The Prayer of Jabez Faddish Idolatry
Religious fads are the most dangerous fads of all. Any religious leader that will lower himself to create and perpetuate a religious idea that has the potential to promote a "faddish idolatry" is in serious trouble. Misplaced fads of a Christian nature cannot be called anything but idolatry. Superstitious or soulish people have no capacity to discern between a religious fad and the true faith of our Lord Jesus Christ. Fads capture these types of people and carry them along on a false journey of imaginary faith. It is impossible to prevent these dark souls from grabbing the next dream just as soon as some guru can create it.
In my lifetime I have watched one fad after another make a multi-million dollar fortune for their creators. The God Chasers fad is still in motion, carrying along with it millions of souls from the charismatic vein. Apostle Luke spoke of this kind of idolatry being promoted by religious leaders who were looking for a following of self-disciples. "Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the Church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them. Therefore watch, and remember, that by the space of three years I ceased not to warn every one night and day with tears. And now, brethren, I commend you to God, and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up, and to give you an inheritance among all them, which are sanctified. I have coveted no man’s silver, or gold, or apparel." (Acts 20:28-33). My soul is repulsed by it all. I weep for those without shepherds who have no one to warn and prepare him or her to reject such idolatry in the name of the Christian faith.
The Prayer of Jabez is "Faddish Idolatry"
Of course, this prayer in its original content was very beautiful and created a lovely picture of a believing Jewish gentleman. His prayer was apparently prayed in the perfect will of God and it set him apart from the multitude of his contemporaries. It has the potential of a great sermon and a wonderful example. We can and should use this text as both. But, to elevate it to a "paradigm breaker" that is the model for all Christians would be laughable if it were not so serious. There is not one Scripture in the Bible, even the "Lord’s Prayer," that should be used to create a mantra. In fact, the Lord Himself forbids us to pray any prayer in repetition, but we will discuss that later.
It’s impossible to understand idolatry, unless you understand the faith of Biblical Christianity. It is just as easy to be an idolater with false ideas concocted out of Scripture, as it is to worship in a pagan religion. The Scripture warns us to "rightly divide" the Word of God and speaks often of false prophets and men who come in His name to deceive others.
The Biblical Faith is Personal
A Biblical relationship with the Lord Himself leaves no room for "faddish idolatry." We that are "Born Again" have been spiritually birthed into a personal relationship with God. We know Him for ourselves and we commune with Him one-on-one. Nothing is more contrary to us than for someone to prescribe a religious mantra or to create a system that makes us bound within that system. A born again believer is a free soul that willingly and spiritually unites with the local body of the church. Religious systems of thought control outside the local body are quickly rejected.
Every cult uses a form of idolatry to enslave its members. Mormonism, Jehovah Witnesses, and to a lesser degree, many modern day television ministers each have there pat ideas which enslave people and hold their loyalty. In the past, most cults were different enough to be easily discerned. More and more as we approach the end of this age, cults are within the range of truth that renders them easily misinterpreted. Any idea that captures you and overemphasizes one or more Scriptures out of content can easily lead to "faddish idolatry." The "Jesus Only" doctrine is a case in point. They teach Jesus, His death on the cross, and other very Biblical truths. Yet, their idea of this "oneness" doctrine of Jesus Christ, excluding the "Godhead of three express persons," is clearly "faddish" and outside the beautiful revelation of Scripture. People in this cult are bound by the idolatry of false worship to a schizophrenic god who does not know whether He is the Father, the Son, or the Holy Ghost.
I hope you understand what I mean by "faddish idolatry." You must know the God of the Bible for yourself. He sent His Son to establish redemption from sin into sonship and His great big family. His Holy Book is not of private interpretation. You do not need someone’s concocted idea to be an anchor for your faith. There is no such thing as a "New Revelation." His word is long ago "settled in Heaven." The testimony of His completed Book is seen in Revelation 11:19, ready to be revealed at the designated hour. We already enjoy its total truth and must learn to be wary of anyone claiming some great miracle or spiritual experience based on his or her own new revelation. If someone else has got to prescribe a prayer for you to get God’s favor and blessing, you are already in trouble.
Every promise that the author of The Prayer of Jabez claims for you has been real in my life for almost fifty years. I have often wept before God embarrassed for my blessings. He has never failed me. His Word, from Genesis to Revelation, is personal to me. His daily "mercies" are renewed day after day without anyone’s "mantra" or "repetitious request." He knows me and I know Him and that is exactly what He has claimed for every person created in His universe. He wants to be "your" God and He wants you to be His "son or daughter."
Christianity can never be reduced to a "system" or a "prescribed formula." It’s personal. He has no grandsons or granddaughters. We are all "first born" by the Blood of His Son.
The Prayer of Jabez, Pagan Idolatry
Why do men take an idea or truth from Holy Scripture and then seek to create a religious system out of that truth? Religious systems always become idolatry, because men worship the system instead of the God of the Whole Bible. Idolatry is anything to which we give a godlike attention. Pat doctrines are most often worshipped in today’s churches. As a Pentecostal, I have watched a multitude in our ranks worship the Pentecostal experience far above the "God of Pentecost." This is true of every segment of the Christian church. Anyone that allows a kind of worship that cheats them from knowing personally the "Great God of the Bible" has been led into error. What a loss!
Let’s look at the violations of established truth evident in The Prayer of Jabez book. I will give you five reasons why this book is a subtle form of idolatry that departs from the plain teachings of Holy Scripture.
- The Book Makes no Mention of Praying in Jesus’ Name – How can a book that claims such incredible miracles as a result of praying its formula completely ignore the first principle of New Testament prayer? Jesus said, "And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son." "If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it." (John 14:13-14). The established pattern in the Book of Acts is irrevocable. "Then Peter said, Silver and gold have I none; but such as I have give I thee: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth rise up and walk." "And his name through faith in his name hath made this man strong, whom ye see and know: yea, the faith which is by him hath given him this perfect soundness in the presence of you all." (Act 3:6; 16). If you do not pray in Jesus’ name, you cannot claim the answer came from God. How did Dr. Wilkinson miss this incredible fact? He said, "I want to teach you how to pray a daring prayer that God always answers." (The Prayer of Jabez, Bruce Wilkinson, p. 7.) That claim is beyond the grasp for any prayer, much less a prayer that has eliminated the name of Jesus. Is the author willingly or unwillingly advancing the cause of the Jesus haters of this generation? There is great controversy across America concerning the issue of "praying in Jesus’ Name." It appears that the main thrust in the religious world is to promote a religious consensus that accepts all religious actions on an equal footing, except that which includes praying in Jesus’ Name.
- This Book Promotes a Form of Prayer That is Easily Identified as Heathen or Pagan – One of the plainest of the teachings of Jesus Christ concerning prayer had this to say, "But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him." (Matthew 6:6-8). Vain repetition is repeating the same words over and over. It is the creating of a mantra that fits the pagan idea of altering your consciousness and conjuring up evil spirits. No wonder Jesus thoroughly condemns such prayer styles.
To begin to understand why Jesus forbids repetitive prayers you must understand that He is a personal Lord who wants our prayers to be based on fellowship and trust, not memorized lines. We have fellowship with Him when we pray. We share our inner thoughts, emotions, and needs; and we do it as a son or daughter having joyous communion with a Father. A memorized prayer is an insult to His Sovereign Person.
Apparently, this author has himself experienced a paradigm shift. He admits to praying this prayer daily for over 30 years. Now, he states to his readers the promise of altering your consciousness. He said, "Just under the surface of each request lies a giant paradigm breaker." (Ibid, p. 14.) When you experience a paradigm shift, you have altered your consciousness. You do not think as in the past, but you have passed into an altered state. The end result of a total (He used the word "giant.") paradigm change in thinking is the leaving of the old way of communion and joining with the New Age crowd. The ultimate meaning is to think with the mind of the cosmos or to merge into the "Age of Aquarius." Reading a little from the "New Age writers" will scare you back to the New Testament if you have not already gone too far to return.
- A True Believers’ Glory is in Nothing but the Cross – The glory and praise of the Blood-bought saints is the death and resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Source of all the blessings and favors promised in the Word of God. To suggest that any one of the many prayers which were prayed and recorded in the Scriptures should be used as our main source is folly. The prayer of Jabez was answered in his day because of the Messianic hope, which sustained and undergirded every truth in the First Testament. So, to go back to the shadows of that day when we are now enjoying the glory fulfilled is to misinterpret the Word of God.
The Apostle Paul was a completed Jew that eloquently knew the whole of the law and prophets and proclaimed, "But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world. For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature. And as many as walk according to this rule, peace be on them, and mercy, and upon the Israel of God. From henceforth let no man trouble me: for I bear in my body the marks of the Lord Jesus." (Galatians 6:14-17).
There were Judaizers in Paul’s day that kept trying to put the people under bondage to the old covenant of blessings. This great text makes it clear that my blessings are in Christ Jesus, not the rituals of the past. All we need to do to enjoy Heaven’s best is to glory and revel in the cross, while we obey and live under His Lordship. The very thought of going back to reciting an ancient prayer in some isolated text borders on blasphemy. We are free from the customs of the past. Jesus said to a Samaritan woman who was herself bound by the misunderstanding of worship, "But the hour cometh, and now is, when the true worshippers shall worship the Father in spirit and in truth: for the Father seeketh such to worship him. God is a spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth." (John 4:23-24). The day of wailing or chanting certain Scriptures was over. The truth Himself had come.
- This Book is an Ecumenical Book Moving the Church One More Step Toward a "One World Religion" – Mr. Wilkinson himself has been deeply involved in ecumenical-type activities where Catholicism, Mormonism, and other strains of cultic worshippers are being united. This book is clearly absent of the fundamentals of our faith. It is a further uniting of the church with psychology and modern waves of thought.
The great faith of the past that taught self-denial, the crucifixion of the flesh, and sacrificial living is woefully missing. Yet, the author claims for his followers everything of blessing that has always followed obedience and self-surrender.
- This Book is Unashamedly Selfish – The Son of God left no room for a selfish Christianity. "Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?" (Matthew 16:24-26). No one, not even a book selling millions of copies, can change the truth of the Eternal Son of God. Selfishness and truth do not mix.
The church world is being inundated with many versions of blessings and carnal living. No one can answer all the questions being raised by the many popular "feel good authors." The only hope for a hungry soul is the plain and simple Word of God. Quit feeding on the fodder that is flooding our world from the pens and lips of the religious who have left the paths of Holiness. Separate yourself from the worldly crowds and their questionable teachings and get back to the cross.
If the cross of Jesus Christ and His physical death on that tree is not supreme, something is wrong. If the lessons and sermons are not calling for repentance and surrender to a cross-bearing life, something is out of frame. If you are not being led to deny yourself and present only Jesus to your world, then the enemy is in the camp. My suggestion is to spend a couple of months in the Book of Saint John and pray for a simple encounter with His all consuming presence. "Draw nigh to God, and he will draw nigh to you." (James 4:8). The encounter of a lifetime is to be "born again" and to live in the Word of God.