Breaking Through to the Blessed Life
Category: Prayer and Poetry
Jabez's prayer is short and to the point: "Oh, that you would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that your hand would be with me, and that you would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain." (1 Chronicles 4:10, NKJV) And, the Chronicler assures us, God granted his request.
Bruce Wilkinson's The Prayer of Jabez is also short and his accountants have no doubt also noted an answer to prayer. The book rapidly became a bestseller in the USA and soon ranked high in the UK lists.
Yet Jabez's prayer contrasts sharply with a more well known prayer, taught by Jesus to his disciples, with its focus away from self towards God and the community of God's people: "Our Father in heaven..."
Wilkinson reassures us, however, that the pattern of Jabez's prayer is not only acceptable but mandatory if we are to "break through to the blessed life." The book is a remarkable, almost admirable, exercise in how not to read the Bible, of twisting an isolated passage to read your own ideas back into it, with a pervasive power that emerges from its grasp of where we are - it's the perfect prayer for the 'me first' generation.
The author explains at length why, in his view, Jabez's pattern of prayer isn't selfish: asking God to bless you is simply putting yourself in line with God's will. How can acknowledging God's wonderful plan for your life and seeking that plan be selfish? God has treasure troves of blessings stored up for us and is waiting, longing even, to release them if only we would ask!
Examples aplenty of God's glorious answers to these 'bless me' prayers are cited, but perhaps the most telling comes towards the end of the book (p.79) — a serious road accident causes a traffic jam en route to the airport. Wilkinson prays: "Lord, please make my flight late so I can catch it." And God granted his request.
Please remember, gentle reader, that this was not a selfish prayer and Bruce Wilkinson accepts no liability for any inconvenience, howsoever caused, to any other passengers and was, undoubtedly, gravely concerned for the victims of the accident. Be blessed, my brothers and sisters! Pray the prayer of Jabez TODAY and — who knows? — you might even pass Jesus carrying his cross along the way; you may even be able to point him in the direction of Calvary.
You will be blessed if you buy this book: by me — I'm a bookseller; by Bruce Wilkinson and his publishers; but by God? He'd probably prefer you to give the money to Tear Fund.
Phil Groom, February 2002
Phil Groom is this site's Webmaster and Reviews Editor. He's a freelance blogger, writer and web developer who spent ten years managing the bookshop at London School of Theology alongside eight years writing web reviews for Christian Marketplace magazine before he came to his senses and went independent. You can find him on facebook or follow him on twitter @notbovvered.
Previously published by London School of Theology. Reused here by kind permission.Order from www.christianbookshops.org
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