Help. Thanks. Wow. The 3 Essential Prayers

Today's post is from contributor Chelle Wilson

(Inspired by Anne Lamott)

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But when you ask, you must believe and not doubt, because the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, blown and tossed by the wind. That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord. James 1:6 (NIV)

Author Anne Lamott, whose words regularly bring me to tears, writes that the first two of the three essential prayers are “Help” and “Thanks.”

Interesting. The hospital chapel again.

We’ve spent more than our fair share of time there lately. We are no strangers to praying together, this family. When we walk, when we play, in the car, before we rest, we pray together.

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We sought God simply, confessed our powerlessness, and pleaded for HELP.

We found ourselves in the chapel seated awkwardly, until my son suggested we fall to our knees. (I confess, it’s been a while. I confess, it felt good returning to the familiar. I confess, that despite my mid-century knees, I’m going back to praying old school, the way I learned as a child.) We clasped hands, and I grew silent. Sometimes the quiet is a prayer. Lately, my tears replace the words. My son began by asking, “Please.”  We sought God simply, confessed our powerlessness, and pleaded for HELP.

In explaining the essential prayers, Anne says this of the first,

“People say 'help' without actually believing anything hears that. But it is the great prayer, and it is the hardest prayer, because you have to admit defeat — you have to surrender, which is the hardest thing any of us do, ever.”

~Anne Lamott, interviewed on NPR

We’d reached the point where weeping before God was all we had, so we prayed without shame, knowing that if victory would come, if healing was to be, it would be a blessing from God.

We prayed, and we cried, and then we went to eat breakfast.

We sat side by side, distracting one another with games and jokes and banal TV, until the surgeon came to find us.

We found ourselves in the chapel again, but this time the prayer was “Thanks.” There were tears, but these were tears of relief that washed over us, that we could laugh through, that we could tease about. (No, the boy did not cry, but neither did he make fun of my tears. He was tender, so concerned, so grown-up.) “Thanks,” we whispered, or as he and I would say in our own silly inside joke, “10Q.”

“Thanks is the prayer of relief that help was on the way.”~Anne Lamott, interviewed on NPR

“10Q Lord.” You know, 1Q, 2Q, 3Q, 4Q, 5Q, 6Q, 7Q, 8Q, 9Q, 10Q, you’re welcome. Thank You, Lord, not that it is done, but that You were always with us, and joy will come again. 10Q. We will be restored. 10Q. We have a joke and a private praise to share that even at such a difficult time we could find comfort in one another’s company, and healing in one another’s prayers.

We’ve left the chapel, but the chapel has not left us.

Please Lord, accept our surrender, our powerlessness, our love. 10Q, that You are Omnipresent, Omnipotent, and a Father who delights in His children’s joy. We will laugh again. We will see this trial pass, but we will never forget Please and 10Q. Help. Thanks.

And finally, the third of the essential prayers, which we prayed first, which we pray last, which we pray without ceasing. We offer praise, in the words of Anne Lamott, saying "Wow."

What are your essential prayers? Tell us HERE.


Rochelle Wilson blogs at Treat Me to a Feast about her life lived forward, reviewed backward, through the lens of faith. She’s a PK (Pastor’s Kid), who’s been a Baptist church musician since she was five. Always a dancer and athlete, as an adult she turned to liturgical dance to deepen her personal worship.  It worked. Rochelle laughs a lot, is married to her first love and prom date nearly 20 years ago. Together God gave them two children and a boxer who is the other love of her life, confidante, therapist, and physical trainer.

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photo credit: esther** via photopincc

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