Wednesday, November 09, 2011

Book Review: The Barber Who Wanted to Pray by R. C. Sproul

Illustrated by T. Lively Fluharty

The Barber Who Wanted to Pray is a wonderfully illustrated account of Martin Luther and his barber, Master Peter, who takes the opportunity to ask his hero in the faith how to pray more effectively. While R. C. Sproul is known for his biblical teaching and knowledge of church history, the illustrations make this book a treasure. I read it over the course of two evenings with my youngest children (ages 7 and 5) who studied each page intently.

The story of Luther and Master Peter is couched within the life of a modern family who are having evening devotions and the question of one of the children prompts this particular tale. Luther's method for prayer centers on the Ten Commandments, the Lord's Prayer, and the Apostles' Creed. Those who are not familiar with the Apostles' Creed might stumble a bit over it but should know that it has an important place in the development of Christian doctrine.

In terms of the story-telling, I found myself wanting to change the wording for my young children, to soften its meaning for their ears. For example, one part of the story speculated that Master Peter could easily cut the throat of Luther the outlaw with his razor blade. Another part of the story mentioned capture, burning at the stake, and execution. These were realities of the day, I'm sure, but I found myself improvising with a new way to say the same thing.

This book is not for Lutherans only or Reformed Christians only. It is for anyone who wants to know more about church history and to understand a simple way to pray. Click here for more information on Crossway's site. Also available in ebook format.

    Being justified, having peace

    “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom also we have obtained our introduction by faith into this grace in which we stand; and we exult in hope of the glory of God.” Romans 5:1-2
    In the apostle Paul's letter to the Romans, he has made a case like a trial lawyer: all stand guilty before God in unrighteousness, but the righteousness that comes from God has been revealed in the gospel of Jesus Christ. At the cross, the Son of God was made to be an atoning sacrifice for sins so that all who believe in Christ and receive this sacrificial payment by faith might be declared righteous. God is both just in adhering to the standards of His law (the soul that sins shall die) and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus.

    And what is the result of this great work of God, the justification of sinners? We have peace with God. Many are those who, when they stop the ears from the noises and distractions of this wicked generation, can hear the cry of their souls: “where can I find peace?” From an early age, it is normal to discern this voice even though it may be difficult to determine its purpose. Why do I behave in this way? Why do I fear death? Can I find rest from my troubles? Is there lasting satisfaction to be found in material wealth, accomplishments, and worldly pleasures? Ultimately the answer is “no” because nothing within a man's own strength can repair the rip in one's heart caused by alienation from God due to our sin condition. But God acted outside of us, on our behalf to repair the rip and bridge the gap so that we who were the object of his wrath might be reconciled, introduced into a state of grace, and called friend.