By Rosanne BowmanLIMA — When Cheryl Martin spoke to a women's group at her church, Crossroads Church of God, on the topic of prayer, she had no intentions of writing a book.“Afterwards, the ladies said I should write that down,” Martin said. “That was back in the fall of 2008.”Martin did not rush home to begin writing, though. Instead, she let the idea settle in her mind and heart for a while. About a month later, she started by writing out her thoughts in longhand, then organizing them into short chapters with questions at the end of each chapter. “I meant for the book to be read,” she said, “but as I got into it, I thought since there were so many people who are misguided about prayer, it might be good to study it, either with a group or on their own.”Martin spent $1,600 of her own money to self-publish her book through Xulon Press. The book, called “Pictures of Prayer, Reframing Our Images of Prayer,” came out in fall 2011. Since that time, she has sold 250 books.“The biggest issue and what took the most time,” Martin said, “was getting permission for the pictures. When I started this, I had no idea how time-consuming, or in some cases, how expensive that process would be.”Every one of the book's nine chapters begins with a picture. “Without the pictures,” she said, “there would be no book.”She found her pictures on various websites, and spent many hours researching exactly where each picture she used came from and how to obtain permission to use them. One picture is being leased to her from the Bridgeman Art Library.“I had to buy a license to use that one,” she said. She explained that the reason she wrote the book was because so many people had misguided ideas as to what prayer really is.“I think so many people are intimidated by prayer,” she said. “They are presented with all these requests at church. They hear songs like ‘Sweet Hour of Prayer' and think it has to be long and formal, but it doesn't. Prayer is a means of conversation with God, a way to get to know Him. It is a safe thing.”Currently, her book is available at Gifts of Joy Parable Christian Book Store in Lima and Peach Tree Books & Co. in Bellefontaine. People can also purchase the book online at www.amazon.com in paperback or as an e-book. Several local churches have used her book to study prayer, including one at St. Charles Catholic Church.Joan Barnes leads the St. Charles Catholic Church study group. “I read the book the day I received it,” she wrote in an email. “It's a wonderful book on prayer, especially for the busy person.” Martin's husband and family, which include two adult children and nine grandchildren, have been supportive of her writing endeavors.“They're very proud of me,” Martin said with a big smile. “My one granddaughter told me, ‘Gran, now you're famous!' I told her, ‘Not quite!' They've been very supportive. My close friends have also been very supportive, as well.”Martin retired in 2007 from the Allen County Department of Jobs and Family Services and currently volunteers as a chaplain at Lima Memorial Health System. While she always enjoyed English and creative writing, she never imagined that someday she would write and publish a book. “I have been writing since I was a teen,” she said. “My English teachers encouraged me, and my younger sister always wanted me to tell her stories. It is amazing to me, really, that I wrote a book.”Martin found the writing to be an interesting process. “Some days, I would write to 2 a.m., and I'd get up and be fine,” she said, “I was so into it, I didn't want to stop. Other times, I struggled over a word or a phrase. It was interesting to me that it could be so easy at times and so difficult at others.”Despite the challenges, she would like to write another book in the future. “I have done some research,” she said. “I'm thinking of another book, but I haven't got it sold in my heart and mind just yet.”Whether or not she publishes another book, Martin is very clear where the words come from. “God breathed this into me. He wrote this,” she said. “A friend told me that God wrote this through me, and I believe that. However and wherever He wants to use it, that's okay with me. It's His book anyway.”If you have a story idea or an item you feel the community would like to know about for the Religion section, please contact Rosanne Bowman at firstname.lastname@example.org or 419-516-6149.