Monday, January 19, 2015

Before Amen by Max Lucado ~ Book Review

I had the opportunity to receive a free review copy and, having not read anything by Lucado for a good 12 years or more, was pleasantly surprised by the easy-going tone and light-hearted wit in this little book.

Before starting the book, I wrote down my thoughts on prayer:

Although I don't spend as much time in Bible study as I'd like, I feel like my "prayer life" is strong. I go to God in need, just as much as I go to him in thanks. In fact, I probably thank him more, lately, than anything else. When I feel his Spirit nudging me to pray, I'm faithful the majority of the time. Without my prayer life, I don't think I'd feel close to God right now, as everything else seems far less grounded than my being able to talk to God anytime and anywhere.

Recently, my eight-year-old daughter, Selah, and I were discussing prayer and Bible reading. I told her how essential prayer is to our relationship with God. Not everyone can have daily Bible study time, but just about everyone can pray. Like Lucado points out, there's no need to be profound. Prayer is a simple conversation.

"Prayer, for most of us, is not a matter of a month-long retreat or even an hour of meditation. Prayer is conversation with God while driving to work or awaiting an appointment or before interacting with a client. Prayer can be the internal voice that directs the external action." ~page 7

Regarding prayer, Before Amen reinforced truths I know and practice. However, there was a great little section on guilt that really spoke to me. Lucado explained how guilt is God's idea and how it reveals to us the difference between who we are and who God wants us to be. It prods us to repentance. While I often deal with unnecessary guilt for things that are really out of my control, it's refreshing to be encouraged to put guilt in its proper place and understand that it can be beneficial. More than that, its nice to see someone not trying to talk me out of my guilt and blaming it on the enemy trying to discourage me at every turn. Funny how much "God stuff" we blame on the devil.

A special component of the book that I appreciate is the in-depth study guide, as well as the "prayer strengths" guide, that makes up two-thirds of the book. More than just a few discussion topics, there are sections for each chapter that provide the reader with the opportunity to pull the most possible from the reading. Whether you're studying alone or in a small group, definitely take the time to go through the study sections. They'll help you examine your current prayer habits, strengths and weaknesses, and stir up a desire to kick the good stuff up a notch or two!

Book Description: "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? 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, bestselling 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."

This book will be included in my goals toward the Full House Reading Challenge for Award Winning, since it's the Family Christian 2015 book of the year. For more information on the challenges I've joined this year, see my post: Reading Challenges.

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