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Barbara Walking in the Valley
A weekly column for those who live and walk in Silicon Valley

by Barbara Dahlgren

Reading Between the Lines
Column for the week of August 26-Sept 1, 2001

The first thing my dear friend said to me when she came to visit was "Do you know where I can get one of those Prayer of Jabez books?" So off to the cheapest place I know to get books…..Costco. While there I noticed that not only did they have The Prayer of Jabez but they also had The Prayer of Jabez for Teens, The Prayer of Jabez for Kids, and The Prayer of Jabez Journal. Chicken Soup books would be so proud. I'm sure we will have The Prayer of Jabez for Cats and Dogs coming out soon along with The Prayer of Jabez for Moms, Dads, Singles, and Prayer of Jabez 2, 3, and 4. We are talking one popular book, here, in the Christian and secular market.

President Bush is even hopping on the bandwagon by asking the author, Bruce Wilkinson, an evangelist from Atlanta, to meet with him on the National Day of Prayer. One has to wonder if President Bush is a Prayer of Jabez fan or just knows a good opportunity when he sees one. He's in politics, you know. Meeting with Bruce could not only mean future votes from loyal readers but somewhat profiles his view of church and state eventually working together. Bush still hopes to pass a bill that will give federal funding to certain religious charities.

Now, don't get me wrong. I love the little book about the tiny significant prayer found in 1 Chronicles 4:9-10. It's the only time Jabez is mentioned in the Bible.

1 Chronicles 4:9-10
"And Jabez was more honorable than his brethren: and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, 'Because I bare him with sorrow.' And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, 'Oh that thou would bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that your hand might be with me, and that thou would keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me!' And God granted him that which he requested."

I find it spiritually stimulating to delve into the "why did," "who was," "why not" and "what ifs" of scripture. But we can't make a religion out of what we think it means. This scripture is not supporting a health and wealth gospel. God is not some big sugar daddy just waiting to fulfill our every desire. I already tried singing "Oh Lord, won't you buy me a Mercedes Benz?" with all my heart. I didn't get one.

The Prayer of Jabez book starts with the premise that you already have a relationship with God. It's for Christians who want to increase their effectiveness in serving God. It's not some sort of "chant" that you repeat and repeat until God gives you what you want. Can non- Christians take advantage of what this book has to offer? Of course! But both Christians and non-Christians need to realize the real challenge is in developing a relationship with God and believing He has our best interest at heart. We have to be ready to accept the answers God gives to our prayers. Our will must become aligned with His, not vice versa. Is it wrong to ask for things? Of course not! (Matthew 7:7-11) But we need to be asking for the right things. Our motive should not be to just make our lives easier or better. We need to ask for things that will enable us to be better servants of God. (James 4:3)

I think it's a dandy little book. It's short, sweet and cheap. What more could I ask for? But I think it's a book to approach prayerfully. We need to be careful not to read into it, or the Bible, what simply isn't there.

©August 2001

Be sure to visit this page every week to read the next edition of Walking in the Valley. You can write to the author at bydahlgren@aol.com.



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