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Author sees distractions as God’s call to refocus

EDITORS’ NOTE: This is the fourth in a four-part series profiling LifeWay Christian Resources’ women authors and speakers.

DALLAS (BP)–Priscilla Shirer used to get annoyed by the errant thoughts that would pop into her head, interfering with her prayer times and Scripture study.

Then it occurred to her that maybe those seemingly trivial items or long-neglected friends were actually not so insignificant intrusions after all.

“I used to see it as a distraction during this worship time that maybe I would think of someone I need to call or grocery shopping would come into my head,” said the noted expository Bible teacher, author, wife and mother of two.

“Now when I find that something is interrupting my thought process, it could be something that God wants me to take care of,” Shirer said; at times God even might be using it “to refocus my attention that I haven’t gone shopping in a long time.”

“His priority is that my kitchen be full for my family. Family is the priority,” said Shirer, who makes her office at the kitchen table so she can be home for 2-and-a-half-year-old Jackson and 1-year-old Jerry Jr. while her husband, Jerry, manages her hectic speaking schedule as well as helping with the boys.

“Sometimes somebody will come to my mind, like a girlfriend I haven’t talked to in a while. I can’t tell you how many prayer times have been interrupted, and I’ll call that person, and they’re so glad I called them,” Shirer said.

Her ministry is about teaching women that hearing God’s voice is not reserved for some elite segment of Christianity — that the Bible is for all believers. With a depth of knowledge from searching the Scripture — and watching her father, well-known Dallas pastor and Bible expositor Tony Evans — Shirer has developed a gift for revealing the simplicity of the relationship God wants with everyone.

“I have really begun to see the Holy Spirit lives inside of us to share with us the mind of Christ that we see in 2 Corinthians,” Shirer said.

The key is deciding to listen to His voice, she said.

“It means just valuing Him and treating Him like you would a friend in your life. Spend time listening. He wants to be intimately involved with your life,” said Shirer, author of “He Speaks to Me: Preparing to Hear from God,” a six-week Bible study that guides women in their journey to have that personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

In that way, Shirer said, she has come to thank the Lord for anything that comes to mind, and to write it down for future contemplation. “I ask Him to forgive my sin, and for the Holy Spirit to reveal to me anything that is unacceptable, such as selfishness, or where I’ve been exhibiting pride,” she said.

Shirer joins Angela Thomas, author of “Living Your Life As a Beautiful Offering,” as platform speakers for LifeWay’s DayBreak conference series, six of which are scheduled for 2006.

“Priscilla is a straight-up Bible teacher,” said Faith Whatley, LifeWay’s director of women’s ministry. “She has gleaned a lot of her daddy’s style. She is able to dig deep and get to the root of it and also teach on a level you can understand. She really breaks it down and allows you to see things in it that you haven’t seen before.”

Shirer said the explosive growth in women’s ministry is a product of a “generation of women who are tired of the fluff…. They’re there because they are dying on the inside for something that can change their lives.”

With never enough time to study all that she wants to, Shirer well knows how challenging it can be in this fast-paced world to carve out time for prayer, but it is her passion to share with women how the simple act of kneeling in their living room, as she does, can change everything.

“We’re so disconnected,” she said. “We don’t get to see the manifest power of the Lord. In Jeremiah 33:3, it says, ‘Call unto me, and I will show you great and mighty things.’

“We’re so busy. We want to achieve something, rather than understanding how the Holy Spirit would like to use it to transform our lives,” Shirer said. The same power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead can, for example, help mothers have more patience with their children, she added.

Shirer works to spark her Daybreak audiences’ passion for Scripture, teaching that desperately seeking the voice of God will answer their needs.

“The laundry will still be there when you get home,” Shirer smiled, her easy sense of humor one of her great appeals. But, she said, if they are listening to Jesus, it won’t just be another Band-Aid or temporary fix.

It is surprising that broadcast journalism, not women’s ministry, was her intended field. But even as a freshman at the University of Houston where she received her communications degree and interned at a Christian radio station, her Bible teaching skills were in high demand. She went on to get her master’s degree in biblical studies from Dallas Theological Seminary.

Eventually, after sharpening her speaking skills as a motivational speaker working in conjunction with Zig Ziglar, her passion for ministry won out.

During DayBreak sessions, after a lively time of praise and worship, women are guided in 30 minutes of personal worship and prayer time.

“It is just being quiet and waiting on God,” Shirer said. “We are hoping to set a precedent for them in their personal time with the Lord. Just wait on Him to speak. Take your journals with you, so when a thought arises you can write it down. That’s the Holy Spirit speaking to you.

“The day of DayBreak is one of the most simple, pure worship experiences I have ever had,” Shirer said. “There is no agenda other than Jesus.”
This year’s DayBreak events are scheduled for March 3-4 in Seattle; April 21-22 in Baltimore; June 2-3 in Decatur, Ala.; Aug. 4-5 in Denver; Aug. 18-19 in Austin, Texas; and Nov. 17-18 in Little Rock, Ark. For more information, go to www.lifeway.com/women.

    About the Author

  • Andrea Higgins