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A Prayer Journal
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on November 13, 2013
Yes, this is a short book. It includes a transcription of Flannery O'Connors prayer journal from her time at the University of Iowa writer's school. But the quality of a book should never be judged by its length.

It should be judged by its texture and depth. And for this reason I consider the book to be essential. The prayers O'Connor has written create a landscape for prayer utterly original in the Christian tradition, if also deeply embedded in it.

I am reading one prayer per night, sometimes two. They are leading me into new spiritual insights each time. I see myself in new ways through her prayers.

The book also includes a facsimile of the journal itself. It's really a pleasure to be able to see her hand-writing first hand, to imagine her as a young student writing each day in this journal.

I guarantee if you buy this book, when it arrives, you will do more than read it. You will cherish it.
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on November 26, 2013
O'Connor's words, spirit, and even her struggle here are deeply Catholic. She speaks my own mind for me, saying words that I would have said if I had the gift that she had. Her form of prayer, her approach to it, her persistence in it, her discouragement with her own progress, all reveal a very quintessentially Catholic spirituality. I bought this book for my literary daughter, but it has now inspired me to undertake reading O'Connor's body of literature.

Requiescat in pace, Miss O'Connor.
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on September 13, 2017
The publisher is to be commended for this extraordinary book. Even a perusal of the prayer journal entries by the Lady of Letters from Milledgeville provides an insight into her undeniably deep and devout Christian faith. The thing I found most refreshing and yet convicting was Miss O'Connor's transparent and authentic struggles with the "grotesque" of the Fall in her own soul. I heartily recommend the book without reservation. A Prayer Journal is not only for O'Connor devotees but for all who desire to begin a journey of self-examination and the inevitable spiritual nourishment that is required after such examinations.
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on February 23, 2014
Before Flannery O'Connor hit her literary zenith with her stellar short stories, letters, criticism, book reviews and two novels, she had, in the quiet backdrop of her unassuming life, a tattered notebook in which was written intense yet personal jottings about her Catholic faith and the relationship that that faith had in the molding of who she was as a literary artist. Yet, it also showed how she saw herself personally. It illustrates (what I think) was an almost strained or exhausted awareness of her unworthiness before God. There is a high caliber of scrupulosity that is attached to her self awareness, a zealousness even. Clearly, she struggled to reach that pinnacle of what she felt God desired of her versus what she wanted for herself: "What I am asking for is really very ridiculous. Oh Lord, I am saying, at present I am cheese, make me a mystic, immediately. But then God you can do that-make mystics out of cheese. But why should He do it for an ingrate slothful & dirty creature like me. I can't stay in the church to say a Thanksgiving even[,] and as for preparing for Communion the night before-thoughts all elsewhere. The rosary is mere rote for me while I think of other and usually impious things." Page 38. Journal entry date 9/25.

What is so ironic about this particular passage is that while Flannery O'Connor, like the rest of us, are naturally unworthy of God's mindfulness, O'Connor was indeed very mystical. Her literary writings, especially her short stories, certainly do attest to that. Her lament echoes so much of Psalm 8: "O Lord, our Lord, your greatness is seen in all the world! Your praise reaches up to the heavens; it is sung by children and babies. You are safe and secure from all your enemies; you stop anyone who opposes you. When I look at the sky, which you have made, at the moon and the stars, which you set in their places-what are human beings, that you think of them; mere mortals, that you care for them? Yet you made them inferior only to yourself; you crowned them with glory and honor. You appointed them rulers over everything you made; you placed them all over creation: sheep and cattle, and the wild animals too; the birds and the fish and the creatures in the seas. O Lord, our Lord your greatness is seen in all the world."

For me, O'Connor was tremendously gifted by God, but for O'Connor, the act of having that gift comes off as sometimes being very difficult to carry and or live up to. The hunger and desire is there, but the act of putting that desire into practical fruition requires an act of the Divine indeed. That is what makes this journal so startling. O'Connor is so focused on where she stands before God. He is such an integral part of her work, that she always beseeches Him: "Dear God, I am so discouraged about my work. I have the feeling of discouragement that is. I realizes I don't know what I realize. Please help me dear God to be a good writer and to get something else accepted. That is so far from what I deserve, of course, that I am naturally struck with the nerve of it." Page 10. Undated. Or: "Dear God, tonight is not disappointing, because you have given me a story. Don't let me ever think, dear God, that I was anything but the instrument for Your story-just like the typewriter was mine..." Page 11. Undated.

Thankfully, unlike the Victorian poet-priest Fr. Gerard Manley Hopkins who wanted to give up his poetic gift because he felt it went against his call to humility, Flannery O'Connor went in the exact opposite direction and published slowly yet consistently, seeing her writing as a genuine vocation, whereas Hopkins did not. O'Connor saw her writing as a gift and herself as an instrument. She just didn't know how to occasionally temper herself to that calling, but she cuts to the point with this journal statement of 1/2/47 on page 25: "No one can be an atheist who does not know all things. Only God is an atheist. The devil is the greatest believer & he has his reasons." This was an illuminating read and has certainly afforded me a finer depth to understanding O'Connor's works as a whole.
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on March 21, 2016
When I opened my parcel order which arrived in Australia by air freight, I was delighted. The book, A Prayer Journal, by Flannery O'Connor, has such an attratctive cover. It feels so good in the hand, and the content is exquisite. It includes a fine introduction, followed by two distinct parts of the same material. The first part is a typeset of Flannery's prayer journal, and the second is her handwritten copy. To read and meditate on the twenty-one year old Flannery's thoughts and conversations with God before she is famous, before the onset of lupus,and whislt she wrestles with the desire to write well, is a beautiful experience.
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on December 13, 2016
This Prayer Journal by Flannery O'Connor is fascinating for her depth of feeling and perception at the age of 21-22. She was a Roman Catholic struggling with how to write and love God at the same time. She did become famous and unfortunately died of lupus at the age of 39. I tried to read one of her short stories written years later and I had to put it down. She was from Savannah, Georgia and all that entails, and being Roman Catholic, I had trouble relating to her. But she was obviously very smart and very gifted. She lived out her days on a farm with her mother tending to chickens and peacocks! What a fascinating woman.
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on December 11, 2013
A Prayer Journal is intensely personal, a loving attempt by this extraordinary genius to ask God to use her as his Christian "instrument" the same way she uses her typewriter as her "instrument." After reading the print section with its silent corrections of this "innocent speller," the facsimile in her handwriting reveals all the warmth and humanity of this fledgling writer with an immediacy that changes the experience of the book. In places humbling in its honesty, in other places laugh-out-loud funny as she confesses she is being "clever," this book is a gem, a wonderful addition to our understanding of the works of this amazing American original.
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on February 8, 2014
It's one thing to read the works of a writer and another to glimpse his or her private journal. We'd already been given a chance to know the spirit and wisdom of Flannery O'Conner through the work she accomplished prior to her early death at 39 from lupus. But now, through this little treasure of a book, we come even closer to her mind and heart by peeking at some of her interior struggles. These revelations show us even more her humanity, and by the end of the book, I felt more endeared to Flannery than ever. As a bonus, there's a surprise at the end -- the diary repeated but in her actual handwriting. Any fan of Flannery's will be happy to add this to their collection, and anyone who doesn't know her who reads this will find it an intriguing introduction to this special woman.
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on November 25, 2013
The text of this book comes from a prayer journal that Flannery O'Connor kept in one of those basic composition notebooks (the kind with the marbled black and white cover) while she attended the Iowa Writers' Workshop in 1947 and 1948. The journal is brief but striking and powerful because we get to witness O'Connor's straightforward attempt to engage, at times unsuccessfully, with her spiritual life. I especially appreciated how much this journey involved her thinking about her writing life. I'm sure this sentiment will hit home with many writers: "Dear God, I am so discouraged about my work. I have the feeling of discouragement that is. I realize I don't know what I realize. Please help me dear God to be a good writer and to get something else accepted."

O'Connor was discouraged, but the feeling so obviously did not keep her from writing. If anything, she wanted the help and inspiration to keep going. I found something hopeful about that. I think in both writing and spirituality, we tend to look from afar at a successful person such as O'Connor and feel that her faith and her talent came to her easily. This journal shows that neither faith nor writing came lightly to O'Connor--both required great focus, thought, and work from her. It is a challenge, but a hopeful one, for me to accept that it's necessary--and possible--to engage my spirituality and writing on the same level as she has. I have no idea what the results could be, but for now it's enough to see the example of someone else's journey, and to know such a path exists. If I just keep walking I'll find my way.
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on December 20, 2013
I have had this book only a short time and yet I have read it many times over. I think it is wonderful that we can read what was in the heart of this young woman so many years ago, and how very concerned she was about knowing God and preserving her relationship with God while being surrounded in an intellectual environment that often put her faith to the test by influencing her to question her beliefs. The world, including many secular educational institutions, exert a strong pressure for the individual to feel that a relationship with God can be explained away with psychological reasoning. Miss O'Connor addresses this issue and more. I admire her sincere and heartfelt entreaty to God to help her fight against this secular influence. Thanks be to whoever found this journal and had made the decision to publish it so that others could be helped in their faith. It brings a smile to my face to think that something that was written so long ago, and only recently been published, can still help and strengthen others.
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