The Prayer of Jabez
2. What He Prays
1Chronicles 4:10a “And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, ‘Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!” Jabez is explicit in his Prayer’s Request in Four Distinctive Petitions:
First, for God’s Blessing – 1Chronicles 4:10a “And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, ‘Oh, that You would bless me indeed.” Jabez considers the Blessing from God of Israel of primary important and makes it his first request. He knows that without God’s Blessing all other things are of but little value or important. Do we? Jabez understands that all true blessings come from God. He knows that God has blessed the Nation of Israel. Jabez desires the personal blessing from God – “bless me indeed” carries an intensive force in the original, means “surely or richly bless.” It is the language of fervent and affectionate desire. He is not content with a just feeling of general well-being but wants to experience the Divine (God’s) Blessing in a definite, personal way. If God’s Blessing is to be bestowed, it must be appropriated and experienced.
Second, for God’s Enlargement – 1Chronicles 4:10a “And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying…..and enlarge my territory.” – The enlargement of territory involves two aspects:
- Enlarge his (Jabez’s) area of influence and blessing, thus becoming a blessing to others; William E. Blackstone was a man in the prime of his life, exclaimed: “Oh that God would give me a million dollars! I would use every penny for the evangelization of the world!” God knew that by training and experience that he was competent to administer such large sum of money. God also knew that Blackstone could be entrusted with such wealth. God, therefore, providentially placed in the hand of William E. Blackstone five million dollars for the evangelization purposes. He was faithful as a Trustee of this sum of money, and great multitude of souls came to accept the Lord Jesus Christ as their Lord and Savior. William prayed, as did Jabez and God “enlarged his border.”
- Jabez is praying for enlargement of the coast (border – Land) – to wrest more of the Promised Land from the Canaanites. God had promised the Land of Canaan to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Genesis 15:18-21). God renewed that promise to the Nation of Israel through Joshua just before they crossed the River Jordan (Joshua 1:2-4). Israel had entered the Land but had conquered only part of it (Joshua 13:1, 2, 13; etc). God reminded Joshua shortly before his death that “there remaineth yet very much land to be possessed” (Joshua 13:1). Thus, Jabez is asking God to give him more of that which God had promised to His people, Israel. It takes faith to believe God for the Land that is still in the hands of the Canaanites, etc., Jabez, in faith, makes the request for the Land which God had promised to His people.
Third, for God’s Enablement – 1Chronicles 4:10a “And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying……..that Your hand would be with me.” – The Hand of God means the Guiding Presence and Empowerment of God. Jabez acknowledges the need for the guiding Hand of God in his undertaking of enlarging the territory (influence and land). He knows that God must lead him; but he also understands his need for the Manifestation of God’s Power and Presence in his behalf. Jabez confession is the recognition of his own limitation and ability. When he looks at himself and the situation he is in, he feels a sense of helplessness in achieving his goal. Mother Teresa was laughed at because she wanted to build an orphanage and had but three shilling to begin with. She told her critics: “With three shillings Teresa can do nothing; but with God and three shilling there is nothing that Teresa cannot do.”
An Individual who recognizes his own inability to complete the task in his own strength and has learned to cast himself unreservedly upon God Himself to enable him to complete the task, would not be disappointed. The secret of the empowered life is to be found in continued “abiding” in Christ – “He that abideth in Me, and I in him, the same shall bringeth forth much fruit; for without Me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5).
Fourth, for God’s Preservation – 1Chronicles 4:10a “And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying……..and that You would keep (preserve) me from evil, that I may not cause pain!” – Jabez request that, in his struggle to attain the enlarged purposes of God in him; God would so work on his behalf that “evil,” or “harm,” would be kept away. Jabez desires the inauspicious implications of his name (Jabez = pains) might not be repeated in his own experiences – “that it may not grieve (pain) me.” He has but to recall his mother’s feelings to be assured, she (mother) has suffered and experienced grief (pain) and sorrow. Jabez understands that left to himself he would inevitably succumb to the power of evil; he confesses a need for God’s Preserving Power against Evil; it is truth understood that leads a child of God to cast himself fully upon his God for preservation from evil and for empowerment to meet the trials of life; this is Jabez’s road to victory.
Logical Order – The order of the Jabez’s Fourfold Petitions shows a logical progression; he begins his Prayer:
- He acknowledges God’s blessing as his highest good and priority.
- This leads to a desire for a larger share in God’s Promises which God has prepared for God His People, Israel.
- In his (Jabez’s) efforts to attain these blessings of God, he realizes his own limitation and weakness and pleaded for God’s Guidance and Empowerment to accomplish.
- In his struggles he comes to see himself aright and is led to throw himself unreservedly upon God’s Grace; and it is here that he finds the desired blessings and victory.
1Chronicles 4:10b “So God granted him what he requested.” – The ultimate test of every Prayer is the answer that it receives; the answer proves the acceptableness of the Prayer, and the Prayer of Jabez passed this test:
- God Answers
1Chronicles 4:10b “So God granted him what he requested.” God grants to Jabez his desires; his experience reveals that Prayer out of sincere heart and according to God’s Will receives God’s Answer.
2. Exact Answer
1Chronicles 4:10b “So God granted him what he requested.” – Jabez received what he has asked for; this answer is evidence that his Prayer is in God’s Will for him (Jabez) –“We have this assurance in approaching God, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us – whatever we ask-we know that we have what we asked of him” (1John 5:14,15 NIV). The lesson is that God, who knows the heartfelt desires and motives of Jabez before he expresses them, readily granted his request. It is the Prayer in accord with God’s Will for Jabez; God’s Word recorded in 1John 3:21-22 assures us that such Prayer receives an answer from God; this Prayer of Faith encourages us to wait upon the LORD as we approach Him with our needs and requests.
1Chronicles 4:9a “And Jabez was more honorable than his brethren.” Jabez does not allow the implications of his name and his background to make him feel that he is a failure; Jabez’s achievement is a challenge to all who feel that they are severely restricted by an unfortunate situation and defeated by a personal “handicap.” The secret of the success of Jabez lies in his Prayer life and his Faith in God. It is upon his (Jabez’s) Prayer that the Biblical record lays special emphasis.