Pros: A concise breakdown on what one aspect of prayer and blessings are about.
Cons: If read sloppily, then "give me give me" attitude will slip in.
The Prayer of whatchamacallit???
So there I was two years ago, reading some articles on the internet and then I came across the Prayer. There seemed to be a lot of hype around a new book that just came out, but as usual this isn?t abnormal in Christian circles whenever a book about prayer, success, or victorious living shows up. All people occasionally like to read books that inspire them or provide ideas on how to improve upon one?s living circumstances. So I thought that ?whatever? this book was, it?ll just be another book in a sea of prayer books that are found throughout this land of ours.
Jabez wore a tie???
Well, it?s been two years since The Prayer Of Jabez book came out into publication and look at the *cough* fruit that it has provided. Retailers, including Borders, Amazon, and Barnes & Nobles all have in one variation or another a Prayer Of Jabez book and accessory section! Not only can you buy the book, but you can also get the Prayer Of Jabez TIE for those occasions when you?re bored and want to read something, just read your tie.
Seriously though, I was and still am abhorred by all the marketing that has surrounded such a little book. I mean seriously, who needs a tie, pen, journal book, study guide, book cover, prayer towel, mugs, hats in order to PRAY?!?!?! I just have to shake my head at times when I see how some Christian circles really just go beyond the line of decency in promoting a product. Why isn?t this energy used to preach & live out the Gospel???
All right, off my soapbox for now, but yes I finally did read the book. The book was given to me by one of my aunts in Hong Kong (English version) who thought it would be a great gift for her nephew. With some hesitation and time, I eventually found myself one Saturday afternoon with nothing really to do besides reading. So I went through my mini-christian book library of unread books and found this on top. That?s how I finally brought myself to reading this.
So what of the book, eh?
So what did I think of the book? It?s pretty good. Yes, I was surprised by that answer myself after I finished reading the Prayer in over an hour. The author, Bruce Wilkinson, explained his reasoning, thoughts, and understanding of the scriptures in a well, logical, and clear method. I could see why many people of different backgrounds had no difficulty in understanding this book because Wilkinson does go out of his way to explain word for word why to him the Prayer is so life-changing for him.
The basic message of the prayer of Jabez is that we as believers have a certain quota of blessings that we can receive from God for his/her lifetime. However, for too many believers, we believe that the blessings just kinda pop up and we take them as is and go on with our lives. So by the time we do go home and meet up with Dad, we realize that we could have gotten a whole lot more blessings on earth if only we actually asked for them.
He illustrates this concept with a story of a man who arrives to heaven. The man is greeted by the apostle Peter (Who for some reason is always at heaven?s gates) and is given a tour of heaven and the other wonders of his new home. However, there is this one building that is really really big and looks more like a warehouse. After some debating, the man decided that he wanted to see what was inside the building. Peter takes him in and the man realizes that the warehouse is filled with boxes with names written on them. Before Peter could stop the man, the guy runs down the halls like a kid at Toys R?Us and finds his box. Upon opening the box he gives out a loud sigh, a sigh that Peter has heard too many times because the man realized that the box contained all of the blessings that God had wanted to shower on him, but he never opened his hands to receive them.
In essence, Wilkinson is encouraging the believer to step out of his/her comfort zone and begin to be bold with one?s prayers to God. The message is not about how to get more money or that promotion, etc.. Though such requests aren?t bad, that?s not the point of what the blessings are. The blessings are the things that God wants to give to you in order to enrich one?s life in Christ. So these blessings could possibly look like cursings from God for a while too, but later transformed into a blessings. Ever heard of that my friend?
How does it break down?
The book is broken into 7 chapters and each chapter focuses on one aspect of the Prayer. It becomes quite obvious with chapter 1 that Wilkinson is serious about this topic. He will do whatever he can possibly with explanation of this scripture verse to help the reader understand the concept that this verse is teaching. As he mentions in chapter 1, instead of standing on the edge of God?s river with a cup in hand to scoop up water, Wilkinson is challenging his readers to jump into the river and be swept away by God?s goodness. What a vivid picture, eh?!
In chapters 1 & 2, Wilkinson first explains why he thinks this verse is different. It is found in the book of Chronicles in the bible. In a list of genealogies (basically family tree listings), there is this verse about this dude named Jabez. The writer of Chronicles, for some reason, took special note to this guy and mentions that Jabez asked God to bless him, protect him, and not let evil harm him. Nothing really shines out as wow material at first.
However, Wilkinson then explains why he thinks Jabez prayed such a prayer. Jabez apparently means pain and his mom named him that because it would seem giving birth to him involved a lot of pain, more than normal! If you were a guy with a name like that, then it might be understandable as to why you would ask God to really bless you like crazy! Also, if you understand what blessing means, then you can truly sympathize with Jabez. Jabez wasn?t just asking God to give him new toys or make his life not so painful, but he wanted God to supernaturally impart things to him that in the end, no could deny that God is very big and very good.
With chapters 3 & 4, Wilkinson explains the underlying themes with Jabez?s prayer. Jabez, as I stated before, was not asking for your typical promotion or new chariot, but something bigger, better, something that only God can be attributed as giving. These chapters basically deflate this popular notion that these blessings are for my use. The blessings that God gives are to be used for Him, used to expand His kingdom, used for Him. When your heart for these blessings is because you desire to expand His work, then you?ve reached what is truly enriching for your life and that is why God will expand your borders. He will also watch and guard you and use whatever you have done with his blessings to enrich other peoples? lives. For Wilkinson, the ultimate enrichment is when people are reached with the Gospel, and defies all human logic as to how something as silly as a children?s outreach can have such an impact.
In chapter 5, he then explains something that all of who have been used by God have inevitably faced?tough times. In other words, you know you?re doing the walk, you?re talking the talk, and you?re praying the prayers. However, along the way, things get tough, situations are happening. It just seems that chaos is at your door knocking at the door wanting to have a ?chat? with you. Why is this all happening? Wilkinson?s answer is that when you are using God?s blessings appropriately, you will face opposition and that is why one needs to keep guard constantly. You need to know you?re doing the right thing and keep at it because you will pass through the storm eventually and things will work out. Just don?t let the enemy take you off course or stop you in your tracks.
In chapter 6, Wilkinson begins to close off and answer some nagging questions about this prayer. He provides a life example of how he followed these same principles and how they have enabled Him to follow the leading of God more astutely and effectively. He also reveals that there is no such thing as a blessing limit, but that there is always a new level of blessings. One needs to keep pushing, working, serving, seeking after God and never give up. God will shower blessings, just be patient.
Finally, in chapter 7, Wilkinson encourages and challenges the reader to pray the prayer of Jabez. He encourages us to keep a journal and to reread the prayer and book several times through until its message hits home in our hearts. A quiet, but appropriate ending to a very simple book.
I was genuinely surprised when I finished the book because I found myself acknowledging that the message is true. Not only that, but I had been praying this kind of prayer for a very long time, and I never heard of Jabez before! The thing I don?t get is how some believers take away the message that the point of prayer is so God can give me a bigger house or fatter wallet! Wilkinson focuses on ministries, helping people, reaching people with the Gospel, being used by God. He hardly mentions anything about money or any of the other nice items that most people would like in life. I?m just at a lost how a simple book like this has caused so many to grab such a message.
In reality, The Prayer Of Jabez shouldn?t be as life changing or revolutionizing as it seems to be today. I see it as more of a first step in one?s prayer life and relationship with God because it explains some key points about prayer, God, and our relationship with Him in Jesus. The Prayer has great points, but I?m more amazed that these points needed to be introduced in the first place!
Should I get this for nephew for X-mas?
So would I recommend this book? Yes I would, to a point. This book is a great book for those who are beginning in their Christian walks or who need to understand more about what one aspect of prayer is like, then yes this would make a great gift. However, if you?re looking for some sort of formula to get some of life?s ?nicer? pleasures, then no, this book ain?t gonna help you at all!
In summary, it?s a good gift for those who would like to be encouraged to keep on praying and going along in this walk with Christ. However, this is not the ultimate in regards to blessings and prayers. Like Wilkinson mentioned before, there is always a new level, and I will have to say that the Jabez prayer is just one level. Expect to be seeing me reading the Prayer Of Jesus sometime soon. Later y?all!
Do please leave comments and feedback. This is my 6th book review, any suggestions and comments will be greatly appreciated!