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Sonderbooks Book Review of

Help Thanks Wow

The Three Essential Prayers

by Anne Lamott


The Three Essential Prayers

by Anne Lamott

Review posted January 6, 2013.
Riverhead Books (Penguin), New York, 2012. 102 pages.
Starred Review
2012 Sonderbooks Stand-out: #1 Other Nonfiction

I've always loved Anne Lamott's down-to-earth spirit, and this book's title says it all. If you think about it, isn't it true: Help. Thanks. Wow. Those are indeed the three essential prayers.

She has a chapter for each prayer, with funny and insightful observations. Then there's a chapter at the end titled "Amen." Her observations move me, inspire me, make me laugh, and encourage me to pray.

I'll include some bits from her "Prelude" chapter:

Some of us have cavernous vibrations inside us when we communicate with God. Others are more rational and less messy in our spiritual sense of reality, in our petitions and gratitude and expressions of pain or anger or desolation or praise. Prayer means that, in some unique way, we believe we're invited into a relationship with someone who hears us when we speak in silence.

Prayer is talking to something or anything with which we seek union, even if we are bitter or insane or broken. (In fact, these are probably the best possible conditions under which to pray.) Prayer is taking a chance that against all odds and past history, we are loved and chosen, and do not have to get it together before we show up. The opposite may be true. We may not be able to get it together until after we show up in such miserable shape.

I'll post more from this book on Sonderquotes, because it's full of nuggets that uplift and inspire me.

Why am I saying so much? Put simply, my reaction when I finish a book by Anne Lamott is: Wow.