1 Chronicles 4:9&10

The Prayer of Jabez

 As we wade through what seems to be an endless list of names we find an oasis in these two verses about Jabez. Much has been written and taught about the prayer of Jabez. Indeed, at least one book has been written about Jabez’s prayer. Could what he prayed and how he prayed it be an example to us as to how to pray and be blessed by God?  Let’s take a closer look.

The name Jabez means son of pain or sorrowful. We are told he was more honorable than his brothers. The Hebrew word translated honorable means weighed down. In a good sense it means weighed down with glory. In a bad sense it means weighed down with sin and guilt.  Both are used in the Bible.

 He asked God to keep him from harm and that he would be kept from pain. The word translated pain or grieve, depending on the translation we are reading, was used to describe the emotions the brothers of Joseph felt when they found out that the brother they sold into slavery was second in command in Egypt as they stood before him, asking for food. It was also used in Nehemiah 8:10 to express how the people felt when they heard the Torah being read to them for the first time in a long time. The word translated evil or harm, means something of inferior quality. I think these words give us an idea of what Jabez was asking God for in his prayer. He wanted to grow in his relationship with God. This would certainly be a prayer God could bless.

I think there is a danger in reading verses like these and thinking we have found the key to obtaining the blessing of God. If it worked for Jabez and I pray the same thing it will work for me kind of thinking. But what is at the core of our request? Certainly we do not want to be harmed by the enemy and we would like things to go smoothly in life so we would not have to experience pain. I understand this and have looked at this prayer from that standpoint, but am I looking at it from a serving God standpoint? Often, it is the storms in life that cause us to grow and increase our borders.

I can’t help but wonder if Paul prayed a prayer right before he stepped on that ship bound for Rome in Acts 27. He got on as a prisoner bound by chains. Other people were in charge of where he went and how he was going to get there. He had to go along with whatever they decided. Escaping from a ship is not an option, but God was about to change things. God sent a storm and the people began to fear for their lives as the storm drove them along. They went days without seeing the sun or eating. During this time though, Paul had a strange peace. The Lord was with him and even though Paul had to go through the storm God was keeping him from harm. All through the storm God enlarged Paul’s border from the confinement as a prisoner to the one who had the words of wisdom and became the leader they were willing to listen to. Through the storm God used Paul to bring glory to Himself.

In our travel through the Bible we see that God is doing a similar thing to the people of Israel. Though they are in exile in Babylon and all seems lost, God is going to bring them out and enlarge their borders, but first He has to get their attention. The people of Israel are weighed down with guilt and sin. Their hard unbelieving heart that would not seek God or listen to Him is being broken. He is reminding the people of who they are in His eyes and His plan for them. God is doing what it takes to make them willing to listen so He can bless them. The same may well be true for the Church as we read in Revelation 3:20, it is God standing at the door knocking. God wants a relationship with His people but are His people listening?

God does want to bless His people. It is important that we pray with a right heart. If we treat this prayer like it is a genie in a bottle we are praying with a wrong heart focused on self.  It is important that we pray in accordance with God’s will for us and seek to glorify God by doing His will. We must always remember, God is God and we are His servants and His ambassadors to this world. May He bless our work for Him and increase our borders, even if that means there are storms we must go through. May we not be afraid or harmed. Psalm 23

May God’s Kingdom come and His will be done in our lives.

Pastor Dave