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Asking God for help: what are we asking for?


Anne Lamott invites us into the depth of human experience. And sometimes, she indicates, it is not hard to get there, especially when all hell breaks loose. And we hit bottom.

“There’s freedom in hitting bottom, in seeing that you won’t be able to save or rescue your daughter, her spouse, his parents, or your career, relief in admitting you’ve reached the place of great unknowing.” (Page 14, Help, Thanks Wow.)

I am not so sure I feel relief when I hit bottom, but I have a sense of what she is talking about. It leads us to ask for help.

“Help. Help us walk through this. Help us come through. It is the first great prayer.” (Page 15.)

Many years ago, a wise person told me that asking God for help is not so much asking God to take on our burden (which God can do); but is asking for help to take on God’s strength. That was – and continues to be, great advice. It can turn the whole thing around, because when we are seeking help to take on God’s strength we are less likely to fix the “chatter of your mind, the tension of your physiology, all the trunks and wheel-ons you carry from the past.” (Page 14.)

I continue to be grateful for this nugget of wisdom.

Join me in reading and discussing Anne Lamott's new book, Help Thanks Wow: The Three Essential Prayers, during the season of Epiphany & Gratitude (January 6 - February 12, 2013).


In 23 years of sobriety and thousands of AA meetings, the most crucial message I hear is to surrender. It isn't surrendering to fail; it is surrendering to God's grace and receiving the strength to change. Reaching out and asking for God's help doesn't apply only to life-and-death decisions; God's grace is sufficient to help us in all situations. But it takes practice, and it is difficult to practice under pressure. So it is wise to reach out to God in the good moments so that it is natural to be open to his grace in the tougher times. Peace.

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