Rachel is a United Church of Christ pastor in Lancaster, Pennsylvania; a lover of spiced chai tea; and a soccer mom of two. A graduate of Princeton Theological Seminary, she also blogs and leads workshops on her book “Writing to God: 40 Days of Praying with My Pen” (Paraclete Press 2011).
Writing to God: Kids’ Edition
Author: Rachel G. Hackenberg
Publisher: Paraclete Press
Writing to God: Kids’ Edition invites young people to talk to God about everyday life using everyday language. No prayers to memorize. No “churchy” language. Simply thirty-five tangible prayer ideas (endearingly illustrated) that encourage children to find their own voices in praying about school, nature, emotions, experiences, and more.
Q: Describe a highlight for you personally while you were writing this book.
A: One of the highlights of writing this book came not from my own pen but from the pens and crayons of children. As the book came together, I invited children to write prayers in response to various prayer ideas from the book, and I was delighted and touched by their responses. From the pure emotion of a young girl writing “Dear God, did you know how scared I was?” … to the straightforward observation of a six-year-old boy saying, “God you were a good thinker when you thought of making water for us” … all of the kids’ prayers were refreshing for me to read! Twenty prayers written by children and youth are included in “Writing to God: Kids’ Edition.”
Q: How do you hope to influence today’s young readers through this book?
A: I hope to encourage young readers with the message that prayer doesn’t need to feel formidable. Prayer is a conversation with God, and it can be creative, it can be long or short, it can be silly or sad; prayer is not about the right combination of formal church words. I hope kids feel affirmed that you can be yourself with God and you can talk to God about anything. I also believe that “Writing to God: Kids’ Edition” is a great resource for religious education programs, and I hope that it provides church educators with creative tools for engaging children in prayer.
Q: What plans, if any, do you have to help market your new book?
A: For local (Lancaster PA) readers, I’m launching the new book with a “Pray and Play” workshop — a hands-on unstructured experience of praying in pen, praying with paint, praying on post-it notes, praying with sand swirls, praying with pictures, etc., to invite people of all ages to pray creatively. (There will be cake at the workshop, too!)
Q: What is one word of advice you received as a writer that you would like to share with others?
A: Literally one word? I’d say “Try.” The step between writing and publishing (whether online, in print, paid or unpaid) is a writer’s decision to try — to dare to put her words in front of others, to attempt to speak to an audience. Sometimes a writer finds courage to try within herself/himself; sometimes it comes from the encouragement of a friend or mentor; sometimes it comes from seeing one’s own words on paper. I received the encouragement to try from a middle school teacher who helped me enter a fictional story in a children’s writing contest; that was my earliest experience with publishing! One of the many things that pleases me about “Writing to God: Kids’ Edition” is that I could encourage some young writers with an opportunity to see their words in a published book.