Quotes from “Help Thanks Wow”

Help Thanks WowThere are many reasons to love an Anne Lamott book. You’re guaranteed to laugh out loud, to learn spiritual truths, and to be inspired by her brutal honesty.

I love Help Thanks Wow for all three reasons.

It’s supposedly about three essential prayers—and it delivers!—but it’s also about depending more on God and growing in intimacy with him.

When we do that, these three conversations—asking God for help, telling him thanks, and exclaiming wow to him—will happen quite naturally and more frequently.

Here are some favorite lines I want to remember, all typical Anne-style.

If I were going to begin practicing the presence of God for the first time today, it would help to begin by admitting the three most terrible truths of our existence: that we are so ruined, and so loved, and in charge of so little.

But beautiful pre-assembled prayers—like the Merton, the Lord’s Prayer, the Twenty-third Psalm—have saved me more times than I can remember. But they are for special occasions. They are dressier prayers, the good china of prayers, used when I have my wits about me enough (a) to remember that they exist, and (b) to get into a state of trust. This would be approximately seven percent of the time.

A sober friend from Texas said once that the three things I cannot change are the past, the truth, and you. I hate this insight so much.

My priest friend Bill Rankin said that through prayer, we take ourselves off the hook and put God on the hook, where God belongs. When you’re on the hook, you’re thrashing, helpless, furious, like a smaller kid lifted by the seat of his pants by a mean big kid. Jesus, on the literal hook of the cross, says to God, “Help,” and God enters into every second of the Passion like a labor nurse.

Saying and meaning “Thanks” leads to a crazy thought: What more can I give? We take the action first, by giving—and then the insight follows, that this fills us. Sin is not the adult bookstore on the corner. It is the hard heart, the lack of generosity, and all the isms, racism and sexism and so forth.

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Do you have a favorite Anne Lamott book?

13 thoughts on “Quotes from “Help Thanks Wow”

  1. Dianna

    Thanks for sharing this, Lisa! Reading some of your favorite lines from this book brought to mind a book I just finished reading last week…The Confessions of a Prayer Slacker. Posting my August reading list tomorrow on the blog…before the month is entirely over. 😉

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      That sounds like a good book, Dianna. I haven’t heard of it yet but I’m guessing I will notice it now.

      Enjoyed seeing your reading list! Good stuff. Gary Thomas is one of my favorite authors too. And even more so Jerry Bridges. I have Transforming Grace on my list to read this year.

  2. Jody Lee Collins

    Lisa, I was pleased to read these quotes from this book, as I only read the first chapter and returned it to Amazon. I have 3 books already of Anne’s but this one didn’t strike me as it has other people. I appreciate the inclusion here of what you found as you dug deeper.
    Yes, she makes one smile, but boy she makes you think.

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’ve done like you before on books: not finish them because I couldn’t get hooked, but then read great quotes from them by someone else who did read it through to the end. That works. 🙂 We all help each other out like that.

  3. Ceil

    Hi Lisa! I am TOTALLY getting this book. I read her book on writing and loved her sense of humor and how she never talked ‘down’ to her audience.

    This is great! Thank you for the quotes. “I hate this insight so much.” Laughed out loud. That is good stuff 🙂

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I love her sense of humor too. And the writing book (“Bird by Bird”, right?) was a great one for sure. I should probably go back and re-read it because it’s been awhile….

  4. bluecottonmemory

    I’d never heard of the Merton Prayer – looked it up – and it so blessed me. I think I will include it in our morning prayers:) The first quote you had – about being so loved and in charge of so little – that being so loved makes all the difference when so little seems to go right:)

    1. LisaNotes Post author

      I’m glad that prayer blessed you too. I had to google it after Anne mentioned it. She quoted the first few lines, and they hooked me. I saved it to write about some day.

      Yes, being loved makes all the difference, doesn’t it? Grateful we are that.

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