Saturday, April 30, 2005

Use & Abuse of the Prayer of Jabez

A woman who has quite regularly shown me 'bad fruit' for years crowed some while back that a secular advancement (which she had sought by every earthly means at her command) was evidence that her reciting Jabez's prayer everyday had got her forward. It was the usual, "I've gotten some earthly success so I'll claim spiritual advancement over you as well" kinda deal. Not even worth arguing directly. She wouldnt hear me, and she was certainly wrong. Anyone with as much sustained malice as she has shown is unlikely to be saved, let alone have the "inside scoop" on how to win with God. God grant she does get saved one of these days!

Nevertheless, the conversation put me so far off I wouldnt even read Bruce Wilkinson's books for awhile. I am not in love with 'prosperity' doctrines, having been taught from my youth that seeking to "use" God for earthly goals is nothing less than a form of witchcraft. I am not big on systems that suggest repetitious behaviour of any sort (or direct prayer to saints, though I can deal with the idea of asking ones in heaven as well as on Earth to pray to God for us.) On the other hand, I have known of many true teachings that were abused by people who lacked understanding, so I held any opinion of Mr W's works until it was convenient to look for myself.

One day I chanced on a copy of Prayer of Jabez secondhand. Turned out the prayer was real enough.

1Chronicles 4:9 Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, "I gave birth to him in pain."
1Ch4:10 Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, "Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain." And God granted his request. NIV


The beginning of Wilkinson's book championed the idea of a 'selfish' prayer, by which he apparantly meant that you should pray also for your own well-being, provision, and closer walk with God. Then he went on to introduce Jabez himself & recommend we consider his prayer for our own use.

Wilkinson's book, as a whole, was well-written and within scriptural lines as far as I could long as you read all of it & considered carefully the definitions he had in mind. Sadly, quite a few people were likely to skim those two initial ideas "its okay to pray for what you want" and "pray Jabez's prayer to get it." That isn't enough.

Now, it never hurts to ask God's protection. In fact the apostles recommended we pray before going or doing much of anything. Its not a bad idea to seek God's face for what you desire either, as long as you can deal with the idea that He may say "no" because what you desire is sinful ~ or simply unwise for reasons you do not know.

It is not, however, wisdom to assume that all earthly gain is a blessing from God proving spiritual worthiness (the scriptures & history abound with descriptions of wicked people exalted 'for a time.') or that you can 'write your own ticket' by simply claiming a prayer like this for what you'd like to have. After all Christ's "Seek ye first the kingdom of God and all these things shall be added unto you" is similar but, thankfully, emphasizes more clearly that the desires in question need to be God-centric, not fleshly.

Another translation I read of Jabez's prayer said he wanted to have his territory enlarged 'for God' which I felt was much more to the point. Jabez had been named "a pain." He had sought to be honorable anyway. He wanted to be blessed and called a blessing. My husband and I can relate to this better than most people. Odd we should so long getting around to read it because Jabez's prayer is really for people like us. We've been seeking God too, crying aloud in our own words for relief and vindication, to be blessed and called a blessing. We know now why we've had to wait to see an answer. Our desires needed to be purified. Gain without God is destruction. Even seeking gain without seeking God even harder will mess you all up.


ROMANS 8:5 Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. 6 The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace; 7 the sinful mind is hostile to God. It does not submit to God's law, nor can it do so. 8 Those controlled by the sinful nature cannot please God.

1 Timothy 6:9 People who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge men into ruin and destruction. 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.

JAMES 4:1 What causes fights and quarrels among you? Don't they come from your desires that battle within you? 2 You want something but don't get it. You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want. You quarrel and fight. You do not have, because you do not ask God. 3 When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.



Jabez had another lesson to give those who studied his life. Jabez sought to be honorable. He had become more "honorable than his brothers." Apparantly this honor was the Godly type, you can see that by who he was talking to about the remaining lacks in his life. Jabez sought God first. Jabez sought to BE godly first, and his request was honored. The earthly blessings followed AFTER Jabez's decision to live a godly life despite what others said about him, and his direct prayer. Yes, this passage is repetitive, deliberately so. I can't emphasize enough how important this sequence is.

So I've been praying for awhile that my desires conform more closely to Christ's own. I want Him to purge my heart of unworthy dreams, then bring to pass what visions he chooses to save. Also, though I must ask to receive (I can't stand not to), I recognize I am probably asking imperfectly what I want and need, so I would prefer God to use His better plans rather than mine should they ever be in conflict. He's the one with all the brains, after all!

I believe that if we are serious enough to keep putting ourselves as well as our heart's cry before Christ that we may receive without being destroyed, we will see the first real blessing of the Prayer of Jabez. We will become more like our Savior. The other blessings follow that one.

1TIMOTHY 6:17 Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. 18 Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 19 In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.

Wednesday, April 27, 2005

Smoothie(r) sailing

Okay, having finally said what I've *almost* said for so long, I guess I'm done with pointless ranting at an unjust world...for now ;)

Life is looking a little bit sunnier on this bright, warm afternoon.

Tom's colonscopic procedure went as smoothly as possible. In fact it was over not long after I returned from a light breakfast with with the nice people in the cafeteria in the hospital. Actually I was greeted warmly everywhere I went in the building, but especially welcomed at the cafeteria. There were a few others in when I arrived there, so I noticed the companionable nods & smiles, but assumed they felt that way about everybody. When the sad yuppy-looking folks left, one of the guys who work in the area looked around, grinned, and said "Hey! Its just us now. We can talk!" I chuckled but thought he'd missed my presence. He hadn't. So we talked about the news stories together, good & bad. Funniest bit was a lengthy video clip showing a small herd of buffalo coralled in tennis courts. This happened in roughly in Og's part of the world.. Wonder what he thought of that? Couldnt help but remember that childhood photo...

Afterward I settled down for what I expected to be a long wait, but turned out to be about 10 minutes. Tom was already waking up. Doctor said it was the same stricture point & thinks something else will have to be done to keep it from recurring. We are to meet with him again in about a week.

ssoo... now we're home. Tom says he feels a bit better than he did this morning. His diet is pretty limited right now to smoothies, slurpees (had one on the way home), juices and the like.

Happily we make some awesome fruit smoothies around here.

You can make a delicious & easy one with pina colada mix (Bicardi workes best), a large banana in pieces, & ice cubes in the blender. That's how we started again. By now, we've gotten where we like to make them from scratch with cocoanut milk, pineapple pieces (canned is fine & add the juice), apple juice, ice cubes, & banana. 'Tis very tasty & rather filling.

We’ve tried strawberry dacquiri mixes but only Bacardi was any good, and it really needed honey and bananas or fresh strawberries to be its best. Strawberry pie filling & bananas might be better still. May try that soon as I found a forgotten can not long ago.

We've made almost_an_Orange_Julius a few times too. All you need is orange juice, ice cubes, egg, a little cream of tartar & sugar. Strawberry & banana ones are nice too. Ours are largely based on what I saw at the mall as a teen (when the OJ people borrowed ingredients from the mall restaurant) and what I read in Top Secret recipes. heh

Still haven't mastered the art of homemade milkshakes with lactose-free ice cream. Perhaps soon.

Tuesday, April 26, 2005

Hanging in There

Life hasn't been a lot of fun in recent weeks and so I haven't posted much. Tom's still having scary episodes. Tomorrow he goes in for yet another round with the surgeon. It looked for awhile like the stricture repair had done the trick and they would finish up this week but last weekend he was worse than he let on. By Sunday evening he was doing very poorly indeed. Its now become clear he'll have to have another stricture dealt with. Hard to say what this will mean to the next step. I've sought prayer support again, though by now I feel like a pest. Wish I could offer better news in return for their kindness.

In other depressing developments, I watched another person go 'over the line' who I had hoped would be a real friend again once certain truths finally surfaced. Guess it was inevitable that wanting to please another crowd, she hid even to herself the seriousness of her choices. Given our suspicions re: her & some stupidity directed at our daughter, its just as well to have finally ended it ~ though I left the door open for reconciliation. I'd be amazed if she walked through it.

I really am tired of 'understanding' cheap shots by easily (self?) deluded people. Its been an irritating thing to us to realize how many times we have received evil for good and been called evil on behalf of a person whose choices have been far worse & less kind than ours. Bluntly, we've several times been called evil BY evil ~ while trying to do good. Sometimes while trying to do that very person good. I'll never forget the time we discovered we were being slandered by a guy who had asked for & received groceries & housekeeping help that very week...and he went around telling others how much we owed HIM! Then there's the old lady who so often asked for help and always got it..until the day we heard what she'd been saying to others, which came out about the time she tried to turn the newest neighbors against us. (She admitted to that part. Threw it in our face.) Her excuse came from even worse slanders this neighborhood has indulged in for decades about my husband's family. She ought to know better. She ought to have defended Tom at least, but no. It was convenient excuse to use & abuse & not worry about her ingratitude. btw She also thinks she's better Christian than we are (because she keeps a pretty yard?) I think she's in for a bit of a shock. Lets hope she can stand to repent before its too late.

I am so tired of the lies that have been directed against us. You know, I've tried to defend others I knew were being falsely accused. Jesus, when is it my turn? When do I get keep real friends for being one? This whole scene has gotten very old. Its helpful to hear we will eventually be vindicated & even rewarded for things like this, these 'wounds' we share with Jesus. Sure could use some encouragement right now though. Unhappily, those I might reasonably look to right now for comfort are busy with trials of their own. C'est la vie. Glad I moved in other directions, though I havent left even that one group entirely. I am still waiting on God's promises where I was told to wait.

Tom always says that there must be something spiritual gained for all we've gone through & are still dealing with. He figures we're either being prepared for something bigger or we're acting as shields for other servants of God...or both. (Heck, even demons can't be everywhere at once.) I've wondered if we haven't been more effective than we suppose even where we are, at least some of the time? Maybe we have encouraged when it mattered, even influenced some people for lasting good. Maybe we've already planted some good seeds that will fully bloom one day. Maybe some of the 'pharisees' we've known will have the grace to take a good hard look at their choices & choose another path. I hope so. We'll know one day. Right now all I can do is take one day at a time & try to place ever more of my life on the altar, so that all the enemy intends for my harm, God will use for my good. I believe He will. We will yet see blessing, as we currently see further purification. I just wish. I still wish that we could be a bigger blessing to others too. Until our vindication comes along with the overthrow of some established lies, much of the good we've tried to do seems largely undermined.

There have been a few blessings of note. Several freebies have turned up of the utterly cool variety, like a learner edition of Maya. & Rand Miller has given some thought-provoking interviews lately. The best news, imo, is that he hasn't given up. He still has good plans.

and, at home Our daughter made the most amazing fractal. It looks like a bishop's hat made of angels. I'm not a Roman Catholic but I've always admired, even been fond of, Pope John Paul II. Like so many others I was sorry to see him go home. Sorry for us really. That faithful servant has much more to look forward to than most of us. New guy sounds pretty good though. Chris' excellent links got us chuckling over the media reaction to ~ horrors! ~ a CHRISTIAN being elected as Pope. lol All their talk is about hate too, even though they show their own in the process. And like most good Christians, it seems Ratzinger is about peace & the love of Christ. His 'strong words' were just what people should expect from a loving shepherd who would appreciate it very much if those who call themselves God's flock would cease running pell-mell over the cliff of 'relativitism' into the sea of agnostic despair.

We've been reading about the Malachy prophecies & other predections too since Benedict XVI was chosen ..but thats another post.