A Prayer Journal

Flannery O'Connor; Edited by W. A. Sessions

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

“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 rare portal into the interior life of the great writer. Not only does it map O’Connor’s singular relationship with the divine, but it shows how entwined her literary desire was with her yearning for God. “I must write down that I am to be an artist. Not in the sense of aesthetic frippery but in the sense of aesthetic craftsmanship; otherwise I will feel my loneliness continually . . . I do not want to be lonely all my life but people only make us lonelier by reminding us of God. Dear God please help me to be an artist, please let it lead to You.”

O’Connor could not be more plain about her literary ambition: “Please help me dear God to be a good writer and to get something else accepted,” she writes. Yet she struggles with any trace of self-regard: “Don’t let me ever think, dear God, that I was anything but the instrument for Your story.”

As W. A. Sessions, who knew O’Connor, writes in his introduction, it was no coincidence that she began writing the stories that would become her first novel, Wise Blood, during the years when she wrote these singularly imaginative Christian meditations. Including a facsimile of the entire journal in O’Connor’s own hand, A Prayer Journal is the record of a brilliant young woman’s coming-of-age, a cry from the heart for love, grace, and art.


Read an Excerpt

“Dear God, I cannot love Thee the way I want to. You are the slim crescent of a moon that I see and my self is the earth’s shadow that keeps me from seeing all the moon . . .

“I do not know you God because I a m in the way. Please help me to push myself aside . . .

“I do not mean to deny the traditional prayers I have said all my life; but I have been saying them and not feeling them. My attention is always very fugitive. This way I have it every instant. I can feel a warmth of love heating me when I think & write this to You.”




Praise for A Prayer Journal

In the Press

Flannery O’Connor and Catholicism: A Prayer Journal, reviewed.
When I was diagnosed with a rare muscle disease a dozen years ago, it hit me that I didn’t believe in God. Maybe “hit me” is too strong a way to put it. I just gradually realized that I wasn’t praying to God to help me stay well, to understand...
- Slate
Flannery O'Connor's 'Prayer Journal' - NYTimes.com
Flannery O'Connor's journal addressed to God was written when she was a 20-year-old student at the Iowa Writers' Workshop.
- The New York Times

Reviews from Goodreads



  • Flannery O'Connor; Edited by W. A. Sessions

  • Flannery O’Connor was born in Savannah, Georgia, in 1925. A devoted Catholic, she lived most of her life on a farm in Milledgeville, Georgia, where she raised peacocks and wrote. She was the author of two novels, Wise Blood and The Violent Bear It Away; thrity-one short stories; and numerous essays and reviews. When she died at the age of thirty-nine, America lost one of its most gifted writers at the height of her powers. Her complete short stories, published posthumously in 1971, received the National Book Award for fiction.

  • Flannery O'Connor © De Casseres


Available Formats and Book Details

A Prayer Journal

Flannery O'Connor; Edited by W. A. Sessions

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Farrar, Straus and Giroux