CHAPTER 1Little Man, Big Prayer
Sometimes life seems to unwind like an enormous brown ball of string. Every morning you roll out of bed, pick up the string where you dropped it the night before—and off you go. Today seems pretty much the same as yesterday. One more day, one more length of string—and that big brown ball justkeeps unwinding….
But some days aren’t like that at all. They don’t unwind like string; they land like a brick. One thing happens, and everything changes.
It could be…
• a phone call,
• a move to a new town,
• something someone says or does,
• a decision,
• an accident.
Whatever it is, that one thing changes your life, maybe for the better, maybe not. It’s like you turned a corner and walked smack into a world you’ve never seen before.
This book is about one thing—a little prayer that will change your life.
Sometimes I think of this prayer as an invisible revolution because it starts so deep inside you. You change what you know; then you change how you think and feel; then you change what you ask God for and what you expect. It all feels so mysterious and out of sight…but then one day—zap! You look around (“Hey, did a brick just land around here?”) and you realize your life has changed…and it’s a whole lot better!
If you’ve ever thought that your life should be about more than just unwinding another day’s worth of brown string, you’re ready to meet a man named Jabez (I pronounce that JAY-bez, but you can say it any way you like).
When Jabez was still trying to decide what kind of life he wanted, he looked at who he was. He didn’t like what he saw. He looked at what he had to work with and who his family was and what tomorrow might bring, and he didn’t like any of it
. He felt like a nobody with no future. He probably could have described himself right then with words like boring
, or just plain stupid
But he didn’t.
Instead, he did one thing. He prayed a simple prayer.
I want to tell you more about this man named Jabez and his prayer, but first I want to ask you something. Are you ready to do one thing today that could change your life from ordinary to extraordinary?
If so, keep reading. The Prayer of Jabez for Teens
is going to show you what happens when young people decide to reach for an amazing life.
As it turns out, that’s exactly the kind of life God promises. Let me show you what I mean….Asking for a Big Life
When I was five, I wanted to drive a fire truck. When I was seven,I wanted to be a cowboy. When I was ten, I wanted to play for the New York Yankees, or maybe be a mafia hit man. (Is this starting to sound familiar?) When I was fifteen, I wanted to be an Olympic high jumper.
But when I was twenty-six and about to finish college and grad school, I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to be. Except for one thing—I wanted my life to count for God.
I remember those days very well. I remember feeling a little uncertain and a lot in the dark. Darlene, my wife, and I often prayed together about what would come next. What did God want for our lives?
One day I heard a speaker named Dr. Richard Seume ask this question: “Do you want a bigger vision for your life?”Bigger?
I asked myself. Well, maybe, but I’m already planning to serve God and live a good life. Isn’t that big enough?
Dr. Seume based his challenge on the shortest life story I had ever heard—only three sentences in the Old Testament. The biography in question belonged to a man named Jabez. The first thing the Bible says about Jabez is that he was “more honorable than his brothers” (1 Chronicles 4:9). Dr. Seume said that’s what we should want for our lives, too. Jabez wanted to be more and do more for God.Prayer is an invisible revolution. It all feels so mysterious and out of sight… but then one day—zap!
I went home, stood in my kitchen, and stared out the window. Lord
, I prayed, I think I want a life like that. I want to be more honorable for You.
But questions kept tugging at my mind. What exactly did Jabez do to rise above the rest? And why did God answer his prayer?
I picked up my Bible and read verse 10—the prayer of Jabez. Something in his prayer would explain the mystery. It just had to. Think about it: Here was a guy who got into the history books because of what he prayed and what happened next. Standing in my kitchen, I read his prayer over and over, searching with all my heart for the future God might have for someone as ordinary as me.
The next morning I prayed Jabez’s prayer word for word.
And the next.
And the next.
Do you know what? Thirty years later, I haven’t stopped praying the prayer of Jabez, and God hasn’t stopped answering. If you were to ask me what sentence—other than my prayer for salvation— has changed my life the most, I would tell you that it was the prayer of a little-known man named Jabez.
Excerpted from The Prayer of Jabez for Teens by Bruce Wilkinson. Copyright © 2001 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.