THE PRAYER OF JABEZ: Breaking Through to the Blessed Life
Bruce H. Wilkinson
Multnomah, 96 pages, $9.99
THE SECRETS OF THE VINE: Breaking Through to Abundance
Bruce H. Wilkinson
Multnomah, 128 pages, $9.99

A book that begins with ten names ("Adam, Seth, Enoch, Kenan") and continues thusly, with rarely a verb, adverb, or adjective for nine chapters (all the way to "Obadiah and Hanan") doesn't appear to be rich homiletical ground. It causes one to doubt Paul's affirmation that all Scripture is profitable for instruction in righteousness.

It is to Bruce Wilkinson's credit to have discerned something God-inspired in a couple of formerly obscure sentences in the first nine mind-numbing chapters of 1 Chronicles. His The Prayer of Jabez has turned out to be not only an exegetical coup but also a spiritual inspiration to millions.

Lest this sound like clichéd sell-copy: The Prayer of Jabez has sold 3 to 4 million copies (and the number is rising as you read this). And this isn't one of those books people buy but don't read; it is no War and Peace. The little hardback is paperback-small and tract-thin, and a bargain to boot: it lists at $9.99, but many stores have offered it at half price. Pastors are buying it by the carton and giving it away to their congregations: Pete Briscoe, senior pastor of Bent Tree Bible Fellowship in Carrollton, Texas, ordered 4,000 copies of the book and audiotape to give to every family for the church's 25th anniversary.

The book's popularity cannot be chalked up to clever marketing. Briscoe's purchase alone would have bought 20 percent of the first print run. Neither was the second run a bold step of Jabez faith: a mere 70,000. Multnomah ...

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June 11, 2001

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