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Prayer is a form of communication that we utilize subconsciously. Whether Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, or other, we all talk to something or someone greater than ourselves. Our audience might be God or the stars and the Earth, or the little angel and devil on our shoulder—whoever receives our prayers, we all know that a listener is better than the empty air of when we talk to ourselves. We need confirmation of our thoughts, affirmations of our feelings, and a listening ear during troubled times.
From the early days of Christianity, prayer has been intimidating because language in the early days of the church—and even from the days of Jesus’ missionary work with his disciples—used formalized words that the laypeople did not understand. This misbelief that prayer must be structured, comprehensive, and analytical prevents many people from praying regularly and having conversations with our Heavenly Father. Sometimes, according to popular Christian author Max Lucado, Christians feel their prayers would be too informal; sometimes they feel that God would not care about their problems; sometimes the negative situations and influences take hold of Christians’ minds; and sometimes they don’t know what to say. Therefore, Lucado believes that the easiest approach to take is to not pray at all.
But prayer is essential to a wholesome Christian life, so Lucado teaches in Before Amen: The Power of a Simple Prayer that Jesus’ original form and wording of prayer are all we need to have a fulfilling relationship with God. In nine chapters, Before Amen discusses elements of prayer, Scripture, and behavior that can assist Christians in comprehending the simplicity of conversation with God. Lucado emphasizes his Pocket Prayer, a quick verse that demonstrates God’s goodness, humans’ need for help, and gratitude for God’s mercy—all elements that he believes are the foundation of Christian faith. Rather than a generic formalized prayer that has little application to everyday life, the Pocket Prayer is a simple statement of faith and gratitude that is easy to say anytime, anywhere.
Lucado has dominated the Christian non-fiction genre and mainstream market for many years; while Before Amen is the first book by the author that I have read, I can certainly see why his books continue to remain popular. Before Amen is quick and simple book that can be read in a few short hours. The reading level of the text is easy: short sentences, easy words, and small chapters. Lucado relies on humorous quips that help readers relate to the theological aspect of the book and emotional stories to draw out readers’ faith. However, with the limited number of pages in the book and the simplicity of the text, Before Amen lacks the depth needed to truly impact readers in meaningful way in regards to prayer life. Lucado supports his arguments with Scripture but does not truly analyze that text to persuade readers that his belief about prayer is correct. In addition, the beginnings of some of Before Amen’s chapter’s do not correlate with the theological discussion that follows. While I understand that Lucado’s writing style appeals to readers who like an approachable way to their faith, the structure and language of Before Amen do not entice me to read any more of the author’s books.
Review copy was provided free of any obligation by Thomas Nelson. No monetary or any other form of compensation was received.
This review was written and will be published by Litfuse Publicity.
Rating: 3 of 5 stars
About the book
We all pray . . . some.
We pray to stay sober, centered, or solvent. When the lump is deemed malignant. When the money runs out before the month does. When the marriage is falling apart. We pray.
But wouldn’t we like to pray more? Better? Stronger? With more fire, faith, and fervency?
Yet we have kids to feed, bills to pay, deadlines to meet. The calendar pounces on our good intentions like a tiger on a rabbit. And what about our checkered history with prayer? Uncertain words. Unmet expectations. Unanswered requests.
We aren’t the first to struggle with prayer. The first followers of Jesus needed prayer guidance too. In fact, prayer is the only tutorial they ever requested.
And Jesus gave them a prayer. Not a lecture on prayer. Not the doctrine of prayer. He gave them a quotable, repeatable, portable prayer. Couldn’t we use the same?
In Before Amen best-selling author Max Lucado joins readers on a journey to the very heart of biblical prayer, offering hope for doubts and confidence even for prayer wimps. Distilling prayers in the Bible down to one pocket-sized prayer, Max reminds readers that prayer is not a privilege for the pious nor the art of a chosen few. Prayer is simply a heartfelt conversation between God and his child. Let the conversation begin.
About the Author
More than 120 million readers have found comfort in the writings of Max Lucado. He ministers at the Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, Texas, where he lives with his wife, Denalyn, and a sweet but misbehavin