Before Amen, by Max Lucado
Why did I start reading this book? Recently, I have noticed two things: (1) My prayer life with God has been stale and (2) I have been stressed. Both of these are actually related. I realized that prayers were stale and I was stressed, because I was not properly spending time with God. Consequently, I was losing my ability to communicate clearly, and I was not burdening him with my worries. It took me about 3 weeks of stress and anxiety to realize that my poor sleep and overwhelming feelings of stress were a result of simply not spending time with Jesus. I bought two books to fix my situation, “Before Amen” and “Anxious for Nothing.” Both by Max Lucado. I figured one has to do with prayer, and the other anxiety, which are the two items that have been suffering in my life. Instead of reading God’s word, I have been obsessed with reading secular books, as evidenced in this blog site. Which is fine. I really enjoy reading, and I feel like I’ve been learning a ton. However, I’ve been neglecting the most important branch of my life, Christ. Moving forward, I will make it a goal to read a Christian book at least every third book. This should be consistent enough to remind me of God’s word and promises. It should keep me grounded. And if my life starts to slip again, then I can always increase the frequency. Honestly, I was quite excited when I realized that the reason for my stress and poor prayers was due to a lack of time with my Savior. Because when you know what the problem is, then you can fix it. I can fix this! That’s what the goal of reading this book is: to spend time with God, and to pray earnestly and openly.
Max Lucado’s writing style is very simple and easy to read. It’s not eloquent or superfluous. Just like the prayers that we should be praying. Don’t pray to impress. Prayers do not need to be eloquent or long-winded. They simply need to be honest cries to God. God is your father. Just talk to him. Here’s Max’s example:
You are good.
I need help.
Heal me and forgive me.
They need help.
In Jesus’s name, Amen.
When we pray, we invite God into our world and cast our worries and troubles onto him. Prayer lifts the burden or worry from our lives. Who doesn’t want to live a more worry-free life?
1. Father. Daddy. I like the story that Max uses in this chapter as an illustration. His daughter made a big mistake during one her piano recitals. After the recital, she ran to her father, wrapped her arms around his waist, and buried her face in his shirt. “Oh, Daddy.” That was all she needed to say, and her father showered her with affection. The term “Daddy” strips all pride from our prayer. It’s not impressive. It’s humbling. It’s a cry for help. And sometimes, life is so harsh and difficult that the only thing we can manage is, “Oh, Daddy.” But that’s enough. God hears your prayer, and he will shower you with affection. The illustration with Max’s daughter is an excellent example.
2. You are good. The world may be crumbling. The plane ride might be bumpy. The economy might be collapsing. Disease might be spreading. Natural disaster might be destroying. But God is good. Daddy, Father, you are awesome. If there is one being in the world who can hear our prayers, it is God. God’s goodness is a major theme in the Bible. I think that the goodness of God is not something that can easily be articulated. It is one of those things that must be experienced and observed. Maybe some author, greater than myself, can articulate “good.” For me, I just need to remind myself that Jesus is good.
3. I need help. I feel like this is my thought all the time. I need help. I need help with relationships, girls, work, life. If anybody needs help, it’s me. I need lots of help. No joke. It is easy for me to speak these words with honesty. Max has another good illustration in this chapter. His wife gave birth to one of their daughters while in Brazil, and as a result they were hit with a $2,500 hospital bill. With only $2,500 in their bank account, and with no alternative, they paid the bill. Max’s prayer was “I need help. I have no money, I’m in a foreign country, I have a new baby, and I need to get home. Help!” What happened? After a speaking arrangement, a gentleman gave Max a thank you card. Inside the card was a check for $2,500. Exactly the amount that Max needed to replenish what he lost. God will answer. We just need to ask.
4. Heal me and forgive me. Why is there sin and sickness in this world? Because it’s fallen. But take comfort knowing that sin cannot condemn you, and disease cannot destroy you. Sin is a showcase for God’s grace, and sickness is a demonstration of God’s healing. If you are sick, then cry out to Jesus. Sometimes, sickness and pain are reminders for us to cry out to Jesus for his help. He might heal you instantly. He might heal you gradually. But he will definitely heal you ultimately. And, forgive me. You should not be laden with guilt over the past. Firmly give it away to God. He will take it so that it no longer burdens you. Remember to be specific. Just like when asking for help, be specific. Simply saying that you are a louse is not sufficient. It is too general. I am a louse because I lied to my boss during the business meeting on Tuesday. That’s better. Now we are being specific.
5. They need help. We are given the authority to intercede on the behalf of others. We have the power to question God and seek help for others. We have this power. Just like Moses interceded on behalf of the Israelites in the desert. When they crafted golden idols, God wanted to destroy the nation. But, Moses pleaded for their lives. Moses changed God’s mind. We can also change God’s mind by praying and asking. In fact, God is unhappy when we fail to bring our requests to him. Why do we not ask him? God is limitless. We cannot ask for too much, and we cannot ask too often. He is ultimately patient. And he is only bothered when we fail to ask, when we fail to pray, and when we fail to have faith.
7. In Jesus’s name, Amen. Take it all to Jesus. The devil can take away health and “like-loves,” but he cannot take away prayer. We will always have the ability to pray to Jesus. And God will always be greater than the devil. Therefore, we will always win the battle. Jesus is on our side. We can access to God’s kingdom through Jesus’s name. Jesus is in charge. Dear daddy, you are good. I need help. Heal me and forgive me. They need help. Thank you. In Jesus’s name, Amen. This book was a good reminder of what prayer means. Thank you Max Lucado for your words.