Simply Prayer Advent eBook Giveaway

November 27th, 2011

I believe prayer is an important part of our spiritual life. During this season of preparation, which we call Advent, prayer can become a central part of our celebrations. Prayer can be as complex as we want or as simple as we need, but sometimes we need a little help getting started. In Simply Prayer you’ll discover the basics of: what prayer is, why we pray, how to pray, and how to know your prayers are answered.

The following are two excerpts from the chapter on why we pray. To receive your free copy of the Simply Prayer eBook, follow the instructions at the end of this post.

Why do we pray?

It’s Relational

In scripture we are told that God already knows our needs1, so, then, why pray? That’s a very good question. If prayer is only about giving God a “grocery list” of wants, there is no reason to pray. But, if prayer is much more than that, then prayer becomes a very important part of our life. Imagine for a moment that you love the person you’re living with. (I know you may, at times, have to imagine very hard, but stay with me.)

Imagine that person means the world to you. How would you talk to that person? Would you only tell that person what you wanted or complain about not having a perfect situation? I hope not. If you really love someone you tell that person – often.2

Now, turn the tables and imagine the one you love does nothing but complain about what they don’t have and only speaks to you when they want to give you a list of “to-do’s.” This person doesn’t say thank you and treats you, more or less, as his or her own personal genie in a bottle. How would you feel? I imagine you would be very hurt. Perhaps you would even leave that person to search for someone who would appreciate your love.

In a good relationship, your love is expressed back to you. In a bad one it often feels like all give and no take. Prayer is part of having a relationship with God. No matter how much you complain or beg for things, no matter if you remember to say “thank you” or not, God will never leave you. However, God does want a better relationship than the “genie in a bottle” one we tend toward.

Ask, Seek, Knock

That is not to say we can’t ask for what we want. In fact, Jesus tells his listeners to “ask, seek, knock.”3 God wants to hear from us. He wants us to ask for what we want, what we need. He wants us to engage him in conversation about how we would like our life to go because in the asking we seek to know God better. Of course, we need to be aware of how we ask so we don’t fall back into the “grocery list” way of praying.

When we ask for our needs and wants in a way that doesn’t make God into our personal genie, prayer becomes more about building a good relationship than getting exactly what we want all the time.

Footnotes

All Bible texts are from World English Bible

1 Matthew 6:31 “Therefore don’t be anxious, saying, ‘What will we eat?’, ‘What will we drink?’ or, ‘With what will we be clothed?’ 6:32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.

2 If you’re unsure how to express your love in a way your signifi cant other will understand, I highly recommend The 5 Love Languages: The Secret to Love That Lasts by Gary Chapman. (see appendix of Simply Prayer)

3 There are two texts for this: Matthew 7:7 “Ask, and it will be given you. Seek, and you will find. Knock, and it will be opened for you. 7:8 For everyone who asks receives. He who seeks fi nds. To him who knocks it will be opened. 7:9 Or who is there among you, who, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 7:10 Or if he asks for a fi sh, who will give him a serpent? 7:11 If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father

Want a free copy of the eBook?

Here’s how to get it:

Leave a brief comment on this post before Dec. 27 telling what prayer means to you and I’ll email you a free copy of Simply Prayer. Please specify your format preference (epub, kindle or .pdf). It’s that easy.

Prefer hard copy or audio book format?

I’ll be giving away one hard copy and one audio book this season. To enter the drawing, just tweet this link (http://virginiaripple.com/?p=640) with the hashtag #SimplyPrayer for the hard copy or #SimplyPrayerAudio. You can also link to this post on your blog. (If you link back, please be sure to let me know either in a comment or with a tweet to @virginiaripple, which drawing you would like to be entered into.)

Your name will be added as many times as you tweet/link back.

Happy Thanksgiving!

November 26th, 2011

We’re on our way to our second family Thanksgiving feast, but I just wanted to take a moment to wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. Remember all you have to be thankful for and let our Creator know you appreciate it. Have a happy and safe holiday.

Important upcoming giveaway…

I believe prayer is an important part of life, especially during Advent and Lent. I also know that sometimes we get stuck in the details and make having a conversation with our loving Creator more difficult than it needs to be. That’s why I wrote Simply Prayer, to give you some tools to break through what’s holding you back.

With that in mind, I’m giving away a free copy of the Simply Prayer ebook during Advent (Nov. 27-Dec. 26) and during Lent (Feb. 22-Apr. 9).

Watch for a special post tomorrow, Nov. 27, for details on how you can get your free copy.

NaNoWriMo: When Writers Disappear

November 2nd, 2011

desk photoIt’s that time of year again. It’s the month when writers disappear into their caves only to be glimpsed during brief moments of foraging and a quick run for a caffeinated beverage.

What’s the deal?

That’s right, folks, it’s time for NaNoWriMo and yours truly will be joining the hibernation this time. While I’m not actually participating in the event, I will be using this time to make a big push toward finishing my WIP.

What that means…

For the rest of November I’ll only be posting on Toolbox Saturday. Come December, I’ll get back to our regularly scheduled program.

Important upcoming giveaway…

I believe prayer is an important part of life, especially during Advent and Lent. I also know that sometimes we get stuck in the details and make having a conversation with our loving Creator more difficult than it needs to be. That’s why I wrote Simply Prayer, to give you some tools to break through what’s holding you back.

With that in mind, I’m giving away a free copy of the Simply Prayer ebook during Advent (Nov. 27-Dec. 26) and during Lent (Feb. 22-Apr. 9).

Watch here for more details or follow me on twitter (@virginiaripple)

Photo by gudmd.haralds

Novel By Critique Group

September 17th, 2011

Welcome to Toolbox Saturday where you’ll find tools for various things from writing to whatever.

Nail Your Novel by Roz Morris, available at Amazon.com

I’ve picked up a lot of great writing tips from Roz Morris’ blog and absolutely love her book Nail Your Novel. The following is one of the many useful posts she’s written.

I rewrote my novel through a critique group but I’ve lost my way

by Roz Morris

Critique groups are a great way to develop a critical sense and to experiment with what works. And to meet other people who are as dedicated to writing as you are. But too many cooks…

I’ve had this email from Vanessa, which is a fairly common problem.

During the past 12 months, I rewrote my novel 8 times as part of a critique group, and now I’m wondering if I should just go back to my first draft and start over. My book is different now, in some ways better, in some ways worse. I’m not even sure I can work with it in its present, 8th incarnation. I’m feeling a bit discouraged and don’t know how to recapture the original freshness. I think there are some good changes in the revisions, but also a lot of bad direction. How will I sort through it?

Discounting the fact that some of the advice might be misguided, inept or even destructive, even the most accomplished critiquers will offer different approaches when they spot a problem. You get a lot of input and you don’t know which to ignore. You try to knit them into a coherent whole and then realise you’re lost. And the idea is worn to shreds.

Read the rest.

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If you’re looking for ideas and examples on simple ways to pray in my book Simply Prayer, available in print, for KindleNook and audio book.

The Heart of Prayer

September 1st, 2011

Welcome to Spirit Wednesday where we take a look at all things spiritual from meditation to prayer to cleaning the house. Yes, even house work can be a spiritual experience… if you choose to see it that way.

To find the heart of prayer, we have to go to someone who not only taught about prayer, but lived a prayerful life.

For Christians, the authority on how to live a prayerful life is Jesus. He taught his disciples to pray by example, as well as giving them a solid template of words to build on called The Lord’s Prayer.

One of the best examples of what prayer can look like is Jesus’s prayer at Gethsemane:

Then Jesus came with them to a place called Gethsemane, and said to his disciples, “Sit here, while I go there and pray.” He took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and severely troubled. Then he said to them, “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death. Stay here, and watch with me.”

He went forward a little, fell on his face, and prayed, saying, “My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass away from me; nevertheless, not what I desire, but what you desire.”

He came to the disciples, and found them sleeping, and said to Peter, “What, couldn’t you watch with me for one hour? Watch and pray, that you don’t enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”

Again, a second time he went away, and prayed, saying, “My Father, if this cup can’t pass away from me unless I drink it, your desire be done.” He came again and found them sleeping, for their eyes were heavy. He left them again, went away, and prayed a third time, saying the same words. — Matthew 26:36-44 (World English Bible)

Jesus’s prayer is not only beautiful in its emotional depth, but also in its simplicity. Here we see God’s Son in deep spiritual communion with God the Father, his “Dada.” Jesus shows his pain to God and asks for what he most desires at that moment in very simple language, something we often have a problem doing.

For some of us, it’s not the language that’s a barrier, it’s the sharing. I grew up believing I had to be tough. I thought any mention of pain, be it physical or emotional, was a sign of weakness. Emotions were only acceptable if they were mild, as in being mildly amused or slightly irritated. Anger was taboo and anger at God was blasphemy.

Somewhere along the line, though, God reached into my heart and showed me what Jesus demonstrates in his prayer at Gethsemane. Because God made us, he understands how we feel. He expects us to show our emotions, especially when we pray. To keep them to ourself is to keep God at arm’s length. When we do that we make prayer into just a petition again instead of the communion God desires.

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Simply Prayer ebookThere are a lot of ideas and examples on simple ways to pray in my book Simply Prayer. Ebook version available for NookKindleKobo, and Scribd or…

buy the .pdf version here

You can purchase this book at Amazon.com or in my CreateSpace store front.

Or Pay What You Want for the audiobook.

Simply Prayer Audio Book Now Available On 2 CD Set

July 23rd, 2011

Simply Prayer CD1

I am so excited to announce that the Simply Prayer audio book is now available for purchase at Kunaki.com.

It’s been a long road to getting beta listeners and then getting the sales page up, but finally it’s here!

The biggest challenge to sales I’ve wrestled with is how to sell the CD’s as a set. I tried for several weeks to find a way to get the audio files small enough to fit on a single CD, but unless I wanted to cut a huge amount out of the book — basically cut the heart out of it — I had to settle on a 2 CD set.

Because there are 2 CD’s my next challenge was pricing. Should I charge the full price for one CD and have the other be free, like a bonus? How would I set that up? Wouldn’t people be inclined to order just the free CD, thinking it was the entire book? I decided to split the full price in half and charge $3.98 per CD.

Then I faced the decision of how to make sure customers knew there were two CD’s. As one of my beta listeners found out, listening to just one doesn’t do much good. (I accidentally gave her the case for Disc 2 without including the CD. My bad!) While I could have sent customers to the individual sales pages for each CD, I decided it would be better to send them to my publisher’s page, which lists all my available products. At the moment there are just the Simply Prayer CD’s, but I hope to have more in the future.

Simply Prayer CD2

I’m sure I’ll have to tweak things as time goes on, but for the moment I’m very happy with everything.

I’d love to hear from other indie authors who have put out their own audio books. What challenges did you face and what decisions did you make?

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If you’re interested in learning about prayer (what it is, why we do it, some ways to pray and how to know your prayer was answered), then check out my book Simply Prayer, available in print, for Kindle and Nook.

Why Time Management Doesn’t Work

June 22nd, 2011

time photo
Like most people, I often complain about the amount of time I don’t have. I’ve tried a variety of time management strategies with different degrees of success. Yet all the complaining in the world and no number of time management tools ever seem to keep time from slipping through my fingers. I always wondered what I was doing wrong. Was I just lazy?

Then I read Joy Held’s May 9, 2011, Monday Meditation: Time and Herding Cats. It clicked. Maybe it will for you, too.

Monday Meditation: Time And Herding Cats
by Joy Held

“Time management” is an oxymoron. We can’t possibly manage time. It does what it wants regardless of our efforts to wrangle it into submission. It marches on no matter what. Trying to manage time is frustrating because it’s a little like herding cats or nailing Jello (trademark) to a tree. Time has a mind and a mission of its own. Time cannot be told what to do and it cannot be beat into submission. But time rules the world and we will continue to know frustration until we develop a different relationship with time.

Read the rest of the post.

Photo by bogenfreund

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There are a lot more ideas and examples on simple ways to pray in my book Simply Prayer. Ebook version available for NookKindleKobo, and Scribd.

Or Pay What You Want for the audiobook.

Prayer Journals and Letters to God Another Way to Pray

June 15th, 2011

prayer photoSometimes, especially if we’re worried about a situation or are trying to come up with a solution to a problem, praying in our head isn’t enough. During those times I found it helps to write my thoughts and prayers down.

Like other types of prayer, there really isn’t a specific way to journal. There are no rules you have to worry about breaking. The sole intent is to communicate with your loving Creator and, maybe, find Spirit answering your burning questions.

While I prefer handwriting in a spiral notebook just a free flow of whatever pops into my head, I know others who would cringe at the mere suggestion of putting pen to paper. For some it’s a matter of privacy, for others the simple dislike of writing.

That doesn’t mean you can’t journal. It just means you may need to get a bit more creative. Perhaps making a collage would be better suited to your needs. Maybe you’d prefer using a digital recorder or speech recognition software. The possibilities are limited only by your own willingness to go beyond your idea of what a journal must look like.

A popular type of prayer journaling are letters to God. I remember one year at camp we were asked to write a letter to God. We were to write like we were writing to a friend. It didn’t matter what we wrote about. The idea was to write a letter, nothing more. After we wrote our letter to God, we were to turn the page over and write a letter to ourselves as if God had written it to us.

Writing from God to ourselves can present a number of challenges. The answer we write could be just our desire to get what we want, turning God into a personal genie. It could also be just the opposite because we don’t believe we deserve what we’re asking for. Or, of course, it can be a highly emotional event, especially if we allow Spirit to show us a glimpse of our loving Parent’s deep love for us.

Whether you choose to write a letter to yourself or not is up to you. Using a journal for prayer is all about communing and developing a deeper relationship with the One who loves you most of all.

Photo by Lel4nd

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There are a lot more ideas and examples on simple ways to pray in my book Simply Prayer. Ebook version available for NookKindleKobo, and Scribd.

Or Pay What You Want for the audiobook.

Lord, Teach Us To Pray

May 18th, 2011

Last Sunday I was asked, “Can you teach someone to pray?” (An interesting question, considering we were studying the first chapter of my book Simply Prayer.)

The short answer is:

Yes, I believe you can teach someone to pray.

The long answer is:

Yes, you can teach someone a variety of prayer methods, but the praying is up to the individual.

What that means is, I can give you any number of ways to approach prayer, and I do in my book, but whether you are able to meet God depends on where you are. For instance, if you only choose to give God a list of wants or choose to speak to God only when you need something, then you won’t achieve a very deep spiritual connection with our Creator and your prayer life is going to be less than satisfactory.

Prayer is about communication.

God is always there, always listening. God gives us what we need, though not always what we want. Prayer, however, is not just about God meeting our physical — or even our emotional — needs.

Prayer is about nurturing an ever deepening relationship with the One who knows us better than we could ever imagine. It is about opening our hearts, minds and spirits to the One who can show us what life is about, who can help us grow into what we are meant to be.

So, yes, I can teach you to pray, but it is up to you to let God into your life. Are you ready?

God Hears Even When We Don’t Pray

April 20th, 2011

One of my tweeps recently shared that she hadn’t been able to pray like she would like and that she was in a bad place. My first reaction was to want to help her somehow, so I prayed. My second was to share what I knew about God and prayer — God hears us even when we don’t have the words to pray. My third was a to wonder how many others, like my friend, held onto the idea that prayer is something we must ritualize in order for it to be effective.

There is a misconception that prayer is something we must make a lot of time for in a quiet place with a certain ritual. Not so. Prayer can happen in an instant and doesn’t need quiet or ritual. In fact it doesn’t even need words.

In the same way, the Spirit also helps our weaknesses, for we don’t know how to pray as we ought. But the Spirit himself makes intercession for us with groanings which can’t be uttered. –Romans 8:26 (The World English Bible)

God hears us even when all we can do is nothing. Our hearts and souls shout to the Heavens when our minds and lips remain mute. If you’re in the midst of crisis, don’t wait until you have a quiet moment to pray. Simply focus your feelings and “shout” them to God. Spirit will do the rest.