“The Prayer of Jabez” by Bruce Wilkinson Multnomah Press, 93 pages.
- Critical read
- Must read
- Good read
- Read if you want
- Read something else
I first encountered Bruce Wilkinson as a speaker at the annual fall “Torrey Memorial Bible Conference” held at Biola University. Wilkinson was a speaker at that conference and the truth our God imparted into my life through him still impacts my thinking and living to this day.
Wilkinson returned to speak at the conference the following year. At one of his addresses he presented as a message the general content found in this book, which at that time was not yet written. That message about the prayer prayed by Jabez electrified the audience. Many lives were changed, and a large number of students began to pray the prayer of Jabez over their own lives. A shortly after this, a group of students began to pray this prayer over a vision to share the gospel message with the highest government leaders in California. That event ultimately inspired an outreach to the nation of Trinidad involving hundreds of students and faculty from the university. These two events are referenced in the book.
I have prayed this prayer at least weekly throughout my life. The prayer is not a mantra that leverages God to work on my behalf, for no such prayer exists. It is instead a prayer of submission to whatever our God would do to pour blessings into our living and through us to others.
Why read “The Prayer of Jabez?” James, the apostle and brother of Jesus, wrote that we do not receive from our God because we do not ask, or because we tend to ask with selfish and impure motives. This book helped me to set straight my motivations for the prayers I pray, and it encouraged me to pray out of those motivations with courage and confidence.
The Point. Our common view of “blessing” is skewed toward our fleshly desires, worldly values, and selfish preoccupations. True blessings are those things which draw us into a deeper sense of union with our God, empower us for selfless, surrendered living, and flow through us in ways that will bless others. The usual blessings for which people often pray do not fit these priorities. More money, easier living, greater comfort, and things that feed our flesh are not blessings. They tend to distract us from true spiritual priorities and a sense of union with our God.
When we pray as did Jabez (see image at left), we must see these requests from our God’s eternal perspective. We need to leave behind all fleshly, worldly ideas of blessing, enlarged borders, the direct working of our God, and what constitutes harm.
Our God’s blessings are often in the form of difficulty, trial, redirection, and even pain. Grace flows into the areas in which we have been emptied of self, so His blessings will often bring us to lay aside all self-life and to fix our eyes upon our God only. The enlarging of our borders will often begin with loss and reduction of those things what hold us back. Our God’s hand with us will not only comfort us, but will discipline, redirect, and propel us into things that are challenges to our flesh. Much of what seem like harm to us is actually His pruning, cleansing, and the stripping of our fleshly reliance and focus. And true deliverance is from evil, not simply from trouble or grief. Not all trouble and grief is evil, but all evil will lead to trouble and grief.
The Impact: This book is a starting point on a journey of self-abnegation, crucified living, and praying from the eternal perspective of our God. As I have prayed this prayer repeatedly, my God has been training me to think and pray with His mind, not from my human, fleshly perspective.
The repeated use of this prayer began with a deep change in me. It has produced true blessings that feed the spirit and not the flesh, and enlargements to my understanding of and love for my God. It has expanded my ministry impact in the world around me. The prayer has produced countless experiences of His hand to guide, propel, redirect, and stay my actions, along with a clearer understanding of what is evil in and around me and a recognition of the many times My God has delivered me from harm.
This content found in this book has had an impact upon my prayers and my understanding of how our God works in His true disciples. Praying this prayer has led me to become more focused upon my God’s indwelling spirit and priorities as well as more accepting of the rigors of the true spiritual life of discipleship.
Quotes: From page 1, “The little book you’re holding is about what happens when ordinary Christians decide to reach for an extraordinary life – which, as it turns out, is exactly the kind God promises.”
From page 23, “To bless in the biblical sense means to ask for or to impart supernatural favor. When we ask for God’s blessing, we’re not asking for more of what we could get for ourselves. We’re crying out for the wonderful, unlimited goodness that only god has the power to know about of give to us, This kind of richness is what the writer was referring to in Proverbs: “The Lord’s blessing is our greatest wealth; all our work adds nothing to it” (Proverbs 10:22 TLB).”
This short read is life-changing for the person who is serious about leaving behind the fluff found in our current mainstream, self-centered religiosity to truly allow our God to have His will and His way in blessing and directing. I highly encourage serious disciples to read it soon.