Jabez: The Bible's Little Big Man
Fueling book sales, believers make 'Prayer of Jabez' their own.
BY: Berta Delgado
DALLAS -- The obscure prayer tucked deep within a ponderous genealogy almost defies notice. Yet "The Prayer of Jabez: Breaking Through to the Blessed Life" has managed to fulfill every aspect of the ancient Hebrew's plea by becoming a full-fledged publishing phenomenon.
Written by Dr. Bruce Wilkinson, the pocket-size book examines two sentences in 1 Chronicles 4:10 about a man named Jabez and his very simple prayer.
Although it was released last April, the book has recently topped both religious and secular best-seller charts and has sold more than 3 million copies. Jabez study groups are cropping up everywhere, preachers are preaching about it, and Web sites are devoting space to testimonies from folks who have been praying the prayer.
"We have been shocked," said Wilkinson, founder and president of the international organization Walk Thru the Bible Ministries. "We can't claim any credit or brilliance. It's just God deciding Jabez prayed this prayer thousands of years ago, and maybe now it's time to get it answered."
Referred to by Wilkinson as the "Bible's Little Big Man," Jabez is never mentioned again. The verse before the prayer notes that Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and says that his mother named him Jabez because she gave birth to him in pain.
Then: "And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, 'Oh, that you would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that your hand would be with me, and that you would keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me!' So God granted him what he requested." (1 Chronicles 4:10)
Wilkinson, who lives in Atlanta, has been praying the prayer since 1972, when he was a senior at Dallas Theological Seminary.
"When I was at DTS, Dr. Richard Seume preached on Jabez," he said. "He used the concept that Jabez was more honorable than his brethren. By the time it was over, we all wanted to be like Jabez. I went home and I looked at it and I began to think about it and pray. I saw such wonderful answers that I continued to pray it."
And he has been speaking about it for years. Everywhere he goes, he said people tell him "Jabez stories."