The Power of Praying
Praying comes in different shapes and sizes and in multiple forms. It occurs
at different times and places and with a range of regularity.
Several years ago, after reading Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers by Anne Lamott, I abandoned my childhood's rote and rambling prayers. Now, I embrace a less complicated and more spontaneous form of prayer that Lamott outlined in her book. The three "essential prayers" encompass all prayer and also expands a circle of prayer where everyone fits in.
Lamott says “Help” is the most difficult prayer because it requires admitting defeat and surrendering. None of us relish that. However, she told Minnesota Public Radio, “When we’re surrendering, we may establish a connection to a power greater than ourselves. Or at least something in the next concentric circle out whose name is not me.”
The second prayer, “Thanks,” in its entirety is thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you, thank you. “But for brevity, I say ‘thanks,’” Lamott said. She describes this prayer as “amazement and relief that you caught a break; your family caught a break. You didn’t have any reason to believe that things were going to be OK, and then they were, and you just couldn’t help but say thank you.”
Finally, “Wow.” Lamott says this is the prayer of praise and wonder. “When I don’t know what else to do, I go outside, and I see the sky and the trees and a bird flies by, and my mouth drops open with wonder at the sheer beauty of creation. And I say, ‘Wow.’” Whenever you say “Wow,” you are praying.
These three prayers have been transformative for my own personal prayer practice. My prayer practice is also spent praying for others.
Do you ever receive prayer requests—from friends, family, prayer lines, or elsewhere? I am honored and humbled when I receive them.
I believe prayer is powered by the voices raised in prayer. I work to add as many voices to the requests I receive. Of course, prayer requests should be treated as private and confidential by their receiver. So, to get as many voices involved without revealing discreet information, I make my own prayer request to others.
This is how I reach out to others. I simply say, "Even though I can't share the prayer requests I have received, you can add your voice to pray for those prayer requests. It’s as easy as saying, 'God, I don’t know what prayer requests Mary has received, but you do. So please add my voice in prayer for them.”
Won’t you please add your voice to the world's circle of prayer and help to widen it?