Book of the Month: May 2014

Help Thanks WowHelp, Thanks, Wow by Anne Lamott

Help, Thanks, Wow is one of my favourite books on prayer by one of my favourite writers, Anne Lamott.  All of Anne’s books about trying to live a Christian life as a recovering alcoholic and single mother are entertaining, but this one distills her spiritual insights most effectively.  Those of us who have long been told that ‘thank you, sorry and please’ are the three words that ought to shape our prayers, will find it a helpful jolt to think rather of ‘help, thanks and wow’.

‘Help,’ she says, is the first great prayer, because so often life is difficult or heart-breaking.  Help is the way we keep in touch with God when everything around us is broken or seems beyond fixing.

‘Thanks,’ is the short form of the original prayer she used to say for any unexpected grace in her life: ‘Thankyouthankyouthankyou’, the prayer that comes as a rush of relief that we have just dodged a bullet.

And ‘Wow’ is the prayer we gasp at something mesmerizing or miraculous.  Wows cannot be controlled. They can only be felt when they come.  Just when life appears to be boringly normal or depressingly bleak, along comes a wow to astonish us with beauty, or awe, or new hope.

What about ‘sorry’?  All she will say on this is that ‘Help me not to be such an ass’ is the fourth great prayer, ‘which perhaps we will address at another time’.

Summarising these three (or four) prayers does not do Anne’s book justice though.  It is funny and helpful too.  She tells sharp, subversive stories, like a stand-up comedian. She shares things that her friends or her pastor have said.  Most of all, she talks honestly and lovingly about prayer.  And her advice on using a God box is worth the price of the book alone.

Reviewed by David Holgate, Principal of STETS

Special price of £11.50 in the shop (posted out for free) or £9.50 + postage online from www.sarumcollegebookshop.co.uk from May 1st – 31st. RRP £12.99.

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