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Author says mom put prayers in “The God Box”

Author Mary Lou Quinlan shares a poignant story of a mother's tenacious hope and faith through her book called “The God Box.”
by Carla Hinton Published: May 12, 2012
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“She inhaled a worry. She exhaled a prayer. Truth be told, Mom was holier than the rest of our family, but she wasn't a holy roller, if you know what I mean. Deep inside, she just believed.”

— “The God Box”

In the back of her beloved mother's closet, a grieving daughter found containers filled with scraps of paper that surprised and delighted her.

Mary Lou Quinlan, of New York City, had been searching for her mom's “God's Box” — a small wicker box in which the older woman placed her prayers and petitions to the Lord.

On the night before her mother's funeral in 2006, Quinlan struck gold: At the back of a closet, she found not one box, but 10 boxes, stuffed with prayer petitions spanning about two decades.

“In the God Boxes, she had left a 20-year love letter to us in a thousand pieces,” Quinlan wrote in her new book “The God Box: Sharing My Mother's Gift of Faith, Love and Letting Go.”

The book has spawned a popular blog and movement called The God Box Project as Quinlan shares about the tenacious faith of her mother Mary Finlayson. Finlayson's huge capacity to listen to others and pray on their behalf also fuels Quinlan's one-woman show titled “The God Box,” which recently debuted in New York City. And a God Box mobile application will be available soon on iTunes.

In a telephone interview, Quinlan said she is hoping the book causes others to create their own God Box, step up their efforts to pray for others and to let go of the results, trusting God.

Quinlan said she still recalls her astonishment at how detailed her mother's prayer petitions were, some written on notebook paper while others were written on the back of receipts and other tiny pieces of paper.

“We were reading about children who were in the hospital, then we'd read ‘Please protect my Ray,' her husband and my dad,” Quinlan said.

“It was like walking through our lives.”

Quinlan said she was struck by the simplicity of her mother's actions.

“She'd grab whatever was nearby,” Quinlan said, adding that her mother could have placed the prayer requests in an organized fashion like a diary or journal.

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by Carla Hinton
Religion Editor
Carla Hinton, an Oklahoma City native, joined The Oklahoman in 1986 as a National Society of Newspaper Editors minority intern. She began reporting full-time for The Oklahoman two years later and has served as a beat writer covering a wide...
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