Sarah Young, the author of the 35-million-in-sales-and-counting Jesus Calling brand of devotionals and related books and products, can count on at least another million for her third devotional in the series. Thomas Nelson, a division of HarperCollins Christian Publishing, announced Wednesday it will launch Jesus Listens: Daily Devotional Prayers of Peace, Joy, and Hope (Oct. 5) with a first printing of one million copies, just as it did for Young's second book. Jesus Always, in 2016, debuted with the largest first printing in HCCP’s gift publishing history.

"Reader demand" is why Young once again starts at one million units, akin to what trade publishers might give top-tier authors, says Michael Aulisio, v-p and publisher for the Jesus Calling Brand within HCCP. “We have strong early interest from Christian outlets like and from the general market as well,” he says, citing Costco, Books-a-Million, and Choice Books with placements in groceries and supermarkets as well. “Her books move with word-of-mouth. People will buy four and five copies to give them away.”

Young herself, dealing with the lingering impact of Lyme disease, does no interviews or public promotional appearances. But she has told her publishers she is excited about the potential for Jesus Listens because “her biggest interest is in getting this in the hands of people who are not already in the church-going fold,” Aulisio says. “She particularly hopes her prayers and scripture references will prompt people to reach for a Bible and begin to pray.”

Young’s original title, Jesus Calling, published in 2004, hummed quietly along in sales for three years then burst into the bestseller lists when it began drawing media attention. Laura Minchew, senior v-p and Group publisher for HCCP's Children’s and Gift Book Group at and HarperCollins Focus.

Thomas Nelson senior v-p and publisher of Tommy Nelson Children’s Books, Gift Books, and new media, revved up marketing with the 2016 launch of the Jesus Calling: Stories of Faith podcast and an original, web-based devotional video series of the same name. Now, there are children’s books, holiday spinoffs, an app, a TV show, and more. Aulisio knows the brand well from working with Minchew when he was v-p of marketing for Tommy Nelson and gift books. He took the brand with him in May when he became publisher both for Jesus Calling and for Harper Celebrate, a new lifestyle and gift imprint Focus.

Jesus Listens is also distinctive because Young has changed her approach from the prior books. In the first two books, the reflections were written as if Jesus were speaking in the first person, prompting criticism from some theologians in Christianity Today and attention in the New York Times which noted the devotional was outselling the hot love-and-bondage book Fifty Shades of Grey. In the upcoming devotional, prayers are written as if the reader is speaking to, not as, Jesus. “She’s never claimed to channel Jesus or audibly hear him. That was never her intent,” says Aulisio. He describes Young, who spent decades as a missionary, as someone immersed in prayer who only wants to help readers “to strengthen their relationship with Jesus.”

A typical three-paragraph devotion paraphrases Bible passages in italics and lists the citations below the prayer. For example, one of the 365 devotions reads, in part, “Your steadfast Love never ceases, Your mercies never come to an end; they are new every morning. I desperately want to rest in this truth, but I’m struggling to do so. Today, the only things that seem endless are my problems and my pain. Yet I know You are here—tenderly present—ready to help me get safely through this day. Your loving Presence is my lifeline that keeps me from giving up in despair.” And it concludes, “In your victorious name, Jesus, Amen."

In Wednesday’s announcement, Young is quoted stressing, “The prayers in Jesus Listens are meant to be a starting point for other prayers—helping readers bring all their concerns to Jesus and enjoy spending time with Him.”