Note: some of the illustrations in this series are not acknowledged - this is due to the loss of my notes, not out of a desire to deny the sources. Thank you!
Prayer of Jabez #5 –
“Keep Me from Harm…”
1 Chronicles 4:9-10
Today we wrap up our look at the prayer of Jabez.
We have spent the last few weeks looking first at the person of Jabez, and how he rose above his circumstances to become a man of honorable and noble character. So noble, that He caught the ear of God in praying a bold prayer.
This prayer asks for God’s blessing, His provision, His presence, and His protection.
And we looked at how rather than being a selfish prayer, it was a crying out to God for Him to move in his life and in his influence for God.
Today we are going to focus on the last part of the prayer, and as we have done over the last few weeks, I want us to read together the passage from 1 Chronicles 4, which is printed in your bulletin.
Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, "I gave birth to him in pain." 10 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.
This part of the prayer is a direct plea for God to intervene in his personal life. He wasn’t afraid to ask God to move, and neither should we.
I want us to take a look at this plea and how we can ask God to act, and expect Him to do it.
I want us to leave here today ready to live in the confidence that ready, willing, and able to protect.
First, let’s look at…
I. Why is this type of prayer important?
This will be the shortest section of our time this morning, because the answer is really very simple: we need to.
We need to pray this type of prayer or we run the risk of encountering situations where we will be without the spiritual resources necessary to win the battle.
We simply just need it. How’s that for deep spiritual thought, huh?
I’ve come to the conclusion that most of the most profound spiritual truths are some of the most simple.
And this is one of them. Pray this because you need to.
You will see in your outline that I have two phrases, “keep me from harm,” and “keep me from evil.” This is because different Bible translations use one of these two phrases.
The NIV uses the first, as does the New American Standard. King James and New King James use the second.
But rather than debate which is more appropriate, I thought we could learn something by looking at both versions, so that’s what we are going to do.
Let’s dive in, shall we?
II. “Keep me from harm…”
This is obviously a prayer for protection from harm.
Who here hasn’t done that more than once? We are all use to praying to God to keep us safe, and I think that’s okay. In fact, God answers that kind of prayer, and He does provide protection for His people.
There is precedence from Scripture, and I want to look at two examples of God’s protection.
A. Examples from Scripture:
1. Job (Job 1:9-10).
The first one is Job, and this is an example of God’s “long-term” protection.
Turn with me to Job 1: 9-10, which can be found on page 360 of the Bibles. Job is the book just before Psalms.
The setting here is that God is bragging on Job, and how righteous he is before God. Then Satan offers this rebuttal found here in this passage.
"Does Job fear God for nothing?" Satan replied. 10 "Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land.
God had been providing long-term protection for Job and his family.
One time I heard a pastor praying for me and my family along the same lines, asking God to put a hedge of protection around us.
And boy, I latched onto that like a bulldog on a mailman. And I make that prayer a frequent part of my prayers for my family and for you guys as well.
Ask God to put a hedge of protection around you and your loved ones.
Our next example is an instance of God bringing a miraculous instance of protection for the apostle Peter.
Turn with me to Acts 12:1-11.
2. Peter (Acts 12:1-11)
Please follow along as I read these eleven verses.
It was about this time that King Herod arrested some who belonged to the church, intending to persecute them. 2 He had James, the brother of John, put to death with the sword. 3 When he saw that this pleased the Jews, he proceeded to seize Peter also. This happened during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. 4 After arresting him, he put him in prison, handing him over to be guarded by four squads of four soldiers each. Herod intended to bring him out for public trial after the Passover.
5 So Peter was kept in prison, but the church was earnestly praying to God for him.
6 The night before Herod was to bring him to trial, Peter was sleeping between two soldiers, bound with two chains, and sentries stood guard at the entrance. 7 Suddenly an angel of the Lord appeared and a light shone in the cell. He struck Peter on the side and woke him up. "Quick, get up!" he said, and the chains fell off Peter’s wrists.
8 Then the angel said to him, "Put on your clothes and sandals." And Peter did so. "Wrap your cloak around you and follow me," the angel told him. 9 Peter followed him out of the prison, but he had no idea that what the angel was doing was really happening; he thought he was seeing a vision. 10 They passed the first and second guards and came to the iron gate leading to the city. It opened for them by itself, and they went through it. When they had walked the length of one street, suddenly the angel left him.
11 Then Peter came to himself and said, "Now I know without a doubt that the Lord sent his angel and rescued me from Herod’s clutches and from everything the Jewish people were anticipating."
Now God doesn’t promise to do that for everyone or in every circumstance, but it’s good to know that He’s big enough to do that, amen?
We need to move quickly, so let’s move on to the next version of this part of the prayer…
III. “Keep me from evil…” (Mt. 6:13)
This is a prayer for relief from temptation. Here’s what the verse says in the New King James Version:
“Keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain.”
I like that, don’t you?
I have a Scripture reference printed in your outline from the Lord’s Prayer.
It echoes this prayer when Jesus tells us to ask God to lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil.
Are you tempted by sin? Good!
What? Good? Good to tempted? Not necessarily. I’m not saying the temptation is good, but listen up a bit.
Dr. Wilkinson relates an episode that will shed light on what I’m trying to communicate here.
“I’ll never forget overhearing a conversation in seminary between a fellow student and my mentor, Professor Howard Hendricks. The student was excited to tell Dr. Hendricks how well his life was going.
“When I first came here,” he said, “I was so tempted and test I could barely keep my head above water. But now – praise God! – my life at seminary has smoothed out. I’m not being tempted hardly at all!”
But Hendricks looked deeply alarmed – not the reaction the student was expecting. “That’s about the worst thing I could have heard,” he told the surprised senior. “That shows me that you’re no longer in the battle! Satan isn’t worried about you anymore.”
Now I’m not saying we should just go out and invite temptation, but if you are not experiencing it like you used to, then I would ask God show you where you have allowed complacency to slip in.
Relief from temptation involves both God and us. Let’s first of all explore our part.
A. Our part:
By saying, “our part,” I’m implying that we can actively make decisions and take actions to get relief from temptation.
In doing that I think we need to first of all…
I’m about to give you a sure-fire way to get away from temptation. I want to make sure you write this down, because it works every time, but it’s kind of deep.
Here it is: flee. That’s right. Flee.
Turn to 2 Timothy 2:22. That’s on page 843 of the Bibles in the seats, or just hang a left a Hebrews and you’ll get there real quick.
I love this passage. And actually it will form the basis of this section on avoiding and obtaining:
Flee the evil desires of youth, and pursue righteousness, faith, love and peace, along with those who call on the Lord out of a pure heart.
When they come your way, you move out of the way.
Cowardly? I don’t think so. Smart is more like it.
Flee. Turn your back on them and run. If a man of God like Timothy needed that kind of counsel, I think it’s safe to say we all need it here.
Avoid certain routes to work. Avoid magazine racks at the stores. Avoid situations that put you at risk.
Paul tells Timothy to avoid, and he tell him to pursue, or obtain some things as well.
He counseled him to pursue righteousness. I think we can help that by working to obtain some things. I’m just going to mention a couple here, but I think these will go a long way to helping us pursue lives of holiness.
The first one is habits. Develop habits that take your mind to the things of God.
Things like daily time alone with God in the Bible and prayer. Regular fellowship with an accountability partner.
Habits like only reading wholesome material rather than the gossip mags at the stores.
Habits that get you doing the things of God. A great habit is to memorize Scripture on a regular basis.
If you want to know more, let me know. There are some great Scripture memory programs out there to help you get started in this wonderful habit.
Get some habits. But there is another thing I think you ought to obtain, and that is a list of non-negotiables.
What do you mean by that? You simply determine that some things are totally outside the boundaries for you, and I don’t mean just things that are blatantly sinful.
Here are some examples from my own life.
A non-negotiable for me is that I will not counsel a lady in my office without another lady there, preferably my wife.
I also refuse to drive somewhere alone with a lady other than my wife, unless it is absolutely necessary.
That’s one of the reasons I got a second car. Then I wouldn’t be able to rationalize having to leave the van with the family.
I won’t have dinner out alone with another lady unless my wife knows and can’t make it to join us, and only then in very public places. And even then I invite the person to my house to be with my family if at all possible.
These are non-negotiables for me. I think you ought to come up with some of your own.
For you married types, let me suggest a great book called, Loving Your Marriage Enough to Protect It, by Jerry Jenkins. It used to be called, Hedges.
Those are some suggestions for our part of the equation. Now let’s look at…
B. God’s part:
Most of you aren’t going to be surprised when I tell you that one of the ways God helps us is to give us help in temptation.
I have 2 passages listed in your bulletin. I apologize for not getting the page numbers in there, but I will give those to you as we get to them, okay?
1. Philippians 4:6-7.
There is a typo in your bulletin, and it is not the mistake of the secretary, it is my mistake. I knew what I wanted, but by the time the thought got from my brain to my hand, it got sidetracked.
You can find it on page 832.
A lot of us look at this passage as one primarily about prayer, and it is, but I want to point out something else.
Follow along as I read:
Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. 7 And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.
Did you catch that? He will guard your heart and mind in Christ Jesus. And I think that He guards it not only from anxiety, but also from the cherishing of sin. And that’s a mighty good deal, if you ask me.
The next passage is…
2. 1 Corinthians 10:13.
This passage is familiar to most of us, but allow me to just look at it for a few moments, okay?
You might want to turn there with me. You can find this on page 811 of the Bibles, just a few pages back from where we just were.
No temptation has seized you except what is common to man. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can stand up under it.
He provides a way out. Now I can’t tell you what that will be in every circumstance, but I can guarantee that if you look hard enough He will provide a way out, if you’ll just take it.
But aside from that, one of the best things in my mind is that I can reflect on the fact that God will one day triumph over all evil. This gives me confidence to say no to sin, kind of as a way of saying to the devil that I know who wins, and I’m going to let Him win in my life today.
Let Him wrap His love and protection around you, won’t you?
Conclusion – Prayer Recap
Let’s take just a moment or two to review a little bit about this wonderful prayer from Scripture.
The four parts of the prayer can be four prayers all by themselves:
Oh that You would bless me. Please enlarge my territory. Let Your hand be with me. And keep me from harm.
Just as the Lord’s prayer is a model, so is this one. Should you pray this one, or the Lord’s Prayer?
Yes. Do both. But not mindlessly, but thoughtfully, reverently, and conscientiously, asking God to move.
Ask Him to move in your life to conform you to His image. Ask Him to move through you to advance His kingdom and impact many people through you, for His glory.
I guarantee that He loves those kind of prayers and if you are serious, He’ll move. You just watch and pray, trusting, and you’ll be amazed at the opportunities He throws your way.