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‘Before Amen: The Power of a Simple Prayer’

Max Lucado’s new book offers simple, heart-felt advice on how to stengthen your own prayer life and grow closer to God. 

Max Lucado author of the new book Before Amen

Anybody who brags about being a “recovering prayer wimp” and yet still writes a book about prayer is to be trusted.

“Distractions swarm like gnats on a summer night,” writes Max Lucado in his new book Before Amen. “If attention deficit disorder applies to prayer, I am afflicted.  When I pray, I think of a thousand things I need to do. I forget the one thing I set out to do: pray.”

Thanks Max for not being so holy that you can’t admit to not always being holy when you pray. Honesty like that, especially from a preacher like you, helps immensely.  And your book is indeed helpful.

For instance, talking about confession — one of those things we’re supposed to do in prayer — you remind us, “Go into as much detail as you can…

“Exactly what is it that you need forgiveness for? For being a bad person? That is too general. For losing your patience in the business meeting and calling your coworker a creep? There, you can confess that.”

“Confession,” the author write, “is not a punishment for sin; it is an isolation of sin so it can be exposed and extracted.” It’s a place for healing and healing happens when you’re specific about the wound.

What about those unanswered prayers? We all have them even if we don’t always want to go public with them. For Max, it’s pain in his writing hand. 

“Even as I write these words, I feel stiffness in my thumb, fingers, forearm and shoulder.  The doctors chalk it up to thirty-plus books written in longhand. Over the decades the repeated motion has restricted my movement…”

As he says, he goes to a therapist, avoids the golf course and even practices yoga.  And most of all, he prays. not eloquent prayers but honest ones: Lord, I need help…Father, my hand is stiff.

“I’m not Max, the author. I am Max, the guy whose hand is wearing out. I want God to heal my hand. Thus far he has used my hand to heal my heart.”

Deftly put. One, nagging, irritating unanswered prayer leads to a much bigger prayer being answered. A healed heart. Wouldn’t we all take that over a stiff hand?

Max is the best of Jesus’ followers, following his lead in prayer, reminding us that the Lord told us to go into our rooms and close the door, praying in secret and being rewarded. He offers a simple prayer that can be said anywhere, held anywhere, remembered anywhere, to cover all those basics:

Father, you are good.  I need help.  Heal me and forgive me.  They need help.  Thank you.  In Jesus’ name, amen.

This is a thin book, no more than 125 pages. But the thinking is big. And easy. I think of you, Max, writing out those words by hand, feeling the pain and praying as you write, producing a book on prayer that was prayed through, stiff joint by stiff joint, prayer by prayer. 

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