The Prayer of Jabez

John Job

This little best seller is a short book which explains the Prayer of Jabez (I Chronicles 9:10) and how it can be applied in our prayer life today. Jabez, a man about whom we know very little, is tucked away in a long genealogy dating back to Adam. What makes him unique is that there is a small commentary written about him along with the prayer which he prayed and which was, apparently, answered by God. Jabez was also reckoned to be more honourable than his brothers.

Wilkinson explains the various aspects of the prayer - the desire for God's blessing, enlargement of his borders, for God's continued presence and protection from harm. He then urges his readers to adopt this prayer as a daily ritual and to believe that what happened for Jabez will also happen for them. He concludes the book with a testimony of how his organisation, WorldTeach, founded in 1998 'out of the womb of the Jabez Prayer' from a vision to establish the largest Bible Teaching Faculty in the world, has exceeded all expectations, and how they have now populated 39 countries with nearly 8,000 Bible teachers.

Much has been written already about the 'Jabez Phenomenon'. It has swept across the USA and is permeating the UK too. My own view is that there is nothing in this prayer which is not offered to us with greater richness and breadth by Jesus himself, starting in the Lord's Prayer and amplified in his teaching elsewhere in the Gospels. Not only that, but Jesus' teaching sets into context such prayers so that our desire for blessings is couched within an equal desire for service. Humility does not feature in the Prayer of Jabez, neither does the danger of building bigger barns.

I found it quite amazing that little attempt was made in the book to cross-relate the Jabez Prayer to the teachings of Jesus, but instead it suggests that it can be used as a 'Mantra for Success' - a kind of Heiniken Prayer, reaching the parts other prayers can't reach! Make of it what you will - it's good to be abreast of what's happening here.

The Rev John Job is a supernumary minister in the Chesterfield Circuit and a former Old Testament tutor at Cliff College.

Headline, Spring 2003 p.18.