Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “A Prayer Journal” as Want to Read:
A Prayer Journal
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

A Prayer Journal

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  2,305 ratings  ·  368 reviews
"I would like to write a beautiful prayer," writes the young Flannery O'Connor in this deeply spiritual journal, recently discovered among her papers in Georgia. "There is a whole sensible world around me that I should be able to turn to Your praise." Written between 1946 and 1947 while O'Connor was a student far from home at the University of Iowa, A Prayer Journal is a r ...more
Hardcover, 112 pages
Published November 12th 2013 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published 2013)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about A Prayer Journal, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Jacqueline I've read all of her short stories -- they really are incredible! I am looking forward to starting on some of her novels this year. I loved A Prayer J…moreI've read all of her short stories -- they really are incredible! I am looking forward to starting on some of her novels this year. I loved A Prayer Journal for the glimpse into her personal thought life. (less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.11  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,305 ratings  ·  368 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of A Prayer Journal
Bill Kerwin

This is a slight book, meriting only slight attention, but that is not Flannery O'Connor's fault. I am sure she would be mortified to see it published here, for it is a private journal, the product of her university years, written before the love of God, the cross of lupus and tons of hard work transformed her into one of the great writers of her time.

One of the things one takes away from this brief series of entries (made in large print in half of a composition book) is Flannery's considerable
Nov 17, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Rowena by: Elizabeth Cárdenas
“My mind is in a little box, dear God, down inside other boxes inside other boxes and on and on. There is very little air in my box.”

This is only my second O’Connor and I found it a lot more interesting than “A Good Man is Hard to Find.” O’ Connor’s prayers were beautiful and so honest, and her writing very charming. She calls Kafka “Mr Kafka” , which I found endearing. It was obvious that her Catholic faith was very dear to her. There was some internal religious struggles going on; in the diar
Jan 25, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: non-fiction
I feel like a jerk giving 2 stars to Flannery O'Connor's prayers. I mean, how can anyone judge someone else's prayers? I guess what I mean by the 2 stars is that it felt incredibly voyeuristic and kind of wrong to read this. The only reason I did is because someone gave me the book as a gift. I admit, it was interesting to see that she was as anxious as anyone might be about wanting her work to be good, and wanting to be a better person. Still, I couldn't shake the nagging feeling that someone w ...more
Neil R. Coulter
Aug 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
Flannery O’Connor wrote this collection of prayers and meditations when she was 20–22 years old, just entering the world of academia at the Iowa writers’ workshops (and beginning work on her first novel, Wise Blood). The composition book that contains the handwritten prayers was kept (except for some excised pages) but never intended to be published. I’m glad they are now available. I would of course be cautious about posthumous publications that radically contradict who an author was known to b ...more
Steven Rodriguez
Jan 01, 2015 rated it really liked it
In a recent interview in the New York Times, Marilynne Robinson criticized Flannery O'Connor, saying, "Her prose is beautiful, her imagination appalls me." The two women have become in my mind a kind of polarity of Christian fiction writing. On one side, Robinson represents the majority stream of Christian fiction writers who champion an expansive doctrine of creation which swallows up salvation and the narrative of the gospel inside its own preoccupations with beauty. On the other side, O'Conno ...more
Sep 27, 2019 rated it liked it
"I don't want to fear to be out, I want to love to be in." -Flannery O'Connor

Interesting book of prayers, the quote above spoke to me the most. You can definitely finish this in a day but I tried to read one prayer a day. Its not really useful as a devotional as I initially thought it would be before reading the synopsis and the book itself.
Jenny (Reading Envy)
This is a quick read because half of it is a facsimile and the other half is transcribed (fixing spelling errors.) This is Flannery's writings to God (most entries start "Dear God,") during her time in college in Iowa. Entries range in topic from aspirations to faith to guilt to some peeks at her firey personality (through conflicts with others or frustrations over reading or rejection) and the intention behind her writing.

This isn't something that Flannery prepared for publication, and it suffe
Dec 04, 2015 rated it did not like it
Shows you can't trust every recommendation you read in the New York Times' "By the Book" section. I don't even remember which author it was, but he said that this was one of the delights he returns to, and me, being susceptible to good spiritual stuff (often an oxymoron) clicked CART.

Well, cart my good sense off. To make this already anorexic book thicker, the publisher printed all 40 pp. of her "prayers" and then provided pics of her handwritten journal (yes, the same words) to fill the book ou
Jane Glossil
Personal, intimate, honest and sincere prayers so that I feel a bit disrespectful and invasive reading it. It humbles me to know the heart of the Flannery O'Connor so broken and constantly yearning for God. She questions her motives, her thoughts, her soul, her heart, and she reaches out to God for answers and help. Relatable.
Dhanaraj Rajan
There is much that can be said of this slim volume. I learnt a lot personally from this prayer journal. O'Connor teaches me to be humble, to accept the faults, to ask for the faithfulness in spite of the 'intellectual quackery' that is very much part of this world, and to be courageous to ask for the refuge in the embracing hands of God.

Here is a Review of it by Marilynne Robinson that appeared in NEW YORK TIMES. Looks to be very interesting. If interested go through it:
Jun 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: women-authors, essays
An incredibly interesting little book. O'Connor's "prayers" paint an intimate portrait of a young writer struggling with questions of faith and the nature of faith; with a deep-seated fear of mediocrity, both spiritual and artistic; and with a passionate, almost pathological desire to comprehend and transcend the limitations of her nature. O'Connor touches on topics that range from love to self-knowledge to divine grace to art; the breadth of her themes is matched only by the depth with which sh ...more
Mar 12, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-2014
I LOVED this book, though I did feel a little intrusive as I was reading it. I'll have to disagree with some of the introduction, though. I know Sessions was a friend of O'Connor's - and so how do I presume to know more about her than him? - but it seems to me he doesn't understand Christianity, and especially Catholic Christianity, at it's core.

O'Connor's prayers, pleadings, and analysis of herself and God are touching and insightful.

Re-read 05/2016 More moving the second time around. Her knack
Dec 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
should preface by saying that this is barely a book -- the actual journal itself, airily typeset with lots of breaks and white space, comprises barely 50pp. you get an insightful 10pg essay from Sessions and then a photo facsimile of the journal itself. so maybe make this a library book if you are not a completist or are balling frugally at this point in your life. this is flannery o'connor, praying, as a young and slightly daunted writer -- she prays for grace, she prays for artistic success, s ...more
Jan 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
It felt very weird and even disrespectful at points to read someone else's prayers. They're so intimate and deep. Still I found it fascinating and valuable. I couldn't help but nod in agreement with what she had to say and wonder "does God mind if I steal prayers from this book as my own?"

If it's not too awkward to read someone else's prayers then I would definitely recommend this book- to anyone who is struggling with what they want versus what they don't have, who hasn't yet achieved their pu
Melissa Hite
Mar 11, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is very short, but I underlined about half of it.
Mar 25, 2020 rated it it was ok
Today Ms. O'Connor would have been 95. Imagine my surprise when I began reading and learned it was her birthday.

There are very few external characters or situations. This mostly takes place in the landscape of her heart and mind. She desires to be a good writer, and is frustrated with herself for her shortcomings (a little in writing but mostly in faithfulness and belief). The Msgr., classmate Mr. Rothburg, a few authors, and "the psychologists" merit specific mention. The journal concludes in
Wendy Jones
Mar 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is a very short book, but it packs a punch!! I play a video game called Monster Hunter with my husband and boys. In the game, these huge prehistoric monsters can stun and daze you, making it impossible to move unless another player comes and knocks you out of your stupor. Flannery O’Connor is exactly like that; blunt trauma to bring you out of your slumber. I’ve now added Bernanos and Bloy to my must-read list because she mentions them in her prayers, Bloy much more often, and it’s obvious ...more
Apr 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I'll be reading this one again and again.
Sophfronia Scott
Nov 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The text for 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 ...more
Becky Pliego
Only God can "rate" our prayers (in case you are wondering why I didn't rate it).

I honestly hope Flannery O'Connor would have not mind to know that her prayer journal was published, and that I read it.

Some further thoughts in case you love her and would love to read this journal:

The Introduction by W.A. Sessions I can rate, so I give it 2 stars. I very much disliked that the author tries to say that O'Connor was "universal" and that she wrote these letters to a "presence" she "generally named Go
Judy Croome
Jul 14, 2015 rated it really liked it
A short book of which half is photocopies of O'Connor's journal. As a writer myself, and a person of deep faith in a Divine Being (whatever one wishes to call that Divinity), I was fascinated by her struggle to keep faith in God & herself, and by her constant pleas to God to grant her ambitions to be more than a mediocre writer (possibly because they echo my own prayers)

However, cynically, I wondered who tore out the missing pages - was it the publishers themselves(to keep the journal focused o
Amy Edwards
Reading Flannery O'Connor's prayer journal feels very familiar. Her prayers are on one level very different from mine, but in another way it is like seeing my own prayer journal in print. Flannery pleads for grace, and her prayers reflect her a Catholic understanding of salvation (in contrast to my Protestant understanding), but I relate to her request for God to touch her, change her, and make her more like Him. She wants to know God more, to love Him faithfully come what may, and to be given g ...more
Nov 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
Loved reading this brief, behind the scenes look at a young, up and coming writer whose devotional life and literary life are so interdependent. O'Conner believes that her success as an author will come (if it is to come) as God's blessing. The journal records the ups and downs of her struggle to reconcile her new academic experiences at school in the midwest with traditional Catholic piety from Savannah. (I wondered if she struggled with mental health issues since she repeatedly refers to herse ...more
Sam Fink
Feb 11, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very short read. Amazingly insightful for someone who was in her early twenties when she wrote these thoughts. Quite moving. Her youth and yet maturity shine through. Her thoughts go to the heart of the doubts I have felt. Very inspirational.
Tyler Goodson
Aug 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: arcs
The only reason this is 4 stars is because I WANT MORE.
Nov 23, 2013 rated it really liked it
Were I ever asked to choose the one American author whose writing best represents our country--its promises and lies, its perfections and blemishes, its benefits worthy of praise and its mistakes worthy of shame--I would overlook the obvious choices, the Hawthornes and Melvilles and Twains and Fitzgeralds, and choose Flannery O'Connor, a Southern woman who lived her life away from the public eye and died of lupus at the tragically young age of 39. Thankfully, this task of choosing will never fal ...more
Courtney Kleefeld
Jul 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
It's so weird. She wrote this when she was my age--21. And I'm currently writing a prayer book for writers.

On one side, it felt wrong to read this little book. Although part of her journal was torn out already before they published it and many times it felt like she expected people would read it.

Having said that, it was beautiful. To see how her prayers escalated in her desire to want God desperately. It felt like I was reading some of my own journal entries at times, or like I was meeting a lon
Jul 30, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Before the publishing world knew the now-unforgettable name of Flannery O’Connor, she wrote her prayers in a black marble Composition Book when she was a student at the University of Iowa writer's school from 1946-1947.

Don’t let the brevity of this slim volume fool you: depth and struggle and passion are on every page of this transcription of Flannery O'Connors prayer journal; it includes a facsimile of her composition book, which is delightful, not only for authenticity but for the humanity of
David Huff
Jan 18, 2020 rated it really liked it
Having kept, somewhat sporadically, a personal journal myself over the years, I would probably be freaked out a bit to know that it had a postmortem publication. I imagine most any of us would. Still, and especially with public figures like Flannery O'Connor, we can gain meaningful insight into someone's heart and soul from a dairy or journal; even perhaps a sense of what it might've been like to be acquainted with them.

This very brief journal, 40 or so pages, was penned in 1946-1947 when O'Conn
Jul 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Really quick. Like, done in an hour quick. But that's not to say it was without power. As I read I got the feeling that maybe I shouldn't be reading this. Maybe it shouldn't have been published. Prayers are sacred, and I wouldn't want to intrude on a private conversation. Still, I managed to read on because I felt that I was reading my own prayers, as if O'Connor had been sitting on my bed recording the whole colloquy. I like how she prefaced the journal: "I do not mean to deny the traditional p ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • 7 Myths about Singleness
  • Theology of Home: Finding the Eternal in the Everyday
  • Adorning the Dark: Thoughts on Community, Calling, and the Mystery of Making
  • All That's Good: Recovering the Lost Art of Discernment
  • Leavings
  • The Terrible Speed of Mercy: A Spiritual Biography of Flannery O'Connor
  • Nathan Coulter
  • The Director's Vision: A Concise Guide to the Art of 250 Great Filmmakers
  • Traveling Mercies: Some Thoughts on Faith
  • Pragmatism: A New Name for Some Old Ways of Thinking
  • Spiritual Direction: Wisdom for the Long Walk of Faith
  • Life is a Miracle: An Essay Against Modern Superstition
  • Sinners Welcome
  • Introverted Mom: Your Guide to More Calm, Less Guilt, and Quiet Joy
  • Slaying Dragons: What Exorcists See & What We Should Know
  • The Artists of Terezin
  • Rook Di Goo
  • Sailor and Fiddler: Reflections of a 100-Year-Old Author
See similar books…
Flannery O'Connor was born in Savannah, Georgia, in 1925. When she died at the age of thirty-nine, America lost one of its most gifted writers at the height of her powers. O’Connor wrote two novels, Wise Blood (1952) and The Violent Bear It Away (1960), and two story collections, A Good Man Is Hard to Find (1955) and Everything That Rises Must Converge (1964). Her Complete Stories, published posth ...more

Related Articles

Need another excuse to treat yourself to new book this week? We've got you covered with the buzziest new releases of the day. To create our list,...
5 likes · 6 comments
“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.” 22 likes
“Give me the courage to stand the pain to get the grace.” 21 likes
More quotes…