1 Thessalonians 5:17 – pray without ceasing
Family Christian gave me the opportunity to review Max Lucado’s book, before amen. Not only did I jump at the chance to review it, I was excited to! before amen is Family Christian’s 2015 Book of the Year!!! Congrats Max!!! (or is that Mr. Lucado….Mr. L….M.L.?)
Andy Mineo, on his new album Never Land, said it best, “I talk about You more than I talk TO You.”
Countless Christians walk into churches on Sunday where that line is very poignant. Charles Spurgeon, the 19th century preacher, called the basement of his church the powerhouse of the church. That is where the “praying without ceasing” happens. Spurgeon explained it this way, “If the engine room is out of action, then the whole mill will grind to a halt. We cannot expect a blessing if we do not ask.”
Matthew 6:9-13 – “This, then, is how you should pray: “‘Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
Max Lucado brought out before amen, a study on the Lord’s Prayer given to us by Christ in Matthew 6:9-13. The really cool thing about this book is that it breaks down the Lord’s Prayer into simple, understandable nuggets that each Christian can put into practice.
Max calls his version of the Lord’s Prayer the Pocket Prayer. It takes each line of the Lord’s Prayer and places it in simple language. How often have we thought about the Lord’s Prayer and certain lines such as “forgive us our debts…” and said, “My only debt is my mortgage. Is the Lord going to forgive my mortgage?” He takes those lines that many people can get hung up on and breaks into simple terms. For example, for that section above, he calls it “Forgive me.”
He starts introducing us to the Pocket Prayer by saying that he is looking at God through the eyes of a child. We need to get to a place of being God’s child before we can truly understand what it means to pray with faith and power. Children are simple. They don’t speak eloquently or in long-winded fashion. They pray simple, direct prayers.
And that is the definition of Lucado’s Pocket Prayer.
It is to break down the mysticism and fear regarding prayer and turn it into a simple, child-like action of love and faith.
Philippians 4:6-7 – Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Prayer should not be something we need to schedule time in our day to do. It should guide our day.
Prayer should not just be there to talk to God when we need Him the most. It should be the comfort that is with us each and every minute of the day, good times and bad.
Max wants each and every person to know that prayer is simple. It is reaching out in child-like faith to our Daddy. He wants us to realize that is what Jesus was doing when He called out to Abba…father, daddy. If we think of God as daddy, then that changes how we speak to Him. we begin to speak in simple and direct terms.
When my son was 5 and wanted a toy or piece of candy, he would tell me, in no uncertain terms, that he wanted that candy. He didn’t come up to me and say, “Hey daddy, I am thinking of a 5 letter word, starts with ‘c’ and ends with ‘y’.”
But that seems to be what a lot of our prayers sound like.
Mark 11:24 – Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours.
Max is trying to teach us to be direct. Be specific. It isn’t that God needs to hear it to issue it, but it is that we need to hear ourselves say exactly what we need in order to understand when the blessing comes. How can you know you have been blessed if you don’t even know what it is you want God to bless you for?
The overarching message of this book is that prayer is simple and we shouldn’t be scared of it or avoid it.
I do have a small criticism of this book, however. The Pocket Prayer is a paraphrase of the Lord’s Prayer. It is very easy for people to read that all they have to do is utter the 20 words of the Pocket Prayer and their day is sealed. Prayer is a little more involved than that and in each individual chapter around the words of his Pocket Prayer, Lucado goes into more detail that brings the reality of what the prayer is about.
Overall, before amen is a great addition to any Christian’s library. This is especially true for those Christians who are constantly mentoring new believers. This book is a wonderful teaching guide to prayer for a new believer.
1 John 5:14 – And this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will he hears us.
It even has a study guide that will allow the mentor and disciple to spend time in God’s Word, in prayer, and in accountability to each other.
If you would like to find this book and the materials to run a study group around it, you can locate everything on the Family Christian site here.
Max Lucado is the preaching minister at Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, TX. He has published 31 books over the past 29 years. Max, and his wife Denalyn, have three grown daughters.