By Anne Lamott
(Riverhead Books, $17.95)
Reviewed by Rose McAllister Croke
Faith, Hope and Charity meet Help, Thanks and Wow in Anne Lamott’s latest book on prayer and the relevance of faith in these troubling and trying times. In “Help, Thanks, Wow,” Lamott offers three essential prayers to get readers through tough situations, everyday struggles, and the hard work of ordinary living.
Lamott begins her book with this admission: “I do not know much about God and prayer, but I have come to believe, over the last 25 years, that there’s something to be said about keeping prayer simple. Help. Thanks. Wow.”
An instinctive and straight-talking writer, Lamott distills praying down to these three basics: prayers for assistance and need (Help), prayers for gratitude and relief (Thanks) and prayers expressing wonder and awe (Wow). She eloquently conveys how she came to understand and practice these spiritual insights, explains what they have meant to her and how they have helped her over the years, and shares how others have embraced and rejected these ideas.
Lamott describes in a variety of ways what prayer is and can be, but there is one section where she speaks of prayer as our real selves trying to communicate with the real. “Light reveals us to ourselves, which is not always so great if you find yourself in a big, disgusting mess, possibly of your own creation. But like sunflowers, we turn toward light. Light warms, and in most cases, it draws us to itself. And in this light, we can see beyond shadow and illusion, to something beyond our modest receptors to what is way beyond us, and deep inside.”
Nothing in her book will sway an atheist, but believers in a higher power may find heavenly inspiration for some earthly dilemmas in this pint-size yet deeply profound prayer manual.