6 reviews

The Prayer Box
by Lisa Wingate

Published: 2019-02-05
Paperback : 400 pages
11 members reading this now
25 clubs reading this now
4 members have read this book
Recommended to book clubs by 6 of 6 members
ECPA Christian Book Award Finalist, Christy Award Finalist, Christianity Today Book Award Finalist!
"THE PRAYER BOX is a masterpiece of story and skill."-- Debbie Macomber, NYT #1 Bestselling Author
"A good option for fans of Nicholas Sparks and Mary Alice Monroe" - Library ...
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ECPA Christian Book Award Finalist, Christy Award Finalist, Christianity Today Book Award Finalist!

"THE PRAYER BOX is a masterpiece of story and skill."-- Debbie Macomber, NYT #1 Bestselling Author

"A good option for fans of Nicholas Sparks and Mary Alice Monroe" - Library Journal 

When Iola Anne Poole, an old-timer on Hatteras Island, passes away in her bed at ninety-one, the struggling young mother in her rental cottage, Tandi Jo Reese, finds herself charged with the task of cleaning out Iola's rambling Victorian house.

Running from a messy, dangerous past, Tandi never expects to find more than a temporary hiding place within Iola's walls, but everything changes with the discovery of eighty-one carefully decorated prayer boxes, one for each year, spanning from Iola's youth to her last days. Hidden in the boxes is the story of a lifetime, written on random bits of paper--the hopes and wishes, fears and thoughts of an unassuming but complex woman passing through the seasons of an extraordinary, unsung life filled with journeys of faith, observations on love, and one final lesson that could change everything.

Editorial Review

No editorial review at this time.



When trouble blows in, my mind always reaches for a single, perfect day in Rodanthe. The memory falls over me like a blanket, a worn quilt of sand and sky, the fibers washed soft with time. I wrap it around myself, picture the house along the shore, its bones bare to the wind and the sun, the wooden shingles clinging loosely, sliding to the ground now and then, like scales from some mythical sea creature washed ashore. Overhead, a hurricane shutter dangles by one nail, rocking back and forth in the breeze, protecting an intact window on the third story. Gulls swoop in and out, landing on the salt-sprayed rafters—scavengers come to pick at the carcass left behind by the storm. ... view entire excerpt...

Discussion Questions

1. Iola’s written prayers create a record of her life. Have you ever written down your prayers or considered writing them down? What advantages can you see to using a prayer box?

2. How do the prayer boxes change Tandi’s perspective on faith? Do you think the simple display of everyday belief can change people, even change a community? Have you ever seen it happen?

3. Tandi wants a better life for Zoey and J.T., but she struggles with figuring out how to make that happen. What did you think of her choices about how to care for them? How did you feel about her parenting at the beginning of the story? At the end?

4. Iola sees the kindness of friends and strangers as an extension of grace. Do you agree? Have you seen the “grace water” in your own life or in your community?

5. It seemed to be easier for Iola to give help than to accept it. Why might that be? Is it easier for you to serve others or to accept the gift of service?

6. Before Isabelle leaves for college, she and Iola have opposite goals for their future—Iola opting for a “safe” life and Isabelle seeking adventure. Isabelle notes that “fear builds walls rather than bridges.” Do you think Iola, as a young woman, made her choices based on fear? Which woman’s perspective is closest to your own?

7. Tandi finds herself so trapped by her past, by the need to replace the love she lacked growing up with something, that she consistently repeats the same mistakes with men. Yet when Ross comes into her life, she sees him as her “knight in shining armor.” Why? Have you seen similar relationship patterns in your own life? What advice would you give to a woman trying to move beyond the wounds of her past and become fully whole?

8. Iola enters into her life as a WAAC and even into her marriage while keeping her heritage a secret. Have you ever maintained a family secret? Or have you ever discovered one in your family? Do you think Iola made the right choice when she ultimately decided to risk telling her husband the truth?

9. Tandi wonders how Iola could cast aside the word anathema rather than taking it on as a part of herself. How do you think Iola was able to do this? Is it possible to shed the labels given to us by others? How can we accept that one most important label—beloved?

10. Tandi and Zoey struggle as mother and daughter, particularly as Zoey navigates her teenage years. Is the relationship between all mothers and daughters a battle in some ways, or is this a result of Tandi’s past mistakes? How can mothers guide their daughters without being overbearing? Do you think children can be prevented from repeating their parents’ mistakes, or do they have to figure things out on their own?

11. Sandy seems to almost instantly recognize that Tandi has been sent to the Seashell Shop for a reason and quickly welcomes her into the sisterhood, yet Sandy’s reaction to Gina is very different. Why do you think that is? Have you ever had an intuition about someone that proved to be true? Or have you seen a first impression proven wrong?

12. Iola eventually desires to live her life “in anticipation of the bridges to magnificence.” Some people seem to have a talent for doing this—for always seeing the positive and looking at the future with anticipation. Where do you think that ability comes from? Does this reflect your outlook on life? If not, how could you cultivate a spirit of anticipation?

13. Even when the community shunned her, Iola didn’t reveal the truth about her relationship to the Benoit family. Why do you think she kept that secret all her life?

14. Despite the evidence stacking up to the contrary, Tandi can’t quite give up on the dream of having a real relationship with her sister. Why do you think the bonds of family sometimes hold us, even when everyone around us is advising us to cut the ties? Do you agree with Sandy that sometimes the family we find can be as powerful as the one we’re born with? Do you think Tandi and Gina will ever reunite?

15. What did you take away from The Prayer Box? Did you relate more closely to Iola’s story or to Tandi’s?

Notes From the Author to the Bookclub

No notes at this time.

Book Club Recommendations

Member Reviews

Overall rating:
by Mary Taggart S. (see profile) 11/30/23

by Pat. B. (see profile) 03/28/22

I found the main character ridiculous at the beginning. She made such poor decisions especially about men. But things improved as she got involved with the prayer boxes. Her character became... (read more)

by Tracy H. (see profile) 10/22/21

by Sandra K. (see profile) 10/31/19

by Brenda M. (see profile) 06/20/19

  "The Prayer Box"by Nancy B. (see profile) 11/22/17

This actually ended up being a touching story. However, I've read so many suspense stories lately and, because of that, I just couldn't bring myself to devote the time I should have to read ... (read more)

by Shannon V. (see profile) 01/09/16

by Donna A. (see profile) 02/08/15

  "The prayer box"by Jeannette F. (see profile) 09/19/14

Was a very life changing book ! Great for book clubs lots to talk about.

  "The Prayer Box"by Faith L. (see profile) 09/19/14

Great book club book.

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