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How to Pray Like Dolly Parton

The country music icon is as passionate about her faith as her performing.

Dolly Parton on Guideposts
Credit: Larsen&Talbert
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I’ve been fortunate to sit in on several Guideposts interviews with Dolly Parton and let me tell you something: she is the real deal. As passionate about her faith as she is about her music.

Later this month, on January 19, she’ll be celebrating her 75thbirthday. (She couldn’t possibly be that old!) 

Here are a few prayer tips I’ve learned from Dolly, from what I’ve read about her and what she’s said in interviews. Not to mention the witness of her incredible life.

Be forthright.
Dolly is as bold about prayer as she is about life. She admits that she often wakes up in the wee hours of the morning. She doesn’t seem to turn to the TV or log on to the computer. She logs on to God. She prays. Not just for herself but the needs of countless others.

Be private.
As open and frank as she is, as a public personality, there are things she won’t talk about, and she says so, kindly and unapologetically. Private matters are just between her and God.

It makes me think of what Jesus said about prayer, how we are not to be like the Pharisees and pray openly where everybody can hear us, showing off our spirituality. Jesus told us to go into closets and pray secretly there. Dolly is no spiritual show-off.

Be forgiving.
There are moments in her career where Dolly has made huge acts of forgiveness. She doesn’t talk about it much—again, that unexpected humility—but I bet it comes right out of her prayer life. After all, wasn’t that what Jesus taught in the Lord’s Prayer? Forgiveness always and forevermore.

Match prayer with action.
There is a wonderful old expression about “putting shoe leather to prayer.” That’s what Dolly does. She is extraordinarily generous, giving in ways that we know about—including funding research for a Covid vaccine—and probably in ways that we’ll never know. Giving in secret.

Be creative.
Dolly writes songs. She sings them. She takes those heavenly doses of inspiration and makes something out of them. Would that I could do that when I pray each morning. To be open to however God can use me. To hear our Creator.

Happy Birthday, Dolly. We all give thanks to you and for you. May God continue to bless you in your days ahead.

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