If you haven’t heard of The Prayer of Jabez, you run in different circles than I do. The bestselling book took two obscure verses from a genealogy in the Old Testament and tried to tell readers how “to discover how they can release God’s miraculous power and experience the blessings God longs to give each of us…Readers who commit to offering the same prayer on a regular basis will find themselves extravagantly blessed by God, and agents of His miraculous power, in everyday life.”
Now, four years later, Bruce Wilkinson offers us You Were Born for This: 7 Keys to a Life of Predictable Miracles. Wilkinson says:
The Prayer of Jabez showed ordinary people how to ask God to greatly expand their opportunities to serve Him. You Were Born for This shows ordinary people how to be intentional about and skilled at inviting the miraculous into the midst of that larger life.
Think of You Were Born for This as Jabez to the miracle power. [!!!]
My wife knows I wasn’t a big fan of Jabez. Was she ever surprised to see this book on my bedside table.
Here’s what’s good about this book: it’s a good challenge to our low expectations. Reading this book reminded me of how much I tend to live as a functional deist. I needed the reminder in this book to rely on God’s power and to expect him to work in ways that can’t otherwise be explained.
On the other hand, this book has significant weaknesses.
It’s formulaic. Reading “Four Keys to a Life of Miracles” and “Five Signals That Guide a Miracle Delivery” makes me cringe.
It trivializes miracles. One definition of a miracle – from someone who believes that miracles take place today – is this: “A miracle is a less common kind of God’s activity in which he arouses people’s awe and wonder and bears witness to himself.” Even in Scripture, miracles are not everyday occurrences, and they are more than what Wilkinson describes in this book.
It’s simplistic. What about when miracles don’t happen? A Christianity Today article in 1996 reported that Wilkinson quit his ministry in Africa in frustration. I’d love to hear more of this. I’m skeptical of a book that speaks of everyday miracles, but doesn’t explore those periods when God doesn’t appear to be moving. We need a theology of suffering to go with our theology of the miraculous.
Finally, I’m afraid this book feeds into our selfishness. Wilkinson writes, “My mission has been to awaken you to the largest, most promising life possible in your walk with God.” I’m afraid that many will read this book as another how-to manual on how to get our best life now. That’s not the message most of us need.
We certainly need to experience more of God’s power in our lives and ministries, and to live in ongoing dependence upon God’s power. You Were Born for This reminds us of these needs, but left me disappointed.