09/03/2016

Standing on my Knees (by Jeff Lucas)

Books by Jeff Lucas are always, in my view, worth reading. A friend introduced me to his writing some years ago, and I’ve slowly been acquiring his books, although it’s impossible to keep up with such a prolific writer. His books are honest, thoughtful and non-judgemental, and I find them very encouraging. Jeff Lucas is a British pastor who has worked and lived in the United States. More importantly, he’s a close friend of Adrian Plass, and that’s recommendation enough for anybody.

I bought ‘Standing on my Knees’ from the Awesome Books site a few weeks ago. The subtitle is, ‘Establishing a lifeline of prayer’*, which sounded a bit heavy-going. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect. So it was a great relief to read, in the first chapter, that the author tends to turn tail and run when presented with a book that has ‘prayer’ in the title, put off by the ‘heady mixture of inspiration and intimidation…’.

With such encouragement, I was pretty sure I’d find the book refreshing and helpful. Each chapter takes part of the so-called Lord’s Prayer that people my age (at least in the UK) learned as children, to be said in school Assemblies and church services. It’s not a new idea to focus on a sentence at a time of this classic prayer outline that Jesus taught his disciples, but then again, there’s no better prayer structure in existence.

As one who feels daunted by hearing long and passionate prayers in church meetings, and who keeps quiet when others talk casually about their two-hour quiet times, I was relieved to find that Jeff Lucas takes a much more pragmatic approach. God is our father; he’s with us all the time, and a few minutes’ chat through the day, as we go about our lives, is likely to be a great deal more constructive than focussed hours. That’s not to decry those who are gifted in intercession or called to pray for lengthy periods; but it’s not required, and certainly not a mark of being a ‘good’ Christian.

We are encouraged in this book to pray in whatever ways we can, assured that anyone can come to God at any point. Prayer does not have to be long, it shouldn’t be a monologue (even though it often feels that way) and it’s fine to pray about anything and everything. Forgiveness of ourselves as well as of others is vital, and we need God’s strength to get through the day.

None of this is new to me, but in the context of the author’s reflections, peppered with anecdotes and his gentle, self-deprecating humour, it makes an excellent, thought-provoking read. Sometimes I only managed a few pages at a time, as I wanted to reflect on what was said.

Definitely one to re-read, and I would recommend it highly.

*Unfortunately the combination of the title and sub-title have given me a slightly annoying earworm, featuring the misquoted words of a spiritual song, 'It's me, it's me, it's me, O Lord, standing on my knees in prayer..."  

Review by copyright 2016 Sue's Book Reviews

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