In The Barber Who Wanted to Pray, the story unfolds as we join a family gathered together for family worship. One of the children asks her father how come he could pray so beautifully. In answer, the father tells them the true story of how Herr Peter once asked his famous client, Martin Luther, a very similar question. Luther replies by writing the simple, yet profound classic, A Simple Way to Pray. He emphasizes three things to focus on or pray through: the Lord’s Prayer, the 10 Commandments and the Apostles’ Creed. In the end, the family clusters together again to practice this new and exciting way of learning to pray.
I love children’s books and love that my children love books. We were given R.C. Sproul’s book, The Prince’s Poison Cup a few years ago and my children have asked me to read and reread it. It is a beautiful illustration of how Jesus Christ died willingly, taking God’s punishment for sin on himself and how the “poison” turns to sweet water.
When I received The Barber Who Wanted to Pray, I was expecting the same caliber of storytelling. Alas, this was not the case. In The Barber Who Wanted to Pray, I felt like the storyline was too forced and dry. Much detail is given to the barber’s preparation for Luther’s shave (including a somewhat graphic musing about the possibility of killing Luther by cutting his throat with the razor!). The opening details of the dad’s family worship routine seem overdone and geared towards providing an illustration of how family worship time could look. Although I certainly think that such illustrations can be valuable, it felt misplaced in a children’s story. A true test of a book’s ability to capture a child’s attention is, well, to read it to them. Unlike The Prince’s Poison Cup, my children had a very hard time sitting through this book.
While the intent of the book (teaching our children how to pray) is very important, the execution of it in this particular book felt rushed and lacking the wonder of many of Sproul’s other children’s books. The message of the book, especially Luther’s method of praying, is worth learning. I would recommend those looking for resources on family worship to turn to Luther’s book itself or to Voddie Bauchum’s book, Family Driven Faith (a book which has issues of its own, but the chapter on family worship is invaluable.) 2/5 stars
(Thanks to Crossway’s Homeschool Book Review program for providing a review copy of this book.)