A Prayer Journal by Flannery O’Connor
Another book recommendation from Eun and quite an interesting one. I always love when the Christian world directly intersects with the literary one. The only Flannery O’Connor text I’ve had the pleasure of reading was “A View of the Woods” (1957) and I suppose she’s more well known for her short story, “A Good Man is Hard to Find”, but this text is actually a set of her own written prayers and reflections, published posthumously. The fact that such intimate thoughts were published – sans permission – is a bit unsettling, yet in a selfish way I’m thankful for the ability to read them, her struggles with faith, understanding grace, and prayer.
What I didn’t appreciate was W.A. Sessions’ introduction to the text. Apparently they are close friends, yet I feel like he paints a very secular picture of O’Connor’s own faith, calling it “outlandish”. Maybe it is because I empathized so much with O’Connor’s prayers that I felt offense at Sessions’ words.
Back to Flannery O’Connor herself – I felt that her prayers reflected thoughts that many believers contend with on a daily basis. What is most admirable is the painstakingly refreshing honesty with which she speaks. She is very real about her faith and very real about her identity as a writer.
Dear God, I don’t want to have invented my faith to satisfy my weakness. I don’t want to have created God to my own image as they’re so fond of saying. Please give me the necessary grace, oh Lord, and please don’t let it be as hard to get as Kafka made it. (16)
A Prayer Journal definitely portrays a young* Flannery O’Connor, but I can’t deny that she writes with an honesty to faith that I can’t help but appreciate. It’s affected me to a point where I am trying to write my own prayers out and am finding it to be an effective filter of my voice to say what really matters.
Another quick read – do it.
*young which might translate to immature? I sense that her tone might seem exhausting to some…