prayer in four words

I just saw someone else recommending this book on prayer:  Anne Lamott, “Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers” (Riverhead).

I’ve not read it,  but I assume it treats these words as follows:

Help:  supplication
Thanks:  thanksgiving
Wow:  adoration

Not bad. A, T and S from ACTS prayer acronym.

If I were to attempt an addition of the S in ACTS (supplication), and to roughly follow the progression of the Lord’s prayer, my book title would be:

Wow. Help. Sorry. Thanks.

9 thoughts on “prayer in four words”

  1. I lost Help first. Sorry next and Thanks followed not long after if my memory serves me correctly..

    But I still got Wow..

  2. Thanks mate, I can see how that might be the order they’d be lost in.
    My upbringing installed me with a kind of folk-religion sense of all of these – and my understanding has developed and hopefully sharpened – though my personal challenge is for them to not just be intellectual postures that make sense, but that they would become more and more expressions of childlike (though not childish) trust.

  3. While ‘childlike’ tends to mean ‘the good qualities of a child’, at the end of the day it is still synonymous with ‘childish’ meaning ‘immature’.

    We all grow up (mature) and stop believing in magical beings like tooth fairies, Santa Clauses, Easter bunnies, Zeus, Hercules, Captain Planet, etc. why not the Christian (or Islamic or Jewish or Hindu) god/s?

  4. you really like ad hom sometimes.. (accusing me – the man – of avoiding, presumably from fear of the question, rather than a) brevity, and/or b) prioritising my time)

    There is a child-ish belief in tooth-fairies, etc., which is erased as the child grows up. Similarly, as humanity ‘grows up’, it sees beyond things like animism & polytheism. But more monotheistic/ultimate gods are not so easily disposed of. They’re (quite literally) different altogether. I’m not arguing from numbers, but will note that belief in some kind of monotheistic god (and even many Hindus only ‘really’ believe in Brahmim, their ultimate God – as with Io Matua Kore [parent-less one] in Maori mythology) is nearly universal – and I include the ‘sophisticated’ deism in that.

  5. He bites!

    I’m talking less about the general consensus of something ultimate, something eternal. You know I’m on board with that along with most who think about it long enough and hard enough.

    I’m talking more about the various childish characteristics and intentions that different religions have, over the ages, piled up on top of that bare bones, ultimate, eternal something – and somehow have managed to keep many followers convinced. Yet my jaw is on the floor in review of these characteristics.

    For example, the notions that it loves you and cares for you like a perfect father and came down to your planet as your species to die for you because you lied to your mum, you cheated on your taxes, you had lots of sex with your boyfriend before you married him, or perhaps you were just a serial murderer (sin is sin after all). And that it does this because it wants you to want to spend both your life and your apparently also eternal after-that-life-Life with it in infinite bliss with no suffering, pain, etc. worshipping it, praising it, thanking it for it’s substitutionary atonement, etc.

    Reason does not get someone to these beliefs.

    Wishful thinking and fanciful thoughts as a result of reflecting on how humans preferred their crapsack world to actually be, how they wish their own human father treated them, how they wish they could never die but live forever (think long enough and hard enough about that one and you’ll long for death too) – That is what gets someone to these more specific characteristic beliefs about the ultimate, eternal something.

    This is the point we always get to it seems, at least recently – and you are yet to come up with an argument that convinces me that the Something necessarily possesses all those characteristics and intentions. Perhaps this time.. if you have the time..?

  6. Yes, and that does take it back to the orignal post, doesn’t it? (well done!)
    As you know, I don’t think reason ‘gets anyone’ to Christianity, but merely to a basic kind of Deism, I’d say. I don’t think the 4-fold prayer of wow, help, sorry, thanks is contrary to any reason, because if reason can’t ‘get anyone’ to any specific beliefs, then it equally must not be able to ‘get anyone’ to any specific critiques of those same beliefs. :) Reason doesn’t get you to ‘God incarnated himself!”, and it doesn’t get you to “God obviously did not incarnate himself!” either.

    So yes, no problem at all granting that specific things like prayer, redemption, incarnation, atonement, forgiveness, resurrection, etc. are things are ‘beyond’ (though not opposed to) reason.

    I need to leave it there for today (and this week, which I’ve had more time than usual for posting/commenting!), but I’m sure our conversation will continue :)

  7. ” Reason doesn’t get you to ‘God incarnated himself!”, and it doesn’t get you to “God obviously did not incarnate himself!” either.”

    “So yes, no problem at all granting that specific things like prayer, redemption, incarnation, atonement, forgiveness, resurrection, etc. are things are ‘beyond’ (though not opposed to) reason.”

    You’re going to have to show me how it’s not opposed to reason. Because from where I’m standing, reason does point you away from different religious specifics like incarnation or reincarnation, atonement or eternal punishment, etc. etc.

    Here’s some examples of reason repelling those extra specific religious ideas over and above “it simply must be ultimate, eternal, necessary”

    – the inconsistency of all the different religious ideas.
    – the problem of evil.
    – the problem of hell.
    – the fate of the unevangelized.
    – the idea that God is a perfect designer, yet we all exhibit such poor design.
    – the fact that so many don’t believe, God isn’t doing a very good job at convincing people of his existence.
    – the fact that the development of religion over the ages makes perfect sense without God actually existing.
    – the list goes onnnnnnnn and onnnnnn…

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. I think the only reason you split off down the Christian path after “it simply must be ultimate, eternal, necessary” (instead of a Muslim or a Hindu path) and I mean ONLY reason – is because of your geographical location. Your friends, your family, your local societal culture that you are regularly immersed in is saturated in Christianity.

    On the other hand, I am not an agnostic because of my geographical location. Agnostics are everywhere…. except maybe the Phillipines >.<

    I am an agnostic because reason got me there. Not angst, not denial. Reason.

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