Why I chose to read this book…
I chose to read this book because prayer is not something that comes naturally to me. I was raised in a denomination that uses a number of memorized prayers and prayer books. In my childhood home prayer wasn’t modeled beyond the occasional mealtime blessing. To be completely honest, I never really knew why I needed God – only that I should obey him. In my mind God was a distant overseer who should be respected, feared, and appeased. You should not be surprised that once I became an adult I completely walked away from the church. With the exception of the occasional “Hey God, if you’re there….” prayer, which was not an act of true faith, we (God and I) didn’t speak.
In 2003, I was led to Christ by a co-worker. During our talks and my personal time in God’s Word I began to discover who He was and how much I needed Him. I also began to see more clearly the consequences of my sinful choices. I wanted, needed to know that God had a bigger, better, more fulfilling purpose for my life. That’s when I broke the silence with a prayer of surrender.
Within months I met the man that would become my husband. He came to church with me, we later married, and started attending a small group for young couples. After dinner we all moved to the living room to start our book study and that’s when the host said, “We will go around the circle, when it’s your turn pray however you feel led.” The mentor couple’s home had been inviting, but at the mention of praying aloud all of my warm-fuzzy feelings were lost. Panic struck and my heart began to race. As we began, I knew that others in the circle were listening and offering up prayers of agreement but all I could think was “It’s almost my turn! What am I going to say?” I feared sounding stupid, unspiritual, ignorant, and shallow. When my turn came I mumbled something like, “I-I don’t know what to pray….,” and the petitions continued around the circle. I was a prayer failure. The “old me” would have finished the evening and never gone back, however the “new me” was too hungry for God to stop attending the group. I set pride aside and we returned to our small group time and again…though my prayers remained childlike.
After the birth of our son I became a stay at home mom. My husband’s military deployments left me feeling isolated. I pressed firmly into God during those years. I prayed all the time, I joined my first women’s bible study, and I started serving through the local crisis pregnancy center. The center’s outreach program offered free gently used children’s clothing and baby items to families in need. There were limits to the number of items that could take at each visit. It was my duty to monitor inventory, keep things organized, and pray with the women if they would allow me. My faith had been growing, but I was still very uncomfortable praying aloud – especially with strangers.
I am now 12 years into my walk with Christ and looking back, I can see how far my prayer life has come. I’ve learned that my prayers don’t have to spring from a profound understanding of God or the scriptures, to be eloquently spoken, or earth shattering – just honest. My heavenly Father wants to hear from me. He wants to hear from you too. If, like me, prayer is a spiritual discipline that you continue to struggle with or desire to develop more fully, then let me share a book that I have found to be helpful…
In Before Amen The Power of A Simple Prayer, Max Lucado demystifies prayer. He suggests a basic outline that we can build our own prayers on using the example given by Christ himself (The Lord’s Prayer). It’s simple, it’s memorable, and it will be helpful for anyone who wants to pray better, deeper, and stronger.
I wish this book would have been available to me when I first began to follow Christ. There was a time when putting my praises, fears, and questions into a prayer was intimidating. I didn’t know how to pray or where to even begin. What if I messed it up, misspoke, or angered God? Max Lucado shares two things in this book that every new believer needs to know: Prayer is “a heartfelt conversation between God and his child” and even the disciples asked Jesus to teach them how to pray. This book serves as a practical lesson in prayer for all believers and is especially helpful for those of us who have never had prayer modeled to us.
In the first chapter, Max shares a few examples of how prayer is used in scripture, what Jesus said about prayer, and God’s intended purpose for prayer. Then the author introduces The Pocket Prayer. The Pocket Prayer provides a scaffolding of sorts on which readers can begin to build their own conversations with God. In each subsequent chapter, he offers thought provoking stories and prayer prompts to guide readers in praying for themselves and others.
Before Amen is concise–Max presents his ideas within the first 100 pages of the book. The remainder of the book is a study guide prepared by Jenna Lucado Bishop. It’s a valuable tool that prompts readers to personalize the narrative, reflect on passages of scripture, pray, and then be attuned to hear God’s reply. While I completed the study alone, I could see it being used effectively in a teen/college ministry, Sunday School, or new believer class.
I have a tendency to put pastors and Christian authors on a faith pedestal, so I was moved when Max confessed to being a “recovering prayer wimp”. By admitting his personal struggle with prayer, it took the self-imposed weight of prayer perfection off my shoulders and spurred me to reexamine my prayer life. I believe that by building upon The Pocket Prayer, my conversations with God are becoming broader (less self-centered), deeper, and stronger. If you would like to grow in the spiritual discipline of prayer read Before Amen The Power of A Simple Prayer, it earns of 5/5 stars from this reviewer.
**I received this book free as a member of the Family Christian Blogger program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255 “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”
About the Author
Max Lucado is a preacher with a storyteller’s gift—a pastor’s heart and a poet’s pen. With more than 100 million products in print, Max Lucado is one of America’s most widely read authors.
Max’s words have traveled around the world in more than 54 languages via more than 120 million individual products. Of these 120 million, 90 million are books and have occupied spots on every major national bestseller list. He has been dubbed “America’s Pastor” by Reader’s Digest, and even named one of the most influential leaders in social media by The New York Times.