James Banks – Prayers for Prodigals

What is your most recent book? Tell us a bit about it.

My most recent book is Prayers for Prodigals. It’s a book of Scripture-based prayers and meditations for the parents of prodigal kids.

When you’re the parent of a prodigal you know you need to pray, but you’re often so overwhelmed you don’t know where to begin.

Instead of telling you how to pray, Prayers for Prodigals encourages you to pray by taking you directly there and leading you in prayer.

Tell us something about yourself.

I’ve been writing since my 4th grade teacher discovered it was a great way to keep me out of trouble. It still does (sometimes). Today I’m a husband, father, pastor, author and beekeeper. But the writing doesn’t keep me out of trouble with the bees.

What inspired you to write this book?

I love my kids dearly. They’ve made some choices which have caused them real pain and difficulty, and I hate to see them go through it. This book is a “cry from the heart” for them, and an effort to bring the help only God can give into their lives. I was also inspired by an excellent book, For Prodigals and Those Who Love Them, by Ruth Bell Graham. That’s a “heart-cry” book as well, and it had a huge impact on me when my daughter was going through a difficult time.

How did you publish this book? Why did you decide on that publisher?

Discovery House is my publisher (dhp.org). They opened the door for my first book (The Lost Art of Praying Together), and I’m deeply grateful. They’re a wonderful team to work with.

How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?

I wanted to write nonfiction Christian devotional books since I was about 15. Even at that age I read alot, and the reading had a profound impact on my life and faith.

What do you believe is the hardest part of writing?

Letting it go. Once I write something, I like to go back and re-craft it. It’s always good to edit, but I can be tempted to “overwrite.” When that happens, it loses freshness if you’re not careful. Sometimes, you just have to step away.

How do you do research for your books?

My first book, The Lost Art of Praying Together, came out of doctoral work in the area of church history. I love reading old books (at least a century old) and gaining insights from their lives, so different and yet so similar. I also love reading the Bible. In the quiet of those moments God seems to lead me down roads of discovery I would never find on my own.

Did you learn anything from writing this book? What?

I was amazed at how quickly this book came to me. I felt as if God was carrying me at times, making this a surprisingly easy book to write.

What are you reading now?

I just finished reading George Muller’s autobiography. Right now I’m reading Transforming Prayer by Daniel Henderson.

What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?

As mentioned, I love old books. Two of my favorites are The Valley of Vision, a collection of beautiful prayers, and also the 1797 edition of Olney Hymns, by John Newton (author of Amazing Grace) and British poet William Cowper. Their use of the English language soars and the content is inspiring and challenging–both are beautiful works.

Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?

Yes, but it’s just in the proposal stage at the moment (so it’s a secret!). I can hardly wait to share it!

What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?

Write from the heart, and from your personal experience.

What are you doing to promote your latest book?

Speaking, blogging and giving seminars on the vital importance of prayer. The book has also been blessed with some great endorsements, from Franklin Graham (himself a former prodigal), author Cheri Fuller, and Fern Nichols (founder of Moms In Touch International). I’ve also started a website called PrayersForProdigals.org where parents can share prayer requests for their kids.

Where can readers learn more about you and your book?

Please visit Discovery House Publishers at dhp.org, and my web and blogsite at JamesBanks.org.