Living Boldly (and Prayerfully)

I just finished reading two books by Joyce Meyer, sent to me by the Hachette Book Group: The Confident Woman and Hearing from God Each Morning. Meyer is a well-known Bible teacher and a prolific author, although these are the first of her writings that I’ve read.

The Confident Woman is, to my mind, misnamed. It is true that a few of the chapters address issues unique to women, one of which is a terrific discussion of women in ministry (“Does God Use Women in Ministry?”) and another of which effectively debunks the notion that women are the weaker sex (aptly titled “Are Women Really the Weaker Sex?”). However, a significant part of Meyer’s discussion is equally applicable to men as well as women.

All of us, men and women, experience fear and anxiety and Meyer does not attempt to convince people that they will never experience fear. What she does do effectively is to talk about our ability to act notwithstanding our fear, our ability to be bold in the face of fear, secure in the knowledge that God is always at our side.

A distinction that I think is very helpful in this regard is the distinction Meyer draws between being and feeling. As I’ve discussed in other contexts, feelings rise of their own accord. We can no more stop a feeling from arising than we can stop the waves of the ocean from rolling in by pushing against them. What we can do, however, if not let a feeling determine how we act. We may feel fear, but we need not be fearful. We may not feel confident, but we can be confident.

Another helpful aspect of Meyer’s discussion is the distinction between confidence and conceit. Many of us were warned when we were young not to brag, a teaching that for many got distorted into a notion that they shouldn’t think positive things about themselves, that it is wrong to acknowledge the positive aspects of our being. I think Meyer is quite right that if we remember the sources of our giftedness, then we can have confidence without conceit. In this regard, I like very much her image of taking “each compliment that you receive as a rose and at the end of the day take the entire bouquet and offer it back to God, knowing that it came from Him.”

Hearing from God Each Morning is subtitled 365 Daily Devotions. I’m always interested in seeing new books like this because I am so often asked by people, particularly those new to a daily prayer practice, for suggestions for their daily prayer. For each day of the year, the book includes a bible verse, a short reflection and a simple statement to keep in mind for the day (“God’s Word For You Today”). Parts of it I read through and other parts I used for my morning prayer. Like most books of this sort, not every daily reflection will hit home for every reader. But there is plenty here to reflect on and I think the short “God’s Word” take-away (generally, a very easy line to remember) is something many will appreciate.