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Prayer of Jabez

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Praying like Jabez?

[Book Review of The Prayer of Jabez by Bruce Wilkinson]

This book is a small 41/2 by 63/4 hardcover book having 92 small pages with approximately 150 words per page. But don’t let its small size fool you it has been having a big influence on Christians everywhere. The Prayer of Jabez has become an instant success, having sold one million copies in February 2001 alone, the internet site for the booklists lists altogether four million sold so far. It is in the top 10 bestsellers, the winner of non-fiction at the retailers choice awards. Recently when Wilkinson was a guest on Focus on the Family March 5 2001 Dobson gave an endorsement to The Prayer of Jabez.

Bruce Wilkinson, is the president and founder of Walk Thru the Bible Ministries based in Atlanta. He is a known speaker at many evangelical and ecumenical events. Wilkinson founded Walk Thru the Bible Ministries while he was a student at Dallas Seminary in 1976. They now have a teaching faculty today of 120 in North America and 2,000 lay instructors worldwide. Wilkinson is the author of numerous books. His Talk Thru the Bible written with Ken Boa is over a 500 page book which I found to be a good resource for an historical overview for Bible study. He has also written other books which I have not read, Experiencing Spiritual Breakthroughs, 7 Laws of the Learner, Almost Every Answer for Practically Any Teacher! Personal Holiness in Times of Temptation, Victory Over Temptation.

The prayer of Jabez which Wilkinson wrote his book on is found in 1 Chronicles 4:9-10: “And Jabez was more honourable than his brethren: and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, Because I bare him with sorrow. And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! And God granted him that which he requested.”

I do find that some of what Wilkinson has written has merit “we are expected to attempt something large enough that failure is guaranteed ...unless God steps in.” (p.47) Or in encouraging people to use their gifts “Whatever our gifts, education, or vocation might be, our calling is to do God’s work on earth” He goes on to say that living out our faith it is a Christians job. There are other statements that admonish us to press on. So why write a review that may find flaws in praying Wilkinson’s prayer of Jabez? The problem is what he offers as the solution to accomplish this. There are some good statements in the book, however it contains even more flawed counsel in it. This is more influential than any good.

In the Preface to the book, Wilkinson writes:  “I want to teach you how to pray a daring prayer that God always answers. It is brief—only one sentence with four parts—and tucked away in the Bible, but I believe it contains the  key to a life of extraordinary favor with God. This petition has radically changed what I expect from God and what I experience every day by His power. In fact, thousands of believers who are applying its truths are seeing miracles happen on a regular basis.

So we see three things he has stated that are written in stone. It is a prayer God ALWAYS answers. Wow! It (the prayer) contains the key to a life of extraordinary favor with God. And we will see miracles happen on a regular basis from this key passage. This is quite an assessment of an obscure prayer from the Old Testament, and is nonsense, as no single passage contains “the key to a life of extraordinary favor with God.”   

Wilkinson says he has said this (key) prayer for thirty years every day. “The next morning, I prayed Jabez's prayer word for word. And the next. And the next. Thirty years later, I haven't stopped. If you were to ask me what sentence—other than my prayer for salvation—has revolutionized my life and ministry the most, I would tell you it was the cry of a gimber named Jabez.” (p. 11).  Why has he held off giving us this incredible discovery for that many years? If you had a prayer that was answered within a few years of praying wouldn't you tell everyone?

On the back-cover it reads:  “Do you want to be extravagantly blessed by God? Are you ready to reach for the extraordinary? To ask God for the abundant blessings He longs to give you? Join Bruce Wilkinson to discover how the remarkable prayer of a little-known Bible hero can release God's favor, power, and protection. You'll see how one daily prayer can help you leave the past behind—and break through to the life you were meant to live.

From the start of the book the reader is being offered a method for success in their spiritual life by one daily prayer. This is a very bold statement that Wilkinson needs to prove from scripture. Instead he proves it from personal experiences through testimonies. The reason for this is obvious. Because no one prayed Jabez’ prayer in the scripture except for one person, Jabez. Wilkinson offers himself and his ministry as the testimony of “almost shocking evidence of what God's grace and Jabez praying can do” (p. 89). Well I’m happy that his ministry has expanded so much, but could it be that its God’s grace and not due to any discovered prayer formula of Jabez? We need to be careful that we do not attribute to God what may be just pragmatism.

In his prior book “ Talk Thru the Bible” on chapters 1-9 of 1 Chronicles where the prayer of Jabez is found he writes it is “the most comprehensive genealogical tables in the bible. They trace the family tree of David and Israel as a whole, but in a highly selective manner.” “They demonstrate God’s keeping of his covenant a promises in maintaining the Davidic line through the centuries.” This is the very point of Jabez’ prayer being answered. The linage shows God’s grace who was in the lineage of Judah’s line. We are told by some scholars that family branches of this line were identified by geographical locations. Some think the city of Jabez is related to him. So when Jabez asks for an extension of his coast it may be related to 1 Chron. 2:55 “And the families of the scribes who dwelt at Jabez were the Tirathites, the Shimeathites, and the Suchathites. These were the Kenites who came from Hammath, the father of the house of Rechab.”

On pg.10 of the prayer of Jabez Wilkinson states how he wanted to be a gimber like Jabez. Certainly there’s nothing wrong with this in and of itself. However he begins to speculate  “What exactly did Jabez do to rise above the rest?...Why did God answer his prayer?” This is the only place we have Jabez mentioned so there is nowhere else to go to find an answer. The Bible gives principles for one to live by, in this we see Jabez was fulfilling them as it says Jabez was a more honorable man than others: there’s his answer. Jabez asked God to bless him, because he rose above his brothers in trying to do what is right and God answered him. It’s an example of God providing and caring for His chosen people- keeping his covenant with them. Jabez did not discover some forgotten truth but walked in God’s revealed truth. God by his sovereignty answered him. The focus of Jabez’s prayer is on God and His provision and protection. God did not answer Jabez' request because said the right thing or prayed this repetitively for years.  God answered his request as he had done with so many others who went before him. This is not accepted by Wilkinson, for he makes Jabez into an immaculate example of all those who prayed in the Old Testament. From this premise he goes even further away from what prayer is actually supposed to be.

The first thing we need to understand is that Jabez did not continually pray this, especially for thirty years or through his lifetime. But Wilkinson did and he recommends that you do too. “I challenge you to make the Jabez prayer for blessing part of the daily fabric of your life. To do that, I encourage you to follow unwaveringly the plan outlined here for the next thirty days. By the end of that time, you'll be noticing significant changes in your life, and the prayer will be on its way to becoming a treasured, lifelong habit.” (p. 86).

Wilkinson thinks he discovered something that he wants to share to all. If we'll just pray the prayer of Jabez, word-for-word, every day for a month we'll see God's blessing and power in our lives. To Wilkinson, the answer isn't found in any choice of God of when or how He is to answer Jabez’s prayer. The key is that Jabez learned the right formula for asking things of God. Wilkinson implies a cause and effect action that is guaranteed, ask this way and wait until you see the results.  This discovery all New Testament believers are to imitate. The emphasis is on Jabez finding the correct method in prayer, instead of on God His Sovereign will and purpose for our lives.

Just under the surface of each request lies a giant paradigm breaker” (p.14) Wilkinson's book the Prayer of Jabez becomes the key to unlock the success that God has for all of us, as he recommends us to “reread this little book once each week during the next month, asking God to show you important insights that you may have missed.”(p.87) “You can hang the Jabez prayer on the wall of every room in your house and nothing will happen. It's only what you believe will happen and therefore do next that will release God’s power for you and bring about a life change.” (p.87)

This is due to the one who answers the prayer not from the prayer itself. This is what word/faith teaching promotes, believe and it will happen. In the CBD (Christian Book Distributors) catalogue (fall 2001) it advertises the book as, “Discover how to release the miraculous power of God in your life. Wilkinson introduces you to Jabez, whose audacious one sentence prayer brought him extraordinary blessings...” The Prayer of Jabez for children states, “show you kids how they can accomplish BIG things for God! ” (They have it for teen too). The wording of these ads sums up their view of the book; releasing God's power by a certain prayer, to OUR accomplishing big things for him this becomes man centered. Besides the prayer of Jabez being on coffee mugs, Bible book covers, medallions, towels and now we now have a cross with the prayer of Jabez on it; which I think is sacrilegious.

Wilkinson breaks Jabez’ prayer up into four parts and presents us a formula within a formula “Jabez's last request is a brilliant but little-understood strategy for sustaining a blessed life” (p. 63). Did Jabez find some secret that would guarantee God’s blessing to all?  Wilkinson certainly presents this fact as those who pray Jabez's prayer will receive and those who don't will miss it.

Wilkinson's own theological perspective is inserted and molds his Jabez prayer to go beyond what Jesus told us to pray like. In Mt. 6:5-13 (also Lk.11:2-4), Jesus gives us the manner on how to pray: “And when you pray, do not use VAIN REPETITIONS  as the heathen do. For they think that they will be heard for their many words.” Therefore do not be like them. For your Father knows the things you have need of before you ask Him.” In this manner, therefore, pray: our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen.”

There are only a few similarities of Jabez’ prayer and the manner that Jesus asked us to pray. Both address God, both ask deliverance from evil, but then there are some vast differences. Jesus meant “pray after this manner.” Jesus' prayer was a guide for us to follow as we talk openly from the heart to God. He did not mean to say these exact words as Catholics interpret it, nor that we should repeat it minute after minute or day after day (word for word) thinking then God will then hear and answer us. When this is done our words which are suppose to be from the heart become less meaningful.  “Your will be done on earth as it is in heaven” Is important as God’s will is not the same for everyone. “Give us this day our daily bread” is also important as he does not tell us to bless us beyond what we can imagine but give us our needs each and every day. Shortly after, Jesus corrected the people in this same sermon by saying “Therefore do not worry, saying, 'What shall we eat?' or 'What shall we drink?' or 'What shall we wear?' “For after all these things the Gentiles seek. For your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.” But seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added to you.” (Mt. 6:31-33) He gave no specific prayer to receive all God has for us, we asked only to follow him and walk in his ways and God will meet our needs.

James 5:16 says, “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” Jabez's prayer was one of a righteous man, as were many others, but it was not the prayer itself that accomplished the answer.  To me Wilkinson seems to be presenting Jabez's prayer as a sanctified incantation that can guarantee us blessings. On p.15 he states “I want to show you just how dramatically each of Jabez’s requests can release something miraculous in your life.” On pg.16 Wilkinson cites men who have prayed the same prayer of Jabez for 15, 10 and 5 years with similar results.
I find the real problem with Wilkinson’s concept is not in Jabez’s prayer in and of itself but in what he explains will happen from ones praying it. The prayer was not wrong for Jabez, but if used the way Wilkinson portrays it he is then making it a means to an end. It is like one word faith teacher put it, “writing your own ticket with God.” The problem is that people who are looking for a neatly packaged regiment latch onto formulas offered under the guise of biblical stories. I can't completely fault Wilkinson for saying this as he is only appealing to state of the church today.

The offer he presents goes like this “Think of it this way: Instead of standing near the river's edge, asking for a cup of water to get you through each day, you'll do something unthinkable you will take the little prayer with the giant prize and jump into the river! At that moment, you will begin to let the loving currents of God's grace and power carry you along. God's great plan for you will surround you and sweep you forward into the profoundly important and satisfying life He has waiting. If that is what you want, keep reading.” (p.17)  Are we standing at the rivers edge grateful for the crumbs? Actually I have found more people today think that they deserve it all then not. But we need to be careful of making any prayer a sanctified mantra. The true test would be to try this with a whole population that is persecuted for their faith and see the results. He goes on saying “What if you found out God intended to send twenty three specific blessings today but you got only one.”(p.25) “God really does have unclaimed blessings waiting for you, my friend.” (p.17)

In other words he is saying it is God’s will to give what we will ask, he’s waiting for you. In other words we don’t have because we have not asked. Which is exactly what he says “Ask,” promised Jesus, “and it will be given to you” (Matthew 7:7). “You do not have because you do not ask,” said James (James 4:2).  Even though there is no limit to God's goodness, if you didn't ask Him for a blessing yesterday, you didn't get all that you were supposed to have. “That's the catch-if you don't ask for His blessing, you forfeit those that come to you only when you ask.”(p.27) He explains this as a father honored to have a “child beg for his blessing” he is delighting to generously give to you “what you covet the most.” Do you mean to tell us that God does not give us his goodness by his grace that we MUST repetitively ask for it? Especially what we want! That he has all these things to give us but we are not asking for them. Of course we are told to ask and pray but for what? What we want.

Any father who sees his child doing what is right blesses him without his asking. I have a problem with this idea whatever you want most you get. Again any father who is training a child in righteousness will not indiscriminately give them whatever they want. Ever have your child want ice cream just before dinner. You know if you gave them this it would spoil their appetite. I don’t find this counsel as wisdom but spoiling a child. Imagine a God who gives us everything we want no matter what. Many of us should be thankful that He did not respond to our certain “selfish” prayers as he knew what was best for us.

The James passage he used is piggy backed to the other of Jesus’ but it is taken from the context of  “we do not have because we ask amiss.”  In other words for ourselves- wrong motives, which is exactly what he is encouraging. So I’m surprised he would use this as a validation. He asks “is it possible God wants you to be more selfish in your prayers? I’ve met so many earnest Christians who take it as a sign of immaturity to think such thoughts.” He goes on to say that we think it is impolite or greedy to ask for too many blessings. John 14:13-15 “And whatever you ask in My name, that I will do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son.” If you ask anything in My name, I will do it. “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” There is the bottom line. If your walking correctly you will not ask amiss for self but for the things of God, then he will be glorified.

Wilkinson dissects each of the requests of Jabez, pouring his own speculation at times into what Jabez was supposedly thinking or doing as he prayed.  “enlarge my territory” … The next part of the Jabez prayer—a plea for more territory … If Jabez had worked on Wall Street, he might have prayed, “Lord , increase the value of my investment portfolios.” When I talk to presidents of companies, I often talk to them about this particular mind-set. When Christian executives ask me, “Is it right for me to ask God for more business?” my response is, “Absolutely!” If you're doing your business God's way, it's not only right to ask for more, but He is waiting for you to ask. Your business is the territory God has entrusted to you.” (pp. 30-31) How does he know what God’s will is for you? Is it always more?

He then goes into his explanation of Jabez’s prayer. What he does is take one mans personal cry and applies it to all of ours. He spiritualizes certain points to make it applicable for today.(1 Chron. 4:9 in the SEPTUAGINT – “And Igabes was more glorious than his brethren; and his mother called his name Igabes, saying, I have brought thee forth as Gabes. And Igabes invoked the God of Israel, saying, If in blessing thou wilt bless me, and enlarge my borders, and thy hand be with me, and wilt give me understanding not to depress me: and God brought about all that he requested.”

I do not see Jabez’s 2nd request as God enlarge my territory, meaning to expand his influence. Jabez’ cry for extending the borders literally meant the land geographically. Chronicles is about the tribes and genealogy. Although there is nothing wrong with asking for this, again if our prayer is reduced to say this prayer for our getting blessed we have a problem-- not just with the prayer-- with our heart. My and others concern is that this awakening for the need to pray includes this attitude in it.

If we were to take Wilkinson's advice and apply it to others in the Bible, would it work? What if John the Baptist prayed to have his borders extended, would he have been in the will of God.  Certainly he could not have said, “I must decrease and He must increase.” Or what of Peter, who was told by the Lord at the end of the gospel of John that John will live and he will not. Would Jesus have answered his prayer of Jabez by saying oh bless me and expand my life? I hope you get the picture.

His kindness in recording Jabez's story in the Bible is proof that it's not who you are, or what your parents decided for you, or what you were “fated” to be that counts. What counts is knowing who you want to be and asking for it. Through a simple, believing prayer, you can change your future. You can change what happens one minute from now.”(p.29) I can change my future! This all seems to narcissistic, what I want to be, what I want, mine. What about God’s will and plans, are we not to seek what he wants us to be?

Wilkinson certainly adds to the account filling in what did not happen. Speculations are consistently offered  “In my mind's eye, I picture Jabez standing before a massive gate recessed into a sky-high wall. Weighed down by the sorrow of his past and the dreariness of his present, he sees before him only impossibility—a future shut off. But raising his hands to heaven, he cries out, “Father, oh, Father! Please bless me! And what I really mean is … bless me a lot!” (p. 22)

Bless “ME

If we look at the Scripture, besides Jabez there is only one other time anyone asks God directly to bless them like this. It is when Jacob wrestled with the Lord all night and the Lord said, “Let Me go, for the day breaks.” But he said, “I will not let You go unless You bless me!” (Gen. 32:26) His name was then changed to Israel and from his line came the 12 tribes of Israel the nation. It was God’s intention to do this.

God has automatically given the Church what we need and it is all found in Christ. Eph. 1:3 “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ.” The reason for this is because of the new covenant Gal 3:14 “that the blessing of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.” Are we not complete in Christ already?

More often the term used is “blessed be the Lord” or God, not man. We are not encouraged to pray bless me, but to walk in his grace and we receive these spiritual (and sometimes physical blessing) because of His promises. We do not receive them because we didn’t pray like Jabez, but because we did not ask in accordance to His will or are not in obedience to God.

The way I see it the book encourages and sanctions a form of selfishness as part of one's relationship with God.  Prayer is to have us learn the will of God and that our will would agree with the will of God. If my prayer does not line up with God's will as revealed in the Scriptures, then I need to ask Him to change my heart.  Molding us by changing our desire is part of the sanctification process. What is ignored is for God to change our hearts in Wikinson’s The Prayer of Jabez. Selfishness is encouraged although he states it in such a way that to further the kingdom it must run through us. The repeating of Jabez's prayer is for the purpose of causing God to bring His blessings and miracles to us. “You will change your legacy and bring supernatural blessings wherever you go. God will release His miraculous power in your life now. And for all eternity, He will lavish on you His honor and delight” (pp. 91-92).

Wilkinson states “If seeking God's blessings is our ultimate act of worship, and asking to do more for Him is our utmost ambition, then asking for God's hand upon us is our strategic choice to sustain and continue the great things that God had begun in our lives. That's why you could call God’s hand on you “the touch of greatness.” You do not become great; you become dependent on the strong hand of God. Your surrendered need turns into His unlimited opportunity. And He becomes great through you.” (p.49)

There are some things he said that are right and some wrong. Yes we want the kingdom extended through our lives but our chief aim should be to bless God and be ministering to him, not seeking blessing for ourselves!
The major flaw is  “seeking God’s blessings” is not an act of worship-- neither is it the ultimate act of worship.

On p.23- Wilkinson says to bless means to ask for or to impart supernatural favor. Yet we find that God more often gave his blessing without any asking. For example Abraham in Gen.12 was to go out from his country and family and God will bless him and make his name great. This is about grace when someone walked in faith, we don’t have to do any work to receive God’s blessing. God gives out of his love and mercy based on the (new) covenant.

When we ask for God's mighty presence like Jabez and the early church did, we will also see tremendous results that can be explained only as from the hand of God.”(p.55) Yes but it was not a bless me or praying Jabez’ prayer but help us to help others extend your kingdom by the gospel.

Wilkinson seems to think that Jabez is the ultimate prayer for all people of all time. “the more God answers your Jabez prayers (p.71). I think Jabez would have liked that prayer (p.74). Speaking on God opening up people for discussion  “I call these encounters Jabez appointments.”(p.37) “If your like many who use the Jabez prayer…you’ll come to times in your life when you feel so blessed that you stop praying for more, at least for a while (p.84). If one becomes hooked on these “blessings” will they stop and be satisfied? Jabez is held up so much that it becomes the criteria for conviction of sin-” You should that when you sin after experiencing the Jabez blessing, you’ll experience a deeper grief over your disconnect from God than you ever thought possible.” (p.85) I’m sorry but this seems to be a infatuation with a single mans prayer.

 “Oh…keep me from evil.” Jabez's last request is a brilliant but little-understood strategy for sustaining a blessed life.” (p. 63) “Do you believe that a supernatural God is going to show up to keep you from evil and protect your spiritual investment? Jabez did believe, and he acted on his belief. Thereafter his life was spared from the grief and pain that evil brings.” (p. 74) The fact is we do not know his condition in life, he was called Jabez because his mother bore him in pain, not that he was in pain his whole life. Wilkinson says he was in pain and then makes it seem that Jabez prayed he would not pain others because of his pain. There is never a mention of Jabez anywhere else in the Bible. His prayer reveals nothing of his history, or his relationship with God before or after this record. Wilkinson is at best speculating on where the Bible is silent.

Wilkinson uses the success stories of others to validate his prayer of Jabez concept. There are thousands of people who have been taught to pray Jabez's prayer and attribute their prosperity directly to this prayer method. Experience is never to be used to validate what is in the Word of God. The word of God validates our experience. Wilkinson states “All I know it works over and over- it works.” Many things work but we need to ask are they biblical. One might argue this is a prayer from the bible. But so are other prayers that we could not transfer ownership to ourselves. Nor could we expect the same results from praying them. Do we find any apostle praying or recommending this prayer? Do we find this kind of principle taught in the New Testament? If not then why make it a practice. Prayer formulas do not enthrone God in our lives.  What makes anyone think God will do the same thing for us that he did for Jabez because we pray the same prayer? If this was so we can take any Bible character use their prayer and expect the same results. Is this realistic? This to me is having God as our butler which is just as the word faith camp teaches. Is not Christ to be Lord over our lives, it is presumption at least to think God will do for us what he did for another. His will for Jabez is not the same for all. Remember at the end of the book of John- Peter was told by Jesus that he would go where he did not before and he asked what about John, Jesus basically said what’s it to you if he lives on. God deals with us all on an individual basis.

This has turned into quite a phenomenon with Jabez prayer circles and clubs, newsletters. On one website it represents how many are now thinking, it had this to say. “In the best way it is selfish prayer.  (For a long time I have neglected myself, not loved myself, nor have I prayed for myself. Jabez loved himself enough to ask God to bless him. Charity begins at home, God's blessing begins with blessing me! If God does not extend our own boundries then he cannot extend the boundries of his Kingdom.”

Is God limited by man? There seems to be the problem. Those who have not prayed consistently or correctly are those who can have a flawed view of God and their relationship to him. Is the problem that we have not loved ourselves enough? Is this what the Bible teaches us to do, love self more? Jesus said we already love ourselves, our love is suppose to be directed to others. In this way this book is being misused because of Wilkersons interpretation.

We should not be surprised at the acceptance and success of this small book after all numerous Christians already  practice prayer models as spiritual incantations and many are looking for keys to success. I would presume that Wilkinson intentions are not the same as word faith teachers, but they seem to arrive at the same place.

 Is it Bible to accept that one could repetitiously pray the same thing over and over for a month and God would be obligated to bless them. Not according to Jesus (Mt.6). God's purposes for our lives are woven in time and outside our immediate sight. Can we know the mind of God or we coerce Him into blessing us now by a certain prayer?  What kind of God responds in this way, not the God who is to be our Lord. There is a timing in the Lord blessing us and this seems to be a missing ingredient in Wilkinson’s model. Wilkinson does not leave room for a no or even a wait from God, only an immediate answer of blessing. There is no balance in this. Jabez’ request is reduced to a formula which I know God did not intend for it to be. What of the biblical concept that if we are faithful with the little he will give us more, this is certainly missing to the methodolgy Wilkinson has offered the Church. The real problem is that many of us want more, when we are ill equipped to handle it, this is not addressed. The opposite is taught, just ask and its yours.

Not everyone is thrilled about Wilkinsons book and many have voiced their view. In December 2001 Professor Mark R. Talbot of Wheaton College publishes his scathing theological treatise against the teachings of Dr. Bruce Wilkinson’s “The Prayer of Jabez”. Equating Wilkinson’s teachings with the ancient heresy known as Gnosticism, Talbot’s closing statement was a simple prayer… “May God Himself keep His people from falling prey to this book’s inadequate theology.”

In January of 2002 Dallas Theological Seminary publishes a paper by Professor of Theology, Dr. Roy Zuck, with the most unfavorable view of Wilkinson’s teachings to date from the seminary where Dr. Wilkinson received his Masters degree.

 You have My Guarantee

Wilkinson guarantees the prayer will work and he leaves no room for failure. But if someone has does not gain the success he promises then what is his counsel? This is no different than saying over and over by his stripes I’m healed or any Scripture to be claimed for ones own use. According to Wilkinson, it is sin in our lives that is the only thing that will stop the repetition of Jabez's prayer from working. When I hear this I consider Job who had evil befall him though he was doing what was right. His friends were sure it was because of sin but it was a God given test. In the end he received God’s blessing but it was without his praying for it.

 “If your like many who use the Jabez prayer…you’ll come to times in your life when you feel so blessed that you stop praying for more, at least for a while. But I promise you that you will see a direct link: You will know beyond doubt that God has opened heaven's store- houses because you prayed.” (p.84)

What about the apostle Paul who asked the Lord to take away his infirmity. God said no, but instead gave him grace. Paul wrote most of the New Testament, yet he did not get his request. Nor did he ever pray Jabez’s formula.  But Jabez who was not an apostle prayed and received his requests. We need to ask why?  The answer is simple, God’s will and purpose is different for everyone, there is no set formula for success.

Should we pray for things beyond our ability? Of course! But lets not limit ourselves to Jabez’ prayer and make it to be like some protestant rosary.

O Lord, I beg you first and most this morning, please bless... me!” Startled at such a selfish prayer, you pad down the hall to your shower. But as you're adjusting the water temperature, a thought hits you. It's so obvious, you can't believe you haven't thought it before: Great men of the faith think differently than the rest of us.” And this he attributes as the reason some men and women of faith rise above the rest.”(p.17)

Wilkinson asks “what of Idbash, Hazeleponi, and Anub what honors and awards did they get from God?” (p.76) Just because it does not have their names does not mean others did not have God’s blessings. Whose to say they were not great because they are not mentioned. Hazzeleponi is a female mentioned in the list of the genealogy of Judah (1 Chron 4:3) Idbash Is a descendant of Judah who, with his two brothers (and a sister), are said to be “the sons of Etam” (1 Chron.4:3), probably meaning of the lineage of the founder of the place, or perhaps that they themselves were its settlers.(From The New Unger's Bible Dictionary.)

  If we look at Heb.11 the great men of faith that he refers to did not have expanded borders but became outcasts at certain times of their lives or most of them. If we look at Hebrews 11 that mentions all these faithful ones Abraham, Moses Samson etc. the writer also states Heb 11:36-12:1 “Still others had trial of mockings and scourgings, yes, and of chains and imprisonment.  They were stoned, they were sawn in two, were tempted, were slain with the sword. They wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins, being destitute, afflicted, tormented--  of whom the world was not worthy. They wandered in deserts and mountains, in dens and caves of the earth.  And all these, having obtained a good testimony through faith, did not receive the promise, God having provided something better for us, that they should not be made perfect apart from us.

One wonders about those who are not named are included with those who were faithful. Why they did not have their borders extended? Maybe they didn’t pray the prayer of Jabez. Did you notice Jabez is not mentioned either, does this mean he was not faithful?

Actually the chapter explains to us “But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.” (Heb 11:6) So it is not a certain prayer that yields results. It is clear Jabez had an significant character as he was more honourable than his brethren. This qualified him for God’s grace under the Old Testament covenant.  A more efficacious  prayer would be like Solomon's prayer for wisdom so he could rule the kingdom wisely.

The last section of the book titled “Redeemed For This,” where he writes we could successfully pray for our “God-sized best he has in mind for you.” This is his prayer of Jabez formula, appealing to our wanting God’s all for our lives.  It is the Holy Spirits work in the believers life that changes us and sometimes it can be a slow but steady process. What about our being servants and being a blessing to others? Instead he wants us to pray the selfish prayer every day “Oh Lord, please bless me.” If its not steps its requirements-- if not requirements its guidelines-- if not guidelines its models. Say these words, this phrase this way and you’ll have a divine delivery. We need to have a relationship with the Lord not self-help books that give you chustpah to ask “bless ME” I want MY blessing. How many other prayers are there we could pray that would be self aggrandizing.   There is no message of the cross in the book. Everything we have in prayer is to come through the cross. This is not a spirit lead prayer but a formula for disaster, if we are not dying to self in our prayer life. I'm sorry but this kind of praying is far removed from the New Testament teaching of Jesus!

 Wilkinson is bringing a Christian who is supposed to be under grace and states “so many Christians are not desperate as Jabez was to receive it!” (p.23) All we have is in Christ I don’t believe we have to become desperate for God’s blessing, He knows what he’s doing. Wilkinson has reduced success for the Christian walk to a prayer instead of faith (trust) in the God in whom our prayer is to directed toward. It becomes a ‘faith prayer’ that is supposed to guarantee success. Instead the bible speaks of a consistent relationship with our Father that will sustain us through the trials and failure.

He also says “I don’t want to go to heaven and hear God say: “lets look at your life, Bruce. Let me show you what I wanted for you and tried repeatedly to accomplish through you. but you wouldn’t let me.” What a travesty!
If he means because someone was not praying or yielded to God’s will and direction in life I have no problem agreeing with him. But if he means not praying the prayer of Jabez for God’s blessing I have a big problem with this statement. We walk in his grace, when we surrender and carry the cross and obey, God hears our prayers- there are no shortcuts. There are no certain prayers, or formulae’s to guarantee God’s blessings or power.

Only God knows what Jabez meant in his heart. Jabez’ prayer is exactly that, his own prayer.

Note: Bruce Wilkinson has resigned as president of the organization he founded 25 years ago, Walk Thru the Bible Ministries. He has recently announced he is venturing into television and film to reach more people with his message.My desire is to open more people's hearts to everything God has for them, Wilkinson said. My goal is to take this message beyond America to every nation across the globe. (I assume that message being the prayer of Jabez )

 A site to go to for something unique on Jabez, only visit if you have a good sense of humor or you will be offended.

Want to read a good book about the Hebrew translation that changes the whole meaning- By Larry Pechawer  a new book on the prayer of Jabez by Steve Hopkins

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Biblical New Testament Prayers
by Sandy Simpson, from the booklet What Should I Say, 5/01

With all the talk about "praying the Jabez prayer" making the rounds in so many churches, I thought it was time to revisit a short section I wrote in a booklet called "What Should I Say".  It talked about biblical New Testament prayers.  These are prayers that the apostles and Christians prayed.  Since Christ and the apostles are our foundation, we ought to be emulating what they prayed and not some guy who prayed a prayer in the Old Testament that was never meant to be a model prayer.  If you are interested in a model prayer then go to the Disciple's Prayer (most often called the Lord's Prayer) in Matthew 6:9-13.

This, then, is how you should pray: "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven. Give us today our daily bread. Forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one."

This is a prayer that we are not told to repeat verbatim, in fact we are not to repeat it with vain repetitions (Matt. 6:7) but this is the prayer we can use as a model.  Notice a few things prominently missing from the Disciple's Prayer that are in the Jabez prayer. First of all, there is no asking for blessings and more land, but rather for simple needs.  The Disciple's Prayer also starts with worship and adoration of God, acknowledging His sovereignty and Kingdom.  Compare this with the Jabez prayer in 1 Chronicles 4:10.

And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my border, and that thy hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it be not to my sorrow! And God granted him that which he requested.

Just because God granted Jabez's request does not mean it is a model prayer for New Testament believers to pray.  The Disciple's Prayer given to us by God Himself is our model today.  Jabez did not expressly acknowledge the sovereignty of God in His prayer or His Kingdom.  He went straight to asking for blessings and more land.  God was very gracious to grant Jabez's request based on His Kingdom plans in telling Israel to occupy Canaan (which they often disobeyed). The only correlation the Jabez prayer has to the Disciple's Prayer is that he asked to be kept from evil.

There are many prayers today that people who call themselves believers are praying.  We need to be very careful to be praying biblical prayers. The least we can do is follow the model prayer pattern Jesus Christ gave us.  A prayer that many have prayed in the counterfeit revival movements is another example of unbiblical prayer.  It goes something like this:

“I have been praying for the ‘power’ to come upon me for a long time and it is here. I can feel it! It has changed my life for the better.”

This type of prayer has yielded the result that many have received some kind of feeling of power, but it is clearly not power from God.  There is no place in the Bible where we are told to pray for power. Therefore this is a very dangerous prayer.  Christians in certain churches today also feel a need to summon the Holy Spirit to their meetings even though He told us that He is already present where two or three are gathered together (Mat 18:20). Summoning the Holy Spirit is a dangerous unbiblical prayer.  Summoning or invoking is sorcery.

The Scriptures do show us what to pray for. Here are some examples:

Pray for your persecutors (Mat 5:43-44; Luke 6:28)
Pray for children (Mat 19:13)
Pray for escape from judgment (Luke 21:36)
Pray you will not fall into temptation (Luke 22:40)
Pray for all Christians (1 Thes 5:25; Heb 13:18)
Pray that God's Kingdom will come and His will be done (Matt. 6:10)
Pray God will provide your daily needs (Matt. 6:11)
Pray for God's forgiveness as we forgive others (Matt. 6:12)
Pray we will not be led into temptation, but delivered from evil (Matt. 6:13)
Pray for boldness in proclaiming the gospel and for God to do miracles in people's lives (Acts 4:29-31)
Pray all the time, be alert, pray for the saints (Eph 6:18)
Pray for fearless preaching (Eph 6:20)
Pray to be filled with the knowledge of His will (Col 1:9)
Pray for open doors for the gospel (Col 4:3)
Pray that the Word of God may be glorified (2 Thes 3:1)
Pray for deliverance from evil men (2 Thes 3:2)
Pray for everyone, kings, authorities, peace, quiet, godliness, holiness (1 Tim 2:1,2)
Pray for life for dead sinners (1 John 5:16)
Ask God for wisdom (James 1:5)

There are other things we are taught to pray for in Scripture, but the point is that we need to follow the Scriptural models of prayer.  Before we pray we should look at the Word to see if what we are praying for is proper.  If we are simply praying for power or blessing for ourselves, we ought to stop and think about what we are doing. With regard to a prayer for power, there are only two places where the words “prayer” and “power” are mentioned, first in 2 Thes. 1:11.

With this in mind, we constantly pray for you, that our God may count you worthy of his calling, and that by his power he may fulfill every good purpose of yours and every act prompted by your faith.

He was not praying for them to get power but that God "by His power" would fulfill "every good purpose" of theirs and "every act prompted by your faith". This is by the sovereign will of God, which if followed will produce good works. If God's will is not followed, it can only produce fleshly or demonic fruit. The second reference in Eph. 3:16-19 is this:

I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love, may have power, together with all the saints, to grasp how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ, and to know this love that surpasses knowledge--that you may be filled to the measure of all the fulness of God.

Here again Paul is praying for the Ephesians, not for himself. He prays that the indwelling Holy Spirit will show them how much Christ loves them so they may be "filled to the measure of all the fullness of God."  This speaks of empowerment to have love and faith and to understand Christ in a deeper way, not power to perform miracles or for an ecstatic experience. There is no prayer for “power” to be found in the Bible. Christians need to pray according to the will of God and leave empowerment up to the Holy Spirit in His time.


Our prayers need to focus on giving God the glory and asking for things that will advance His Kingdom, not on what we can get for ourselves.  The prayer of Jabez is not a good model prayer. If the intent of praying it is to ask that God's Kingdom come and His will be done, then that is good.  But then why use the Jabez prayer as a model?  Use the Disciple's Prayer!  Most importantly, we should not pray prayers other's prayed in the past verbatim but pray our own prayers as the Spirit leads us to pray.  We should also not use vain repetitions in our praying, as Christ warned us right before he gave us the Disciple's prayer. (Matt. 6:7)  The Disciple's Prayer, the Jabez prayer and any other prayer prayed in the Scriptures do not hold any kind of secret key to unlocking God's power, blessings or abundance.  God is sovereign and may or may not answer any prayer based on the Jabez prayer.  He is the righteous judge and knows our hearts as well as our situation, and He especially know what His Kingdom warrants.  He knows what is best for us, whether that includes blessing or suffering.  But even if it is suffering that God grants us in reply to a prayer for blessing, we can count that suffering a blessing from God (Php. 3:8, Ja. 1:2).  What a novel concept!