If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. –John 15:7
A few years ago, a best selling book was sweeping the country. With over 9 million copies sold, The Prayer of Jabez, by author Bruce Wilkerson, was based on 1 Chronicles 4:9-10: And Jabez was more honourable than his brethren: and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, Because I bare him with sorrow. And Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed, and enlarge my coast, and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! And God granted him that which he requested.
As an aspiring author, I cannot comprehend the thought of “nine million copies sold” What was it that made the book so popular? Why were millions of people buying it?
Wilkinson claims that if we’ll just pray the prayer of Jabez, word-for-word, every day for a month, then we’ll see God’s power released in our lives. To Wilkinson, the key isn’t God’s choice to answer Jabez’s prayer. The key is that Jabez stumbled upon the right formula for asking things of God. Wilkinson reverses the cause and effect and implies that Jabez was honorable because he figured out the right way to pray. Wilkinson’s emphasis is on Jabez finding the correct method, instead of on God and His Sovereignty. ( http://www.rapidnet.com/~jbeard/bdm/BookReviews/jabez.htm)
Hmmm…no wonder there were so many “takers”. It does what man has been attempting to achieve for centuries…control God.
Now…don’t get me wrong. I agree 100 % with scripture…the problem I have is with the author’s interpretation of it. It sounds as though God is a magic ‘genie in a bottle’ that can be manipulated and controlled.
The scripture in John also speaks us receiving “whatever we wish”. But note the difference.
I remember when I was a child and I would get the “If” statements from my mom. If you do your chores, then you can go skating. If you keep your room clean, then you can go to the movies. It was the purest form of bargaining; it laid out the conditions by which I could obtain what I wanted. And if I didn’t complete my end of it…well, that was implied. I would not get to go skating or to the movies. The ball was in my court. It was up to me to make the effort to achieve what I wanted.
Back to the scripture in John. If you remain in me AND if my words remain in you…
It’s right there. No tricks. No slight of hand. No smoke and mirrors. If we remain in Christ and if his words remain in us, we will receive what we want. It’s not a magic formula. It is what it is. If we live according to God’s will for our life…well, won’t our wishes mirror His plan for our lives? Won’t our every want stem from our relationship with him and our desire to serve him?
The problem with trying to use scripture to obtain our own wishes and desires is that it presents a false sense of who God is. He isn’t the tooth fairy or Santa Claus. He isn’t a wishing well or a rabbit’s foot.
There are no shortcuts. No quick fixes or potions. There is only this…”For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life” —John 3:16
Do you want God to comfort you? Spend time reading his word. Do you want God to bless you? Feed his children. Do you want to hear God? Be still and listen. Do you want God to give you everything your heart desires? Find out the desires of his heart and align yourself with them. God wants to be in this relationship with you…its what you were created for.