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Wednesday, July 4, 2012

God Box: It doesn't hurt to ask

Praying Hands (by A. Durer)
Although petitional prayer has fallen somewhat out of favor with the “que sera sera” set, Mary Lou Quinlan has come to believe that “it doesn’t hurt to ask.”

It wasn’t always that way for Quinlan.  She began life as more of a Type A fix-it personality.  However, while she and her husband Joe were “20-somethings” building a life in New York City, Quinlan’s mother Mary was enhancing her Florida retirement years with a new endeavor:  the God Box.  Not a gold-plated chest like the Ark of the Covenant, Mary’s original God Box was instead a simple trinket container that she “filled with her typed or handwritten requests.”

The requests read something like these:  Dear God, Please let our house sell today…  Dear Jesus, Please let Jen meet the right guy…  (Jen was a Jewish friend of the Catholic Quinlan family’s.)  They were then followed up with notes like this one:  Good mammogram, thank you.

In her Real Simple article “Inside the God Box,” Quinlan explained that Mary’s family members each had different interpretations at first.  Mary’s husband (and Quinlan’s father) Ray thought of the God Box as an antidote to worrying.  Quinlan and her brother Jack thought of it as a security blanket.  All the while, Mary was faithfully adding Box after Box of these written prayers, which she kept tucked away in the recesses of her closet.

These God Box notes were perused by Quinlan after Mary’s death.  There were ten Boxes of them altogether, “filled to the brim with petitions spanning two decades.”  Mary’s family felt truly blessed with this “20-year love letter… in hundreds of pieces” that she had left behind.

The God Box concept has since expanded into the God Box Project.  Under the able leadership of Mary Lou Quinlan, this Project includes a book, a one-woman play, and a mobile app.

Copyright July 4, 2012 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved


  1. Linda. Thank you for this beautiful piece. I appreciate your talent and care and hope this encourages others to ask. My best, Mary Lou Quinlan

    1. Mary Lou,

      And many thanks to you for teaching us
      this wonderful way to "inhale worries
      and exhale prayers" -