I remember what I was doing on Sept. 10, 2001. Yes, the tenth - not the eleventh. I was reading a little book that was all the rage on the Christian book charts: The Prayer of Jabez.
I was alone that night. My wife was working at the fitness center daycare that evening and she had the boys with her. I took dinner at the El Chico in the shopping mall. I had just picked up a copy of the book at Hastings. I came home and finished reading the book in my easy chair and reflected on what I had read. For my family, it was a time that we were seriously concerned about finances and feeling unfocused about our future. I have never been a believer in the success gospel, but talk of "expanding territories" and "blessings indeed" were very appealing to me then.
I understand that many people have found the Prayer of Jabez beneficial and have truly been blessed because of the discipline of prayer the book inspired for them. For that reason, I will not knock the the book, but the author of the book admits that the Prayer of Jabez can be misunderstood as a "get-rich-quick" success gospel. I confess that that is where my desires were leading me. I went to sleep meditating on the words of Jabez's prayer and wondering if God was just waiting on me to do "my part" so I could get the rewards.
Of course the next morning I woke up in a different world. A world where wealth and territory did not seem as important. The world of Sept. 10 evaporated. Even though it was only one tower burning at that time, I sensed immediately that America and its values were about to undergo massive change. As I watched the World Trade Center, a symbol of global prosperity, smoke like a burning log I took notice of my wife and my sons and I counted myself blessed indeed.
There was a lot of marketing that surrounded the popularity of the Prayer of Jabez. Among the specialty items sold in conjunction with the book was a prayer coin with the Prayer of Jabez inscribed on it. (It puzzles me how evangelicals will criticize Catholics and Orthodox for their "trinkets and rituals" and then sell their own. Perhaps the difference is all about marketing?) I have one of those coins. I still carry it at times. However, I rarely pray the prayer. I am not opposed to the prayer, it just does not belong to me. It's Jabez's prayer. The coin is my reminder to find my own prayer in my own time and trust in God's answer.