EagleTribune.com, North Andover, MA


February 24, 2013

Three simple words make for a lot of praying

Today, there was food on your table. Before you ate it, you woke up in a warm bed with a roof over your head and clean clothes to wear. A hot shower awaited you in a room with running water. There’s money in your wallet, gas in the tank, and your home is secure.

All of this makes you luckier than a good portion of the world’s citizens.

So how do you acknowledge all that you have? In the new book “Help Thanks Wow” by Anne Lamott, you’ll get some ideas.

You already know that a proper prayer is something that comes from the heart. Lamott says prayer isn’t “for display purposes.” It’s communication and seeking union, it can be motion or stillness, and there’s “something to be said” about keeping it simple.

“Help” is the one succinct word to utter when everything seems utterly hopeless. It’s a humble prayer for when you can’t stand more heartbreak, death, frustration, problems. It’s the best prayer you can offer someone who needs comfort because it asks to be held in God’s light. It’s a prayer that He won’t mind if you say several times a day.

“Thanks” is meant to be whispered, shouted, or said with a “heaving exhalation of breath.” It’s short and to-the-point in big situations and small ones, when dinner or a doctor appointment turns out well. “Thanks” is used to express gratitude “for any unexpected grace.” It’s best used often: “Oh my God, thankyouthankyouthankyou. Thank you. Thanks.”

“Wow” often comes at the end of a gasp, barely a syllable in upper or lower case. It “means we are not dulled to wonder” and can appreciate the goodness and beauty that surrounds us, or it means wow, that’s over. It’s no coincidence that “wow” and “awe” have the same height and width filled with reverberation. Best if all, we say that one simple word and, wow, God gives us more.

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