I'm pleased and excited to feature Zari Banks on my blog. I've read her book, O Lord, Forgive Them: 30 Days of Praying for Your Enemies, and must say this has been the blessed boost I needed to learn to forgive. Zari has a gift to teach us how, and I'm here to say her words are spot-on correct. Zari is filled with the Holy Spirit in a most powerful way, and her honesty shines on every page of O Lord, Forgive Them. After reading O Lord, Forgive Them, I am learning to pray for others that have hurt me, and in doing so am becoming free.
Now let's get to the good part and into the mind and emotions of this wonderful author, Zari Banks.
Is “O Lord, Forgive Them” dear to your heart, and if so why?
Yes, it’s very dear to my heart because as I wrote these prayers in my journal, I was actually going through the process of forgiving - first three and then as I went through the 30 days ended up with a total 16 – people who’d hurt me and my 9-year-old greatly within the three years. It’s a document of my commitment to change for the better.
Tell us a little about who you are. How would you define yourself?
My favorite description to give of myself is as follows:
“I read. I write. I eat. And, I play. :0)”
I also love kids and have a heart to serve single parents and teach effective prayer.
What is your heart’s desire for readers who read “O Lord, Forgive Them?” What do you pray they will learn?
My primary hope for readers is that they commit to the process. Forgiveness is not an easy thing by any means, and it takes stone-cold focus to release yourself from pain that is so deep because it’s often caused by those from whom we expect to receive love. Secondly, I pray that readers will come to the head AND heart realization that God means what He says when gives a command. All commands. I used to like to pick and choose what commands I wanted to obey without question, but that limits my victory in life; it removes me from the availability of the abundant life offered in Christ. And, lastly, I want them to be encouraged with walking in God’s will. He promises throughout the Bible – in the both Old and New Testaments – that He will repay and restore when we’re obedient.
Would you include here the first chapter of “O Lord, Forgive Them?”
So now Israel, what do you think God expects from you? Just this: Live in His presence in holy reverence, follow the road he sets out for you, love him, serve God, your God, with everything you have in you, obey his commandments and regulations of God that I’m commanding you today–live a good life.
Lord, I thank you for this opportunity to be obedient to your commands. I praise you because you’re true to your word. I’m sorry for the times I’ve doubted you and had to miss out on the blessings you’d planned for me, and worse, required discipline. I know you want what’s best for me, and because I’m choosing to obey I’m clearing the way for the miraculous to happen in my life.
I thank you because you’re gracious and merciful. Please continue to show grace and mercy to _____________ for as long as it takes them to learn to honor you. Lord, please forgive them. Don’t hold the wrongs they’ve committed against me and my family against them. Draw them to yourself, Father, and bless them to know you intimately. I love you, Lord. In Jesus’ Name. Amen
Don’t ever say, “I’ll get you for that!”
Wait for God; He’ll settle the score.
Since we've compiled this long and sorry record as sinners (both us and them) and proved that we are utterly incapable of living the glorious lives God wills for us, God did it for us.
I’m humbled to be forgiven by you, Jesus. You’ve been there as I’ve committed every sin of thought, word, or deed. You were beaten to give God a sacrifice for me. Thank you, Lord. The very least I can do is forgive my enemies–neighbors, brothers, and sisters. I refuse to live my life allowing your sacrifice to be in vain. I’m free because of the ransom you paid and I will not be bound by unforgiveness. I love you, Lord.
Lord, what if _____________ don’t know that you gave up everything–including glory and riches–to save them? Please give them knowledge of yourself. Use me through prayer and in person to spread the Gospel. May the Name of the Lord be praised. Glory to God! Amen
Then he spoke to her: "I forgive your sins."
You’ve mentioned before that you waited on the Lord for answers. What encouragement could you give others about how important it is to wait on the Lord?
Waiting on the Lord is crucially important for believers. You don’t go wrong with God, point blank. But, we also have to know that the Hebrew and Greek translations are telling us that wait means ‘to rely on, seek and trust Him.’ Waiting never means doing nothing. It means first and foremost seeking godly wisdom through mentors, Bible reading and meditation, prayer, listening, studying and preparing ourselves mentally, spiritually and physically for that thing we’re waiting for God to deliver.
What keeps you the most humble as a writer?
Knowing that others are reading my work. It’s an honor for someone else to even acknowledge something I wrote much less take the time read it. And, I become so flustered when people buy my books I often can’t even thank them properly because I get a lump in my throat trying to hold back tears.
Is your writing journey as you envisioned it? If not, how is it different?
Absolutely not. I’ve always wanted be to a fiction writer, but that hasn’t been my journey thus far. I’ve journaled my prayers for years, and published my first devotional after sharing the prayers with other single parents who were in custody battles at the same time I was. I have three children’s books that are written but need illustrations that I’d love to publish and about seven or so fiction starts, but I don’t know that I’ve been released to complete those, yet.
What does "networking" as an author mean to you?
To me networking means making contact and hopefully making a connection. It’s important to make contact, but I don’t want to over contact (in numbers) to the point that the connection doesn’t have proper relationship attached to it. I definitely don’t expect to be everything to everyone, but I want the connections to be valuable to all parties.
How do you rest, but are still creative?
I rest by spending time with people I care about, and those people are hilarious and wonderful and great inspiration for creativity.
What have you learned recently about yourself, and how has it affected your writing?
Recently I’ve gained amazing personal confidence, and it stems from the increased intimacy I’ve received with Christ through my writing and praying for and with others. I understand now that the awkwardness I’ve always believed to be my most unique quality is actually common, and connects me with others. This new confidence has allowed me to share more of my life with others, and I’ve been received most graciously.
What gives you the most satisfaction in your writing—besides "The End," that is?
Having someone say anything along the lines of, “That really spoke to me.”
If you weren't a writer, what would you most likely be doing instead?
I’m many things already. I have a Master’s degree in Education and spent 8 years in public ed. so I operate tutoring business. Also, my family owns two other businesses – an insurance agency and a bakery – so I serve as the general and marketing manager for both businesses. And, I’m a freelance editor. I help other authors get their work ready for publishing as well as edit copy for blogs.
What sparks your creativity when feeling drained?
I’m a high-energy woman, so usually when I’m ‘drained’ I just need sleep and there’s nothing else that will help me. But, restful sleep sparks creativity.
Do you write in one place, or switch off to different locations? Describe your favorite writing area.
I write anywhere I can take a journal or laptop. Literally. Each of the devotionals I’ve written, were written in different states. Arizona, Nevada and Washington.
What types of books do you like to read?
I like to read all sorts of things. A smattering of both fiction and non, and grown up and young adult fiction. I taught first grade for years, so I like children’s books, too. I’m reading three or four books right now and you can check them out on my GoodReads profile.
Tell us a few things about yourself some folks may not know.
I can’t dance. I have no rhythm whatsoever. However, in my mind, I can cut a mean rug.
When you look back on your childhood, were there signs you would be a writer one day?
Oh, gosh, I wrote poems, stories, and phrases throughout my childhood and I remember taping them around the house. I remember when I was about 7 I wrote “Love is what life is all about,” on a sheet of story paper (you know the elementary paper that’s blank on top for art, and has lines for penmanship practice on the bottom) and drawing a horrible picture of me standing under an arched rainbow with clouds on the side, and taping it to my mom’s dressing room door. I began writing my first fiction book start in high school. On a 1993 laptop.
Who was the greatest influence for you as a writer?
Interesting question. I suppose Shakespeare because he’s my favorite writer. He was a phenomenal wordsmith. But, I don’t have any skill at manipulating language the way he did. And, I really don’t like to read the King James Version of the Bible. Go figure. But, reading his sonnets and plays is like reading the Psalms – full of life.
How did your writing career begin?
Well, I actually have a Bachelor of Arts in Journalism and my first paying job in media was as a sportswriter at the Tri-City Herald in Tri-Cities, Wash. Then, I moved to Arizona, went to graduate school and did some PR-type freelancing. Spent several years in public education and then was laid off and returned to writing as a freelancer in 2010.
What other writing have you done?
I’ve published five books, I write for four blogs, am a freelance writer and editor. My hub has a portfolio tab and a press release tab that has links to quite a bit of the writing I’ve done in the last two years.
Where can readers get your book?
My Hub: http://zwriteswords.weebly.com
Where can readers find you online?
My Hub: http://zwriteswords.weebly.com
My Dating & Relationship Blog: http://asesensiblenonsensez.blogspot.com
My Education and Reading Blog: http://smartypantsteacher.blogspot.com
My Personal Blog: http://trcupanddown.tumblr.com
My Family’s Bakery: http://www.facebook.com/CupcakesDeli
My Tutoring Business: http://www.facebook.com/SmartyPantsTutor
Zari, I've enjoyed our interview, and I'm sure anyone reading your books will enjoy a closer relationship with our Lord.
God bless you, Soldier of Christ!