Years ago, when I was struggling to put my life back together after a messy divorce and working to find my way back to God, I stumbled across this little book somehow. Recently, I picked it back up again to see if it was still relevant. It was, but in a whole different way. When I first picked it up, it became for me a way to explore communication with God, to learn a little bit about how to pray and about the power of praying the same prayer regularly. When I picked it up now, it was more of a thermometer for my own current prayer life.
The Prayer of Jabez is based off of a small section of 1Chronicles 4. A man named Jabez prays, "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 I may not cause pain!" The author takes the prayer apart into pieces and walks the reader through how to read this prayer as a part of their daily life.
The principles in this book are solid and Wilkinson has a healthy attitude toward prayer. Prayer does make a difference. Daily prayer makes a big difference and praying the same prayer or set of prayers each day as part of your routine can have immense spiritual effects in your life. I don't think that this tiny little obscure prayer has any magical power. I don't think it's the undiscovered gem of prayers from the Bible that everyone has to know to really pray "right." But I do think it's a great little prayer to study. It is a great start for a daily prayer routine because it has some aspects of daily life included in it and it's short enough to learn easily.
This is not a book about how to pray so you'll get a better job, a bigger house and another car. This is a book on how to pray to be closer to God and to discern His direction for you in your own life, in your neighborhood and in the world around you. It's a book on how to pray so that you'll see the blessings around you and be blessed by seeing God in the ordinary, not just the extraordinary. It's a book about learning how to pray when you don't necessarily have a list of "prayer requests" to go through, because let's face it, prayer shouldn't just be our to-do list for God.
This is a great little book and would work well for daily devotions if you don't feel like you have much time to dedicate. The chapters are small, but full of things that will keep you thinking all day. The concepts are deep and important, but not overly theological or difficult to grasp. I would recommend this book for folks in a wide range of places in their spiritual journeys. I think I might even challenge some of my friends who are not Christians to read this, start praying it, and just see what happens. That could be an interesting assignment!