An obscure Bible character, Jabez doesn’t live in the historical spotlight — like Moses, David, or Paul. Jabez is featured in 1 Chronicles 4:9-10. We don’t know much about him, except that:
- His mother bore him in pain
- He was more honorable than his brothers
- He prayed to the God of Israel
- God answered his prayer
In 2000, The Prayer of Jabez became a bestselling book.
After months of reading the book, seeing the book everywhere, hearing references made to the book, listening to radio programs about the book, and finally seeing the book on thrift store shelves, I was done thinking about Jabez for a while.
But last Sunday’s sermon centered around Jabez and his prayer. So, maybe it’s time for me to think about Jabez again and look more closely at his sincere conversation with God.
Jabez probably prayed many prayers, but one of these prayers is written out in 1 Chronicles for us to ponder. Like other seemingly unimportant details found in scripture, God included the prayer in His inspired Word for a reason…and it’s worth examining.
The prayer is pretty short and simple, easily fitting into a 280-character-limit Twitter tweet.
Jabez says to the God of Israel:
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.’
(And God granted him what he requested.)
Since there is a 93-page book written about this simple prayer, I won’t try to dissect it myself. I just want to randomly, digitally scribble down some thoughts that come to mind when I think about the real person that prayed this prayer, and what I can learn from the whole thing. (Without peeking at the book.)
- Jabez’s name means “pain, or born through pain.” His prayer states “….bless me that I may not cause pain.” I love that he accepts his birth, his circumstances, the part of life that he cannot change. But, he prays to go beyond his lot in life. And God can do that. He did it for Jabez. He can do it for me. I need to ask God for it.
- Jabez prayed like a child would ask a parent: “Give me! I need! I want! And I want a lot! I want more!” But he asks with good motives: so God’s hand would be with him. That means Jabez wants God around — to watch over him, bless him, lead him. He wants to please God, follow God and have God smile at what he does. He is willing to be obedient and live in fellowship with God.
- Jabez trusted God to keep him from evil (or harm.)
There’s more to learn about Jabez and his prayer — I might have to pick up that book again, after all.
But for now, the obscure, honorable, praying Jabez of 3,000 + years ago has prompted me to write my own prayer.
So, here is the unfamous, non-bestselling, yet sincere Prayer of Lisa:
God, would you please help me overcome my natural, inborn weaknesses? My sin…my flesh…my selfishness? I need You to help me walk by Your Spirit — I can’t do it by myself!. I need so much more of You and so much less of me — every day. Make me to see Your workings in my life. Yank me (gently, please?) out of my comfort zone, where I tend to hang out. But always remind me You are there, and give me courage to go beyond the borders of what I think I can do. There’s nothing too hard for You to accomplish — even through imperfect me. Keep me from veering off into evil —deviating from Your Path. May I never cause pain to Your Holy Name. Amen.
Word prompt: deviate