"I do not know much about prayer, but I have come to believe, over the last twenty-five years, that there's something to be said about keeping prayer simple. Help. Thanks. Wow."
It is with this sentiment that New York Times bestselling author Anne Lamott begins her exploration of prayer. With her trademark gritty honesty, Lamott shares what she's learned in her prayer journey, from the first time she prayed secretly as a child so her atheist parents wouldn't find out, to her prayers for when life doesn't make sense, like when a friend has cancer.
Lamott's stark reflections on prayer and life are almost too honest, and they're not for everyone, (she often uses strong language and writes for a broad, i.e. non-Christian audience) but in her brusqueness one also finds a clear reflection of grace. It is the grace that comes from a practiced and open dialogue with the God of the universe, who despite our shortfalls and earthy ties, listens and hears our concerns and praises, at any time we wish to utter them.
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Review 1 for Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers
Help. Thanks. Wow. Amen.
Date:May 9, 2013
Lamott encourages her readers to “not get bogged down on whom or what we pray to.” Rather one should identify prayer as communication from our hearts to “something unimaginably huge and not us.” Her slightly irreverent humor allows one to experience the distillation of anything one says “to the amazing energy of love we are sometimes bold enough to believe in” regardless of the name we attach. In Help, Thanks, Wow Lamott has identified the content and context of prayer that asks for assistance, that appreciates the good we witness, and that expresses one’s awe at the world. These are the words that get us through the day, and show us the way forward. Through anecdotes and stories she puts skin on those times one can be in motion, and stillness, and energy – all at the same time. All three prayers are the beginnings of a conversation with God about anything – barely, honestly, bitterly, insanely or brokenly – “probably the best possible conditions under which to pray.” The simplicity of theses three prayers opens the complexity of our lives, our relationships, and our world into our messiest places and our greatest needs. Like flossing one’s teeth prayer must be repeated until it becomes habit, not because we can get our way, or can change God, but so God can change us, so we can “pray constantly between bouts of trying to live life on life’s terms.” Whether a beginner or veteran user of the spiritual discipline of prayer, Lamott, once again leads us to breathe, to slow down, to pay attention so no opportunity to love and help God’s children, including learning “to love our depressing, hilarious, mostly decent selves.” Although most of the formative pieces of Lamott’s personality, sense of humor, descent into and ascent from addiction, deep spirituality, and intentional writing are mostly caught in the reader’s peripheral vision. This is one book I want to take up space on a shelf, because she speaks to my meaning through her meaning formed by words seemingly strung along, but intentionally placed. Other titles by Anne Lamott: (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Special:BookSources/) Novels • Hard Laughter. Viking Press. 1980. ISBN 0-670-36140-2. • Rosie. Viking Press. 1983. ISBN 0-670-60828-9. • Joe Jones. North Point Press. 1985. ISBN 0-86547-209-2. • All New People. North Point Press. 1989. ISBN 0-86547-394-3. • Crooked Little Heart. Pantheon Books. 1997. ISBN 0-679-43521-2. • Blue Shoe. Riverhead Books. 2002. ISBN 1-57322-226-7. • Imperfect Birds. Riverhead Books. 2010. ISBN 1-59448-751-0. Wikiquote has a collection of quotations related to: Anne Lamott  Non-fiction • Operating Instructions: A Journal Of My Son’s First Year. Pantheon Books. 1993. ISBN 0-679-42091-6. • Bird by Bird : Some Instructions on Writing and Life. Pantheon Books. 1994. ISBN 0-679-43520-4. • Traveling Mercies : Some Thoughts on Faith. Pantheon Books. 1999. ISBN 0-679-44240-5. • Plan B : Further Thoughts on Faith. Riverhead Books. 2005. ISBN 1-57322-299-2. • Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith. Riverhead Books. 2007. ISBN 1-59448-942-4. • Some Assembly Required: A Journal of My Son's First Son. Riverhead Books. 2012. ISBN 1-59448-841-X • Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers. Riverhead Books. 2012. ISBN 1-59463-129-8.