Where does the time go? It’s easy for our fast-paced lives to become so overstuffed with items on our To Do list that we sometimes lose sight of making the well-being of our own hearts and souls a priority. Inherent in that objective—but often lost in the shuffle—is the need to give thanks for our blessings, to ask forgiveness for our flaws, and to seek gentle guidance when personal crises overwhelm and debilitate us. EmmaLisa Hill shares insights on the development of her new book, Pray Every Day, an inspirational guidebook on learning to listen deeply to the wisdom of a higher power and to recognize that we are never truly alone.
Interviewer: Christina Hamlett
Q: Is prayer something that was instilled in your heart at an early age or did you come by this path more recently?
A: I was taught to pray at an early age, before I started to school actually. My grandmother, my mom’s mom introduced me to the church and prayer. It was instilled in my head and as a habit, or way of life more so than in my heart.
Q: What was your inspiration to share your beliefs about prayer in a book?
A: I was diagnosed with colon cancer in November 2002. I was so depressed and disgusted with my life during that time that I decided to stop praying. After all, what good was it doing anyway? I was a “good girl,” and God let me get cancer. So, I was not going to pray any more and I wasn’t going to take the recommended treatments for cancer. I was already an ordained minister when I was diagnosed and during that time I decided God wasn’t working for me.
A minister, who was one of my teachers while I was a student in ministerial school and who also was trying to hook-up with my ex-husband at the time, heard that I had cancer and called me. She recommended a doctor who I eventually ended up working with. The doctor charged me $300.00 for one hour, and told me to talk to the cancer and meditate. Since I had given him $300.00, I thought “What the hell? What do I have to lose?” So, I talked to the cancer. However, I stop talking to people. The cancer talked back. And the word got out that the cancer said to me: decide if you want to live, laugh, and learn to love yourself.
My classmates from school, my friends, my family, my church family, and my friend’s church families were praying for me and calling. I would not take any calls. They didn’t give up on me. Everybody who had my email address started to email me prayers and jokes. I am still surprised that I read them, but for some reason I did, and I saved some of them.
God spoke to me and said write a prayer book and told me how to do it, on a Saturday in March 2010. My response, “I will when I have time.” I didn’t feel like I was being disobedient. I didn’t say no. After all I had plans that weekend. I had things to do. As I was getting dressed, getting ready to do my thing that Sunday morning, God let me get dressed, and said, “I said write a book,” rather forcefully. That’s how this book got started.
Q: Did you perceive any risks in taking a very private mindset into a public platform?
A: I don’t think I felt like I was taking a risk. I did know I wasn’t going to respond well to criticism and judgments.
Q: The age-old question: Why do bad things happen to good people?
A: Because we, people, decide who is good. For me, I thought I was good because I obeyed people. I did what my mom, and the preachers, and teachers, and leaders told me to do, and they told me I was a good girl. I believed them. I was very obedient to human rules. They used the bargaining, bullying, deal making, and tricky techniques to get what they want from me. God wasn’t always in the picture. Emilie Cady said in her book Lessons In Truth, “Every person believes himself to be in bondage to the flesh (to people) and to the things of the flesh. All suffering is the result of this belief.”
Q: In your mind, is there a difference between being spiritual and being religious?
A: Oh yes. I have learned the difference. Being spiritual for me is listening to the God in my Being. Being religious is being in bondage to human rules. People created religion.
Q: What do you hope will be the takeaway value for your target readership?
A: First of all, I hope they will learn to listen to the voice coming from within, and not only listen but act on what they hear. Jesus said, “My sheep know my voice.” No matter what’s going on in my life, I recognize THAT voice when it speaks.
Alexandra K. Trenfor said, “The best teachers are those who show you where to look, but don’t tell you what to see.” I hope my readers learn that faith comes by hearing the Voice of God within.
Q: You’ve indicated that the book teaches people how to pray. Is this to suggest there is a right and wrong way to go about connecting with a higher power?
A: I hope I have not tried to teach people how to pray. I believe the “right or wrong” way to pray has caused suffering. I believe praying based on what’s in your heart and the way you need to pray at the time is sufficient to connect to a higher power. My intention in writing this book was to just encourage people to pray.
Q: How did you go about collecting prayers from total strangers?
A: Many of the prayers in my book did not come from total strangers. The ones that came from people I have never met I read them some place or took them from some books. They spoke to me in some way at the time. Many of the prayers are just straight out of the Bible.
Q: Is there a favorite prayer or author that stood out and had an influence on you?
A: Yes, there is. The favorite prayer is on page 165, May 18th, it’s titled “The Truth About ‘Me’ and My Future,” written by Doctor Ruth M Mosley and her son, Doctor Bill Mosley. Rev. Ruth Mosley is the founder of the Detroit Unity Urban Ministerial School and author of many prayer books. Other than God, she had the greatest influence on me becoming an ordained Unity Minister as well as writing.
Q: Why did you feel the time was right to develop and publish this book?
A: Everything just came together for me this year. The book was already finished just over a year ago, in March, I might add. I had the money to pay the editor. I had the time to proof and work with the editor. The cover was complete. The High Desert California’s Writers Club was sponsoring a lot of events that influenced me to move forward with the publishing. All these things contributed to me releasing this great work into the world at this time.
Q: Like many authors, you opted to go the route of self-publishing. Why?
A: There are a lot of things I don’t know about the publishing business. I have written and written but never taken the next step to publish my work. I didn’t feel I had the money needed to publish a book. I feared no one would pay me for my work. I feared no one wanted to hear what I had to say. I felt unworthy. I wanted to finally complete an assignment God had given me. Self-publishing feels right for me doing this time. As I learn to follow God’s promptings.
Q: What did you learn during that process?
A: All things are truly possible. I learned to listen to the experts and let people help me. I learned God will put what and who you need in your life at the time you need it. I had to examine the real reason I am writing this book. I wrote the whole book and completed it without thinking about selling it, until a friend made light of the fact that no one was going to buy it. “Okay, you are going to sell ten copies,” she said. Why are you doing this? That’s when I really had to deal with my reasons for writing and publishing this book. Writing satisfies me. Writing gives me a voice. I learned it is okay to share me with the world. I felt so good and high when I held the first proof copies in my hands. I really learned how much I rely on an inner guide for directions in my life.
Q: What are you doing to market and promote the book, and what methods have been the most effective for you?
A: I have participated in many of the events The Writer’s Club has sponsored. However, so far the most effective marketing has been Facebook and word of mouth. I want to reach new people. So, marketing is something else I have to learn.
Q: To be candid, it strikes me that a list price of $25 could put your title out of reach for some of the people who might need it the most (i.e., students, the unemployed, retirees on a fixed income). Your thoughts on that?
A: If I can be candid also, I don’t think we can decide that a person who can afford the book needs it any less then the ones who can’t afford it. Needing prayer doesn’t have anything to do with a dollar amount. I believe God makes a way for the person who desires or want a copy to get one, whether it’s through buying or a gift.
I have already given away as many copies as I have sold. For three days on my birthday weekend on all three of my sites I gave away Kindle copies for free to anyone who wanted to download a copy. Most students only do electronic books. The book is now available on Kindle for $9.99. I have also given away many hard copies, not to people who I necessarily thought could not afford the book, but to people who I thought would appreciate it or could use it. I offer copies, as I am led, and give the person the opportunity to accept it or not. I try not to force my views, opinions, and choices on other.
Q: What are some ways people can make the time to pray every day when their schedules are already overstuffed?
A: I think one can pray as they go about their day. “God help,” is a prayer. “Thank You God,” is a prayer. “Lord guide me in this,” is a prayer. This belief that prayer has to be done a certain way at a certain time will keep a person from praying. It did me. I hope I properly dealt with this myth in Pray Every Day. A person has to want a relationship with God to pray. When I want some divine intervention, I pray. I don’t put aside a time to pray. I pray right where I am in the mist of what I am doing.
Praying is us talking to God. Meditating is us turning our minds off and listening to God. I have done this sitting on the toilet.
Q: Is the content specific to a Christian perspective or are there elements that other religions could embrace?
A: There is content that any and every one can embrace. The content is not specific to a Christian or religion. My purpose in writing this book was to encourage people to pray. Prayer is one of the tools that can be used to connect with a higher aspect of the self. I call it God. “God is Love.” When we pray, we don’t pray to a Love outside of ourselves. We pray to a God within. Jesus was not a Christian. He was a teacher who taught LOVE. Christianity started after Jesus left the planet.
Q: What would readers be the most surprised to learn about you?
A: LOL. I don’t know the answer to that question. I have put forth an effort to live a more authentic life by honoring myself since cancer. So, this is something I have to learn as people become more willing to share their opinions of me with me.
Q: What’s next on your plate?
A: I am praying this book makes the New York Times bestseller list. So, learning how I can get this book in the hands of more people. I would love to see something about prayer on that list that I wrote. I am working on writing two more books. I would like to dance on “Dancing With The Stars.” I would like to do more traveling and speaking about living, laughing, and loving, and getting paid very well for my gifts.
Q: Where can readers learn more about you?
A: The direct URL for my CreateSpace eStore and Amazon detail pages are:
Follow me on facebook @Love EmmaLisa
Also on Instagram: hillemmalisa