Tuesday, January 24, 2006

What if you haven't got a prayer

Do you believe in the power of prayer? I do! I don't know how it works, but it has worked so often for me that I am convinced some one hears me when I pray. As I kneel down by my youngest son’s bed at night I have a great sense of contentment in the knowledge of this truth. I think our community and our country needs prayer, particularly now, when we are facing such critical challenges. The Senate is considering the Judge Alito nomination, and some of the most frightening political figures are aligning themselves against his confirmation.

I want to exalt prayer and encourage you to do so, and I want to focus on two things, the Hollywood Prayer network which is headed up by my friend Karen Covell. So go ahead check that out.

The other thing I wanted to share has become a chestnut now since the publication of Dr. Bruce Wilkinson’s book, the Jabez Prayer. It is one that I think is particularly appropriate for a dentist. This is my take on it:

Inspired by Dr. Bruce H. Wilkinson’s book, “The Prayer of Jabez”, at a time when David Karkenny had asked me to give a short address to the graduating class of the Kids of the Kingdom Sunday School, at Hollywood Presbyterian Church.

Now listen, I give you my blessing,
A wish that your lives will be saved,
That the road you now tread to the future
Will be straight, well marked and well paved.
I pray that we'll meet as we're destined,
In heaven, on that sacred shore,
And through all eternity share in
The treasures that God has in store.

When we get to heaven, they'll show us
The sanctuary called "House of Sighs"
Where in boxes in rows, wrapped in ribbons,
Is a sight that will tear-up our eyes.
Each box is named, and when opened
Reveals a well-scribed lengthy list
Of the blessings that God would have granted
On earth, had we asked, which we'd missed.

So, let's take our Bibles together,
Just let them fall open at will,
Then work your way back from the middle
Through all of the pages until.
You come to the list in First Chronicles
In endless parade, each strange name,
Makes a litany of Judah's children,
Inscribed with their sorrow or fame.

Each reference is brief and un-telling,
With little to set them apart.
Yet one name stopped the Chronicler scribing
And caused him to write from the heart.
"Oh! Here is a name I must mention,
Of him you must know a bit more,
It's Jabez*, who among all his brothers
Got more of what God had in store.

“Jabez, more than all of his brethren,
Was honorable,” so the words claim,
“And was given this name by his mother,
Because she had borne him in pain.”
The scribe goes on further to tell us
That Jabez had offered a prayer,
And that God up in heaven had answered
Each request in the lines uttered there.

Jabez called on the Lord, God of Israel,
"Oh that you would bless me indeed;
Increase my borders, my tenure;
May I from all evil be freed.
"And Lord keep your strong hand on my shoulder,
Lord, guide me that I cause no pain."
And God granted him all he requested,
And that's why we remember his name.

The litany continues longer
Four or five chapters or more,
It leaves us to wonder and ponder
Why Jabez was held in such store.
In the Gospels we find there an echo,
Revealed in the teachings of Him
Who said, "Ask and it shall be given thee,
Lead us not in the pathways of sin."

So my prayer is to beg that you follow,
The pathway that Jesus has trod,
That you pray for a blessing each morning,
And offer your prayer up to God.
For He will hear the prayer that you offer,
God will bless you, and stretch out His hand,
So the box with your name will lie empty,
Exactly the way God has planned.
*Jabez - 1 Chronicles 4:9-10. Pronounced Ya a baytz. Cited in the 18th Century by Rabbi Jacob Emler (ben Zvi)

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