Lately, my prayers have become a form of artistic expression: Carefully chosen words, praise reports like songs, and sometimes pissed-off pronouncements entwined with polite requests that I please not screw something up. This season of life has required thoughtful consideration of even my private devotional time ”” and that makes me think of the conviction of Flannery O’Connor.
No other writer in the history of American letters has been able to pin down the intersection of faith, prayer, and art as evocatively as O’Connor. Perhaps the best example of this ”” aside from her Biblically blood-soaked fiction ”” are her letters and journal entries. In A Prayer Journal, a series of short meditations O’Connor penned between 1946 and 1947, readers get a portal into her relationship with the divine. It is chock full of pleadings and childlike confessions: “I would like to write a beautiful prayer.” And while you might feel you’re intruding on O’Connor’s most intimate writings, the prayers are a delight to examine ”” and about as pure as they come: “Please help me dear God to be a good writer and to get something else accepted.”
What is especially striking about this little book is the care O’Connor gives to the craftsmanship of her supplications.