The Lost Prayer of Jabez | Leaving the Rapture Behind

Hear from Jabez himself—
"From Jabez, With Regrets"

So What Did Jabez Really Pray?

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About The Author

Dear admirers,
Hi. My name is Jabez, and I m writing to you from, well, you wouldn t believe me if I told you. Try to get past the possible theological implications of your receiving a letter from a guy who's been, say, out of touch for over three thousand years. Just take this note for what it's worth and, please, no hard feelings. Okay? I'm here now to set the record straight.

YOU NEED TO KNOW THAT THERE HAS BEEN A TERRIBLE MISTAKE IN REGARD TO MY PRAYER! It's tough to know where to begin. I guess first I'd like to express my appreciation for all the great publicity I've gotten recently. Thousands of years buried back there in I Chronicles 4, mired in lonely obscurity, and then, BOOM!– I'm the most famous Bible character on the planet! At least it seems that way. Who would have ever thought? "Jabez" EVERYTHING these days - books, CDs, diaries, journals, videos, musicals, Bible covers, calendars, T-shirts, even ICHTHUS fish and crosses with my name emblazened inside. None of this was my idea, honest! Christians sure can be creative, though, can t they?

When Bruce Wilkinson' s little book The Prayer of Jabez (Multnomah, 2000) took off like a Philistine arrow I was caught by surprise. Truth is I haven't been following the latest religious fads in recent decades. There was this big scare about 1988 - a bunch of reasons why Jesus (not Jabez, please!) would return to earth that year. Guess their reasons weren't that great because when I got around to following up about twelve years later, a new countdown had began for "Y2K"! Took me a while to figure out what those symbols meant. The ancient Hebrew rendering of that makes no sense whatsoever. Fortunately that was off the mark as well, because 2001 was my "breakout" year. I mean, had Y2K been it, I would have been left behind for sure. I wonder what new Second Coming fad is out there now....

Anyway, I said "fortunately" just now, but maybe that's not the best choice of words. Even as I write, I m getting a bunch of dirty looks up here. It's not so much jealousy, mind you, it's just that they know something that I know that you don't know, and when I tell you what they and I know that you don't know, well you may not like it, you know?

I keep getting those looks so I guess it's time to come clean. Oh, it's been such fun lately . . . I hate to see it end now. I thought that the ride might last a little longer, but a Hebrew professor down at Ozark Christian College in Joplin, Missouri, got wise to me, and now the word's starting to get out. And I always thought Joplin was such a nice place, close to the Precious Moments chapel and all. I know I'm stalling here....

Well you see, it's like this. I never really exactly prayed what you wonderful folks are now calling, "The Prayer of Jabez." Wish I had, but I didn't. I never asked God to "keep me from harm" or "keep me from evil." Never asked that I might not "cause pain to others." Never thought of it really. But what a prayer that would have been! No wonder people have gotten all worked up. Especially since it says God granted that prayer. Now exactly what's involved with that, I haven't the foggiest! I mean, wouldn't that be like a life-long security contract? "God kept him from harm/evil." There's no time limit stated, so I guess it s a life-time deal. Hallelujah! I'd take that, who wouldn't? Frankly, the way it's understood now doesn't even make good sense. Granted, my expertise in life involved herding animals, not dissecting theology. But this whole idea just doesn't fit the rest of Scripture–not my Old Testament, not your new expanded edition.
So what's the missing piece of the puzzle here? Well now we're back to what that Ozark professor discovered. His name is Larry Pechawer, and he's written all the detailed arguments down in this book of his, The Lost Prayer of Jabez. (Sounds a bit over-dramatic to me, but on the other hand, my original prayer has been "lost" for more than two thousand years now!) I'll tell you the bottom line right now and if you want to get the embarrassing details check out lostjabez.com. I believe that his is the first correct translation of my prayer ever made in English (or in any other language for that matter– and I check every hundred years or so to see if anyone has caught on to me). Even those old Greek Septuagint translators blew it, and things just got worse from there.

I really hate this. Once you see what I prayed, NO CHRISTIAN IN HIS RIGHT MIND WOULD PRAY MY PRAYER! I'm toast! But, please, don't blame me. It's just one of those mix-ups that occur every couple of thousand years or so. The ancient Old Testament text really is quite reliable, you know. Really it is. It's just that when the later Jewish scribes added markings to help future generations pronounce the words (Hebrew was originally written without vowels, but, Hey! you knew that.), they messed up on one teensy–eensy little word right there in my prayer! What are the odds? Frankly no one would have cared a few years ago. But now that it's the most quoted verse on the planet, i' s sort of a big deal–no fault of my own.
Everybody knows I prayed for more territory ("Enlarge my territory!" right?). But now folks are starting to catch on to the second half of my prayer. I needed a special kind of land– lush, productive pasture land. You see, the Hebrew word that those later Jewish scribes (called Masoretes) pronounced MERA‘AH, "from evil," is really the word MIR‘EH, "pasture land"! The original Biblical Hebrew text read MR‘H (no vowels, remember? And just in case you don t know, that <‘ > letter is pretty much silent, just pause and go on.).
People should have caught on long before that Pechawer fellow did (a Moabite name?). After all, the Hebrew verb that all those English translations have translated as "KEEP (me from evil)" never means "keep from" anywhere else in the many hundreds of times it's used in the Old Testament. It's a quite basic word meaning "do, make, provide, prepare." Fits just great here once people get past the "MERA‘AH" roadblock and recognize what I really said: not "and keep me from evil," but rather, "and provide me with pasture land." That lostjabez.com web site gives a lot more information and evidence, but you get the idea. No hard feelings? Other Hebrew professors are starting to jump on the "Dump Jabez" bandwagon. But really, this one's a no-brainer once you see the evidence lined out. This whole thing about me has been, well, a big mistake.

That's it from here. I feel better, I guess. You see, a number of things that the Wilkinson book says are okay, as far as that goes. Some people are praying more because of all this, I think. I hope that's not just a fad. Some of the principles of the "Jabez movement" can be found in Scripture, no doubt. They've been there a long time. They just don t come from my prayer. Sorry, wish they did. I am concerned about the formulaic approach some have taken toward my prayer. That should end now. Repeating "provide me with pasture land" surely will not catch on! Oh well, some of the frowns around here have now ceased. Why, I even think I see . . . , wait, was that a smile?

May God s hand be with you,
Jabez, with regrets (No hard feelings?)

©2002 by Larry Pechawer.

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