Monday, August 26, 2013

Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers by Anne Lamott

Anne Lamott, of Bird by Bird fame, is an extraordinary wordsmith. Her non-fiction books combine beautiful writing with deep thought, personal experiences, and humor. When I saw a copy of this book on prayer by Lamott on my library shelves, I immediately snatched it up.

I was not disappointed. In Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers, Lamott was at her most magical and ethereal. I was slightly hesitant to read this since I have very specific ideas about prayer, but Lamott managed to make the book accessible to all her readers, whether we have the firmest or the haziest beliefs in God. Prayer might not make everything better, but it can make life a little bit better. It won't fix your problems, but it can make you strong enough to handle them. It can give you the slightest push in the right direction. It can draw your attention to a burgundy sunset or a tiny ladybug. It can leave a plate of cookies on your doorstep at the moment you needed them most. That's what prayer can do.

I wondered what this book was going to be like. Would it be a step-by-step guide to prayer? Would it be a humorous dismissal of organized religion in favor of individual spirituality? Would it be a collection of the author's own experiences with prayer? It was none of these. Rather, the book was a prayer itself. It was Lamott's own "wow" prayer that said essentially this: Wow, prayer really does work, and it is wonderful. In my church, we call this a testimony. I don't know that I've ever read a more powerful testimony of prayer than Help, Thanks, Wow. 

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