Friday, April 30, 2021

Prayers and Writers: A Perfect Match!

by John Riddle

Prayer has played an important part in my writing career ever since I prayed and asked God to bless me with the gift of creative communication. In my senior year of St. James high school, my family was living in a public housing project in Chester, Pennsylvania. The Vietnam War was still taking place, and I was a few months away from graduation. I didn’t know anything about college scholarships at the time, so I knew I had to pick a career and get ready to do something with my life very soon.

I was sitting at home one evening, watching an episode of The Flying Nun, and at the end of the show when the credits were slowly rolling by, I noticed they had dedicated the episode to a writer. “A writer,” I thought. “Sounds like a noble profession; I think I’d like to be a writer!” 

Right then and there I prayed and asked God if he wouldn’t mind blessing me with the gift I needed to become a writer. I didn’t realize it at the time, but He immediately gave me the writing gift. I sat down at an old Royal typewriter and wrote a script for The Flying Nun. It was only seven pages long, but I was very excited at the episode that I had titled, “The New Chapel.” 

I took it to school the next day and showed it to my English teacher. I told him I had finally decided what I wanted to do with my life. “I am going to be a writer,” I said, with my head held high. He nodded politely, as he continued grading papers. “I wrote an episode of The Flying Nun. Would you like to read it and tell me what you think?” I asked him.

His was very interested when I mentioned The Flying Nun. (I joke about how we had to watch it as a homework assignment and discuss it in class, since I was attending a Catholic high school.) He said he would read it overnight and give me his honest critique the next day.

The next day was the longest day of my life. Finally, when school was over, I went to his classroom and asked him what he thought about my writing sample. He told me, “This is the worst piece of garbage that I have ever read. Perhaps you should consider a career in manual labor.” I was shocked, and too numb to respond. He continued, “If your writing has no purpose, then there is no purpose in your writing.” Then he left the room.

I’m not sure how long I stood there, but I remember vowing that one day I would see my name on the cover of “many” books (35 as of this writing), and that I would travel the country, encouraging new writers to get published. When I graduated from high school I enlisted in the Navy, and after four years of service I left and began an employment journey that took me through many jobs that I didn’t really like, but I never lost sight of my dream of becoming a full-time author and freelance writer. 

My first job was in the mail room at the Dupont Company, in their downtown office headquarters (Wilmington, DE). While I worked with some great people, the job itself was not very challenging, I did have access to their technical library, and that is where I discovered dozens of trade journals. Little did I realize at the time that one day I would be writing for many of those publications as a freelance writer!

Some years later I began working for a few nonprofit agencies as a development director, in charge of fundraising and special events. Of all the jobs I have had, that field was the most rewarding. It allowed me to use my gift of creative communication to write grants and raise money for many worthwhile causes, and I also enjoyed coming up with some “out of the box” special event fundraising ideas. One time I tried to set the Guinness World Record by having the largest number of people dance to the “Twist.” I even recruited Chubby Checker to help us raise money, and that brought lots of media attention.

My dream of working as a writer has come true, and although I was never an “overnight success,” prayer has helped shape my writing efforts over the past 40 years.


John Riddle is a full time freelance writer, author, ghostwriter and donut eater who works out of his home office in Delaware. His byline has appeared in major publications all across the U.S., and he has written articles for over 300 websites. He is the author of 34 books for a variety of Christian and secular publishers, and recently self published "The Flying Nun, Oprah and Me: 40 Years Making Money as a Freelance Writer (Hey, You Can Do It, Too!)." In 2002 he launched "I Love To Write Day," a grassroots campaign to have people of all ages practice writing every November 15th. His favorite quote is from Walt Disney: "If you can dream it, you can do it!"


  1. Thank you John for the reminder that often God speaks through our heart rather than other people "who should know."

  2. Glad you have been able to realize your dream. Fortunately, I had teachers who encouraged my writing dream.

  3. A great read this morning and so encouraging. Thank you for making it available to all of us.

  4. What an inspiring post! Thank you, John.

  5. My "PRAY FIRST" note is the first thing I see when I sit at my computer desk. :-)

  6. Prayer and persistence. What a great combination! Thanks.

  7. The worst possible thing a teacher can do is to stem a student’s zeal. A wise man once told me that running water eventually purifies itself—the trick is to keep it running.