Prayer of Jabez | SO BE IT
Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, “Oh, that you would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me, and keep me from harm so that I will be free from pain.” And God granted his request. 1 Chronicles 4:9-10
Monday— “Oh, that you would bless me…”
#BLESSED adorns our social media platforms, our tee-shirts, and our walls. When we hear the word blessed, we expect to hear about someone’s good fortune: their kid won a trophy, they got a new house, or they’re waving at us from Tahiti. Is that what Jabez was praying for? Possibly. But if we dig deeper, we uncover some factoids about Jabez that give context to his words. Back up a verse and we read that Jabez was “more honorable than his brothers.” In other words, he came from a family of scoundrels and was a constant reminder to his mother of what a pain he was. Not off to a great start. Can you identify?
What makes these verses more shocking is that he prayed for blessing with boldness. We tend to think God views us the same way our past does. If we weren’t worth much then, why would it different now? Notice how God plopped Jabez’s prayer in the middle of a long genealogy list for no apparent reason. Jabez was probably Mr. Average, invisible to everyone around him, but he lived honorably in a sea of dishonor. And God noticed. In fact, God was so impressed that He interrupted a string of begats to mention it. When our lives are honorable and our desires pure, God notices. He invites us to ask for blessing, expecting to receive it. Jabez’s prayer gives us the green light to ask God to bless us because that’s what He already wants to do.
Challenge: If you strive to live honorably in a sea of dishonor, you can pray bold prayers and expect God to answer.
Prayer: Father, I know I’m not perfect, but my heart’s desire is to honor you. So I pray for blessing in every area so that I can be a blessing to those you put in my path. Shower me with favor that spills onto people around me. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Tuesday— “…and enlarge my territory!”
In 1854, Mr. Kimball, a boy’s Bible teacher, led an unruly teenage student named Dwight to Christ. Dwight began to teach street children in his spare time and later became an evangelist. We know him as D. L. Moody. Moody’s preaching set off a chain reaction that resulted in the salvation of thousands, including a young baseball player named Billy Sunday. Sunday, too, became an evangelist and won to Christ a man named Mortdecai Ham. Ham also became a preacher and in one of his services, a young guy came forward to receive Christ. His name was Billy Graham. Mr. Kimball never imagined the long-range impact his visit with Moody would have, but God enlarged his territory. Hundreds of millions heard the gospel because of him.
When we ask God to enlarge our territories, we are asking for more kingdom influence. We’re not satisfied to simply “be a good person.” We want to show up in heaven with a crowd behind us, all there because God enlarged our territories. In farmer terms, if we’re faithful with a ½ acre, we can ask for a field. If faithful with the field, we ask for a ranch. If the ranch bears fruit, we ask God to keep going. When we pray for God to enlarge our territories, it’s not for selfish gain (James 4:3). We’re yearning for more influence, more giftings, more power and opportunities so that we can reach more people with God’s message.
Challenge: Is your territory big enough? Ask the Lord to enlarge it and then serve faithfully to impact His kingdom.
Prayer: Father, I’ve been afraid to ask you to use me in greater ways. I know how unworthy I am. But if Jabez could do it and you granted his request, I can too. Enlarge my territory for your kingdom and your glory. In Jesus’ name, amen.
Wednesday— “Let your hand be with me…”
“I got this!” Those words sound strong and confident, but they’re actually a sign we’re about to crash (Prov. 16:18). Humans were not designed to be autonomous. God created us to need Him and the moment we think we don’t, we’re headed for trouble. The first Christians were seeing thousands come to Christ through a bunch of uneducated, rough-around-the-edges dock workers. They didn’t think for a minute, “I got this!” They knew their success was because “…the Lord’s hand was with them” (Acts 11:21).
But the secret to having the Lord’s hand with us is to have the Lord’s desires guiding our decisions. We can’t expect the Lord’s hand to be with us if we’re against Him. Jon says, “I hope the Lord’s hand is with me and my girlfriend as we move in together.” Really? Pete says, “I’m praying the Lord’s hand will bless my string of strip clubs.” Really? Ky says, “I don’t tithe anymore. Champagne tastes, you know? I’m praying the Lord’s hand gives me another good sale.” Really? For the Lord’s hand to be with us, we have to be going His direction. Jabez was asking that all his future decisions be in line with God’s plan for his life. That’s why he could pray with confidence, knowing that God’s hand would be with him. He wanted what God wanted for him.
Challenge: Can you pray in confidence that God’s hand will be with you?
Prayer: Father, I really need your hand with me, but some of my choices are not in line with your word. Please forgive me. I repent of them. My new prayer will be: “Let your hand be with me as I strive to obey you in all things.” In Jesus’ name, amen.
Thursday— “…and keep me from harm…”
“To infinity and beyond!” cried Dad as he guided the family van down the drive for a week’s vacation. “Mother, would you pray for our safety?” he asked, smiling at his wife beside him. She closed her eyes and three wiggling children behind her joined the prayer asking the Lord to keep them from harm. What none of them could see was the angelic warriors snapping to attention. A fleet of them surrounded the van as another legion stopped a speeding semi seconds before impact. The family drove happily along, unaware of the war taking place around them. They belonged to Jesus and He was keeping His kids from harm.
Jesus told us to pray, “Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil…” (Matt. 6:13) Apparently, we need daily protection from the avalanche of Satanic attacks—but we have to ask for it. So that’s what Jabez was doing. He asked to be kept from harm, but not hurt. Hurt is a normal part of life. We break a leg; it hurts then it heals. But harm is permanent. Harm keeps us out of heaven, away from God, and far from His plan for our lives. Hurt may be a tight budget; harm is a ten-million-dollar lottery that steals our affections and our souls. Hurt is a broken romance; harm is winning our dream-love who takes us in the wrong direction. We should pray daily that the Lord keeps us and our loved ones from harm—even if it hurts.
Challenge: We can’t pray all the hurt away, but we can pray that no harm destroys us.
Prayer: Jesus, I never thought about the difference between hurt and harm. You suffered a lot of hurt when you were on earth, but Satan didn’t have the power to harm you. I pray that for me and my family. Keep us from harm as we follow you. Amen.
Friday— “…so that I will be free from pain.”
There is more to this phrase than we see at first. To understand it, we have to remember that Jabez’s name was Pain. His mother named him Pain as a reminder of what his birth had cost her. But what a legacy! Imagine being named Stupid or Failure or Unwanted. Or maybe you’ve named yourself. And it overwhelms your identity. It defines every choice you make, every dream you dream. Jabez was praying to be free of all his name implied. He prayed that evil, rejection, and despondency would not overwhelm him as his name indicated that it should. With God’s help, he was ready to be free. Are you?
What names have you been saddled with that overwhelm your purpose? Sometimes the circumstances of our conception and birth define us: product of rape, inconvenient, bastard… Sometimes evil done to us as children defines us: molested, trafficked, neglected… And other times mistakes of our own demand the right to tell us who we are: unwed mother, ex-con, child molester… Names like those overwhelm. They tell us we’ll never be free. But if Jabez could pray for freedom from all his name implied, so can we. He wanted to break from his past. Start again with the Lord. Define himself the way God did. But freedom meant he must let go of the other names in order to accept the one God was giving him. With that came the understanding that he would live up to the new name. He wouldn’t see himself as a pain anymore—neither would he behave like one.
Challenge: What name defines you? With God’s help, you can live free of it.
Prayer: Lord, I’ve lived up to the names I believed about myself. Now I’m ready to be free. To live free. To behave like a child of God. So may you keep me from harm so I will be free from this pain: ___________ __________ . In Jesus’ name, amen.