This is a short book recounting a true story (though told in dramatized fashion) of Martin Luther and his barber. The essence of the story is one that many - if not all - of us can relate to: how can we have a more robust and faithful prayer life? And that question is exactly what the barber asks Luther. You know what amazes me about this? Luther doesn't simply reply with "you need to try harder" or "here's three steps to getting what you want in prayer," but instead he says that he will go back to his study and think about it.
Think about it he does! Luther ended up writing a short pamphlet on exactly this topic (entitled A Simple Way to Pray) just for his barber. The seed of what Luther says is that he believes it is important to remember the Lord's Prayer, the Ten Commandments, and the Apostles' Creed. Then, when you pray, think through a part of any of these statements of Christian faith and pray accordingly. By saying this, Luther means that we should not simply recite what any of these statements says, but that we should apply these statements to ourselves, our temptations, our troubles - our very lives - and pray them back to God.
One particular example of this would be to take the first of the Ten Commandments: "you shall have no other gods before me" (Exodus 20:3) and then pray with an understanding that one of our largest temptations is to place something or somebody - oftentimes ourselves - into the place of God. Thus, the resulting prayer might be something along the lines of: "Lord, keep my heart from wandering from the truth that you and you alone are God. Let me not be swayed towards worshiping anyone else. I know that my heart is an idol factory and yet I desire that it remain solely devoted to you_" In this manner, Luther notes that you will never run out of things to pray about.
This is an excellent and well illustrated book which will be engaging to elementary-aged children. While I would personally zero in on praying in light of the Lord's Prayer and the Ten Commandments (as opposed to the Apostles' Creed) directly from the Scriptures, I found the story to be interesting, faith-building, and solidly Biblical in it's application. I also appreciate the little bit of history that forms the background of this book which serves as a good example to us of those who aren't afraid to ask questions and as an example of those who are willing to make the time to answer well. Let us learn from this servant of the Lord and be directed to how the Lord taught us to pray.
(In the interest of full disclosure, I want to note that the publisher of this book, Crossway, provided it at no cost to me as a review sample. That said, my review is in no way influenced or controlled by them and thus I give my recommendation of this book with honesty and integrity and have received no compensation for this review)
The Barber Who Wanted to Pray is a delight to read and it is beautifully illustrated. As a family, we have enjoyed reading it over and over.
This children's book, written by R.C. Sproul hits on an area that both children and adults need development in--prayer. The Barber Who Wanted to Pray tells an engaging tale of Martin Luther and how he came to write the classic little booklet A Simple Way to Pray; leaving children and adults with a practical guide to prayer.
I love the discussion this book has provided about prayer, church history, and family devotion time.
The Barber Who Wanted to Pray book is a beautiful read and a great family resource.
I am a huge R.C. Sproul fan. He has written a handful of children's books that I simply adore (including the Lightlings and the King without a Shadow) so when I heard that he was having a new book published, I actually emailed the publishing house and begged them to send me a review copy of this book- to which they wonderfully agreed. I have to say that I am a little disappointed in the storyline of The Barber Who Wanted to Pray.
Like many of Dr. Sproul's books, this one is a story within a story. It opens with the McFarlan family during their nightly devotions time. One of the children asks their father how to pray and he begins to tell the story about Martin Luther, a wanted man for starting the Protestant Reformation. While Master Peter, the Barber, is finishing up shaving his last customer He recognizes the wanted man who walks in his door as Martin Luther. Instead of turning him in for a large reward, the Barber asks him a question, which is how to pray better. Martin Luther agrees to answer his question but asks to write down the answer with some hints and bring it back to the barber at another time (A Simple Way to Pray). He then teaches the Barber how to pray through the Lord's Prayer, the Ten Commandments, and the Apostle's Creed.
As far as a Children's story, I would recommend this for ages 7+ I think. The pictures are beautiful, but they are mostly head shots, dark, with not a ton of items or action happening to hold a younger person's attention for long. Also, the story just wasn't very captivating either. With that said, I do think it is helpful that the three prayers to pray through are written in the back of the book, and I myself and starting to memorize them and work through it. This book is not the keepsake beautiful allegory as seen in other works from Dr. Sproul and I would give it about a 3-star rating for kids. For myself, I would give it a 5-star rating, as I haven't thought about praying through the ten commandments or Apostle's Creed before. Overall, I will meet in the middle and rate this book a 4. It would be the perfect present to a child who actually asks their parents how to pray.