The books that changed my life

Literally millions of people have been helped by Stormie Omartian’s The Power of Praying books. She tells Amy Boucher Pye why books have been profoundly important for her too

I don’t remember being read to much as a young child, except for the Cinderella story. But when I started school, I was extremely eager to learn how to read. And once I could read on my own I never stopped reading every book I could get my hands on. My favourites were fairy tales, which I read one after another. I loved them. I lived in them. In fact, fiction became my way of escape from the sadness of my life, even on into adult years. After I came to the Lord, all I wanted was the truth. So I read only non-fiction from then on and started writing non-fiction books as well.

There were three books in particular that influenced me when I became a Christian. The pastor who led me to the Lord knew which books I should read because they contained exactly what I needed to understand, in order for my heart to be opened to the truth. He gave me the Gospel of John in a small book form which told me everything I needed to know as to who Jesus is, what he did for me and why I needed him.

The second book was The Screwtape Letters by CS Lewis, about the reality of evil and the enemy’s plan for our lives. It, too, was exactly what I needed to read because I was involved with occult practices and new age religions that denied the reality of evil.

The third book was on the Holy Spirit, and that book was discontinued around the same time that I received the Lord. I know this because I gave my copy to a friend when she couldn’t find it in the stores and they told her it was no longer available. I don’t recall the name of the book, but having no prior knowledge or understanding of the Holy Spirit, it was eye-opening for me to know that when I received Jesus, the Holy Spirit would come to dwell in me and change me from the inside out. I wrote my new book – Lead Me, Holy Spirit – on that very subject because I could not find one that talked specifically about how the Holy Spirit leads and transforms us. When I read those three books, I had never heard any of that before and I knew what I was reading was the truth.

After I read the books, my pastor asked me if I wanted to receive Jesus and I told him yes. Right away, I noticed a difference in my life. I had a feeling of peace, of being accepted, of being cleansed from all my past failure, of starting over with a clean slate. And I felt love, joy, and hope for the first time. I also had a growing sense of purpose, and I began to see a future for my life. As I grew in God’s Word, I learned to walk in his way. I became better able to make right choices. And with the Holy Spirit’s leading and enablement, I could resist falling back into old habits of doing things that were not God’s will for my life. As I moved into the deliverance and freedom he had for me, I gradually became free from depression, anxiety, and fear.

Writing The Power of a Praying Wife was hard because I had to share details about my marriage that I didn’t know if my husband was going to agree to. When he read it, he asked me if I had to include the part about his anger. I said yes because that was the biggest issue in our marriage. I couldn’t pretend that it wasn’t. I was not writing a book about how to make a perfect marriage more perfect. Where would my credibility be if I left out the greatest struggle we had? And to his credit he willingly gave the OK to leave everything in as I wrote it.

I never dreamed when I was writing it that The Power of a Praying Wife would have the impact, sales, longevity, and life-transforming effect that it has had. Talk about the Lord having more for us than we can even think or imagine. I never imagined all this. When the book reached number one on the bestseller list I called the president of Harvest House Publishing to thank him for all the hard work the company had done to make that happen and he immediately said, “We didn’t make that happen. No one can. Only God can do that.”

What amazed me about the book was although I knew that this way of praying worked for me, I was concerned about whether it would work for other women. That’s because it is a sacrifice on the wife’s part and I wasn’t certain that many women would be willing to make that sacrifice. But I was thrilled to see how they took to it immediately and were so willing to do whatever it took to make their marriages better and lasting. I thank God for all those precious women.

I loved reading to my children. I read to them from the time they could sit up on my lap and be interested in the pictures. I read them every book I thought was appropriate for their age. Two of their favourites were The Little Engine that Could and Winnie the Pooh, as well as little Bible stories that were just right for their ages. I read to them nearly every day of their childhood and they would always pick the books they wanted to hear. After they were skilled enough to read on their own, they would have a quiet time with their books, reading some of them over and over again.

I have been asked to write fiction by different companies, but I haven’t done it yet because I have had so many non-fiction books on my heart that I had to get them written first. And I do love writing dialogue and description and telling a story. But I also love true stories like the one I wrote about the birth of Christ in The Miracle of Christmas. I have been praying about writing fiction in the future, so I am curious to see how the Lord leads me on this.

I am about to leave on a much-needed vacation with my husband for a week. And my absolute favourite activity is reading. I love books. I love to read. So I am planning what books I am going to take. I like autobiographies and biographies of political figures or great men or women of history, and books that help me to better understand the Bible. I also enjoy books on healthy living, especially the newest discoveries about how to eat right and take care of our bodies. I am allowing myself one hardback, one paperback, and a couple of books on my Kindle. I love the feel of a book, but I can take more if I put one or two on the Kindle as well.