She stood in front of a crowded room of young women eager to hear her speak. Unbeknownst to the crowd, Jennie Allen was gripped with fear. All she could think of was how she was being perceived and the waves of criticism that would supposedly come following her talk.

Upon meeting Allen, 35, you'd never suspect she once grappled with deep-rooted insecurities. Gregarious and warm, Allen is expressively passionate about Jesus Christ and reaching the next generation. But for years her zeal was quenched by fear. That is until she prayed a simple prayer, one she documents in her book Anything: The Prayer That Unlocked My God and My Soul.

"I realized that I had loved and craved the approval of people," says Allen. "I'm tired of living for the invisible thoughts of others. I was free of something that had been consuming me."

In Anything (Thomas Nelson, April 2012) Allen writes about bondage to self and stuff, and seeking safety, comfort and happiness in those things. She recounts how God challenged her to lose her life and surrender it to him.

"Anything is about living right now, surrendered," says the Austin resident and mother of four. "We (my husband and I) were disillusioned by the things we were chasing. I was reading Katie Davis's blog, and it floored me. I began to ask, what am I doing and why am I living for all of these people?" (Davis, you'll recall, is a 22-year-old Christian—and transracial adoptive mother of 14 currently living in Uganda.)

One night Allen and her husband, Zac, began to pray. "God, we will do anything—anything," slipped out of Zac's mouth. Left were a tinge of fear and two lives now surrendered.

Surrender and abandonment of self have cropped up as themes in several Christian women's titles over the past year. Jennifer Hatmaker's book Seven addressed ridding oneself of greed and materialism. Ann Voskamp wrote of her quest to be thankful in all circumstances—even after the death of her 3-year-old sister—in her New York Times bestseller One Thousand Gifts. And then there's Katie Davis's radical move to Uganda and adoption of 14 girls, documented in Kisses from Katie.

That young Christian women are hungry for more of the Word was also apparent at the Gospel Coalition's first women's conference, featuring popular theologians and Bible teachers such as John Piper, Tim Keller, Paige Brown, Nancy Leigh DeMoss, and Kathleen Nielson. Women attending commented on the richness of the messages and the depth of the expository preaching.

It's this same desire for more of God that led the Allens to adopt Cooper, a toddler boy from Rwanda.

"This radical, abandoned life is new for me, and yet it seems to contain more of God and more freedom and more life than trying to hold on to my sane life and protecting my life and dreams ever did," she said.

Allen has been leading women and Bible studies since she was 17. A graduate of Carson Newman College, she went on to receive her master's in biblical studies from Dallas Theological Seminary in 2005. Her passion for discipleship led her to write her own Bible studies for the small group of ladies she led. After receiving a nudge and encouragement from her husband, Allen took her studies to a writer's festival. In 2011 Thomas Nelson contracted her to do a series of projects.

"When I realized God was calling me to more, namely two books and Bible studies, it was scary because it was becoming a career," she said.

Within a year Allen had completed two projects, written several articles, traveled to ministry events, and appeared in videos. But in April, the month her book launched, what seemed like a time for rejoicing began a new battle.

Allen began to struggle with she called "worse than depression: spiritual numbness."

"By the end of everything, I just crashed into my bed. I was struck with fatigue and spiritual numbness—right as the book was coming out. I felt like I was so empty when everything should have been exciting," she said.

"I knew that everything that was written was real, but in those moments, I had to hold onto the Word of God. I'm weak and I need Jesus," she said.

"When you are in your bed watching five seasons straight of Mad Men, which I don't recommend," she says, "I had to at some point quit justifying sitting on my butt."

She admits, "That's where I am. Obedience starts with getting out of bed, falling on your face, and trusting that Jesus is who he says he is.

"My anything is running back to Jesus where nobody sees me," she said.

Allen has published one DVD-based study, Stuck: The Place We Get Stuck and the God Who Sets Us Free (September 2011), and will release Chase: Chasing After the Heart of God later this year.