by Larry Mulder
I’m in my 74th year and until a couple of weeks ago I’ve been pretty much of a failure at prayer. Then I came upon a wafer thin book by Ann Lamott entitled, Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers. Ann writes that there are three simple, yet powerful prayers we can call upon to bring God more fully into our lives.
First, there is the “Help” prayer: When one doesn’t know what to say or do in a particular situation, one can say, “Help me God.” Sometimes a more fervent “Please, please, help me God!” is needed. And sometimes, this prayer sounds like: “Oh God I’m in desperate need of your help!”
When one experiences something special, a prayer is answered, or when one feels especially grateful, that is when the “Thank You” prayer is used. One might say simply, “Thank you God.” Sometimes, one feels a need to say, “Thank you, Thank you!” And sometimes, it’s “Oh God . . .Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you!”
Likewise with the “Wow” prayer; there are different intensities. Mostly I say, “wow,” but occasionally I need a “Wow” with a capital “W.” And once in a while the situation calls for a “Wow. Wow. Holy cow, WOW!”
Following is an example of when I used these three prayers and they were powerful and from my heart:
Last week I was in the North Carolina Mountains backpacking with several kids from my church. We were out of touch with civilization, when one little 11 year old kid weighing about 90 pounds began to hyperventilate. This was not a contrived or casual hyperventilation. He was gasping for air.
All I could pray was: “HELP! HELP! HELP! Please helps us Lord!”
Almost immediately a thought came into my mind to put a plastic zip top bag over his nose and mouth and tell him to breath into it. It worked! He was soon breathing normally.
This really called for a huge “THANK YOU, GOD!!” prayer.
Soon we were high atop a ridge, with spectacular views on both sides. My young traveling companion, feeling much better, stood alongside me. We both exclaimed, “Wow! This is so beautiful, God.”
Ever since the mountain experience, I’ve have been using these three prayers and they work for me. I pray more often and my prayers are sincere and simple.
Thank you, God. And thank you, Ann Lamott. Wow!