Essential Prayers for The New Year

14263334_120918183000I didn’t accomplish everything I had hoped to on my list of resolutions for 2012. So I’ve decided that for 2013, I’m going to chuck the list (with the exception of a couple of things on the former one that I’d still like to do), and approach the new year from a different mindset and way of being. What if I embraced more of the concept of prayer as a way of moving forward and experiencing all that life has to offer–the good and the bad.

The idea came to me after reading Anne Lamott’s latest (and most wonderful) memoir Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers. In the opening pages, she writes:

I have come to believe, over the past twenty-five years, that there’s something to be said about keeping prayer simple. Help. Thanks. Wow…We can say anything to God. It’s all prayer. Prayer can be motion and stillness and energy–all at the same time. It begins with stopping in our tracks, or with our backs against the wall, or when we are going under the waves, or when we are just so sick and tired of being physically sick and tired that we surrender, or at least we finally stop running away and at long last walk or lurch or crawl toward something. Or maybe, miraculously, we just release our grip slightly. Prayer is talking to something or anything with wich we seek union, even if we are bitter or insane or broken. 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.

Instead of following a list of chores or tasks to be completed and then being disappointed with the results (or lack thereof) on Dec. 31, what if I promised to talk to God more through three simple prayers that Lamott defines as Help, Thanks, and Wow. The beauty of this way of praying and living out a new year is that there is not a right or wrong way (as those who have read this book and/or familiar with Lamott’s work know). No step-by-step instruction or formula to calculate. Just three words to remember as I spend (at least) a few minutes talking to God and reflecting on God’s presence in my life each day and throughout the year.




That’s all.  No expectations about how long or how eloquent the prayer. It can be as befuddling and messy as the life we resolve to muddle through day in and day out–as individuals and as the Church…

Help–what assistance do I need from God, and what assistance do others need from God and quite possibly me? (As Lamott says: “Help. Help us walk through this. Help us come through…Help. Enter this mess)

Thanks–what are the things I see and experience that I should show my appreciation to God? (Lamott suggests: “When someone shares with you a horrible truth…you say, ‘Thank you for the openness between us–that’s the greatest gift.”

Wow–what are the moments of wonder and awe that recognizes the holy mystery of God, even during the worst of times? (Lamott recalls: “When Sam was six or so, he explained to me why we call God ‘God’–‘Because when you see something so great, you just go, ‘God!'”)

What might happen if I choose to embody those three essential prayers in 2013 and beyond? How might my life be changed and how might this year be shaped in ways I never thought were possible?

I don’t know the answers yet but I hope to share my discoveries in future posts.

Until then, may the peace and love of God be with you in all your shouts of Help. Thanks and Wow.


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