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Dear Hyde Park Family,

“Prayer means that, in some unique way, we believe we’re invited into a relationship with someone who hears us when we speak in silence.”

I recently re-read the book “Help, Thanks, Wow: The Three Essential Prayers” by Anne Lamott, whose writing I have enjoyed over the years. Lamott condenses the mystery and beauty of prayer into the three essential components revealed in the book’s title, all of which are critical to have a well-balanced prayer life.

On Help:

“Most good, honest prayers remind me that I am not in charge, that I cannot fix anything and that I open myself to being helped by something, some force, some friends, some something. These prayers say, “Dear Some Something, I don’t know what I’m doing. I can’t see where I’m going. I’m getting more lost, more afraid, more clenched. Help.”

On Thanks:

“Gratitude begins in our hearts and then dovetails into behavior. It almost always makes you willing to be of service, which is where the joy resides. It means that you are willing to stop being such a jerk. When you are aware of all that has been given to you, in your lifetime and the past few days, it is hard not to be humbled, and pleased to give back.”

On Wow:

“Gorgeous, amazing things come into our lives when we are paying attention: mangoes, grandnieces, Bach, ponds. This happens more often when we have as little expectation as possible. If you say, “Well, that’s pretty much what I thought I’d see,” you are in trouble. At that point you have to ask yourself why you are even here. […] Astonishing material and revelation appear in our lives all the time. Let it be. Unto us, so much is given. We just have to be open for business.”


Lamott’s book is a reminder to me to not let my prayer life focus only on one category at the expense of others. When my prayers are mostly about Help, God becomes little more than a giant vending machine, there to do my bidding if I simply have the correct change. Focusing only on Thanks without the other two can blind me to the needs of others and the world beyond myself. When I only pray Wow, it is too easy to forget my responsibility and capacity to make a difference.

Help, Thanks, and Wow are all needed for a balanced prayer life.

In a way, this three-fold pattern for prayer is a kind of reflection of the trinitarian nature of God, whom we worship as part of Trinity Sunday this weekend. We celebrate God the Father, who has created all things and fills the world with wonder (Wow). We celebrate God the Son, who has saved us, doing for us what we cannot do for ourselves (Thanks). And we celebrate God the Holy Spirit, who strengthens and empowers us to meet the needs of others in service and love (Help). Join us for Indoor Worship at 9:30 a.m. or for Online Worship at 9:30 and 11 a.m.

So, just as we have been created in the image of a triune God, how will you make this three-fold prayer a way of life? As you and your loved ones continue to live through these uncertain times and re-emerge into life beyond this pandemic, how might you make these three essential prayers a pattern for your daily living?

What are you praying for?
What are you grateful for?
How are you in awe of God?

Grace and Peace,


The Rev. Magrey deVega
Senior Pastor, Hyde Park United Methodist