Anne Lamott Anne Lamott, the "bad girl" of born-again Christianity, is still figuring out spiritual truth while keeping her progressive values and sense of humor. Her books include the best-selling "Operating Instructions" (on having a baby solo), "Traveling Mercies" (on her journey as a Christian), and "Bird by Bird" (a classic on writing). In a two-part interview (read the second half), she spoke with Beliefnet about what she says--and feels--when she prays.

How do you pray?

How She Prays
I say "help me, help me!" Or I say "Hi God," I say "Hi Jesus." I get on my knees first thing in the morning. Actually I lie in bed for a little while with my dog and cat, my main prayer partners.

I just talk to God, and say, "Thank you" for the morning's beautiful weather – it's sunny or rainy or whatever – and [because] I'm alive, and warm, and safe, and I have these cute animals.

I just talk casually and lovingly. Then I get on my knees and I say some prayers. I usually ask prayers for Sam, who is sixteen-and-a-half and driving, and people who are struggling right now with their health.

I pray a lot differently in church, which is to pray more communally. Often crying out during the prayers just from my own heart, if something is really troubling me, or if I'm just feeling a great need to express praise.I talk to God a lot very casually as a friend during the course of the day. But I don't know if I could get a credit for praying, a full credit. Maybe a partial credit.

Do you have favorite prayers?

I mostly extemporize.

Her Favorite Prayer
I often say the Saint Francis prayer, but not usually for my morning prayer–that long famous prayer. I often say that when I find myself stricken or stuck or obsessed, because it is medicine, that prayer.

When you pray, how do you hear from God?

I hear His--sometimes Her--God's presence immediately. I know that someone's listening. It's the knowledge in my soul that when I say, "Hello, hi," someone's hearing me.

I have such an unsophisticated prayer and religious and spiritual life that I have a very immediate relationship with Jesus, so it's usually to him that I pray.

I usually say "hi," and I can just feel him say, "Hi, hi hon." Sometimes if I'm praying for discernment, when I'm really stuck and I don't know which way to turn--or, most likely,
What She Feels When She Prays
when I absolutely can't let go of something that's driving me nuts, then the way I hear is this kind of Holy Spirit nudge on my heart, where all of a sudden I have the answer. It always makes me laugh that it's so obvious.

Or the phone rings, or the mail comes, or I see someone I haven't seen since we were in ninth grade together. I see them at the health food store and they say something that was exactly the answer I was looking for. It's like that beautiful line of Rumi's that someone always fills the cup.