In advance of Thanksgiving and Christmas, I decided to read Anne Lamott’s recently released book on faith: Help, Thanks, Wow. The title was a bit off-putting, smacking of Elizabeth Gilbert’s memoir Eat, Pray, Love. (I had read that 70% of non-fiction book proposals include a comparison to that 3-bullet bestseller, and, for a short period of time, mine was no exception.) Knowing that Lamott’s snarky prose would entertain and perhaps, like her book Bird by Bird, provide some useful advice, I forgave the obvious marketing ploy and downloaded her book.

Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers covers familiar territory with some timeworn clichés offset by clever nuggets. We often try to go it alone, forget to say thank you and fail to notice life’s miracles. On the other hand, we pray for help to pass a test, get that job or protect others or ourselves in harm’s way. We offer thanks for good things and quick sighs of grateful relief when we escape bad things like car accidents. And who among us hasn’t experienced the awe of sky, stars, wind, rainbows or snowfall on trees, the majesty of streams, rivers, oceans, valleys, forest, hills and mountains or nature’s fascinating creatures?

Wow. The End. Not quite.

Amen, the fourth, culminating and final chapter.

And so it is… time for trust and surrender: my huge sticking point and Lamott’s.

“These two things are almost all I want, but unfortunately, neither one is my strong suit,” Lamott writes. “I am very strong on blame, and wish this were one of God’s values, but trust, surrender? Letting go, forgiveness? Maybe just after a period of prayer, but then when the mood passes and real life rears its ugly head again? Not so much.”

Trust and letting go, Thy will be done – or mine. Which do I choose? The former? Not so much. Help!

For what do you pray?


  1. Sarah Myers

    What a great post. You give us – as always – words to ponder. What do we ask for? How do we enact our vision of God? Do we pray without ceasing as St. Paul suggests? Who and why do we trust . . . if we trust at all. On this day when we give thanks, why and when do we pray? I give thanks to you for your candor and grace.

    • Carole Duff

      Thank you, my friend, and Happy Thanksgiving!



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