Saturday, November 29, 2008

#55 The Prayer of Jabez


In I Chronicles chapter 4 there is a story about a man named Jabez who asked God for things and he got them. In recent years this prayer inspired a book called The Prayer of Jabez: Breaking Through to the Blessed Life. The book became a ginormous bestseller and spawned a marketing frenzy during which the book was modified slightly to target women, teens* and children.


In the book the author states,
"I want to teach you a prayer that God ALWAYS answers."
He also says
"I believe [the prayer of Jabez] contains the key to a life of extraordinary favor with God."
A key? A prayer that God ALWAYS answers? My spidey sense is tingling!

In the last chapter of the book the author challenges** the reader to make the Jabez prayer a daily routine and he gives six steps, the first two of which are:

1. Pray the Jabez prayer every morning, and keep a record of your daily prayer by marking off a calendar or a chart you make especially for the purpose.

2. Write out the prayer and tape it in your Bible, in your day-timer***, on your bathroom mirror, or some other place where you'll be reminded of your new vision.

Spidey sense on red alert!!


There is a prayer Jesus taught his disciples to pray. He talked about it during the sermon on the mount. It doesn't emphasize material gain but it's still pretty neat, mainly because Jesus actually told his followers to pray in this way. I'm just sayin'.

*Christian culture uses the word "teens" and tries to find ways to appeal to said "teens."
**Christian culture also enjoys "challenging" each other to things, invariably pertaining to spiritual discipline.
***See previous post on the pervasiveness of Day-Timers in Christian culture.


Anonymous said...

FYI, (Christian Culture speaking here): We got sick of the whole Prayer of Jabez phenomenon about 6 yrs. ago. No one talks about it anymore. We too thought it was blown out of proportion. Just FYI

Pamela Joy said...

First, seriously, I remember that phase, I got a prayer of Jabez journal when I graduated from high school, from my pastor... I don't usually swear but it's one of those things that just makes me say... WTF! (see, I'm still a Christian, I only intitialed it. :-))
Second, I think my favorite part of this post was pointing out "teens" being a Christian Culture thing. I never thought of it. Good eye.
Third, I've been thinking for a while, you haven't done "sharing your testimony" yet have you? There is soooo much one could say about that one...

Anonymous said...

what happened to number 55?!?!

Trev said...

I still patiently await the release of "the prayer of Jabez for dogs"....then we'll see what's what.

stephy said...

I skipped #55! There I fixed it. Thanks...I have blonde roots!

Like a Mustard Seed said...

"...modified slightly to target women, teens* and children."

That right there could be a whole item in and of itself. Why does everything from bibles and bible-studies, to books or movies that are marketed to Christians have to have a women's version, and a "teen" version? It's like in the mind of the Christian-marketeer, there are three sub-species of humans.... We all have to have our own, specialized material, otherwise we'll get totally confused. Or maybe it's just a sad way to try and get people to buy more junk....

the nibbling marmot said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
dave said...

Did you actually read the Prayer of Jabez?? You took his writing out of context. He was in no way referring to material gain when writing of God's blessings. The book was definitely over marketed but it was a good book. Your "spidey-sense" is whack.

lukeisham said...

Maybe all the left-over and secondhand copies can be sent to poorer Christian Communities as an act of charity. (Joke.)

David said...

This odious "prosperity gospel" stuff is tied for first place with the soul bending irony that supposed followers of the Jesus of the Gospels are the primary obstructions to peace, justice, and civil rights in the modern, Western world for "Worst Outcome of Christian Culture".

Mark (under construction) said...

I'm off to find a mountain top - I shall pray this prayer - if there is no reply or return to sender I shall find another mountain top.

leah said...

Oh, I just LOVE this blog and I'll be back for sure!

PS the captcha I need to type in order to post this comment is "messions..."

Anonymous said...

My favorite thing about Christian items marketed to teens is that they always use an "extreme" or "grunge" font. Teens are extreme, what can I say?


JNoah said...

I think the Prayer of Jabez really does work. I mean, SOMEBODY got rich off all this crap. . .sorry stuff!

Anonymous said...

okay, the pictures on this post are so perfect. how DO you find them?

stephy said...

Just Google image searched "prayer of jabez"...

Holly said...

This reminds me of Salinger's Franny & Zooey...when she prays the Lord Jesus Christ Have Mercy On Me prayer believing if you say it over and over you eventually are given some kind of blessing. Zooey has a lot to say on the subject and how it relates across cultures.
Joseph Campbell talks about the same thing: You must believe in order to experience...and how powerful belief can be...whether its tribal rituals or praising the Lord or whatever. The only way to feel the spiritual power is to believe absolutely. Those who dont, simply never feel anything. Interesting.
Here lies the whole problem with my evangelical christian background. In the words of Salinger: these beliefs have earned me a philosophy chair in hell.

Oh well.

Kari Ann said...

I really like the conclusion to your post:
"There is a prayer Jesus taught his disciples to pray. He talked about it during the sermon on the mount. It doesn't emphasize material gain but it's still pretty neat, mainly because Jesus actually told his followers to pray in this way. I'm just sayin'."
This comment is intelligent because it shows that you're not just trying to bash all things that are "Christian", you're actually pointing out that sometimes Christian pop culture can hyperfocus on things that are can be immediately appealing (e.g. Prayer of Jabez) while overlooking things that are basic (.e.g the Lord's Prayer).

Anonymous said...

Not completely relevant, but somewhat. I am reminded of scenes in Jesus Camp where staff pray for their Powerpoint equipment, etc. to keep working and not break down. Similarly, I saw a documentary on the film industry in Nigeria (where the whole prosperity gospel thing is enormous, on account of widespread poverty) where the crew for a movie prayed for the integrity of their camera equipment during a shoot. It's like prayer is a tool, like an aerosol can that you just spray on to whatever you need to be however you need it to be.

Jon C. said...

Gotta love the plate on the pack of a Benz. Ironic how a large chunk of christian culture would never give an appropriate sized tip at a restaurant or help someone out with a few bucks on the street who needed it, but they are quick to purchase ridiculously expensive and fancy cars, clothes, and jewelry and other pointless materialistic items to impress their friends and strangers around town.

WordVixen said...

Urg. My mother lent me a copy of the Prayer of Jabez. One of the most irritating books that I've ever read. First, he won't actually tell you what the actual prayer is. Then, like a middleschooler trying to make a report's wordcount, the whole thing is padded out. I didn't feel that the whole thing was totally worthless, but I did point out to my mother that all of the useful or interesting parts would have easily fit onto one sheet of paper- and I would have enjoyed it much more. It's actually become a comparative phrase for me- "it's like a Prayer of Jabez thing" means "too long, too much fluff".

Anonymous said...

I am a bit of an anti-trender and the prayer of Jabez was a favorite verse of mine until the book came out. Really annoyed me it became hip.

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