**I received a copy of this book in exchange for my honest review. All thoughts and opinions are 100% my own.
What is Christianity? Is it going to church? Wearing a cross? Posting an occasional religious meme on Facebook? Knowing the Bible cover to cover? Going to Bible Study? These may be things that Christians DO, but these are not the things that make a Christian a Christian.
The reality is being a Christian really means having a personal relationship with God. Having a relationship with him is much like having a relationship with anyone else in your life- a friend, a father, a confidant... which means like in all relationships, communication is key. That's right, we're talking about prayer!
For many, the idea of prayer can be a little confusing...intimidating even. I mean this is GOD we're talking to, we want to do it right! But truly, what does that even mean? Are we praying wrong if we don't sound like the preacher praying in church every Sunday? Or if we ask for things that seem trivial? What if our prayers are too short? Or we talk God's ear off? What are we supposed to say? How are we supposed to say it? What happens if we just don't know how!? These are questions asked by many...and questions that Max Lucado looks to answer in his newest book, Before Amen:
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.
I'd heard many great reviews on Max Lucado in the past, but to be honest, this was the first book of his I'd had the chance to read, so I was looking forward to see what the hype was about. It certainly lived up to my expectations. Right away I found myself agreeing wholeheartedly with everything Max had to say, and I loved that right from the beginning he admitted that he was not always the greatest at prayer- that he got distracted, struggled to find the words...all those things us 'normal' people struggle with in prayer. Perhaps its just me, but I much prefer a discussion with an equal rather than a lecture from someone who does it right ALL the time.
And that's truly what it felt like- a discussion with a friend. There were many points where I found the ideas on prayer to be those I'd thought myself...and others to be ideas that I'd perhaps not given much thought, but which made perfect sense. Still, it again didn't feel like a lecture. I didn't feel like I was being told I was doing it wrong. Instead I felt like I was being helped to know how to do better. Max uses fun stories and comparisons to make it more personable, easy to understand and entertaining too. He even offers a simple pocket prayer to help us get started on the right track.
Like any good relationship, when the communication is stronger, the relationship grows stronger with it...and I truly felt like this book helped to remind me how important prayer is, and how to improve my prayer life. If you're looking to grow closer to God in the next year, I highly recommend you read Before Amen. It's easy to follow, and you'll be thankful you did!
But don't just take my word for it. Family Christian has also named Max Lucado's Before Amen as their Book of the Year! They too saw what a great asset this guide could be to help each and every one of us improve our prayer life and grow closer to God.
Want to check it out for yourself? Before Amen is available to purchase at your local Family Christian store or online.
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Does your prayer life need a little motivation? How could Before Amen help you or someone you know?