As a young adult, my New Year’s resolutions often involved reading through the Bible in a year or praying for a prescribed number of minutes or hours – Yes, hours! – per day. Inevitably, I fell short, as did my resolutions to drop a certain number of pounds, exercise for a certain number of hours, or finish writing a certain-length manuscript. As lofty as such goals are, they typically run hard into reality, and reality usually wins.

Invariably, we fall short. Yet, with persistence, such goals help set us on a path to a healthier lifestyle. The hardest part is often knowing how to begin. Want to eat better? Buy a vegan cookbook or enroll in a cooking class. Want to get in shape? Hire a fitness coach or join a gym. But what if you want to grow closer to God or deepen your time in prayer?

When the days are long and the darkness is deep, it’s often hard to know how to pray. When the chaos that surrounds us seems to fill us. When we don’t feel that God is listening, that he cares, that he is near. In such times, it is a gift when someone prays with us, augmenting our faith with his or her own.

That is precisely the gift that author and international speaker Mary DeMuth offers with her newest book, Prayers to Awaken Your Soul: Jesus Every Day, a Journey Through the Bible in One Year (Harvest House Publishers, 2018). In it, DeMuth, who lives in Texas, offers prayers compiled over many years, each one linked to a short Scripture from a book of the Bible. Some reflect worries and struggles. Some combine comfort and peace. But all offer a vulnerable reflection or plea that leads readers into the presence of Jesus.

As DeMuth encourages readers in the book’s introduction, “We may not see our way around the next unknown bend in the road. But Jesus does. He walks alongside us every day, giving us the hope we need to make the next decision, love the people in front of us, forgive those who have hurt us, let go of the control that makes us twitchy, and practice the art of gratitude.”

“Prayer is the intersection between an almighty God and our all-encompassing need,” DeMuth continues. “Prayer is the language of close relationship.”

Beginning with creation in Genesis, DeMuth leads readers on a brief journey through the Bible, winding through the history, poetry, and prophecies of the Old Covenant before emerging in the Gospels and life of the disciples in the New Covenant. Each daily reading and prayer takes just a few minutes – a brief time commitment that promises big rewards. Think of it like hiring a prayer coach, someone to sit beside your bed each night before you go to sleep or to tap you on the shoulder each morning, gently leading you through the dark into a deeper place of trust.

Meadow Rue Merrill, the author of Redeeming Ruth: Everything Life Takes, Love Restores, writes for children and adults from a little house in the big woods of midcoast Maine.