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April 20, 2013

City businessman authors his second book of daily prayers

NEW CASTLE — “God, let me inspire those around me.”

So begins the Day 2 Prayer in Dick Whittaker’s second volume of “One Day At A Time,” a spiral-bound, slightly-larger-than-shirt-pocket-size sequel of 70 petitions and meditations. It comes six years after his first 40-prayer book of the same title and format.

Together, the twin tomes are an answer to Whittaker’s own prayer.

“I got hundreds of letters about the first book,” said the 84-year-old Whittaker, founder of The R.E. Whittaker Co. on South Croton Avenue. “I even got one from Laura Bush that’s in the (second) book.

“I had so many people write or call or email me how much they appreciated the book. It was something I certainly hadn’t expected. I just figured I couldn’t not do this.”

Looking for a way to serve, Whittaker was inspired in 2006 by a series of short devotionals that his pastor at Clen-Moore Presbyterian Church included in each Sunday’s bulletin. Whittaker came up with shorter, similar prayers and compiled them in his first book, for which he eventually received more than 13,000 orders.

“I am a businessman, not a writer but I was looking for a way to help people in my church,” Whittaker said. “It started out as a way to share my faith with others in my congregation, but it quickly became much bigger than I ever thought possible.”

Among the differences in this version of “One Day At A Time” are 30 additional prayers; a brief commentary accompanying each prayer; and an appendix featuring letters and notes of gratitude he received from folks who read his first book.

Whittaker’s also found himself a publisher and a publicist after performing both roles himself with Book One.

“I just sort of winged it,” he said. “It was a one-man show. I wanted to do it right this time.”

Already that decision’s paid off as he’s done live webcasts with radio stations in Phoenix, Philadelphia, Chicago and Raleigh, N.C.

Among his favorite prayers in the new book are Day 12, which asks for strength to love those who may be difficult to love, and Day 7, which asks for direction in loving the lonely and depressed.

“In the commentary (for Day 12), I note that none of us is 100 percent perfect, but none of us is 100 percent imperfect, either,” Whittaker said. “Even in the worst person, there’s something loveable. We need God’s help to see it, but we need to work on it and try to be loving to everyone in some degree.

“In Day 7, the commentary concludes ‘Love is meant to be shared.’ I was in a meeting once and I asked how many had ever heard the words ‘I love you,’ and not one guy in the room raised his hand. That shouldn’t be.”

The back of Whittaker’s second book is packed with notes and stories about the first, including a mother who found strength in it when her two sons were talking about suicide; a drug counselor who distributed it to his halfway house clients; and a woman having kidney surgery because of cancer.

Whittaker said if the new book helps even one person, he’d be pleased. And it appears it’s already well on its way to doing that.

“I got a letter from a lady in a hospice in California,” Whittaker said. “She’s terminal, but she said she’s being well taken care of.  Someone came around and offered her to make a wish, and whatever it was, they’d make it happen.

“She told them her wish was that they’d buy a lot of my books and distribute them at the hospice she was in, and also to injured  soldiers and sailors. That’s extremely humbling.”

(Email: d_irwin@ncnewsonline.com)

 

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