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What is the history of the Prayer of Jabez?

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The prayer of Jabez was first recorded by the writer of 1 Chronicles in the Old Testament. Christians have expressed several points of view concerning the prayer's meaning; most notably, author Bruce Wilkinson published a book in 2000 explaining his interpretation.

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In 1 Chronicles 4:10, Jabez asks for God's blessing, particularly for an enlargement of territory. His prayer ends with the petition of protection from evil and grief. Preachers of the 19th century, such as Charles Haddon Spurgeon, tried to convey the possible sufferings that Jabez might have experienced prior to begging for liberation. However, prosperity gospel preachers of the late 20th century focused more on the first part of Jabez's prayer and expressed the idea that praying for financial aid was acceptable.

1 Chronicles 4:10 was brought to the forefront by Bruce Wilkinson's book "The Prayer of Jabez: Breaking Through to the Blessed Life." Wilkinson considered that the modern application of asking for territory enlargement is asking for greater effectiveness in ministry. However, Wilkinson's book drew criticism for its suggestion that the prayer of Jabez never fails and that the prayer should be done daily. Several Christian writers pointed out Bible verses that explain God's requirements for listening to prayer, as well as Jesus' condemnation of religious leaders who repeated prayers.

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