Read an Excerpt
The Little Prayer That Could
When The Prayer of Jabez was first published in the spring of 2000, if you had told me that this little ninetythree-
page book would become “the fastest-selling book of all time”—as Publishers Weekly dubbed it in 2002—I wouldn’t have believed it. But the response has been, and continues to be, incredible. Even now, I employ a full-time assistant to answer e-mails and letters from people writing to tell me of their Jabez experiences! And the stories continue to flood in from those who have tasted the miracle of answered prayer.
Wherever I go, wherever I teach, the question is always the same: “How can you explain the sales of your book?” After a couple of years, I felt that the answer had become apparent;
after all, nearly everywhere I went, someone rushed up to share their own story: “You should hear what God did when I
prayed the prayer of Jabez...”
I remember speaking at the Billy Graham Cove where an informal poll revealed that more than 80 percent of the audience had purchased multiple copies to give as gifts to their family and friends. One man had given away more than eighty cases! Why? He told me, “For some reason, God is answering this prayer in the life of everyone I have given it to—and I want everyone I know to experience the reality that God answers prayer!”
The phrase “You should hear what God did” may be the key to the unprecedented success of The Prayer of Jabez.
Millions of people have told millions of others what God has done in their lives in answer to this simple prayer. And when one person tells another what God has done, that’s giving
God the credit He so richly deserves.
Jabez in Africa
I’m also convinced that the prayer of Jabez is directly linked to the call to launch a global movement called Dream for
Africa. After the success of the book and its follow-up, Secrets of the Vine, our family unexpectedly felt called to move to
Africa and help with efforts to stop the AIDS epidemic,
perhaps the greatest crisis to hit mankind since the great
Flood. When the call came, I inquired of the Lord, “Are you sure? After all, I’m not in my twenties anymore. Or my thirties. Or my forties.”
I had to smile from the gentle nudge that came back: But aren’t you the Jabez guy? Haven’t you been pleading with Me for decades for much, much more territory? Are we going to debate where the boundaries of that territory lie?
During this season, I returned to Matthew 28:18–20 and meditated on the Great Commission for months, asking the
Lord to reveal to me if I had missed anything vital to the next chapter in my service for Him. I discovered in that study something very significant—something that I knew, yet didn’t know—that would change my life forever.
Jesus commanded His followers to disciple all “nations,”
or people groups. Not just individuals or families or cities, but nations. For the first time in my ministry, I asked a totally different question: “How can I obey the Great Commission by discipling a whole nation for God?”
When one draws a circle around the borders of a nation with the intention of discipling that whole nation, it doesn’t take long to realize that the most strategic person in that nation is the president or king. But how could I ever hope to even meet the many leaders of Africa?
Yet when I was training ninety-five hundred leaders in
Nigeria, I found myself invited to lunch with the president of the nation, who told me that everywhere he traveled in the world, someone would give him a copy of The Prayer of Jabez and that the book had changed his life.
Then when I was in Zambia training more than seven hundred leaders, the president of that nation invited me to his office and told me he had just finished reading The Prayer of Jabez—twice. He came around his large desk and asked me to place my hands on his shoulders and pray for him.
Later I was to speak with the president and first lady of
Uganda to find out firsthand how they had achieved a remarkable turnaround and stemmed the tide of HIV
infection in their nation. The president was unexpectedly called north to an outbreak of fighting, but his wife gave me the warmest welcome and said, “Oh, we love The Prayer of Jabez!
But Secrets of the Vine is my favorite.”
As of this writing, I have just returned from Malawi,
where we were launching another Dream for Africa ministry. Just before we were to fly back to Johannesburg, we received word that the first lady of Malawi wanted to meet with us. As we were introduced, the first lady’s adult daughter enthusiastically said to her mother, “This is the man I’ve been telling you about, the one who wrote the book
I just gave you!”
One leader said to me recently, “The Prayer of Jabez is your
John the Baptist for your work in Africa!”
Who could have guessed?
Why Another Book About Jabez?
If you were inspired by The Prayer of Jabez, or even if you’ve never heard of it, my hope is that this book will deeply encourage you and enable you to live at a new level of meaning, service, and significance. As I have been praying this little prayer for more than thirty years, my heart is overflowing with not only my own experiences but also how
God has answered this prayer for untold millions of people around the world, and so I have shared a number of their stories in these pages.
But Beyond Jabez was written for three primary reasons.
First, I wrote it to further develop the concepts in this prayer so that they can produce even more fruit in your life.
The original book was only a brief overview of the prayer, and so many people have asked for additional teaching on the topic. In response, I developed an eight-part small-group video series (available at brucewilkinson.com) and now this book.
Second, I wrote Beyond Jabez to clear up some of the misconceptions that have arisen out of the success of the first book. Frankly, the amount of false teaching and preaching that surrounded the book came as a complete shock to me.
Why? Because in twenty-five years of preaching on the prayer of Jabez, I never heard one negative comment. And no one ever even suggested that asking God to bless you was prosperity gospel. Only after The Prayer of Jabez became a runaway bestseller did I begin to hear this kind of criticism.
The secular press, in particular, had a difficult time handling the overwhelming success of a book on prayer.
The third reason I wrote this new book was to encourage you to rekindle the habit of praying the prayer of Jabez. So many have been touched and their lives changed, but the
Jabez experience is hardly over; in fact, it’s just beginning!
Rarely does a week go by when we don’t see numerous instances of God’s answering this prayer in our family’s lives and at Dream for Africa. My good friend and publisher, Don
Jacobson, encouraged me to include in this book a number of these stories from the past few months, just so readers would see and understand that the prayer of Jabez can be an ongoing part of a vital and effective prayer life.
A Life That Is More Honorable
Just as you ask God to bless your food, my hope is that after reading Beyond Jabez, you will make it your habit to ask God to bless you. Then, as you come to realize that your life is meant to be ever growing in its influence and impact, I hope you will ask God daily for more territory in which to serve Him. This will lead you into the Land of the Unknown, where you may feel overwhelmed and perhaps even incapable of handling the opportunities; if so, I hope you will pray as Jabez did for the hand of the Lord to intervene on your behalf. Finally, when the reality of life on another plane causes your heart to falter—leaving you vulnerable to temptation that, if acted on,
would hurt the Lord and others and stop the miracles you’ve been experiencing—my hope is you will know to ask the Lord to keep evil from you so that you will not cause pain.
In this book, you will discover the power of this unbroken linkage. And if you will pray the prayer of Jabez and live according to its biblical principles, you too will discover the indescribable joy of experiencing the words, “And God granted him that which he requested.”
As you lose yourself in serving the King, you may find to your surprise that heaven describes you, as it did Jabez, as
“more honorable.” I’m convinced, from Scripture and personal experience, that Jabez revealed one of the remarkable secrets of a life that is honorable before God and man. May your heart sing and your life explode with the joys of living in the fullness that lies potentially before you.