Posted Online: June 14, 2013, 2:20 am

A prayer guidepost to lean on, listen to

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By Leon Lagerstam,

Rick Hamlin
EAST MOLINE -- Don't call him a prayer expert.

"I'm a prayer encourager," said Rick Hamlin, author of "10 Prayers You Can't Live Without."

Perhaps you could call him a "prayer guidepost," too.

Mr. Hamlin is the executive editor of Guideposts Magazine, a monthly publication featuring "true stories of hope and inspiration," as its cover reads.

Mr. Hamlin, 58, of New York, N.Y., will be the featured speaker at 9 and 10:30 a.m. worship services Sunday, June 23, at Wildwood Church, 18717 Hubbard Road. Church member and Guideposts contributor Shawnelle Eliasen invited Mr. Hamlin to speak at the church and was delighted and excited he accepted.

"I have so much respect for Rick as a person and an editor," Mrs. Eliasen said "Rick's book offers both instruction and inspiration. After reading, my prayer life was challenged and stretched in good ways, and my passion for prayer increased.

"The book is rich in Scripture and real-life examples of how people talk to God," she said. "It's written with wisdom and insight and sensitivity that flowed into my own life."

Mrs. Eliasen, a freelance writer, describes herself as a "mother to a bevy of boys," that she's home-schooled. She, her husband, Lonny Eliasen, and their boys live in Port Byron.

The message of Mr. Hamlin's book is simple, she said. "Everybody can pray. Just open your heart to pray to God," Mrs. Eliasen said.

"Questions I love asking people are 'when do you pray, and how do you pray,'" Mr. Hamlin said during a telephone interview from his office, within sight of the Empire State Building, he noted.

He hopes people reading his book or coming to his presentation "will come away with a message of 'Wow, I can pray,'" he said. "My message is 'pray, it's easy.'"

"You can't fail at it. Nobody can," he writes in the book's introduction.

Mr. Hamlin includes "questions for reflection" for each chapter at the end of the 246-page soft-cover book.

His opening chapter recalls prayers his father used to lead at dinner time, saying he and his siblings used to call them the "6 o'clock news."

Or as the book puts it: "You don't need the radio or TV. You can get all the headlines from ... dad's grace at dinnertime."

Mr. Hamlin describes his "prayer-as-conversation" concept as a "Hi God" type of practice.

And praying for others is a marvelous mental-health practice, he added.

It will be Mr. Hamlin's first visit to the Quad-Cities, and he says he's looking forward to seeing the Mississippi River and meeting people, something he loves to do, he said.

He grew up in Pasadena, Calif., and moved out east to attend Princeton University. He's worked at Guidepost's New York editorial offices for 28 years, and said he's learned a lot about prayer "from people whose stories I tell in Guideposts. Our stories come from people all over the country," he said.

Readership is largely from the heartland, Mr. Hamlin said.

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"Every Monday morning, we also pray for requests we receive," he said.

Prayers posted on its websutem, provide a good look at the faith and needs people have, Mr. Hamlin said. "A lot of it is about employment or financial difficulties, health crises and relationships," he said.

Those prayers and insights he's gained as a Guideposts editor, writer and blogger helped provide him plenty of material for his book.

It may not have turned him into a "prayer expert," but it certainly has made him into a prayer encourager and guidepost.