Writer Anne Lamott says that the most important prayers are “Thank you,” and  “Help.” There is great truth in her simple proclamation.

I dare say most of us, including myself, have a hard time with these sincere prayers.  One of the most difficult things I had to learn to do in my life was ask for help.  My grades in college were pretty weak until I found the courage to seek out my professors and ask for guidance.  My wife, Julie, and I hit a difficult point in our marriage years ago until Julie courageously declared, “We need help.” The work we went through was tough but the end result was a stronger relationship, one that now knows how to maneuver through life’s uncertain terrain.  It began with an honest prayer, “Help.”

A prayer of thanks can be just as problematic.  Oh, I’m pretty good at saying thank you for gifts, kind words and dinner party invitations.  My mom taught me well when it comes to maintaining proper etiquette. In my prayer life, though, I find it tougher to say thanks.  When things go well for me, I don’t always find it easy to thank God.  To do so would be to admit that I’m not the primary recipient of the praise.  I want the credit.  Of course, when things go poorly I try to blame God.  Sometimes my prayer, “Why, Lord, why?”is a refusal to acknowledge my own blame in the issue.

This year for the season of Thanksgiving I will begin every day with these basic prayers, “Thank you,” and “Help.”

Thank you God for the beauty of this life we share.

Help me, Lord, see the log in my own eye before I worry about the speck in my neighbor’s (or my relative’s or co-worker’s or that guy who just cut me off in traffic or the slow waitress or the…)