Start With Amen

Dear Back2Back Family,

Do you have a minute for me to share something new?

I had been writing a new manuscript in 2013, but couldn’t get anyone excited about the title or concept. God had miraculously opened doors to get in front of the right people, and they liked the stories I was telling, but didn’t like the idea I had framed it around. The book languished in my hard drive for years, and I wondered if anyone would ever read it.

Fast forward to 2015. I loved my literary agent and we had been in talks for a couple of years, but couldn’t agree on the core material for a new book. I flew to Colorado Springs to meet with him and for over an hour we hashed out all the ideas I had come prepared to share. He was kind, but there simply wasn’t consensus.

He left me in the conference room to get coffee. “Here’s a Sharpie,” he said. “We have all our authors sign the bottom of the conference table, you should do that while I am gone…” Seems a bit unrealistic, I thought. Nonetheless, I crawled under the table and looked up at names whose books had shaped my life. I felt unsure about signing the table of an agency that wasn’t going to end up publishing anything I’d written. I sensed his coffee break was a chance to collect his thoughts and come up with some parting words.

Under the table, Sharpie in hand, on my knees, I began to pray, “Amen. This is up to You. I only want this if You want this, dear Jesus…”  And I sensed God’s spirit on me, whispering, “Tell them how you pray.”

I’ve inverted my prayers for more than a decade. I start them with “amen” which means “so be it” and in doing so, I set my agenda down right from the start. He can move how He wants in any given storyline and I commit from the beginning I won’t get in His way or question. Then I list and talk and ask for all that I normally pray about, “Would you please… Thank you for… Forgive me now…” and finish with some hands-together-form-of-begging, “Oh, dear Jesus…”

I wish I could testify to you that as soon as my agent re-entered the room, I obeyed. However, I spent another 20 minutes going over my original proposal.  Then as it was clear we weren’t agreeing on a mutual project, I blurted out, “There’s one more idea I have… I could structure my stories around this inverted format I use for prayer.”

I told him all about how I start with amen and he jumped up. “That’s it! That’s absolutely it. Write about that.”

And so I did. I took my stories from the sites you all have invested in and I told them from the context of how I’ve prayed. Amen. You move her heart. Dear Jesus.

Amen. You heal that body. You open the door. You provide. Dear Jesus.

We eventually sold the book to Thomas Nelson, a division of Harper Collins Publishing and it will release this May. The entire process has been a bit surreal, and to you, my Back2Back family, I will admit to some nerves. In today’s market, books are deemed successful before they even hit the bookstores, based on their pre-sales. That’s how larger bookstores determine how many copies they’ll carry, or where it’s placed on the bookshelf.

If you are interested, you can download the first few chapters or pre-order the book. I’ve asked God to use my voice for those whose voice is unheard. By joining yours to mine, together, we can make a lot of noise.

Stories are simply the best way I know to share God’s truth, and I thank you for all of them you’ve shared with us.