Pray A-Z


Meet the talented Amelia Rhodes, a speaker and author from West Michigan! Check out her free resources on prayer. Her new release is Pray A-Z: A Practical Guide to Pray for Your Community.

A verse, ideas, and a prayer accompany each topic A through Z on topics that help us uplift those in our communities. I love the range of topics: abundance, emergency responders, homeless, justice, refugees, teachers, zero prejudice.


How many of your meal time prayers sound like this, “Thank you God for our food. Amen.” Or you say that you’ll pray for a certain person, but in the busyness of life completely forget. Sometimes it’s just easy to have prayer block and not even know where to start when you want to talk to God.

This guide is perfect for families to use together.

  • help your kids learn about issues that affect families and people in your community
  • think of people you know that might need prayers for a specific topic
  • learn about praise, petition, and listening to God’s answers
  • consider who God is through prayers of praise
  • pray together as a family

As we pray for our communities’ deepest needs, we bring God’s light into the darkest corners. As we praise Him, we come to appreciate the glory and beauty of His creation.

We know prayer is powerful.

God hears us and longs for us to talk to him about everything.

Our communities, families and friends need to be uplifted and that is something we can give.


Comment below to be entered to win a copy of the book. How do you pray as a family? 

(I received a copy of Pray A-Z as a part of Litfuse Publicity Blog Tour.) 

I know no other way


A few weeks ago, I stood outside waiting to direct participants to our playgroup. The evening was dark and cold. I took a picture of the street lamp piercing the dark. I wanted to remember the prayer I prayed that night, to not give up if God had something to do through me.

Over break I read Brene Brown, a New York Time Bestselling author. She is a researcher and spot on about messy things of the heart and how to meet them head on. In Rising Strong she says this about the messy middle:

You’re too far in to turn around and not close enough to the end to see the light.”


God, don’t let me give up. Let me hit my fears, insecurities, and rejections head on.

If you have something to do through me, I want to show up. Very much.


There is a plaque on my fireplace mantle that reads: Its hard to stumble when you’re on your knees. Ever since I read about adopting one word for each new year, mine has been the same. I wonder when I will let it go… or if it will always be a part of me. Kneel. It has to be for me, I know no other way. It all has to come from that place kneeling before God, or I am not me. I would not have the strength to show up. I would run far, far away.

My prayer for you this new year:
To not give up. You are enough. He has something beautiful to do in you and through you.

What do you need strength for in this new year? 



Drawing Up in Proximity

171The Roosevelt Monument in Washington D.C. 

169Let us bend our hearts

to the needs of those that surround us on every side. 

170There are people and places we need to remember,

help us draw up in proximity to them Lord. 


Teach us to be humble enough to work together.

To Listen. To seek to make a difference. 

if your mad, put a monocle on it.


Summer Break + Kids = Dunder Mifflin Paper Explosion.


Here is a “mad book” Ellie made for us this summer. If we get mad we can draw whatever we want in this journal. Whatever… but she did have a suggestion. The suggestion is to draw a monocle on one of the puppies on each page. Yes reasonable, if you are mad draw a monocle on a puppy.


If you like then you wanna put a ring on it…

If your mad then you wanna put a monocle on it…


We also have a Judy Moody Not Bummer Summer Chart… to be exact

An Ellie Van Engen Mega Rare Not Bummer Summer Chart.


I took a Spiderman quiz the other day.

With SpiderMan’s great power comes what? 

a. danger         b. great responsibility    c. being famous


For some reason this coloring book quiz question struck me.

Great responsibility.

We have a great responsibility to be all that God asks us to be.

To whom much is given, much is required.


We were given a great responsibility because God designed us to be more.

I think we were gifted great power when we stepped into the grace of Christ.

Let’s pray each day to take up that power with the reverence of great responsibility.

Whether that means parenting to our fullest for the day given us, working at our jobs or placing ourselves in the proximity of renewal where we can make a difference.


For the days that great responsibility leads to mad, just put a monocle on it and move forward.

What are you going to draw a monocle on today? I’m drawing mine over the paper explosion that is my house! 

Kneeling with Giants

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Kneeling with Giants: Learning to Pray with History’s Best Teachers

Kneel is my one word for 2013. I had the opportunity to meet professor and author Gary Neal Hansen through Chad R. Allen’s blog. I was really blessed by his book. I’m so excited to introduce it to you and hear some great insight from Gary.

Reading this book was like taking a whole course in prayer and leaving with your faith inspired and challenged.

His book searches the lives of historical figures and their approach to prayer. I think it’s so easy to get into the habit of prayer being in terrible moments, or when nodding off to sleep. Really, prayer is so much more.


Gary Neal Hanson shares:  

1. Which form of prayer did you find most helpful in your own spiritual journey?

It is very hard to pick just one as most helpful, since in one way or another all have helped me.  However, when I was about 16 a Young Life leader got me to read Brother Lawrence’s The Practice of the Presence of God, and it shaped me deeply.  This 17th century Carmelite monk developed the discipline of remembering constantly that he was in the presence of God, and that sparked a rich and constant conversation with God inside his heart and mind. As a kid who had just come to a new relationship with Christ this was really helpful, and it laid a foundation for the rest of my prayer life.  Little did I realize Brother Lawrence’s little book was basically an excellent accessible example of the teachings of another Carmelite from a century earlier — St. Teresa of Avila.  There’s a chapter on her in my book.

2. I loved Appendix 2 practical ways to practice each form of prayer. Why do you think prayer can be such a hard form of worship for Christians?

Actually I think it is kind of strange that Christians seem to think prayer should be easy. What in life that really matters, with the potential to remake your life from the ground, up is easy? Marriage? Parenting? Work that you are really called to?  Everything weighty takes a whole lot of effort, and prayer is the most weighty thing of all.

Sometimes we fool ourselves into thinking it ought to be easy by saying it is just talking to someone you love.  But it’s still counter-intuitive: when you are new to praying it can seem like the entire relationship is leaving voicemail messages for someone you’ve never even met. And it is not just talking to anyone we love.  If you’ve ever admired someone famous for years and then met them face to face you were probably tongue-tied.  In prayer we are talking to the creator and ruler of the universe. No wonder it is hard.

3. How did you choose the “giants” that corresponded with each prayer practice?

They were all people I’d met in my own spiritual journey and my work as a church historian. They had written things that helped me pray.  The crucial thing, the thing that ruled out a whole lot of other genuine giants, is this: To be in the book they had to teach or practice a particular way of praying that was different from the others included. They were either the originator of the approach, or famous for it, or a particularly fine example of it. And it had to be a way of praying that other people could try for themselves.

This ruled out a lot of people who had really interesting prayer lives. Take Hildegard von Bingen. One of the most amazing people of the Middle Ages.  She was a benedictine abbess, so she surely spent a great many hours praying the divine office. She’s not a distinctive for that approach. I dealt with the divine office in my chapter on St. Benedict who created benedictine monasticism.  She also had mystical visions, apparently sparked by migraine headaches.  That led to some fascinating writing.  However, I couldn’t say “Step one: Have a migraine headache.  Step two: Have God grant you a vision.”  It can’t be taught or practiced.

Leave a comment to win a copy of the book! What is a meaningful way you have entered into prayer?
4-up on 2013-05-17 at 13.50Bio: Gary Neal Hansen is the Associate Professor of Church History at the University of Dubuque Theological Seminary.  Much of his research and writing have focused on 16th century Reformed theology, especially John Calvin and the Heidelberg Catechism. He is currently working on a book (and blogging on it regularly) about movements in the history of the church that had creative approaches to community life that led to deepened discipleship and effective participation in mission.  
Find his blog at
Connect with him there and on Facebook and on Twitter.

Praying Circles around your Children

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I won this book! It was seriously the first time I had won anything. Thank you to my writing friend Becky Doughty for hosting the giveaway!

So, I read it and now I can give it away to you!

Mark Batterson wrote the New York Times Bestselling book The Circle Maker. In this book he uses those principals to teach us how to pray for our children.


“You’ll never be a perfect parent, but you can be a praying parent.”

Batterson’s books come from the true legend of Honi a circle maker of the Jewish Talmud who believed that God always hears.

  • circle Bible promises and pray them around your children
  • prayer is a way we fight our battles
  • irrational fears only submit to prayer
  • make prayer lists, a written record: do this in a graphic way, lunch box notes, a book of prayers
  • focus on life themes where passions and God given abilities overlap
  • pray with your child not just for your children


There is something mysterious about prayer.

The amazing thing is that we are part of something so much bigger. Your prayers circle, strengthen, surround and guide your family.


This book really reminded me of how important prayer is… something I tend to forget in the busy stretches. I would love to do a special prayer week at About Proximity in the future. If you have anything you would like to share about prayer send me a note! I’d love to have you for a guest post! This would be one of mine: 

My first summer as a camp counselor, my first week with campers, my assigned prayer partner was a guy named Kris Van Engen. (Who I would later marry.) He asked me to pray for his brother Kirk, sister-in-law Maria, and nephew Michael who were expecting a baby in a few weeks. I prayed for the baby’s safe arrival. I prayed for Nikole after her safe arrival.

The next summer, Kris was called away from camp when his brother Kirk was killed in a vehicle accident. I prayed for Nikole and Michael who had lost their Dad and for Maria. 

Of course, when I married Kris, they became my family. Sometimes I feel sad that I never met Kris’s big brother. Sometimes I wish I could have been there for his family during such a painful time. Then, I remember. In a way, I was there through those prayers. I had the blessing of knowing them and loving them through prayer before I ever knew them personally. 

We don’t exactly know what God is doing when we pray. We might not ever have the complete answers. But, we can trust he hears our voice, and loves each expression of our faith. He uses each word given to him for something greater than we can imagine. 

Leave a comment and be entered to win a copy of the book!