Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers
Anne Lamott (New York, Riverhead Books)
Anne Lamott has a nice simple way of exploring issues of faith. In this volume she takes on prayer. And really it is fair to say that those are the three basic prayers.
Help. When life is challenging (for us or for others) we say help. When we don't know where to turn. When life doesn't seem fair. When there seems no way out. When we don't understand. We say help. Help with a decision, help change the circumstances, help understand, help find meaning. Just help. There was stuff in here that also underpins the act of Pastoral Care.
Thanks. The prayer we too often forget. What I liked was Lamott's recurrent reminder that gratitude is something we get better at the more we practice it. That we say thanks for the big things and the small things. That even when things are falling apart eyes accustomed to practising gratitude see something for which to say thanks.
Wow. How often do we miss the awesome in our lives? How often do we get focused on the mundane and the ugliness of life and miss the wow that is around us? How often do we take the awesomeness of the world around us for granted and forget to actually look? [I was reminded of this earlier this month when we went to Jasper and I got to see the mountains through the eyes of the girls who had never been there before.]
I am thinking that each week our prayers of the people (which generally already include thanks and help) need to intentionally include these three things. Maybe instead of asking for celebrations and concerns our order of worship also needs to ask for the wows....
The one piece of prayer that this book misses is that of confession/examintion of one's actions/attitudes. Though to be fair at one point Lamott does refer to a 4th standard prayer – something along the lines of “help me not to be an ass” which may sort of cover that.