I was at the book fair the other day and found a copy of The Prayer of Jabez for $2.99. I’d completely forgotten about that book. Which is odd considering how popular it was ten years ago. Seemed like everyone had a copy of that book. Or the Bible study. Or the journal. Or the workbook or the copy for teens or women.
It was quite the industry really, and the reasons for it were pretty apparent. Say a little prayer, and God will bless you in abundance. It almost seemed too good to be true, but there it was. There was even a verse to back it up.
I never bought a copy. Didn’t even buy the $2.99 copy at the book fair. Not because I didn’t (and still do) want to be blessed in abundance, but because once upon a time I said my own version of Jabez’s prayer without knowing it. The answer I got was a little different than his. And though that prayer was uttered at years ago, I still remember that conversation between God and me.
It was like this:
“You there, God?”
I’m always here.
“Can I tell You something?”
Of course you can.
“I have dreams.”
Wonderful! Everyone should have dreams.
“They’re great dreams. Really great.”
I should hope so.
“Yeah. So, I was wondering if, You know, You could make those dreams come true.”
Of course I can. Why else would I give them to you?
“Oh, I don’t know. Lots of reasons, I guess. Wait. You gave my dreams to me?”
Where else would they come from?
“I don’t know…me?”
I give you the desire. You do the work. Life is a partnership between you and Me. Not 50/50, though. More like 100/100. You give your all, I give Mine.
“Great! So I can have my dreams?”
If you work and you believe, yes. But certain things have to be done first.
Great dreams require great people. So first, I must make you great.
“Now I like the sound of that. So I’ll be popular and rich?”
Popular and rich doesn’t equal greatness.
“Then what does?”
Love and kindness, faith and trust. Trust especially. You need to understand that it’s not your happiness I want, it’s your trust.
Are you sure? This isn’t going to be easy for you.
“Sure it will. I can be that sort of person if it means I’ll have my dreams.”
You don’t become that sort of person to get your dreams, you get your dreams because you’re that sort of person. There’s a difference.
You think your dreams will bring you success, but some of the most miserable people in the world are the ones who’ve gotten everything they’ve always wanted. Stuff doesn’t bring joy. Only I do.
“Oh. So maybe my dreams aren’t all that good for me?”
Parts are. Not all. But that’s okay. I can give you better things than those.
“When I become great.”
You don’t have to be great for Me to bless you. But for your dreams, yes. You must be great.
“I still want to be great, even without the dreams. But the dreams would be nice.”
“So…when can we start?”
We can start now.
“I was hoping You’d say that. Then I pray You’ll give me love and kindness and faith and trust and make me great.”
Good. But remember, there are two things that I must give to everyone in order to make them great and realize the dreams I have for them.
“Grace and blessing?”
No. Time and trial.