As executive editor of Guideposts magazine, Rick Hamlin has heard and written a lot about people’s prayer lives. “We get a lot of questions about prayer, and part of our ministry is praying for others,” Hamlin says. At 9:45 a.m. every Monday, he and the Guideposts staff meet to pray in response to requests from readers. The nonprofit magazine was founded in 1945 by Norman Vincent Peale and his wife, Ruth, and reports a circulation of two million; Hamlin has worked for Guideposts for 28 years.
“We now get almost a million prayer requests a year. You’ll be glad to know that I don’t pray for them all myself,” Hamlin says. Many people tell Guideposts that they pray, but are unsure if they do it right. In his latest book, 10 Prayers You Can’t Live Without: How to Talk to God About Anything (Guideposts Books, Apr.), Hamlin reassures them. “Prayer is really so easy and basic that you just do it. The first line of the book is: ‘To try to pray is to do it.’ ” 10 Prayers covers 10 types of prayer—among them mealtime grace, prayer as conversation, the Lord’s Prayer, and sung prayer—but Hamlin believes as many kinds exist as there are people in the world.
People often want to edit themselves when praying, Hamlin says, but he advises, “Don’t edit those thoughts. Say them as they are.” Hamlin is the author of two other nonfiction books; his spiritual memoir, Finding God on the A Train: A Journey into Prayer (Harper San Francisco), was published in 1997. He also is the author of three novels.
In a phone interview, Hamlin’s warm, friendly speaking voice echoes his down-to-earth tone in 10 Prayers. “I’m not writing from a heavy theological point of view. I’m writing from a personal point of view,” he says. As he grew up in California, Hamlin’s family prayed. “I had a father who would give these long graces at dinner time. We would call them the 6 o’clock news—he put in everything.”
Hamlin carves out weekend time to write books. “I believe in writing on Saturday mornings. From nine to two, there’s a spigot that I open up.” He is married to writer Carol Wallace, whose books include To Marry an English Lord (Workman, 2012). They live in New York City, where they raised two sons, now 23 and 26.
“One of the basic questions is, why pray at all? If God knows what’s on your mind, why do we have to say anything?” Hamlin notes. “I think the answer is that the act of prayer helps us.”