Tuesday, May 30, 2006

I read The Prayer of Jabez

So on a friend’s blog there has been some conversation about how we can best be critical of the Christian subculture (calling out bad teaching/practices, etc) without condemning those who are learning from and seeking the Lord through those. One of the comment-ers has a great word – snarky – for comments that are kind of cutting or humorous, and I have found that over the years I have certainly made my share of snarky comments. One of the Christian subculture items that has received more than its fair share of snarks from me is the book The Prayer of Jabez. Not surprisingly, I had never read this book that I was criticizing, but mainly I was just railing on the idea that people were believing that a magic prayer from the Bible could unlock heaven’s blessing. I had heard how people were using the book to try and get blessings from God that didn’t seem to flow to others, and so I dismissed it (and I also had great fun mocking all of the Prayer of Jabez merchandise that was available, from neckties to a version for teens to a cross plaque with the prayer on it to a DVD to a prayer guide to a journal to a Bible cover… but I digress).

So something to effect of, “let he who is without snark snub the first book” came to mind, and so I decided I would read the copy of The Prayer of Jabez sitting on my shelf (sent to me by a church that supports me in ministry). It didn’t take an hour to speed read it, and as I did, I was really encouraged by what it was teaching me. I didn’t find a call to grab blessings for selfish gain. I found a call to pray big prayers, to ask our Father for good things so that we might bless others. I found a call to surrender our hopes and ideas of blessing to what He would choose to give us. I found a call to desire greater things of God through my life and ministry and the call to surrender my time and my talents for the kingdom. I was called to trust God and to find joy in being in over my head, as that would lead me to a place of needing Him. I was called to trust God to keep me from evil and to ask Him to protect me and my character and walk with Him.

Sure, there were a coupe places where I was tempted to get snarky, but mostly those were from thoughts that said, “Someone could read this and think that the author means ______.” But I am convinced that the author’s heart is for God to be glorified and magnified in his life. In short, I am glad that I read it. I know that all the things I have mocked in the past will not be that good, but I also now know not to reject every “it” thing in the Christian subculture before giving it a look.


miles said...

The "it" things are not the problem to me--it's the way that they're made "it" things. And that's a big difference. Its like loving the book and hating the romance-novel-like cover that makes me feel like its being marketed to a sterotypical christian personality.

But I have to admit that I'm the biggest offender in snarking everything that I'm too conceded to accept.

Sean said...

in defense of snark:

was there a reasonable point? yes

but to make a whole industry (including: the Jabez prayer shawl which we bought as a joke for a former sr pastor and a musical (!)) out of one little passage in the OT that no NT author quotes? that's a problem.

not surprisingly, Wilkerson's triumphalism did not work in Africa.

Burly said...

The fact that no NT author quotes it is totally and utterly irrelevant. Our NT would have to be longer than our OT if that's a criteria for legitimizing (sp?) the OT (i.e. giving it weight). Am I missing something or misunderstanding. The NT doesn't repeat "If a man is bald he is clean," but that verse certainly speaks to me.

Marshall said...

I think that Wilkinson did not design the industry that became the beast of Jabez; not sure how much control he had over it.
As for Africa, yeah, he bit off more than he could chew, but at we can commend him for having some sort of vision and willingnes s to try.

Marshall said...

Yes, Miles, the way they are made "it" is a problem, but I guess I am learning not to throw the baby out with the bath water