Volume. XXXV, No. 29
Sunday, 17 January 2021

Did the Bible Teach the Prosperity Gospel? (Part 1)

There are many so called Christian preachers teaching about the Prosperity Gospel. Did the Bible really teach us about this? We will examine some of these teachings, look at how they used Scripture verses to substantiate their teachings and then examine those Scripture verses to determine if they really teach about the Prosperity Gospel.

One instance of this prosperity gospel is manifested in the book by Bruce Wilkinson, “The Prayer of Jabez”. It was first published in 2000 by Multnomah Publishers and sold nine million copies in two years[1]. This book takes an obscure passage from 1 Chronicles 4:10 and transforms it into a global phenomenon that was widely acclaimed by many self-professing Christians. In the preface, Wilkinson wrote that he wants to teach his readers “to pray a daring prayer that God always answers.”[2] One of the lessons taught is that one can rise above his name. The name of Jabez meant causing pain, sorrow, and trouble[3]. Proponents of the prosperity gospel claim that, like Jabez, you can rise above your name. You do not have to be restrained by how you begin, you can rise above your origin.[4] Holding on to God would allow you to be like Jabez and be lifted from one who caused pain (to his mother) to one who is a blessing to his mother. Wilkinson taught that a daily repetition of this prayer would allow one to claim God’s fullest blessings and that God has unclaimed blessings just waiting for you.[5]

This claim that God would always answer Jabez’s prayer affirmatively has forgotten the context in which this prayer was written. This detail about Jabez was written in the midst of a genealogy. It was as if the historian had just come to this man named Jabez and he just needed to write something more about him. After this detail, the genealogy carried on without missing a beat. This detail of Jabez is without a doubt significant, or else it would have been omitted from God’s inspired word. However, its significance was in the description of Jabez, rather than his prayer. God answering his prayer was the outcome of him being more honourable than his brethren and not because of his prayer for material blessings.

One major mistake by Wilkinson was to misinterpret the phrase “more honourable” that was used to describe Jabez. In his words, “a father is most honoured to have a child beg for his blessing”. This was Wilkinson’s notion of honour, for one to be honourable was to ask his father for blessings, so for Jabez to be more honourable than his brethren he must have asked for more than his brethren. Which was why Wilkinson insists we must ask and beg for God’s blessings so that we too can be in God’s honour roll.[6]

Webster’s Dictionary 1828 defines “honourable” as possessing a high mind; actuated by principles of honour, or a scrupulous regard to probity, rectitude or reputation.[7] Jabez being honourable would have been an honour that was God given (since God had granted his prayer). That would have meant that Jabez had a mind with principles that are godly, one which honoured God with his thoughts and actions. He would not have made that prayer out of selfish reasons but with reasons that would have been God honouring. Wilkinson’s book placed the cart before the horse with the idea of getting material blessings from God as its goal, without the goal of being God honouring. As such, the recital of this prayer would have the same effect as any other religious mantra, being sent into thin air. These prayers would not be heard by God and have no chance of being answered by God. Wilkinson might have attained huge success from the sales of his book (in the eyes of man) but as seen from his broken dream for Africa, his dream (or claim) was not God’s plan. Heading into Swaziland in 2002 upon hearing God’s call, his target was to save a million orphans of the AIDS epidemic. His project, the African Dream Village, failed and he resigned in 2005 and returned to America, abandoning the project, and allowing it to disintegrate.[8] 

Biblical interpreters must not put their own ideas and claims into God’s words as Wilkinson did, when he claimed that this prayer is one that God will always answer. The Bible did not give that promise and thus one cannot force God into blessing him. This false interpretation of Jabez’s prayer is just that, it is trying to force God into giving blessing to us by falsely claiming that by praying this prayer God would always answer and bless us.

The Abrahamic Covenant has been warped into the prosperity gospel based on an interpretation of Galatians 3:6-14 that all Christians (which are of faith) are Abraham’s children and are then eligible for God’s blessings in the Abrahamic covenant. We know that Abraham had been blessed materially by God from Genesis 13:2, but when we study the covenant that God made with Abraham, we find that there are three main tenets to this covenant. Firstly, He promised to make Abraham a great nation and to bless him, to make his name great and that he would be a blessing, so that all the families of the earth would be blessed in him (Gen 12:2-3). Secondly, that Abraham would be the father of many nations (Gen 17:4) and lastly, to give him and his descendants (“thy seed after thee”) the land of Canaan forever (Gen 17:8). In all these we find no mention of the riches mentioned in Genesis 24:35, the flocks, herd, silver, gold, man and maidservants, camels, and asses. As such, we need to determine exactly what blessings God promised to Abraham in the covenant.

By Dn Kevin Low


[1] “The Prayer of Jabez by Bruce Wilkinson: 9781590524756 | PenguinRandomHouse.Com: Books,” Com, accessed November 14, 2019, https://www.penguinrandomhouse.com/books/190807/the-prayer-of-jabez-by-bruce-wilkinson-with-david-kopp/.

[2] Bruce Wilkinson and David Kopp, The Prayer of Jabez: Breaking Through to the Blessed Life, Anniversary edition. (Colorado Springs, Colo: Multnomah, 2005). Pp 8

[3] Stelman Smith and Judson Cornwall, The Exhaustive Dictionary of Bible Names (North Brunswick, NJ: Bridge-Logos, 1998). Pp 117

[4] “Ultimate Guide to the Powerful Prayer of Jabez +3 Principles,” The Prayer Relay Movement, last modified July 23, 2019, accessed November 19, 2019, https://www.prayerrelay.com/prayer-jabez-significance/.

[5] Wilkinson and Kopp, The Prayer of Jabez. Pp 17

[6] Ibid

[7] “Websters Dictionary 1828 - Webster’s Dictionary 1828 - Honorable,” Websters Dictionary 1828, accessed November 22, 2019, http://webstersdictionary1828.com/Dictionary/honorable.

[8] Michael M. PhillipsStaff Reporter of THE WALL STREET JOURNAL, “In Swaziland, U.S. Preacher Sees His Dream Vanish,” Wall Street Journal, December 19, 2005, sec. News, accessed November 23, 2019, https://www.wsj.com/articles/SB113495910699726095.


More Lively Hope



  • Congratulations to Bro King & Nikki (Ching) Ho on the birth of Bernice (HK).
  • Congratulations to Sis Xiao Hui Chye on her wedding (Calvary Jaya, PJ).
  • Daily Manna Jan – Mar 2021 (both adults & children) available in the Foyer & the Hall.
  • Masks for adults will be optional if attending church in-person. Hygiene, physical distancing & capacity rules still apply. Live online worship via Facebook and YouTube will continue for those who prefer.
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Praise & Thanksgiving

  • God’s daily guidance, protection & providence for the past week.
  • Journey mercies: All who have travelled.



  • Healing: Pastor Ki; Rev Mathews Abraham, Rev Pong Sen Yiew (S’pore) & others afflicted in health.
  • COVID-19 pandemic – God’s continued guidance & protection for South Australia & all who are affected.
  • Missions: Rev Mathews Abraham.
  • Journey mercies: All who are travelling.





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