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 www.brucewilkinson.com) and now
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.
Excerpted from Beyond Jabez by Bruce Wilkinson. Copyright © 2006 by Bruce Wilkinson. Excerpted by permission of Multnomah Books, a division of Random House LLC. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.