April 14, 2001
"THE PRAYER OF JABEZ"
For too many
Christians, the Easter story is simply history. They've never
experienced the supernatural power of God in their own lives.
last Easter, millions of Americans have felt the exhilaration of sensing
God empowering them in an new and profound way. They've learned how by
reading a remarkable little book, "The Prayer of Jabez," by Bruce
In just 11
months, 4 million copies have been sold! As readers test the author's
thesis, they experience its power and buy it for friends. My wife and I
were given a copy as a gift by Tom and Liz Dressel, when they graciously
hosted us in their Oregon home last fall.
The book sat
unread until a week ago. In our morning devotions, I began reading it to
my wife. Immediately, we began to sense God's presence in a new way.
that Jabez is an obscure Biblical hero, whose story is told in just two
verses tucked in the middle of an tedious section of the least read
chapter of the Bible, I Chronicles 4:9-10.
"Jabez cried out to the
God of Israel,
`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.'
And God granted his request."
Wilkinson discovered the prayer decades ago and says it "radically
changed what I expect from God and what I experience every day by His
power." He breaks it down into four parts:
1. "Bless me indeed." That may
sound like a selfish prayer, but it is "radical trust in God's good
intentions toward us," that "we are throwing ourselves entirely into the
river of His will and power and purposes for us," Wilkinson writes.
He adds that there is a
"guaranteed by-product of sincerely seeking His blessing. Your life will
become marked by miracles." Jesus said "Ask, and it will be given to
you." However, if you do not ask for his blessing, you will not receive
it. "God's bounty is limited only by us, not by His resources, power, or
willingness to give help."
2. "Enlarge my territory." In a
time when everyone seems overworked, it is highly unusual for people to
pray for more ministry. But if you pray this prayer, "amazing things
occur," the author writes. "As your opportunities expand, your ability
and resources supernaturally increase too."
Wilkinson leads "Walk Through the
Bible," a ministry teaching how to read the Bible in a year that began
with 25 conferences a year. His territory has expanded to 2,500
conferences a year which he says is "shocking evidence of what God's
grace and Jabez praying can do." He recently launched "WorldTeach," a 15
year vision to establish the largest Bible-teaching faculty in the
world, 120,000 teachers. In just two years, WorldTeach is training 2,500
teachers in 23 nations such as Russia, Ukraine, India and South Africa..
3. "Your hand would be with me."
When God began to enlarge Wilkinson's territory, he suddenly felt out of
control and weak -- nothing like what a leader is supposed to feel. He
met with a trusted older man, John Mitchell, and shared his sense of
crisis. Mitchell replied, "That feeling you are running from is called
dependence. It means you are walking with the Lord Jesus."
Wilkinson stammered, "The feeling
I can't do it is what I supposed to be feeling?" Yes, which is why if we
attempt something large for God, we must pray His hand will be with us.
4. "Keep me from evil." Success in
ministry increases the opportunity for failure. Many Christian leaders
have fallen into sin. Jesus taught we are to pray, "Lead us not into
Without a temptation we would not
sin. Yet how many really ask God to keep us from evil?
This Easter, why
not decide to test Bruce Wilkinson's thesis? Take his advice to make an
"unwavering plan" to pray the Jabez prayer every morning for 30 days.
Read his slender book, which you can do in an hour, once a week for the
month, "asking God to show you important insights you may have missed."
Tell one other
person of your prayer commitment and ask him or her to check up on you.
"Begin to keep a record of changes in your life...and new opportunities
you can relate to the Jabez prayer."
Above all, act
on those opportunities, though you will feel a sense of fear..
invite anyone who tries this plan to write me afterwards, in care of
this newspaper, to report if you have had a divine appointment.
Copyright 2001 Michael J.