In the midst of family trees found in 1 Chronicles, we find verse 10 of chapter 4, often called the “Prayer of Jabez.” This prayer is not a magical formula to receive God’s blessings. Rather, we should read it as an example of one man’s sincere and heart-felt prayer as he prays from the heart in honesty and fervency. Jabez was praying for God’s blessing.
Who is Jabez?
The Bible doesn’t tell us much about this man. In fact, other than his prayer to God, we only know a few things about him: the meaning of his name, that he has brothers, and that he is more honorable than his brothers.
Verse 9 is where we find that Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, although the Bible doesn’t give us a clue as how his brothers were dishonorable or if they just were not as honorable as Jabez. What is apparent, is that Jabez took his faith in God seriously and knew that blessings came from God. If we want God’s blessing, we need to be honorable in God’s eyes as we obediently follow him.
So what did Jabez ask for? He asked for God’s blessing, to give him more land, that God’s hand would be with him, that God would keep him from evil and that he would cause no one pain.
What does it mean to ask God to bless us?
To ask God to bless us is asking God to give us good things. The Greek word translated blessed in the Sermon on the Mount means to be fully satisfied. It refers to those receiving God’s favor, regardless of the circumstances. Certainly there is an elements of material blessings, such as wealth, successful career, a loving marriage relationship, health, good children, etc., but our true blessings are more spiritual in nature.
Earthly, physical blessings can come and go, but spiritual blessings are eternal. In the Sermon on the Mount, in Matthew chapter 5, we find that those who are blessed are those who are poor in spirit, those who mourn, those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, and those who are reviled and persecuted. Doesn’t’ sound like much of a blessing, does it?
The blessing is not in the trail or suffering itself. We find the blessing as the trial we are going through opens the door for God to show us His love, protection, provision, and grace. We experience God’s blessing in our lives when He moves and works in us and his glory is seen through our lives.
Luke 11:28 says we are blessed when we hear the Word of God and keep it. Romans 4:7 says we are blessed when we are forgiven. James 1:12 says we are blessed if we stay steadfast under trials. And in Revelation 14:13, those who die in the Lord are blessed and in Revelation 19:9 those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb are blessed. Spiritual blessings far outweigh earthly material blessings and spiritual blessing last for eternity where earthly material blessing only last for a while.
Enlarge my territory
Second, we find that Jabez asks that God would enlarge his territory, meaning he was asking God to give him more land. The Bible doesn’t tell us why Jabez needed or wanted more land. Maybe it was to plant more crops or because he wanted more land for his livestock to graze. Maybe his family was growing and they needed more room. Regardless, Jabez was asking God’s blessing by increasing his wealth.
May your hand be with me
Next Jabez asks that God’s hand would be with him. This is a prayer for both guidance and protection. 1 Chronicles 29:12 says, “Both riches and honor come from You, and You rule over all, and in Your hand is power and might; and it lies in Your hand to make great and to strengthen everyone.” The Psalmist wrote in Psalm 138:8, “The LORD will accomplish what concerns me; Your lovingkindness, O LORD, is everlasting; Do not forsake the works of Your hands.” And Psalm 145:16, he wrote: “You open Your hand And satisfy the desire of every living thing.” We also find in the Bible that God’s hand was on people and nations to bring judgment for sin. Perhaps this is why Jabez’s next request was for God to keep him from evil.
Keep me from evil
We should, like Jabez, ask God to keep us from evil. Satan roams the earth just looking for someone he can trip up. Sometimes it doesn’t take much for us to slip up. Why? Satan has been at his work for a very long time. He’s had from the time Eve bit into the fruit in the Garden of Eden to study the human race. He’s also had your lifetime to study you. He knows your likes, dislike, passions, desires, wants, needs…and he know the best way to tempt you.
Paul understood that Satan works this way and so Paul told us to put on the armor of God. Everyday there are unseen spiritual battles going on around us. When the disciples asked Jesus to teach them to pray, Jesus gave a model for us to follow. Within the model prayer, Jesus included the phrase, “And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.” So asking God to keep us from evil is something we should do every day – and probably often throughout the day.
That it might not bring me pain
Lastly, Jabez asked God to ensure Jabez asked God to keep him from pain. In verse 9, we find that his mother named him Jabez saying, “because I bore him in pain.” The name “Jabez” means pain. So it becomes more insightful that Jabez closes his prayer with a plea to God that he would cause no pain. It’s difficult to go through life and never cause ourselves or another person pain. Sometimes its intentional – other times we don’t mean to, but it happens. So we can ask God to bless us and others by ensuring we don’t cause pain to ourselves or others.
Jabez’ prayer is not a magical formula
While Jabez’ prayer is not a magical formula for riches and prosperity, we can use it as an example in our own prayers. There is nothing wrong with asking God for any of the blessings from Jabez’ personal prayer to God. We do find at the end of verse 10 that God granted Jabez’ requests. However, we also need to point back to the beginning of verse 9 that stated Jabez was an honorable person. God’s blessings often come with our obedience to Him and knowing what God’s will is for us and then trusting God to provide us with His very best, even if that does not match what we think it should be. Instead of looking for a magical formula to gain God’s blessings, focus on living a life of obedience to God. His blessings are sure to follow.
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God, Love and Marshmallow Wars by Julia M. Bruce
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