Help, Thanks, Wow, by Anne Lamott

I don’t think it’s any secret that I’m a big Anne Lamott fan and I’ve enjoyed both the books she’s released this year. Help, Thanks, Wow is a book about prayer — not from a conventionally evangelical Christian point of view, as so many books on prayer are, but from a considerably more liberal and non-prescriptive point of view. Lamott is, of course, a Christian (a Presbyterian to be specific, though I’m pretty sure she’s not a double-predestination Calvinist) but a very liberal one, and her perspective on prayer is accessible to everyone, no matter what their belief system. Some Christians will find Lamott’s concept of prayer a little too vague or wishy-washy, and to those people I would say, well, if your concept of God is not big enough to embrace other concepts of prayer than what you’re familiar with, then there are plenty of other books on prayer for you to read and enjoy. For people who struggle with traditional concepts of prayer or for people who have firm belief system yet sometimes feel that need to cry out to someone or something bigger than themselves, Help, Thanks, Wow may be the book they need.

As the subtitle explains, “Help,” “Thanks” and “Wow” are what Lamott considers the three essential prayers: the cry for help, the prayer of gratitude, and the moment of awe. She talks a little about each of these with her trademark humour and honesty, but hardcore Lamott-lovers like me will find the book a little too short — I was hoping for another big chunky collection of essays in the Traveling Mercies or Grace Eventually vein, but this is a much slimmer volume. It will, however, make a good stocking stuffer, and maybe a good intro to Lamott’s work for those who aren’t familiar with her brand of quirky spirituality. If this is the first Anne Lamott book you read and you like it, there’s lots more good stuff waiting for you to discover.

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