My friend and colleague, C.D. Oliver once said, “You have to get your sermons on your knees, not out of a barrel!” Apparently, he had been taught by the same teachers who taught best-selling author, Priscilla Shirer. As it turns out, this puzzling but profound truth extends not only to sermons but to all writing – especially writing that is designed to impact the soul. Awaken reminds us that truly life-changing words and ideas come from God alone.
For friends around the world, or those unfamiliar with her name, Priscilla Shirer is a speaker, author, preacher, movie star, wife, and mom. She’s so humble her bio simply relates that she attended seminary, loves sharing the Word of God, and cherishes her home life. It casually mentions her ten successful video-based Bible studies (available in Christian bookstores everywhere), her countless other books, and her thriving ministry. Oh, and she starred in a block-buster movie, The War Room. I’ve followed Priscilla’s writings for some time, learning from her personal stories about how profound experiences with God and time spent fervently in prayer led her from one success to another. But when I read her latest book, I was floored.
In Awaken: 90 Days with the God Who Speaks, Priscilla humbly shares wisdom she has received from God in daily prayer over the years. In the book’s introduction, she shares, “I didn’t initially write them with the intention of publishing them, but simply to chronicle my own personal time with the Lord, captured in store-bought spiral notebooks filled with wide-ruled paper. To be honest, I’ve encountered far more insightful and discerning devotional books than this one – rich and timeless compilations from generations past, volumes that have been the framework for my own spiritual formation. And yet however humble, what I do have, I give to you.”
It’s easy to miss just how valuable what she gave is – especially if you’re unfamiliar with her other books. Awaken reveals the seeds which sprouted into the trees of Priscilla’s successful writing career. It isn’t explicitly stated, but her Day 10 Devotion surrounding Numbers 14:24 entitled “The Difference” sounded suspiciously like what would become her book, One in a Million. I also couldn’t help but wonder if Day 18’s tender explanation of “Tailor-Made” guidance sprouted into the recently republished, treasure trove Discerning the Voice of God? Were all her wildly successful literary treasures sprung from simple, heartfelt prayers?
Apparently so. Not only are the seeds present, but the roots as well. Awaken is filled with the types of spiritual insights which slice the spirit in the way that only the Word can such as how to finish well without finishing, understanding the “one thing” that’s important, and the mysterious blessing of pain. Whether you’re a writer or not, I can assure you that this devotional doesn’t gloss over each day with feel-good fluff; it helps you dig deep with God and leaves pages for you to talk to and listen to God for yourself.
There are many devotionals on the shelf today, but I can say with confidence that this one deserves a place on your nightstand right along with Oswald Chambers’ My Utmost for His Highest. It’s a great read (and great gift) for anyone who wants to go deeper with God and tune their spiritual ears to what He is saying. For writers who are ready to hone their messages, this book will give great insight as well as time and space on its lined journal pages to hash out what God may be telling you to share. At the very least, it will get your wheels turning with its poignant questions and searing truths. Reading Awaken assured me that C.D. was onto something – greatness doesn’t come out of barrels, it really is birthed on your knees.
Until next time,
Happy Robin Shaw
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