A Prayer Journal by Flannery O’Connor made a splash when it was released at the end of 2013.
This slim volume (I read almost all of it in a single sitting) is exactly what the title says, an edited version of a prayer journal that O’Connor wrote while she was a student at University of Iowa.
At the center of this book are lots of variations of this prayer, “Dear God please help me to be an artist, please let it lead to You.” She wanted to be a writer, a good writer and one that pointed to her faith.
O’Connor is well known for her quote, “I think it is safe to say that while the South is hardly Christ-centered, it is most certainly Christ-haunted.” Reading this journal I wonder how much pentecostal and evangelical Christian faith influenced her Catholicism. And now much the words that I identify as traditional Evangelical prayer language or language of Evangelical piety was authentically Catholic. It is my evangelical bias that is influencing how I perceive her prayers?
There are lots of recognizable thoughts here. The quote, “…I would like to be a mystic and immediately,” is not only one that many have prayed, but she was cognizant of the ridiculous of it as she was praying it.
This is not a highly polished book, but there are glimpses of the brilliant writing that she is known for. I have been a bit put off by some of what I have read from Flannery O’Connor. Much of it is weird and intentionally hard to take. But this journal has motivated me to pick her up again early next year.