A Prayer Journal, by Flannery O’Connor

A Prayer Journal

The only thing that disappointed me about this book was its length. I didn’t realize (I guess I wasn’t paying attention when I bought it online) that it is only forty pages in length (this edition adds photo reproductions of the original diary in the second half, making it a total of ninety-five pages). Since I went ahead and read the reproductions, I actually read the text twice.

I had seen comments about this book in other works, one being Timothy Keller’s book, Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God. So I was excited to read it, to see what I could glean about prayer from it.

Flannery O’Connor was an author who died young, at age thirty-nine, in 1964. She wrote a couple of novels, a number of short stories and essays, and two nonfiction works.

This prayer journal was published pretty much exactly as it was found, with the exception of some spelling corrections and minor punctuation corrections. So much so, that it begins in the middle of a sentence, as the opening pages of the journal appear to have been lost.

The first entries are undated. One of the most profound paragraphs is on the first page.

“Dear God, I cannot love Thee the way I want to. You are the slim crescent of a moon that I see and my self is the earth’s shadow that keeps me from seeing all the moon. The crescent is very beautiful and perhaps that is all one like I am should or could see; but what I am afraid of, dear God, is that my self shadow will grow so large that it blocks the whole moon, and that I will judge myself by the shadow that is nothing.
I do not know You God because I am in the way. Please help me to push myself aside.”

Thus begins a small book full of prayers that reveal the depths of the heart of this woman. As she writes her prayers, she prays for her own writing to display God’s glory. Toward the end of diary, she asks God to make her a “mystic.” But the final entry is most tragic, as she confesses how far away from God are her thoughts. The last words are, “There is nothing left to say of me.”

This is a work that definitely bears re-reading, in order to highlight the wisdom contained therein. Not all of the entries are noteworthy, and there are some places where her Catholicism comes out and she prays to her “Blessed Mother.” But there is definitely material of worth in this work, especially for one who seeks to continue learning about prayer.

TTFN, y’all!

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