decided to stop marketing for a period of time and devote myself to writing. And I’ve genuinely been doing that.

I always intended Summer’s Winter to be a trilogy, and I’ve been tackling book two. (Summer’s Fall. Yep, trouble’s definitely brewing.) I’ve honestly made myself stick to a weekly word count better than in the past.

I’d forgotten, though, how long it takes to write a novel absolutely from scratch, because I’d been working on those two (plus one or two more) for years. I’ve managed about 90,000 words of Summer’s Fall.

But honestly, I’ve had a lot of issues with writing beyond finding time and producing words. My relationship with writing is not what it used to be, and I’m spending a lot of time evaluating my supposed “calling” as a writer. And if I have one, what exactly that means.  And could I actually NOT finish this book after spending a couple of years on it and producing about 90,000 words? And how many of those words are actually any good?

I hope to start blogging again, and keeping everyone up to date. And again, if you’re one of the folks who is still interested and has asked, I truly appreciate you! I try to remind myself that writing Jordan’s Shadow seemed impossible, too, but I actually ended up loving the finished book. Here’s hoping!

 

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