The Miracle of Prayer
It’s been more than five years since Jamie Oliver’s Emmy-Award-winning Food Revolution aired on ABC, thrusting Huntington, West Virginia into the national spotlight.
The series also prompted Winning the Food Fight, the book I helped Pastor Steve Willis (featured in two episodes) write.
Although progress in the obesity battle is slow and often frustrating, this focus on healthy eating has paid many dividends. They include Huntington’s Kitchen, the downtown storefront space that served as Oliver’s cooking studio and is a valued community resource.
Setting the Stage
In our book, I wrote about how Oliver’s production company called Willis about being part of the program. However, they weren’t aware that the day before Steve prayed and asked God for help in teaching his members how to cook healthier. The reason? So they could see more progress in their weight battles. Talk about an answer to prayer!
Equally miraculous is the story I never shared publicly about how Food Fight even came into being. Although after interviewing Steve at a filming session, I told him pastor I had helped a number of authors by ghostwriting their book. Three months passed before the conference call with my agent where we agreed to move ahead with a proposal right before my wife and I left for a vacation.
When we returned, I called Steve to arrange a lunch where we could discuss some of the background of Oliver’s call and subsequent visit to the area.
Still stuck in the Stone Age at that point, I hadn’t acquired a digital recorder (which, ironically, is often of inferior quality to a cassette recorder, since it picks up every little sound in a public place).
Right before dashing out the door, I checked my cassette recorder to make sure it was running and had adequate battery power. Unfortunately, I did so while it was still plugged into my phone line.
Turns out that it didn’t record anything when on its own—a fact that I didn’t discover until after a 45-minute discussion with Steve. When I ran the tape back and hit “play” in the restaurant, all that came out was a low-pitched hum.
“Wonderful,” I thought. “He’s probably wondering what kind of amateur he just asked to help with his book.”
The Spirit’s Leading
Many people consider prayer an utter waste of time. In commenting on one of my blogs about a year ago, a reader posted a profane comment on my Facebook page, saying there was no God.
I beg to differ. Not just because of Oliver’s call, but what happened after I prayed and asked God to help me reconstruct that lunchtime conversation. And, to lead me by His Holy Spirit as I wrote the first chapter.
Steve and I had lunch on a Friday. By the following Tuesday I had finished the first draft of a 4,000-word chapter. The Spirit helped me to recall numerous details and guided me as I wrote.
That chapter launched a full-scale proposal that we had to complete in just one month. Nearly four more would pass before a publisher made us an offer. During that time I made nothing for my work on the book. Yet I survived.
Winning the Food Fight has never generated a huge return in royalties. Even when Rick Warren included a chapter about what had happened in Huntington in his bestselling The Daniel Plan, we didn’t see a spike in sales.
Yet my participation in this project will always be a highlight of my writing career—if for no other reason than God bailing me out of trouble before it got off the ground.