When asked about instructions on prayer, Jesus taught his disciples the Lord's Prayer. Does it follow that to pray other types of prayers is not okay?
1 Chronicles 4:9 - 10
ESV - 9 Jabez was more honorable than his brothers; and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, "Because I bore him in pain. 10 Jabez called upon the God of Israel, saying, "Oh that you would bless me and enlarge my border, and that your hand might be with me, and that you would keep me from harm so that it might not bring me pain!" And God granted what he asked.
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Jesus' disciples requested that He teach them to pray, as John the Baptist had taught his followers (Luke 11:1). Jesus responded with what we call the Lord's Prayer as a model of the elements that a prayer should contain, but He did not intend it as a universal or "iron-clad" formula that must be followed at all times, as indicated by the fact that John had also taught his disciples to pray, and by the varying prayers that Christians offered to God elsewhere in the history of the early Church (for example, Acts 4:24-30; Acts 7:59; Acts 12:5). God hears any prayer offered in faith, as the account of Jabez illustrates. Also, God loves us as individuals, and wants us to bring all things that concern us to Him in prayer, including specific subjects that may be unique to us, and that we would express to Him in our own words because no fixed, preconceived wording would be likely to anticipate or cover them. In my opinion, viewing the specific wording of the Lord's Prayer as the only prayer that God will hear or accept takes a step down the road to legalism, and to the mere recitation of words as a "formula", without faith or meaning behind them.
Any prayer used from the bible as a formula for getting God to do something positive for us is really trying to manipulate God - getting him to respond like a genie in a bottle. One Christian author wrote an entire book on this simple 2 verse prayer and encouraged his readers to pray this prayer to be assured of financial success in this world. The prosperity gospel tells us that we should expect financial propsperity when we pray prayers like this in faith. Jesus prayed the most powerful prayers of any human being ever. If anyone was ever heard by God in Heaven it was him. Yet Jesus never experienced financial prosperity - he was homeless. Every prayer in the bible is an authentic prayer for any Christian to pray when that prayer is inspired and prompted by the Holy Spirit. When we treat the prayers of the bible as some kind of key to unlock the power of God for our personal benefit, then we are treating our God the same way that people prayed to idols. Such as, "we need rain for our crops, we need victory over our enemies". God knows what we need - ask and then trust, don't try to manipulate. God wants to hear from us, prayers that come from our heart. Prayers of adoration, confession (of sin), thanksgiving and supplication (asking for things that we and our loved ones really need - not things we want (covet)). If a prayer in the bible expresses our heartfelt need, then by all means pray it. The danger with a prayer like Jabez is that it was a prayer for financial and material success. This is exactly what the culture of our world (controlled by our enemy, Satan) wants us to pray for. Why? Because success leads us away from God. We become proud and independent. We don't need God. When we walk away from God he allows the enemy to beat us up until we realize how much we need God and come back to him in repentance and humility. The last thing that Christians in the industrialized world need is to pray for material prosperity. Rather we should pray for a Spirit of generosity to give it all away. Praying the prayers of the bible is a great way to connect with God when our heart is in a right relationship with him - when the following are true: Jesus is our personal Savior Jesus is the Lord of our life We are walking with the Holy Spirit every day Our lives are devoted to pleasing God and building his kingdom on this earth. God welcomes any prayer from his bible when our hearts look like this.
Peace be with you all... The appearance of Jabez's prayer right out of the blue (as it were) in the middle of a structured genealogy makes it a very curious but nonetheles, spiritual revelation. I earnestly believe the prayer of Jabez is, in and of itself, pure. The words of the prayer brings (to my mind at least) represents hopefulness, even for those whose identities have been hijacked by this carnal judgmental world. Which I might add is not a new phenomenon - look at what 'man' did to the best of the best! To me Jabez highlights the importance of heartfelt prayer - words and language are a poor conduit to express what the heart (spirit) really means to convey. For example, I have always struggled to find the right words to express my gratitude to the Father. I have not found (in any language) the right words - but the pangs of the heart speak more eloquently to God than words. So the upshot here is not Jabez's words but his inner voice that is the real purity of the prayer. The fact that it has been high jacked by modern day opportunists should not come as a surprise to anyone. The segue to this may be that if this prayer encourages people to use it as a prayer that brings about a closer connect with God, that surely is a good thing. I still have this hope that in time, and with further reading of the WORD in the Good Book, these same people will refine and grow in the quality, content, and eventually, their own growth in regards to expectations. The more one studies and learns the more likely the original quid-pro-quo expectation will fall away. Funny how God works. Sometimes sugar fixes lose their sweetness and more healthy options take their place. I hope this makes sense. So I say - "wanna pray the Jabez way?" Knock your socks off. Eventually we will all find the right path. Some will get there quicker than others. I've yet to see a field of marathon runners finish first at the same time! Peace out - Pete
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