One of the reasons I have always enjoyed Max Lucado’s books and devotionals is because he has a talent for writing the most profound messages in such an easy-to-comprehend way. He begins this book by announcing that he is a recovering prayer wimp, and admits that has dozed off while praying. He also admits that his thoughts zig, then zag, then zig again.
“If attention deficit disorder applies to prayer, I am afflicted.” Max Lucado - Before Amen
Though describing himself, he is also describing me.
Prayer is very important in my life. I have been praying for as long as I can remember. My earliest prayer memories are as a child, kneeling to say my bedtime prayers. My husband and I repeated this ritual with our children, and, though they are grown, I still remind them to pray.
But I always wondered if I was praying the right way. My prayers aren’t anything like I have heard in church. I have times where I sit with my very long list, filled with my own wants and needs, plus the wants and needs of family, friends, and others. There are days when I am busy, rushing through my list, and halfway through the day, I realize that I have forgotten to pray for someone.
So when I had the opportunity to review this book, I jumped at the chance. I wanted to learn how to pray more, better, stronger and with more faith.
Before Amen is a very quick read, very easy to understand, and very easy to implement. What I appreciated the most is the fact that Max Lucado - who, in addition to being an author is also a pastor - was having the same focus problems as me. Just knowing that gave me hope! He also reminded me that praying isn’t just handing over a wish list during tough times, but a conversation between me and my heavenly Father. Just as a human relationship can’t develop or survive without conversation, neither can one with God.
Using The Lord’s Prayer and other prayers as a starting point, Max Lucado came up with this pocket prayer:
Father, you are good. I need help. Heal and forgive me. They need help. Thank you. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Just. That. Simple. That little prayer covers it all.
In Before Amen, Max Lucado expounds on the pocket prayer, breaking it down into points, and offers explanations, suggestions and Scripture readings to support each portion of the prayer. One of my favorite chapters is the one that covers “Thank You.” Let’s face it - there are days that it is really hard to be thankful for anything. Life can be really tough. So on those days, he suggests a gratitude list, simply by an alphabetical listing. How simple is that? On my worst day, I can say “I am grateful for: A) Air I breathe; B) Bacon! C) Coffee; D) Dave and Dan (our sons); E) Electricity;” and so on.
When I opened this book, I had a hope that I would learn to pray better. That’s not what I got out of it. What I gained was so much more. I gained awareness. I learned that it doesn’t matter how long I pray, but that I pray. It matters that I say thank you, for the big things and the little things. It matters that I pray for others. I matter to God. And before amen, my conversation is sealed in Jesus’ name.
If you are seeking to improve your prayer life, I would highly recommend Before Amen, which also includes a study guide. Since reading this book, I find myself praying more throughout the entire day. It is a book I will keep, and refer to again and again. I feel that my prayer life has been enriched, just by following the simple example of the pocket prayer. And bonus: I am more focused - no more dozing off while praying!
Note: I received a free copy of this book from Family Christian for the purpose of review. The opinions are my own.
© Lynne Cobb - 2015
Do you have trouble focusing while praying? If so, what have you done to help focus?