HOME SCHOOL BOOK REVIEW
Book: The Barber Who Wanted to Pray
Author: R. C. Sproul
Illustrator: T. Lively Fluharty
Publisher: Crossway, 2011
Related website: www.crossway.org (publisher)
Language level: 1
(1=nothing objectionable; 2=common euphemisms and/or childish slang terms; 3=some cursing or profanity; 4=a lot of cursing or profanity; 5=obscenity and/or vulgarity)
Reading level: Ages 8 and up
Rating: 5 stars (EXCELLENT)
Reviewed by Wayne S. Walker
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Sproul, R. C. The Barber Who Wanted to Pray (published in 2011 by Crossway, 1300 Crescent St., Wheaton, IL 60187). Is praying something that just comes naturally, or can we be taught how to pray? Jesus’s disciples asked Him, “Lord, teach us to pray” (Luke 11:1). And He did. Mr. and Mrs. McFarland have six children, two boys and four girls named Donovan, Reilly, Maili, Erin Claire, Delaney, and Shannon. Every evening, Mr. McFarland reads a portion of Scripture, gives a short explanation of it, has each of the children recite memory verses from the Bible, asks some questions, and then leads the family in prayer. One night, Delaney asked her father if he could teach her to pray in a way that would make Jesus happy and make her feel more comfortable.
Mr. McFarland told them a 500-year-old story that his grandfather had told him about Master Peter, a well known barber in his village. One day, a famous customer walks into his shop. It is Martin Luther, the outlawed Reformer. The Emperor of the land had promised a large reward for anyone who could capture Luther dead or alive. Peter could use his razor to cut Luther’s throat and claim the reward which would make him very rich. However, Luther is Peter’s hero because of his great courage, and the barber would never betray him. Suddenly, Master Peter has an idea. He asks Luther if he could help him learn how to pray better. How will Luther react to this request? What will he say or do in response?
Author R. C. Sproul, whose son R. C. Sproul Jr. is a homeschooling father and wrote When You Rise Up: A Covenantal Approach to Homeschooling, is the founder of Ligonier Ministries and minister with Saint Andrew’s Chapel in Sanford, FL. He bases his imaginative tale, which is beautifully illustrated with paintings by T. Lively Fluharty, on a true story. I highly recommend this book for two reasons. First, it shows young people the importance of great religious leaders like Martin Luther to our Western Culture. Second, it emphasizes the need for parents to teach their children how to pray. Not everyone may go about it exactly as Luther suggested, but if we want our children to have a personal relationship with their heavenly Father, it is important that they learn how to pray in a way that pleases Him. Other children’s books by Sproul include The Prince’s Poison Cup and The Lightlings.