Help Me Be: Praying in Poems

I’m always on the look out for good poetry:

  • A hark back to my high school years when I wrote a lot of poetry.
  • In Scripture, I love the poetry of the Psalms.
  • I love the richness of liturgy and poetry in worship.

So I was excited to hear about Help Me Be: Praying in Poems by Dale C.  Fredrickson.


In a brief foreword to the book, Walter Brueggemann calls it “a rich gift,” and poet/pastor Dale Fredrickson has arranged his poems according to Brueggemann’s three-part understanding of the psalms: orientation (poems of praise to God), disorientation (poems of lament or asking for help), and new orientation (finding one’s way again).

In the tradition of the biblical psalms, most of these poems are prayers, and very appropriate for a worship setting. I’ve already chosen “Brand New Week” (from the poems of orientation) to pray with my own congregation sometime soon. It reads in part:

We ask you today,
To comfort, challenge, and have compassion on us.
To guide, gift, and be gracious to us.
To heal, help, and bring hope to us.
We ask you to kindle a fire within us,
Setting aflame purpose,
Passion, and adventure for us.

These prayer poems are pastoral, theologically sound, embracing various themes from creation to everyday relationships to peace in the world. There are some wonderful lines like these from “God of New Life” (from the poems of new orientation):

In the midst of these fearful fridays,
You reign a Resurrection upon us.

At the same time, I found myself thinking that the poems could have benefited from some additional editing—to reduce some of the repetition, to be more focussed, so that gems like the lines above don’t get lost.

Here’s a video of Dale Fredrickson delivering the first poem of this collection, “You Amaze us God”:

Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book through the Speakeasy blogging book review network in an exchange for an honest review.


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7 thoughts on “Help Me Be: Praying in Poems

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