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Before Amen by Max Lucado

Best-selling author's readable encouragement to pray

Before Amen225Before Amen - The power of a simple prayer
Max Lucado
Thomas Nelson
ISBN No: 978-0-7180-1637-1
Reviewed By: Jeannie Kendall

I start with a confession, if that is the right word. I’ve never read anything by Max Lucado before. Judging by the booklist at the back of this one, he’s extremely prolific and so presumably read by many. So if you are looking for comparisons with his other books, there won’t be any...

I loved his start: “My name is Max. I’m a recovering prayer wimp”. He begins with refreshing honesty about the things which I suspect most of us suffer from (unless you are one of the Prayer Giants Association he refers to).

He points out, reassuringly, that prayer for most of us is “not a matter of a month-long retreat or even an hour of meditation” but more conversation with God amid our daily tasks.

His premise is a simple one. The prayers of the Bible, he maintains, can be distilled into the following” pocket prayer”:
                  You are good
                                    I need help. Heal me and forgive me.
                                                      They need help.
                                                                        Thank you.
                                                                                          In Jesus’ name, amen.

The book then goes through each of these, a chapter at a time. It is very readable. In many ways it leaves many questions hanging – if you are looking for a deep theological treatise on prayer, this is not for you. It is much more an encouragement to pray, which (at risk of upsetting my theologian friends) is perhaps much more what we ordinary mortals need.

At the back of the book are two resources. First of all there is a study guide, to help the reader put each chapter into practice using the acronym PRAY: Pesonalise (with some questions for self-awareness), Reflect (on the major points for each chapter), Abide (actually praying!) and yield (surrendering to God afresh).

The second looks at prayer strengths, distilling the prayer further into Worship (you are good), Trust (I need help), Compassion (they need help) and Gratitude (thank you). The reader is encouraged to identify which of these is a strength, and to seek to grow in the areas which they need to grow in. Both these resources have been prepared by other authors.

There is also an almost bewildering array of other materials: prayer journal, church campaign kit, DVD… At first I was mildly depressed fearing commercialisation, but I have mellowed and think this could be a genuinely useful resource for individuals, small groups or churches.

We can all grow in prayer, can’t we?

Jeannie is co-minister of Carshalton Beeches Baptist church, a former visiting lecturer at Spurgeon’s College, a member of Sutton Street Pastors’ Management Board and a District Minister in the London Baptist Association


Baptist Times, 03/07/2015
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