Summary: Jabez prayer wasn’t a ’name-it-and-claim-it" prayer, but a statement about who he was and what he wanted God to do in his life.
The Prayer of Jabez
• Found in I Chronicles 4:9-10
“Jabez was more honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying, "I gave birth to him in pain." 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.”
I don’t believe Jabez was more honorable than his brothers because of his prayer. Instead I believe his prayer is a beautiful demonstration of his honorable character. Let’s look at what Jabez was asking for.
• Jabez sought:
If there is one thing the Bible tells us over and over again, it is how to be blessed. Psalm 1 tells us we are blessed by walking a godly walk. Psalm 32 tells us we are blessed when we experience forgiveness for sin. The Beattitudes tell us a number of attitudes that will achieve God’s blessing.
Why does the Bible spend so much time telling us how to be blessed? Obviously, it is God’s will to bless us. It is God’s will for us to dwell in happiness. It is God’s will to do something grand and glorious in our lives that brings this eternal, bubbling, joy that causes us to rejoice in His presence even in tough times. God wants to bless us. Therefore, when we show God the respect to ask for His blessing we are normally on solid spiritual ground and can look for his blessing
Jabez’ request for more territory wasn’t just a naked cry for wealth. If Jabez was focused on riches and wealth then he would not be more honorable than his brethren. God condemns the love of money, yet some preachers claim that Jabez’ prayer was a Faith Statement seeking material wealth.
I believe Jabez was asking God for more responsibility. He was asking for God to increase his sphere of influence. He was asking God to give him more to do.
Too many believers take the Word-Faith position on this passage, seeking God’s financial blessing only. The danger of this position is that their relationship with God becomes tied to financial blessings rather than a commitment to the Father. I call this the “Prodigal Son Syndrome” because it is so prevalent in churches today. This syndrome occurs whenever a believer begins to seek financial blessing from God without the responsibilities of commitment. Isn’t that exactly what the Prodigal Son did? He sought his inheritance (based on his father’s love) and rejected the responsibilities of sonship.
I know that parents would be impressed if their child came in and said, “Mom, Dad, I’ve cleaned my room, taken the trash out, and mowed the lawn. Do you have anything else I should do to help out around the house?” We would immediately think he was asking for monetary compensation. However, what would happen if your child came to you and expressed a desire to do more with the purpose of pleasing you.
I believe that Jabez expected a financial reward, but his purpose was deeper. I believe he was looking for a way to serve God in bigger and bolder ways.
Jesus said that the servant who is faithful in few things becomes ruler over many. When is the last time you asked God for a new assignment? When is the last time you asked God to increase your sphere of influence?
God’s Presence and Protection
Jabez asked for God to be with him and to protect him. This is a focal point of so many Bible passages. In Psalm 23, David spoke of being able to walk through the valley of the shadow of death because he knew God was present with him, protecting him with the rod and the staff. In the Lord’s prayer, Jesus teaches us to ask for the Lord to deliver us from evil.
One reason that believers fall into sin is that they forget (or ignore) the presence of God in their lives. When we are focused on self instead of God we are easy prey to the temptations of the flesh.
It is appropriate for us to ask God to be present in our lives. In fact, for the believer it is necessary. When we become self-sufficient we begin to ignore the presence and power of God in our life and this brings worry.
I had often wondered how the apostle Paul could sing in that Philippi jail. In fact, I had even written a song based on his experiences. It is based on the tune of Elvis’ Presley’s “Heartbreak Hotel.” Here are some of the lyrics
Paul and Silas were beaten, and thrown down in a cell.
In the darkest part of the Philippi jail.