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Should Christians be learning how to pray Jabez's prayer?

Staff Member
What is your opinion of the best-selling book The Prayer of Jabez?

The Prayer of Jabez, by Dr. Bruce Wilkinson, has gained enormous popularity in the Christian community. Within the last year it has sold more than 4 million copies-3.5 million in the last four months alone-and has maintained a first-place ranking on many national best-seller lists. The author is a distinguished Bible teacher and founder of Walk thru the Bible Ministries. His organization, which hosts more than 2,500 Bible conferences annually, is designed to train Christians in a fundamental understanding of both the Old and New Testaments.

Wilkinson's book is a study on Jabez's prayer recorded in 1 Chronicles 4:9-10. Dr. Wilkinson's purpose is to encourage believers to continually look to Jabez's prayer as a model to follow if they expect to receive great blessing from and accomplish great things for God. Dr. Wilkinson writes, "This petition has radically changed what I expect from God and what I experience every day by his power" (p. 7). In fact, he continues to express throughout the book the need for Christians to pray this prayer, so they too can experience a radical change in their life.

We commend much within The Prayer of Jabez.

For example, Dr. Wilkinson rightly emphasizes the importance of prayer in the Christian life. All Christians should commune with the Lord in prayer. Jesus, for example, gave his disciples an outline to follow in prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) and fashioned a parable to encourage persistence in prayer (Luke 18:1-7). Following the Lord's lead, The Prayer of Jabez does an excellent job of emphasizing the need for cultivating a rich prayer life.

Another helpful focus of the book is its exhortation for Christians to focus their prayers on ministry and not on personal desires. That is noteworthy as many of today's popular books encourage prayer merely for individual gain. They assert that God owes blessings to them, and they should ask Him for anything they desire. Dr. Wilkinson never encourages that attitude. Though he states God will bless the believer, the blessing will come in the form of more and more opportunities to minister to others in need. Answered prayer, Dr. Wilkinson reminds us, is born out of proper motives (James 4:3).

With those commendations in mind, however, there are some areas of concern in The Prayer of Jabez.

First of all, the book leaves the door open for Christians to presume upon God. Wilkinson writes, "I want to teach you how to pray a daring prayer that God always answers." (p. 7, emphasis added). Though it is true that God hears the prayers of His saints, there is no guarantee that He will always answer them in the expected manner. To suggest to the reader that God will always answer those who pray Jabez's prayer greatly overstates reality.

Furthermore, that expectation could lead believers to experience disappointment with God. Someone might feel justified complaining that he prayed the "model prayer of Jabez" but God never answered. The truth is, there could be other reasons for God's silence, such as our own unconfessed sin or impure motives. Or perhaps God's plan for that person is far different from what they asked for in prayer. Dr. Wilkinson does not clarify his statement, but repeatedly claims throughout the book that God will most assuredly answer the "Jabez" prayer, a claim that oversimplifies all God's Word says about prayer.

The book also tends to trivialize the discipline of prayer by making the words of Jabez's prayer the formula to follow. Wilkinson encourages Christians to repeat the words of Jabez's prayer regularly. But Jesus spoke against that kind of rote prayer style in Matthew 6:7, where He warned His disciples not to use vain, repetitious prayers. Rather, Christians should pray to God with heartfelt sincerity. Simply repeating the prayer of Jabez daily runs the risk of reducing a believer's prayer life to vain repetition.

Moreover, The Prayer of Jabez can also create confusion about the importance of the many other prayers throughout the Bible. Does Jabez's prayer somehow take precedence over Jesus' model of prayer in Matthew 6:9-13? Are Paul's prayers worth imitating? Do the prayers of other Old Testament saints help us better understand prayer any more or any less than Jabez's? Focusing solely on Jabez's brief prayer implicitly ascribes to it some kind of magical character it does not possess. Certainly, Jabez's prayer is a very good model, but it does not have any inherent ability to unlock God's power in the Christian life. Unfortunately, Dr. Wilkinson's book does little to dissuade such conclusions about the prayer.

Finally, The Prayer of Jabez paints an inconsistent picture of the Christian life. Wilkinson asserts that praying Jabez's prayer leads to a life of incredible blessing and ever-increasing ministry opportunities-a life that sounds almost like a fairy-tale. However, little reference is ever made to the reality of genuine difficulties in life, and the necessity of sincere prayer to face those difficulties in a God-honoring way. Furthermore, Dr. Wilkinson fails to encourage the importance of faithfulness in the mundane circumstances of daily living. He seems to indicate that real Christian living is only happening when Christians encounter regular miracles and astounding ministry opportunities in life. Scripture, however, points to the importance of learning to live a life fixed on pleasing God in all the little details in life-attitudes, thoughts, words, and behavior. The Prayer of Jabez fails to exhibit biblical balance in that regard.

In conclusion, The Prayer of Jabez can be a helpful tool because it encourages Christians to look to Jabez's prayer as one of many biblical models of prayer worthy of emulation. You can look to Jabez's prayer along with the prayers of other Bible characters in an effort to better inform your own prayer life. But remember, true prayer does not consist of a set of mantras or incantations employed to elicit a particular response from God. God is not a genie in a bottle, waiting to be coaxed out so He can grant wishes. Rather, prayer is about aligning your mind and heart with God's sovereign purposes.

Prayer is a rich privilege God graciously grants to His children, enabling us to express our submission to His will for our lives. To that end, may we all learn to pray with the humility, dependence, and expectation of blessing Jabez exhibited.

article originally from: Should Christians be learning how to pray Jabez's prayer?
I agree. If we need to model and study and pray a prayer listed in scripture, it would be the Lords prayer. Short of that speak whats on our heart and mind.
I've been through the book. I personally took as it's OK to ask for blessings sometimes, but that;s doesn't mean you'll get rich or everything will always go your way.

I do believe God answers EVERY prayer. But sometimes the answer is NO, and sometimes the answer is NOT YET.
I personally believe sometimes the answer is IT DEPENDS on.. (some circumstance)
Lots of folks have memorized that prayer, "praying" it in church service when called upon to pray. It takes about 10 seconds. It's quite general, all requests to receive something from God. There's a time to just ask God for blessing, but I wonder whether God actually listends to that prayer if that's all he hears uttered in some variation every time someone prays. I believe it's better to study Bible prayers, beginning with King Solomon's prayer of the Temple dedication (1 Kings 8). I can imagine God stood from his throne for that one. God wants us to commune with him from the heart, not just a memorized model. Add to that prayer others, all of Jesus' prayers(Luke 11:2-4) , and Paul (Eph 3:14-21)set out some ideas. Put it all together in study to open yourself up to other possibilities. In our home we pray many scriptures over people and situations. Since Jesus prayed well beyond the shortness of the Lord's Prayer model, it's appropriate to have insight in his prayer in John 17, adding prayer for the ministry around us. I avoid repeating any model prayer, preferring to simply express what's on my heart at the time. My wife and I confess promises over our children and others. We extend ourselves a bit to ask whether the Father be wiling to let angels camp around the middle school to keep them safe, repeated every school day. It's takes about an hour for my wife and I to alternate praying back and forth, each expressing concerns each day.
It sounds like a softer approach to prosperity gospel........ I have not read nor will I read this book. My library is full of saints of the past (dead folks) my God is never changing. Red flags come up when someone offers me a new way or a new path to God. I really take notice when it is self centered and what I can get out of it. God spent a good part of my walk with Him teaching me it is not about me. But our Adamic/ flesh nature WANTS more and desires to rise above..... The Christian way is not up but down. The Christian Heart is to give not to get............. Just my thoughts from what I read.
We let praise, worship (singing scripture songs), and thanksgiving dominate our personal prayer time, thanking God for every small and large blessing. Proclamations of his promises please the Lord. But so does asking.

The important thing to me is to pray frequently. Earthly friends speak to each other often, while God looks for that from us. Asking is important, for ourselves and others. I daily ask for health wisdom so I can keep working my
business and God's business.

I ask to be allowed to be increased materially enough to be of help to someone today in a proportional manner. God is not against having wealth, as it is needed to expand the Kingdom. He is against hoarding wealth. It is meant to flow out
wherever the Spirit says to give it.

Wealth rarely comes for anyone merely wishing for more than bare bones existence. From the scriptures I learn that asking the Father is very important to Him, also to us. It's part of him being identified as Father.
I think this is central to asking for good things, our "Asking Bill of Rights" I call it:
Matthew 7:7-12 (KJV)
7 Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
9 Or what man is there of you, whom if his son ask bread, will he give him a stone?
10 Or if he ask a fish, will he give him a serpent?
11 If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him?
12 Therefore all things whatsoever ye would that men should do to you, do ye even so to them: for this is the law and the prophets.

As a father of two and with two grands I understand doing all I can to make sure they had enough to eat quality food, wear good clothes, learn, be healthy, etc. going out of my way to satisfy their asking for things because I could and love them. With
pleasure I worked as much overtime as possible to provide abundantly for my family.

If I, a man, am willing to be generous to my kids, which expanded to generosity to other family, friends, ministries and neighbors, how much more might God be pleased to give what we ask? Could I out give God? I don't think it.
Some of our prayers were answered in very unexpected ways, several significant inheritances from people we hardly knew, just in time to meet big needs in our lives and others. The timing convinces us those were answers to every prayer.asking.
Our motive has been pure, as God is aware of how we handle his bounty. He delights to graduate us from managing little to more and more for the good of the Kingdom of God.
I've had miracles in health too, prayers of many answered beyond any expectation. I've learned never to not ask. God said to ask, so I do, not worrying whether the thing asked for is selfish, asking him to not let a selfish request be heard.
God will answer Yea or Nay, for that's how he tells man to answer men. Matthew 5:37 (KJV) 37 But let your communication be, Yea, yea; Nay, nay: for whatsoever is more than these cometh of evil.

Prayer like I'm talking about, beginning with Bible models, ushers you into being generous to family, and to others in need. God adds blessing by reciprocity from the hands of men, mercy being vital, peace, "paying it forward", whatever you do consistently for
others, coming back to you pressed down and running over. God has never let us run dry her,e and won't forget us. So we ask, then leave the matter up to God.
Wow I am amazed at the replies in this thread. I have read books about Jabez and it is a most wonderful prayer if you grasp what his life was and what he is saying in this. I about spit my rock star on the screen when I read a reply it is like a prosperity gospel and about choked when i read oh God answers all prayers but some times it is yes or no or maybe or not yet or cant cause of circumstances. Good night child, circumstances do not control a Christian.

This is a prayer to be thought over and if you are serious about God and sharing His love then it is a very personal one. Enlarger your territory or another words bring me into a larger realm of you and for you. It is a very unselfish prayer and in fact it places God far above your own desires. It is not a prayer to pray only nor is it a prayer for you to gain material blessings or gain for your self.

I suggest reading the book and finding out for your self. Its all about making your area of the world bigger and bigger. Here is an example. Joe Monkey has a little ministry and Joe shares the gospel regularly with in a small area. Joe does this for years and yet Joes heart is crying out to reach more. So Joe prays the prayer of Jabez within his normal prayers. God begins to work in Joes heart and in time His area has grown a little.

OBTW Gods answer to our prayers is ALWAYS YES AND AMEN when prayed along His will. No mystery here. Once you can understand His will then you will pray with confidence in His word and then you will learn His Yes and Amen to your prayers.

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