help, thanks, wow: Anne Lamott --- a community prayer practice by Soul Care Urban Retreat Center

Anne Lamott, one of my favorite modern-day spiritual writers, wrote a book called “Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers” a few years ago. Since reading it, I’ve found it useful to use those words as a guide to help me pray – especially when prayer feels weird or hard.

Today I want to invite you to join me in sharing this short but powerful prayer and see if we can do a little virtual praying together in community. Use the Comments section below to share your prayers as we use Help, Thanks, Wow to pray as a group. As you read through the comments, please feel free respond to each other and offer companionship.

You don’t have to believe in prayer to join in. One of the best things about community is that on the days when we don’t believe or know much, someone else carries us. We can carry each other. We can rest in each other’s faith, knowing we will carry someone else when we are able again. Sometimes simply naming these things can feel like prayer. No formulas, no ‘vending-machine’ expectations, just us, together, bearing witness and holding each other in the presence of the Divine.

To begin, find a quiet spot (if you’re crouched in the closet, you are likely not alone). Bring your beverage of choice and settle in. Roll those shoulders. Exhale and inhale slowly a few times. Light a candle. Get comfy.

Think on each prompt and share with us in the COMMENTS below or listen to others today.

  • What is your “help” prayer? Anything hard or scary or overwhelming going on? This is a good place to be honest – your hard is hard, you don’t have to play the hardship Olympics. We’ll pray with or for you or just stand as witness to your stress over back to school, lost income, sad kids, political grief, hurricanes or fires, sickness or death, lament over systemic injustice, a broken heart, or whatever. If you’re sad or angry or worried, we can bear witness to it.
  • What is your “thanks?” Want to shout out a teacher going above and beyond? A healthcare worker, public health official, or neighbor? A sunset, sunflower or hummingbird? A partner or a friend who showed up for you? A minute to enjoy your favorite beverage? A check that showed up at the right time? A moment of grace? A sense of restoration? An exhale? Who or what are you grateful for right now?
  • What is your “wow” moment? Give a few words to the “wow” moments even in the midst of the anxiety or grief or worry. Where or how are you seeing God surprise you right now? The laugh of your kid? A school board making a hard call? Someone dancing in the grocery store aisle? A song or special message received in an unexpected moment? Something that you saw in nature that stopped you in your tracks? What is something that makes you say “wow” in that awed voice you keep reserved for such moments of wonder.

I look forward to spending time with you all in the comments. Even though this isn’t perfect, it’s something.

Lighting candles and hanging in there….


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