Skip to comments.THE PRAYER OF JOB
Posted on 12/14/2004 8:26:47 AM PST by Alex Murphy
When our son totaled our car the other day, my wife and I should have been dismayed. But we weren't. Instead we just looked at each other and smiled... knowingly. We knew it was The Prayer of Job, coming to pass.
Ever since I picked up The Prayer of Job at our local Christian book store, our family has been reciting its words almost as a mantra. The small but powerful devotional book is climbing the best-seller lists and transforming lives by re-adjusting people's attitudes toward success and tragedy.
Long hidden in an obscure part of the Bible just before the Psalms (you may have to consult the table of contents to find it), the Book of Job is a revelation to many churchgoers. The book is based on statements of Job recorded in Chapter 14: vss. 1, 10, 22: "Man that is born of woman is of few days and full of trouble. Man dieth and wasteth away; yea, man giveth up the ghost, and where is he? His flesh upon him shall have pain, and his soul within him shall mourn."
The concept is similar to the popular book The Prayer of Jabez by Bruce Wilkinson. That work, based on a brief, silly little prayer mentioned in I Chronicles 4:9,10, sold millions of copies. The new Job-based book is less widely known, but is having an impact nonetheless, showing up everywhere, from Congressional Bible studies to high school baccalaureate speeches to pulpits and even bar mitzvas around the country.
Where the earlier book encouraged readers to pray for God to "extend their territory," readers of The Prayer of Job tend to "hunker down and keep a low profile" according to author Peter Strephgum. The former campaign advisor for Al Gore in Florida left politics soon after the 2000 election and authored the book during a time of deep reflection.
The book's dust jacket contains endorsements from Navy Cmdr. Scott Waddle, captain of the USS Greenville, ("It bouyed my spirits" after his sub accidentally sunk a Japenese frighter, he said) and former FBI director Louis Freeh ("After our bungling of the cases of the spy Robert Hanssen, scientist Wen Ho Lee and the McVeigh trial documents, this book was like a tonic.").
Rep. Gary Condit was given a copy just before his interview with Connie Chung.
Other personal testimonies abound.
Steve Jinks, associate pastor at a medium-sized Baptist church in Shreveport, La., reported his career was at a standstill, his children were misbehaving at school and his bank account was depleted to single digits
"I picked up 'The Prayer of Job' at the local Joshua's Book Store, and the next day an inspector told us our house was infested with giant Formosan termites and toxic black mold. It was amazing how the text of the prayer reminded me of a simple truth... things can always get worse."
Layman and plumber's helper Bob Kindersen of St. Paul, Minn., admitted he'd never read Job before, but said "the guy must'a been readin' my mind" because his experiences paralleled his own. "Well almost, anyway. If you lose the boils. But Job's friends, those guys I recognize"
The theology of The Prayer of Job has become a matter of debate.
Despite it's growing popularity, some theologians warn the book is pandering to a sado-masochistic streak in American religion akin to Presbyterianism.
"Soon we'll be having to explain every bad circumstance as being solely from the hand of God rather than blaming it on Satan, the TV networks, Bill Clinton or the IRS," said Pastor Sid Precious of Holy Trinkets Church of the Kudzu in Raleigh, N.C. With The Prayer of Job as their guide, "people might not even need or want professional counseling at all."
Bishop S.T.D. Takes of Greater Bullion Community Church in Houston, agreed. "Half my sermons are spent reassuring the congregation that God really isn't behind the bad things that happen to them; that if they just behave, pray more and give more, God will snap to the fact that he made a mistake and go back to fix it."
Richly illustrated with images of suffering from around the world, the book is causing many to rethink their definition of what is "good."
"The philosophy has been likened to the Deistic 'watchmaker' view of God," said Dr. John Won Ton, professor of divine benign neglect at Evangelical Grace Seminary in San Francisco, "except in this instance the watchmaker winds up the timepiece and then seems to smash it against the wall. The point seems to be that whatever God does is good, no matter how it looks to us. God is in control. It's a concept at once refreshing and subversive to popular religion, not to mention to the human propensity to whine."
The phenomenon is even sparking a whole industry of Prayer of Job paraphernalia, including Prayer of Job sackcloth vests, plastic stick-on boils, designer scraping potsherds and "Just Curse God and Die" multi-colored bead bracelets.
The Prayer of Job is available for $12.99 through Land of Uz Publishers, (although there is a 10-week delay in order fulfillment due to a breakdown at their Birmingham, Ala., press).
The book's website, www.prayerofjob.com, should be repaired and functioning sometime after Jan. 12.
A Land of Uz Publishers press release Nov. 18 apologized to purchasers of the book for the poor print quality of the first press run, which caused ink to rub off on reader's hands.
Very funny piece! (Religious parody ping)
couldn't help but laugh ---- even though my heart is about to fall to the floor (not because of anything in this post)
I thought this was Murphy's Prayer...
Sorry to hear that!
As Job would say (seriously) "The LORD gives, and the LORD takes away. Blessed be the name of the LORD."
You gotta love that one! I want some of those stick-on boils. They would work great for weaseling a day off every now and again.
LOL! "Curse God and die" could surpass "Bless your bowels!" as the all-time great blowoff line!
This made this Episcopalian refugee who has found sanctuary in Presbyterianism laugh.
I'd order up ten copies, but the website doesn't work. ;)
I saw that guy on TV. His ministry accepted all major credit cards.
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