Ask author and speaker Priscilla Shirer, 30, about the Bible, and she'll talk nonstop for several minutes, scarcely slowing down to draw a breath. "I'm passionate about getting women into the Word. I want them to know the uncompromising truths of Scripture, but I also want them to experience the power of the Holy Spirit, the way he can use Scripture to bring his supernatural power to bear in their everyday lives. I want women to feel God at work in their marriage, family, workplace, and heart."
Her enthusiasm is infectious, and it's clear why her speaking ministry is popular; almost every weekend Priscilla's in a different state, speaking to a different group of women, sharing Scripture with them all. "I'm not the person you call on if you want a polite, entertaining women's conference," she says with a laugh. "Forget the door prizes; I want us to open the Word, see what the Lord has to say to us, and feel his presence in our midst."
Priscilla has an M.A. in Biblical Studies from Dallas Theological Seminary, and her résumé includes stints as a radio and TV host and corporate trainer for the Zig Zigler Corporation. She's the author of three books for women—A Jewel in His Crown, And We Are Changed, and the upcoming He Speaks to Me (all Moody)—and recently released a video teaching series, He Speaks to Me (LifeWay). She's been married to Jerry for six years and is mom to two young boys—two-year-old Jackson and one-year-old Jerry Junior. But it's her parents' names most people recognize first: Drs. Tony and Lois Evans.
One of four children born to Tony, a nationally recognized author (Free at Last, The Promise), radio host (The Urban Alternative), speaker (he frequents the Promise Keepers platform), and pastor (he founded megachurch Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship), and his wife, Lois, a Christian leader in her own right, Priscilla still lives within a few miles of her parents and siblings—one of whom is little brother and gospel recording artist Anthony Evans—and enjoys a close relationship with them all.
Between trips to conferences in Pennsylvania and Alabama, Priscilla recently sat down with TCW at her Dallas-area home. As the washing machine hummed in the background, she discussed God's power, making room for a quiet time in a busy schedule, and living in the present.
After growing up as a pastor's kid, did you ever think you'd go into full-time ministry?
Absolutely not! I wanted to be a television news anchor, but while I was majoring in broadcast journalism in college, I got a job working at a Christian radio station as an on-air personality. People heard me say, "This is Priscilla Evans. Thanks for listening," and some would call the station asking, "Is that Tony Evans's daughter? Can she come do a Bible study for our women's ministry?" I couldn't believe people would trust me with that responsibility at 18 or 19 years of age. But I'd show up. Sometimes I'd find an audience of 10 women and other times as many as 500. And I'd just do what I do now—share what I'm learning in my personal study.
What are you learning in your personal study right now?
People worship a lot of different "gods." The difference with our God is he's alive and powerful. And as his followers, we should be experiencing that power in all areas of our life. Over the last year, God's instilled in me a desire to see his presence manifest in my marriage, in the way I raise my kids, in my work. And it's happening.
In what ways?
In the past, if I wanted my husband to do something, I was quick to make my opinion known—over and over and over. As a result, Jerry and I used to butt heads a lot. So I started telling God about my concerns and desires instead of nagging my husband. And something amazing happened—I began to see God working in my husband's life. Jerry's making good decisions without me harassing him. And God's working in my heart to help me trust him and my husband. It's wonderful to see God at work in my life, and I want to encourage women with the reality that they too can experience the supernatural in their everyday lives.
What do you mean by "supernatural"?
Here's what we need to remember: What Jesus was for the disciples—God in their midst—the Holy Spirit is supposed to be for us today. Jesus said, "I'm going to leave you another helper" (John 14). In the Greek, the word for "another" refers to someone who's the same as Jesus—not of a different or lesser kind. As we dig into Scripture and grow in our relationship with the Holy Spirit, we should see evidence of him regularly operating in our life. And when God moves, it's supernatural.
How have you seen God's supernatural presence manifest itself in other women's lives?
One woman came up to me after a conference and said she was a lesbian, but during the session she felt God take that desire away from her. She's turned away from that lifestyle. Shortly after another conference I had lunch with an attendee who told me she struggles with an eating disorder. As she finished lunch, she started crying because it was the first meal she'd been able to enjoy in 12 years. I've stayed in touch with her, and a year later she's still enjoying food. Praise the Lord! I think women deeply desire God's transforming touch and are hungry for God's Word.
Where do you think your own hunger for Scripture comes from?
It goes all the way back to sitting under my dad's expository preaching while I was growing up. He treated the Bible with reverence, and I picked up on that at an early age. As I've spent time in the Word, that passion has grown. I've come to realize the power for Christian living is found in the Bible.
How do you make time for personal Bible study with a busy ministry and bustling family life?
I'd love to say I make time every day, but the truth is I don't. With two small boys, I've never found it so difficult to spend time with the Lord. Normally the boys are running all over the place, and there are toys everywhere. It's mayhem around here. So I totally get it when women say to me, "How am I supposed to spend time with God? I have four kids." Girl, I don't even know!
So how do you find time to be alone with God?
Sometimes when Jerry and the boys are out running an errand, I'll play some worship music and let it wash over me. Sometimes I get on my knees and praise God, asking him to forgive my sins and speak to me. Then I open his Word. I might have time to read only two verses, but I pray he'll use those two verses to speak to me.
Any practical tips for making the most of limited Bible study time?
I learned a great method from Anne Graham Lotz. I ask three questions of each verse: First, What does the passage say? I paraphrase the verse in one line and then ask, What does it mean? I pull out the spiritual principle from that verse and finally ask, based on that principle, What does it mean to me? For example, if the spiritual principle is "you need to have patience," I ask myself if I'm exercising patience in this season of life. This is often when a biblical truth smacks me over the head, and I realize I need to share it with other women.
What other life lessons do you share with women?
When I was in seminary, I was in an on-again, off-again, intense dating relationship. I spent a lot of my time thinking about this guy rather than about my classes. I wasn't living in the present; I was focusing on what I hoped would be my future with him. When we broke up for good, I realized I missed a lot of precious time while I was with him. Through that situation, the Lord taught me to enjoy the season of life I'm in, because we often miss current blessings trying to get to the next season. And often once we get there, we look back and think, I should have milked that season for all it was worth because now it's over.
I constantly have to remind myself of this lesson, especially now while my kids are young. Sometimes I look forward to a time when they'll be able to do more things for themselves and I won't have to chase after them so much. But I realize most mothers whose kids are grown say, "I miss the days when my kids were little." I hear that and think, Are you for real? But I hear a lot of moms say that. That tells me I need to milk this time and, as difficult as it sometimes is, enjoy it—because it's going to be over someday. And when it's over, my kids will never be small again. I'll never get to change diapers, play with blocks on the floor, or potty train again. And thank the Lord! [Laughs.]
How do you balance life on the road with life at home?
I'm blessed that my husband is able to work with me. He takes care of the ministry logistics. Each weekend when we get to the conference, I meet our hosts for the first time, but they already know Jerry. He's spent time with them on the phone and prayed with them about the women we're going to minister to that weekend. He's taken care of all the details, he's loved on them, and they love him.
But recently an older godly couple asked us, "When is your Saturday?" And we said, "Our Saturday is when everybody else's Saturday is. It's on Saturday." They said, "No, it's not. You speak at conferences on Saturdays." It never occurred to us before that we didn't have a Saturday. So now Sunday is our Sunday, then Monday is our Saturday. We don't touch our computers on Monday. Instead, we take the boys to the zoo or the park. And the rest of the week we juggle the boys and try to figure it out as we go.
Your latest book project, He Speaks to Me, is based on 1 Samuel. What do you want women to understand after reading the book?
In 1 Samuel, God talks to a young boy when the high priest is in the next room. God desires to speak to believers personally. He wants us to hear his voice and obey. Yet some people believe God only speaks to those who've reached a level of spiritual prowess the rest of us could never reach. That's not the case. I want women to come away from studying this Old Testament passage knowing God wants to speak directly to them.
To learn more about Priscilla Shirer's ministry, visit her website at www.priscillaspeaks.com.
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January/February 2006, Vol. 28, No. 1, Page 22