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

“Daddy, can you teach me how to pray?” My daughter’s asked me this question on at least one occasion, and every time it’s a bit awkward for me. I’m not an expert in prayer by any stretch (in fact, I think I rather stink at it). And while I know that God is not impressed with the eloquence of our prayers and I have reminded her of this, nevertheless, I’d love to be able to help her learn to pray more deeply.

Thankfully, I’m not the only one. That’s why, in The Barber Who Wanted to Pray, Dr. R.C. Sproul (along with illustrator T. Lively Fluharty) shares the story of Master Peter, a barber in medieval Germany who musters up the courage to ask his famous client Martin Luther, “Dr. Luther, do you think you could help me learn to pray better?”

Sproul answers the question by means of a fictional father telling his children this story of how Luther came to write his little book, A Simple Way to Pray, especially for Master Peter. Among other accomplishments, Luther was known for his powerful prayer life, and his simple method as shared by Sproul is outstanding—memorize the Lord’s Prayer, the Ten Commandments and the Apostles’ Creed and allow those to guide your prayers. Not simply pray them, but pray through them.”When you think about these words, allow your mind and your heart to give careful attention to what these words say, and let them move you to deeper prayer,” Luther says to Peter (p. 28). This simple way of praying allows God’s Word and one of the best-known and beloved historic creeds of the Church to get deep into your bones. It’s very powerful stuff.

Visually, this book is just beautiful. Fluharty’s accompanying illustrations are stunning. Initially I was disappointed to see that this book was not illustrated by Justin Gerard (who’s work appears in recent editions of The Prince’s Poison Cup, The Lightlings and The Priest With Dirty Clothes), but Fluharty’s rich paintings won me over in no time.

At the time of this writing, we’ve not yet read The Barber Who Wanted to Pray to our eldest daughter (it’s a Christmas gift), so I cannot give an estimation of her impressions of the book. I’m hopeful it won’t be too far over her comprehension level (we’ve been reading Sproul’s other children’s books to her since she was three), and I’m confident that it will be one that we’ll be looking at frequently over the next several years.

The Barber Who Wanted to Pray is an incredibly helpful book for both parents and children alike. Parents, this will make a wonderful addition to your children’s library. I suspect that many of us will not only find this book to be a valuable resource in teaching our own children to pray, but in improving our own prayer lives in the process.


Title: The Barber Who Wanted to Pray
Author: R.C. Sproul (illustrated by T. Lively Fluharty)
Publisher: Crossway (2011)

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