Friday, July 07, 2006

The Prayer of Solomon (NOT a famous book by Wilkinson)

Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, "I gave birth to him in pain."

Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, "Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain." And God granted his request.

1 Chronicles 4.9-10
A few years ago, I was sure I was the last person in America to hear about Bruce Wilkinson's book which expanded on the above verses. A guy sitting next to me on an airplane, someone I had never met, had a copy of the book. Someone at church gave me a copy. I can't say I was very impressed.

Take a look at this guy's prayer: "Give me more land, and I don't like getting hurt." Heck, even I could pray that. Al Capone could have prayed that! Well, that's an exaggeration; Al didn't ask God for more territory; he just took it.

But my point here is that this prayer isn't all that great an example. (I wonder what his brothers were like?) It's not, to my mind, a very impressive prayer.

Yet here's something to be impressed about: God granted his request!

God doesn't require us to be totally altruistic, or to have perfectly clean motives. He works with us where we are, at whatever stage of immaturity he finds us.

Some decades ago, someone told me that God is often pleased with us but never satisfied. He was pleased with Jabez, but not satisfied. He granted Jabez's request -- I suppose because Jabez had faith; Jabez believed that God was, and is, a rewarder of those who seek him.

And in that he's a great example. So I thank God that my mother made it through her heart surgery just fine, and ask him to please let her live quite a few more years. He is the only one who makes us dwell in safety.

UPDATE 7/9: I forgot to make the contents match the title....

Solomon had a dream. The Lord appeared to him and told him to ask for whatever he wanted. Solomon asked for wisdom, and this pleased the Lord. Now somebody told me once that what Solomon should have asked for was a heart that was fully dedicated to the Lord, like that of his father.

Looking at Solomon's life (he also finished poorly) from 3000 years later, we can see that this -- a heart fully dedicated to the Lord -- would have saved him from finishing poorly. And yet the Lord was pleased with his request for wisdom. He was pleased, but not satisfied.

posted 7/8

1 comment:

Robert Nickel said...

Amen, Collin. It was a craze. Michelle was given three, count 'em, three copies. James Pryor once noted that all the attention on this prayer of Jabez was a distraction from, for example, the prayer of Jesus (Y'know, "Our Father, who art in Heaven..." etc?).

While biblical, it is worth noting that, in the 29-word prayer, the words "I", "me", and "my" occur 5 times. The perfect prayer for a self-absorbed society.

Anyway, from the "where are they now" file: the book is out of print, and there are 1352 copies for sale on Amazon. Over a hundred of them are priced at one penny.