The other day, while waiting on the phone before a live radio interview about my latest book, I prayed from my computer screen the Psalm that I had assigned myself as part of a memorization project a friend and I had embarked on. Our goal was not to memorize all the Psalms—that would be too hard—but just to acquaint ourselves with the gist of each one and memorize a favorite verse. Mine, from Psalm 2, was verse 7, in which the unspecified psalmist says, “I will proclaim the Lord’s decree: He said to me, ‘You are my son; today I have become your father’” (Psalm 2:7 NIV).
Interviews stress me. There’s no predicting what the host will ask. Sometimes they haven’t read the book, so I spend the whole interview trying to untangle what it’s really about from what the host thinks it’s about based on the title or cover material. Other times, they’ve read the book but have specific questions about parts of the book I’ve forgotten. Add to that the time constraints! A typical radio interview lasts only ten or fifteen minutes, including breaks for commercials and station identification. Invariably there’s a final question that begins, “In the thirty seconds before we break, can you explain …”
The worst part of radio interviews is that I’m very picky about how I say what I say—which is why I’m a writer and not a speaker. As a writer, you can revise your thoughts, or delete them entirely. In an interview, you’re committed to whatever crazy business emerges from your mouth in the moment.
Or maybe an even worse part of radio interviews is my general antipathy to self-promotion. Why can’t I just write, I wail inwardly, and leave that part of the publishing process to someone else?
To calm myself, I imagined the Father actually speaking the words of the Psalm to me: “You’re my daughter; today I have become your father.”
What a thrilling thought! The God of all creation as my actual parent.
When I got to God’s invitation in the very next line, though, I faltered: “Ask me, and I will make the nations your inheritance, the ends of the earth your possession.”
Whoa, I thought. The Bible notes must be right. The unidentified “I” of the passage must be David or some Davidic king or even Jesus himself. Anyone but me.
“But you write books,” I sensed or imagined the Father saying. “Just ask. I’ll give you nations of readers.”
Asking for that was too awful to imagine—however much I might want it. I couldn’t pray the words, not even in the secrecy of my mind.
Just then, the radio host’s voice intervened. Ten minutes later, I hung up.
I was still thinking, That went okay. I didn’t embarrass myself that badly, when the host called back to thank me personally.
“I’m sure people everywhere have said this,” she said, “but your books really minister to me.”
People everywhere. Answers to my prayers rarely come so immediately or unambiguously. Or maybe they do, but I return so quickly to not expecting God to respond that I don’t notice when he does. Or maybe I don’t really dare to pray with abandon—and thereby reveal to my own Father what’s really in my heart.