Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable to you, O Lord, my rock and my redeemer. Psalm 19:14 (NRSV)
Let my words be acceptable. What a magnificent prayer for a writer or speaker. I’ve often used Psalm 19:14 as an opening prayer or benediction for conference workshops. Why didn’t I think of praying this as I research and write? Sure, we’ve all prayed over our work, asking for help or asking God to bless our writing. But, have we prayed for our words to be acceptable to God?
The above scripture is the basis for the introduction to this book of prayers for writers, compiled by a husband-wife team Gary D. Schmidt and Elizabeth Stickney, (Acceptable Words, Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2012). Schmidt is a multi-published writer, a two time Newberry Award winner, and a professor of English at Calvin College, Grand Rapids, Michigan. Stickney, also a writer, passed away in 2013.
I said I would write a thorough review of this book. After reading the first couple of chapters, I realized something. I cannot sit and read this book straight through. It is meant to be read like a devotional book, one reading or one chapter at a time. Some of the selections are so profound that they require reflection before going on to the next. The prayers are from famous writers like John Donne and Edna St. Vincent Millay as well as lesser-known writers. The chapter titles are:
- The Writer Encounters the World
- The Writer Studies the World
- The Writer Begins
- The Writer’s Vision Expands
- The Writer Attends to the Word
- The Writer Finds Joy in the Work
- The Writer Petitions
- The Writer Offers the Work to God
Writers’ biographies are provided at the end of the book. Also, there’s a detailed Sources and Acknowledgments section.
I love the concept stated in a G. K. Chesteron quote on the page opposite the General Introduction. We say grace over our meals. Why do we not say grace before we write? The compilers encourage writers to use these prayers throughout the process of any writing project. From now on, I’m going to have it on hand whenever I write with the goal that my words will be acceptable to God.
- Publisher’s book trailer.
- YouTube interview with the authors here. Audio is not the best quality, and the closed caption feature is no help. Check it out anyway.
- Elizabeth Stickney obituary. The book was published in 2012. She passed away in 2013.
- Short article entitled “Acceptable Words” by W. Garrett Horder