What is the secret behind the runaway publishing success of Sarah Young’s devotional, Jesus Calling?
Could it be the power of prayer?
“Ever since the publication of Jesus Calling, I have prayed daily for people who are reading my books. Over the years, these prayers have become longer, covering a wide range of topics. Even when I’ve been hospitalized, I have not missed a day of praying for readers.”–Sarah Young from the introduction to Jesus Always.
“Before I begin writing, I spend time in prayer — including prayers for protection of my mind from distractions, distortions and deception. I ask God to guide my mind as I focus on Him and His Word. Then I simply pray, “Help me, Holy Spirit,” and I wait. I have been strongly influenced by the Bible verse, “Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10).” –Sarah Young, from an interview with Gloria Gaither and Phil Newman in HomecomingMagazine.com
Prayer is the heart of Sarah Young’s ministry.
The discipline of praying for her readers.
The discipline of listening prayer.
“GLORIA: Can you define “listening prayer” for those who may not be familiar with the term? What led you to begin the practice? What would you say to others who want to begin the practice?
SARAH: In the introductions to all my books, I state clearly that my writings are not inspired as Scripture is. When I began my practice of listening to Jesus and writing, it was solely for my personal benefit; in fact, it was years before I shared my writings with others. As my husband says, “This method of communicating could be compared to a pastor who prays, reads the passage he is working on, and then explains the text as he learns from the Holy Spirit what the text is saying.” I am not preaching — just sharing what I have gleaned from my times of waiting in God’s Presence.
I want to make it clear that I do not have audible conversation with Jesus. Rather, it’s a quiet and personal time of praying, pondering Scripture, and seeking the guidance of the Holy Spirit.”–from HomecomingMagazine.com
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Sarah and her husband were missionaries to Japan, then missionaries to the Japanese in Perth, Australia. Now they live in Tennessee.
Sarah came to faith as an adult.
“When I majored in philosophy at Wellesley College, I was a non-Christian searching for truth. Each time I began studying a new philosophy I’d get excited, thinking this one might end my quest. However, further study always revealed flaws. Eventually, I became disillusioned and concluded there was no absolute truth. A few years later, though, when I read Francis Schaeffer’s Escape From Reason, my background in philosophy helped me understand his reasoning. I found in that book answers to questions I had previously considered unanswerable. This opened the way for me to study at L’Abri, a Christian community in Switzerland begun by the Schaeffers.
At L’Abri I found a wonderful combination of intellectual integrity and a caring Christian community. This was just what I needed. While living and studying at L’Abri, I became a Christian. Finally, I had a solid foundation on which to build my life! ”
As a bookseller, I can see firsthand the impact her devotional writings have had on people. Time after time I’ve heard that the devotional of the day was just what they needed.
I’ve noticed it in my own life as well. It doesn’t happen every day, but often a phrase or a thought will hit home with a current struggle.
There’s often no explaining why some books take off and become bestsellers, even though people try to figure it out.
I still have to wonder, though, if the power of prayer is the secret behind the success of Jesus Calling.