Whether you believe in a higher power or not, there is something inspirational about reading one of your favorite writers’ personal prayers to the god he or she believes in, invoking that being not for help achieving fortune and fame, but just in becoming a better person, and have the strength to keep going.
If you know anything about Flannery O’Connor, one of America’s greatest writers, you know that she was a deeply spiritual person, and her devotion to her Roman Catholic faith is embedded throughout her work. Her stories could be dark, her characters could be terrible people, and her very name (along with William Faulkner’s) is synonymous with Southern Gothic fiction — but Flannery O’Connor was a believer, and her faith is on display in A Prayer Journal.
From 1946 and 1947, while O’Connor was far away from home, studying at the University of Iowa, she wrote her thoughts and prayers, displaying the same kind of self-doubt we see in so many great writers, but balanced with an unwavering faith that whatever happens, happens because God wants it that way. A Prayer Journal reveals a very personal side of one of our most enigmatic writers, and reminds us that even the most talented among us have to move past their private reservations to succeed.
Dear God, I am so discouraged about my work. I have the feeling of discouragement that is. I realize I don’t know what I realize. Please help me dear God to be a good writer and to get something else accepted. That is so far from what I deserve, of course, that I am naturally struck with the nerve of it. Contrition in me is largely imperfect. I don’t know if I’ve ever been sorry for a sin because it hurt You. That kind of contrition is better than none but it is selfish. To have the other kind, it is necessary to have knowledge, faith extraordinary. All boils down to grace, I suppose. Again asking God to help us be sorry for having hurt Him. I am afraid of pain and I suppose that is what we have to have to get grace. Give me the courage to stand the pain to get the grace, Oh Lord. Help me with this life that seems so treacherous, so disappointing.