Anne Lamott’s 3 Essential Prayers

Well-written, thought-provoking books are like air and water to me.  They’re necessary for survival.

There are certain books that I’ll happily read on my Kindle or iPad.  Then there are books that still require the sensory stimulation that only touching them and reading them can provide.

It’s sort of a joke at my house, maybe at yours too, when I reference a desire to own a new book.

“Okay, now is that a book-book or the e-version?” as if the e-version isn’t a real book.

Help Thanks Wow is definitely a book-book

I received Anne Lamott’s new book Help Thanks Wow for Christmas and dove in immediately while sunning on the beach in Cancun.  If you’re familiar with her work,  (Imperfect Birds, Grace (Eventually), Plan B and Traveling Mercies), you know her irreverent, yet deeply spiritual style.

Lamott is the real deal.  She writes stuff that seems like something your or I would say.

In the book’s prelude, she writes that saying to God, “I am exhausted and depressed beyond words, and I don’t like You at all right now, and I recoil from most people who believe in You,” is an honest and truthful, albeit prayer.  I think so too.

I sort of see her as the regular person’s prayer counselor.

Lamott says her three simple prayers are all variations of three words.  Help.  Thanks.  Wow.  “That’s all I’ll ever need,” she writes.  “besides the silence, the pain, and the pause sufficient for me to stop, close my eyes, and turn inward.”

The back of the book’s jacket reads, “I do not know much about God and prayer.  But I have come to believe, over the last 25 years, that there’s something to be said about keeping prayer simple.”

Help.  Thanks.  Wow.

I took those words into my journaling time this morning.  Here’s what went on the page:

Please, God, let my thoughts be infused with light and love today.  I am weary of packing around the heavy ones.  Help me to see them differently.  

Thank you for your guidance to slow me down, to be right here.  This is my one sacred moment, distinct from any other.  Help me to let now be now.

Thank you for the breath that gives me life today.  Whatever approaches my attention, whatever requires my focus, help me remember that today is a present to the present me.

Thank you for Wow stuff, God.  I love looking for the Wow in everything I see and experience.  

Wow is pure You, God.  The mosaic of shells lying on sand in the sea shell-shaped plate on my coffee table is 100% WOW.  Each shell is unique in color, shape, mold of form–how can it not be Wow?

Your Wow fills me with the exuberance of a child.  I can feel my heart swelling with love for the Wow.

I relate to the Wow.  I want to be the Wow, emulate it and exude it because Wow is joy brought to life.

I think there is nothing cooler than whatever causes Wow.  

Please check out Anne Lamott’s Help Thanks Wow and let me know your impressions.

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  1. I love this one, Beth! Sounds like a great book – I just added it to my wish list. You are so right, some books are better in their real form and others are fine on the kindle. I will write about that in my journal tomorrow – Help. Thanks. Wow. – Beautiful. I have read her writing book, Bird by Bird, and do like Anne Lamott’s style.

    Take care.

    P.S. Love the pic. Did you take that on the vacation?

  2. Beth says:

    Thanks, Cathy! I think I’m going to re-read the book; the nuances are terrific. You’ll like it a lot, I think. Bird by Bird . . . I think I’ll retrieve it from my bookcase as well.

    Isn’t that picture cool? I’m really pleased with how it turned out. It is actually a plate (T.J. Maxx–one of my fav places!) filled with Cancun sand and a small sample of our finds from the beach there. I think I’ve found a new creative outlet!

    Happy Friday!

  3. Galen Pearl says:

    I have often quoted her earlier observation that most prayers are either “help me” or “thank you.” “Wow” seems like a superlative form of the thank you prayer. I like her simple descriptions. Personally, I think if we prayed more of the thank you and wow prayers, we would need less of the help me prayers. This sounds like a wonderful book.

  4. Beth says:

    It is, Galen! I think you’ll really like it. Yes, and I’ve found myself in a period when I could be saying “help” a lot but am choosing to say “thank you” instead. Right on!

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