Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers

by Anne Lamott

Hardcover, 2012





Lamott has coalesced everything she knows about prayer to three simple fundamentals. Asking for assistance from a higher power, appreciating what we have that is good, and feeling awe at the world around us-- that can get us through the day and can show us the way forward. Lamott recounts how she came to these insights, explains what they mean to her and how they have helped, and explores how others have embraced these same ideas.


Riverhead Books (2012), Edition: First Edition, 1st Printing, 102 pages


½ (164 ratings; 3.9)

User reviews

LibraryThing member detailmuse
Subtitled, “The three essential prayers,” Help Thanks Wow is an essay in book form that encourages the development of, respectively, humility, gratitude and wonder. Its memoir-ish, hard-knock musings are similar to those in Lamott’s other nonfiction and more spiritual than faith (or
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I read atheist Christopher Hitchens’ Mortality recently, and initially quoted a passage about prayer in my review of it -- something along the lines that those who pray seek to suspend the laws of nature in favor of their own purpose, which resonated with the scientist in me. But it’s not how/why I pray, and Lamott comes closer here via a quote from C.S. Lewis that ends with:

{Prayer} doesn’t change God. It changes me.
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LibraryThing member c.archer
Help, Thanks, Wow Amen. This is what we pray when we don't know what else to say. Anne Lamont makes these simple words come alive. She opens my heart to experience the joy and comfort of knowing that someone listens to me. This is a short and simple book but holds such wisdom. I can't really think
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of anyone who would not benefit and ultimately enjoy reading Anne Lamont. She seems to know just what I need to hear, and she says it in ways that I can't ignore. Best of all, she has a wonderful sense of humor and know how to use it to her best advantage. I know that I will reread this book many times, and it will be a treasure that I will share whenever possible with others. As always, thanks Anne.
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LibraryThing member knitwit2
Keep it simple. pray with sincerity, not formulas.
LibraryThing member HippieLunatic
This is an incredibly easy read about an incredibly easy way to speak your needs, your gratitude and your appreciation to the Universe.

Everyone needs Help, whether it is making sure the groceries can be paid for, the souffle rises perfectly, or somewhere in between.

Everyone has something to give
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Thanks for, whether it is that the cop didn't seem to have the radar pointed in the right direction, or that the cancer seems to have cleared without a second round of chemo.

Everyone can be awed by something, whether it is a dandelion bouquet from a three year old, or the fact that Dayton Art Institute has a Monet.

Everyone should end their prayers and get ready for the next in a long line of words uttered to the Universe in our short lives.
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LibraryThing member Milda-TX
Anne Lamott graciously reminds us that it's not difficult to stop for a few minutes, to be mindful and thoughtful, to breathe. This little book is nice to have in a desk drawer; pull it out, read a few pages, and feel a little less stressed.
LibraryThing member fcaccese
As usual, an honest effort to communicate w/God and ask for help and explanations. Also, the rejoicing in answered prayers. Understanding dimensions previously not even thought of.
LibraryThing member kvrfan
Good little book. Leave it to Anne Lamott to write a non-preachy book about prayer.
LibraryThing member Whisper1
Many thanks to Terri (Tymos) for pointing me toward this book. Small in pages, large in content, Lamott finally is off her political high horse. I gave up on reading her books primarily because I didn't want to have her political views be thrown surprisingly in my face when the titles did not
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indicate that political content would be smattered throughout.

This is a lovely book about prayer. She lists three primary reasons, or times when we seek prayer. Help -- when we are at our wits end and simply literally need help, either for ourselves or others. Thanks -- when we thank God for blessings, or maybe simply to say, thank you I am alive and my life is good today. Wow -- reserved for times when we are overwhelmed with the sheer beauty of nature, a person, a situation and or life.

I enjoyed this book tremendously. It wasn't preachy. It was well written, chocked full of wisdom and resonated with me at the current time in my life.
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LibraryThing member dmcco01
Seems like Lamott dashed this off in a hurry without much thought. Nothing fresh or new here about prayer. Just a bunch of disconnected thoughts strung together.

I'm usually an Anne Lamott fan, but this one just didn't feed the bulldog.
LibraryThing member deldevries
A bit eccentric, but the stories make you smile and the title definitely sticks with you.
LibraryThing member homeschoolmimzi
Another 2/5-3 star book. I very much liked the title of this book, but felt disappointed with its short length and price. It hardly merited being a hardcover, and given its subject, I was expecting some more detail, more substance. As another reviewer pointed out, the book comes across as a summary
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of Lamott's Facebook posts. I very much enjoy Anne's writing, and appreciate her honesty and humility, however I would have liked some more in terms of depth.
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LibraryThing member patl
A very brief dance with prayer, written for those who find the idea a bit stressful.

Not my favorite Lamott book personally, but I can certain see its usefulness to many folks who need a charming and fun approach to praying. Thanks, Anne.
LibraryThing member bookomaniac
It was curiosity that attracted me to this unusual theme. I had discovered Anne Lamott by accident through a TED talk on YouTube and the message she brought there appealed to me. But this book has disappointed me a bit.
Not that she has no interesting things to say. Prayer and religion in general
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are very underrated phenomena in our society, certainly in the European context. Lamott seems to have a rather pragmatic attitude about it: focusing on something that transcends you helps, because it puts you with both feet in the humble place that man deserves. She often emphasizes the latter: our smallness as a human being, our inadequacy, and in the long run that denigrating approach disappointed me. Also talking constantly from her own experience (the word "I" is written 1,000 times in this little booklet) is very American. In short, not uninteresting, but it does not exceed the level of a short TED talk.
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LibraryThing member goosecap
—I am a Litteratur. I cannot a kinky hair American book respect. Wrong book for me, wrong book.

—I mean, it’s ok. It didn’t revolutionize my prayer life. If every book I read revolutionized my prayer life and I had to brag on it like it was the Word made ink, I dunno. That might not be a
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good thing.

So anyway, it’s a contemporary liturgical Protestant private verbal prayer kind of book, which is just my ineffective way of saying that it’s a prayer book by someone who’s part of the church’s meditation wing, the Lib Prots, praying at home or whatever using words. Some of that is just how you assume prayer is sometimes; it’s a book on prayer. It’s not a book of set prayers like the Book of Common Prayer, which is obviously fine, and it’s not an evangelical manual that theoretically gives you formulas about how to make interesting unique never-to-be-repeated prayers all the time, which books I’ve never found to be effective, although I suppose I’m not an evangelical. Really Anne here talks about what it’s like to pray, about having an attitude towards prayer and life and what it’s like, more than technique in the narrow sense.

She does still have things to say. Help/Thanks are the kinda classic verbal prayer types she covers, just like they have them in the Bible, although the thing about Psalms people sometimes forget is that the songs/psalms are meant to put you in a state of mind; theologians sometimes quote them to define theological terms and sometimes carry that same lawyer head with them into prayer, it seems like. Anne’s style is more semi-memoirical (I dislike the terms autobiography and autobiographical), although it’s not a memoir.

Wow is like semi non-verbal prayer, although in a spontaneous, non-formal way, like when art or music or poetry or an unexpected life event just startles you into gratitude and peace, and you’re actually with God for a minute, instead of just grumpily telling her what to do, you know.

I think if you like Anne’s style, and prayer, it’s fine, you know.

—But you cannot tell me it a Litteratur book is.

—They say the New Testament is written in bad Greek. I guess God’s a slacker.

—*emphatic* He is! He is!
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