What about the Prayer of Jabez
By Adam Bartlett
After reading the book by Bruce Wilkinson, "The Prayer of Jabez" I must say that I have many reservations. I sent out an email regarding the book and was questioned by several people about my stand. I was surprised at the questions and even those that questioned it, my friends that I deemed close to God and spiritually mature. I am not so much surprised at the fact that there are those that defend the teaching, but the fact that they do not question some of the apparent errors scripturally. I must admit that there is a lot of good material in the book and much of which is good exhortation. Unfortunately it falls into the category, as do many of the current teachings of "Formulas" or "Gimmicks" to get to God and or prosperity. It is a shame that the Christian world has fallen prey to the attempts of the enemy to draw God's children away from the Biblical foundation. We are directed to "Study to show ourselves approved…" and we were given the example by Christ to spend time in prayer, yet the quick avenues are much easier in our society today. Christianity has become a multi-million dollar "business" and 'so-called' ministers are charging for their services. So-called Christian musicians are living very comfortably off of the Christians that flock to their 'concerts' at a rate of anywhere from $5 to $20 admission. TV Evangelists are wearing designer suites and wearing large flashy jewelry and driving cars that cost more than most of the people's homes that they are begging for money from. Is it any wonder that when a teaching like the Jabez Prayer comes along that there will be millions that flock to it without question?
I want to address some of the things written in the book by Mr. Wilkinson.
In the Preface of the book Mr. Wilkinson makes the following statement: "I want to teach you how to pray a daring prayer that God ALWAYS answers" (emphasis added).
Then on Page 11 of the book Mr. Wilkinson makes the following statement about himself: "…the next morning I prayed Jabez's Prayer word for word, and the next, and the next, thirty years later I haven't stopped." (emphasis added).
From the statement in the Preface it is obvious that Mr. Wilkinson is introducing a "formula" by stating that "God will ALWAYS answer" and then by his own confession that he repeats the prayer word for word and has for thirty years. This is where it amazes me that Christians seem to have no red flags wave in their face. Does the phrase "vain repetitions" not mean anything anymore? It is quite interesting that Jesus had the following to say about this in Matthew 6: 5-15;
5: And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
6: But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
7: But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.
8: Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.
9: After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.
10: Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.
11: Give us this day our daily bread.
12: And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.
13: And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.
14: For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:
15: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.
Notice the company that Jesus associated this type of prayer to in verse 7. It is also interesting that Jesus stated that the Father knows what we need even before we ask, so repetitions are not needed. It is also interesting that in this same section of scripture Jesus goes on to give us what is known as the "Lord's Prayer" or the "Model Prayer." Notice also that Jesus said "after this manner pray," it would seem to me that a directive by Jesus should hold more weight than a repetition by a man. There are many great prayers in the Bible by many great men of faith, yet Mr. Wilkinson would have us believe that this particular prayer is the only one that will get an answer EVERY time from God. Could it be that this particular prayer is one that offers a blessing up front and therefore entices the reader? This prayer was a legitimate prayer by a man of faith in the Old Testament, but nowhere are we instructed to recite prayers by anyone in the Bible. Another "Gimmick" to plague the already tarnished appearance of the 'church.' Please if you disagree with me on this point, show me scripture that directs us to recite a prayer over and over to obtain favor from God. As I said before, there are many good teachings in this little book, and they would have been fine if they were isolated from the sales pitch that they are connected to.
Mr. Wilkinson makes another statement on Page 19 of his book that totally contradicts the character of God; "is it possible that God wants you to be "selfish" in your prayers? To ask for more and more again from your Lord?"
This is quite a paradox in comparison to the time that the church was exploding and the feeling was that giving was what was needed.
44: And all that believed were together, and had all things common;
45: And sold their possessions and goods, and parted them to all men, as every man had need.
3: Blessed are the poor in spirit: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
4: Blessed are they that mourn: for they shall be comforted.
5: Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth.
6: Blessed are they which do hunger and thirst after righteousness: for they shall be filled.
7: Blessed are the merciful: for they shall obtain mercy.
8: Blessed are the pure in heart: for they shall see God.
9: Blessed are the peacemakers: for they shall be called the children of God.
10: Blessed are they which are persecuted for righteousness' sake: for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
11: Blessed are ye, when men shall revile you, and persecute you, and shall say all manner of evil against you falsely, for my sake.
12: Rejoice, and be exceeding glad: for great is your reward in heaven: for so persecuted they the prophets which were before you.
I don't see one verse where Jesus says; "Blessed are those that are "selfish" in their prayers and ask for more again and again." I do see though that He says that those that are willing to take a stand for righteousness will be persecuted. In my learning I understand that "selfishness" is the same as 'greediness' and the Bible does not encourage us to engage in that type of habit.
17: This I say therefore, and testify in the Lord, that ye henceforth walk not as other Gentiles walk, in the vanity of their mind,
18: Having the understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart:
19: Who being past feeling have given themselves over unto lasciviousness, to work all uncleanness with greediness.
20: But ye have not so learned Christ;
15: My son, walk not thou in the way with them; refrain thy foot from their path:
16: For their feet run to evil, and make haste to shed blood.
17: Surely in vain the net is spread in the sight of any bird.
18: And they lay wait for their own blood; they lurk privily for their own lives.
19: So are the ways of every one that is greedy of gain; which taketh away the life of the owners thereof.
27: He that is greedy of gain troubleth his own house; but he that hateth gifts shall live.
This was one of the most blatant errors of Mr. Wilkinsons teaching. God is anything but selfish and to even suggest that it would be God's will for us to act in that manner and ask in that manner is absurd and dangerous teaching.
On Page 27 of his book Mr. Wilkinson uses Matthew 7:7 and James 4:2 as verses he accredits as reasons that God will give to you.
7: Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you:
2: Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not.
Mr. Wilkinson only quotes "ye have not, because ye ask not." In James 4:2. The scripture in Matthew 7:7 is referring to "spiritual" giving by God as seen in the parallel scripture in
9: And I say unto you, Ask, and it shall be given you; seek, and ye shall find; knock, and it shall be opened unto you.
10: For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.
11: If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent?
12: Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion?
13: If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?
I also find it very interesting that Mr. Wilkinson did not quote the next verse in James 4 which goes along with the verse that he uses as proof God will give you the answer to the Jabez prayer.
3: Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.
I also find it interesting that Mr. Wilkinson failed to quote the scripture that Jesus used to indicate God's answer to prayer. The one place that God does promise to "Give" is under and different light than that posed by Mr. Wilkinson's doctrine.
24: But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation.
26: Woe unto you, when all men shall speak well of you! for so did their fathers to the false prophets.
30: Give to every man that asketh of thee; and of him that taketh away thy goods ask them not again.
34: And if ye lend to them of whom ye hope to receive, what thank have ye? for sinners also lend to sinners, to receive as much again.
38: Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.
I threw in a few extra verses to make a point; in verse 24 it is obvious that the vast majority of Christians that are flocking to this Jabez doctrine are looking for financial gain. In verse 26 you can see how that anyone that speaks against a doctrine such as this will not be well received. In verses 30, 34, and 38 it is clear that Jesus taught that the way to obtain gain was through giving, not being selfish. The one place were we are encouraged to "Test" God is in the area of "GIVING" not being selfish.
10: Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in mine house, and prove me now herewith, saith the LORD of hosts, if I will not open you the windows of heaven, and pour you out a blessing, that there shall not be room enough to receive it.
Notice that the principle once again is in "giving" first, not asking for more, more, more. It is a good thing that God is not promoting "selfish" characters or we could forget about any salvation plan.
One of the statements in Mr. Wilkinson's book that angers me the most is the one made on Page 63; "by far our most important strategy for defeating the roaring lion is to stay out of the arena" Mr. Wilkinson continued and made some very good points about staying out of willful sin conditions and the importance of avoiding them. That statement, however is a slap in the face to every great man of faith that put their life on the line for the Gospel. Like the men that Mr. Wilkinson so conveniently left out when he was speaking about faith and the patriarchs in chapter 11 of Hebrews.
24: By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter;
25: Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season;
26: Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward.
27: By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible.
28: Through faith he kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them.
29: By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned.
30: By faith the walls of Jericho fell down, after they were compassed about seven days.
31: By faith the harlot Rahab perished not with them that believed not, when she had received the spies with peace.
32: And what shall I more say? for the time would fail me to tell of Gedeon, and of Barak, and of Samson, and of Jephthae; of David also, and Samuel, and of the prophets:
33: Who through faith subdued kingdoms, wrought righteousness, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions,
34: Quenched the violence of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, out of weakness were made strong, waxed valiant in fight, turned to flight the armies of the aliens.
35: Women received their dead raised to life again: and others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection:
36: And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment:
37: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented;
38: (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth.
39: And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise:
40: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.
It angers me when men that are out to propagate for gain want to neglect those that paid the greatest price for the Gospel. Consider the ones that faced the lions in the coliseum and the ones that faced the perils mentioned above. Do you think that for one moment that they considered to think of their God as "Selfish" or that they could just recite the Jabez Prayer and everything would work out? If the Jabez prayer was to be that prominent among us as Christians then can someone please tell me why it is never promoted by anyone in the Bible? Can someone please tell me why Jabez is never mentioned again with the exception of this prayer? Can someone please tell me why there are not books propagating the Lord's Prayer or the Prayer of Solomon dedicating the temple, or any of the prayers of David? I think I answered it earlier, it is because there is a promise of "GAIN" in this particular prayer and that is what the Christian world is looking for today. The quick fix so we don't need to spend time in the Word or Prayer to find the will or pleasure of God. Just recite this ready made prayer and everything will happen for you because you have effectively placed God in a box and now have a 'Jeannie' that will cater to your every whim.
I do want to give credit where credit is due, this book does have some good teaching as I stated at the start. Mr. Wilkinson has some great insights but it is a tragedy that he has turned what could have been a great teaching into a "Gimmick" for the modern church to use. It is the last thing this church needs today, in fact I believe that the thing that is needed more than anything is for God's people to spend more time on their knees and in the Word. If that were to happen then when these teachings and doctrines came around they would spot them for what they are.
Sincerely, Adam Bartlett