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Sunday, March 13, 2011

Prayers in the Bible: The Prayer of Jabez

The genealogies of 1 Chronicles list a lot of people, but they don't give much information about most of these. They do give a little more information about a man named Jabez:

4:9 Jabez was more honorable than his brothers: and his mother named him Jabez, saying, “Because I bore him with sorrow.” 10 Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, “Oh that you would bless me indeed, and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from evil, that it not be to my sorrow!” God granted him that which he requested. (WEB)

Here we have an example of an answered prayer, and, furthermore, a prayer that seems to have been entirely supplication, and supplication for Jabez, not for his sick neighbors, or for the tribal leaders. So, lest there be any doubt, God does answer prayers of this type, in the affirmative, sometimes. I've had requests of this type granted myself, I believe. (But I can't prove it!)

You may be aware that these two verses were the basis for a book, which sold at least nine million copies, mostly to Christians, and was the basis for some derivative volumes. That book, The Prayer of Jabez, has been criticized as supporting the prosperity gospel, which many Christians see as a serious misrepresentation of what the Christian life is supposed to be about.

A Charles Cooper, who says that he knows the author of the book, Bruce Wilkinson, quite well, assures us that he knows that Wilkinson's heart is in the right place. (See article by Cooper.) But, writes Cooper: The reason Wilkinson's book is unsettling is that he attempts to apply the specifics of the prayer rather than the general principle upon which the prayer is based.

What principle is Cooper referring to? Cooper says: James writes, "The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working" (James 5:16b - ESV). Jabez's prayer was answered because he was a righteous (more honorable) man.

I think Cooper is right. I need to be righteous. If I am, I will pray as God wants me to, and, for me, such prayers should seldom, or ever, be for land, or other possessions, or for a life free from trouble.

May I be righteous enough to have my prayers answered, because I am thinking as God thinks.

This post is part of a series. See here for the previous post. Thanks for reading.


FancyHorse said...

I've just gone back and read all your entries on prayer. I'd read some of them before, but I had missed some. Very interesting and thoughtful! Thank you for your insight on this subject.

Martin LaBar said...

Thanks, FancyHorse!