Summary: A comparision of the prayer of Jabez and the model prayer our Lord taught the disciples. This outline views Jabez’s prayer differently than the more popular view currently espoused.
THE MODEL PRAYER OF THE ’ME’ GENERATION: ANOTHER LOOK AT THE PRAYER OF JABEZ
"Now Jabez called on the God of Israel, saying, ’Oh, that Thou wouldst bless me indeed, and enlarge my border, and that Thy hand might be with me, and that Thou wouldst keep me from harm, that it may not pain me!’ And God granted him what he requested." I Chronicles 4:10.
Much attention has been paid to the prayer of Jabez. It might be called "the model prayer of the ’Me’ generation". Without question, this is the most selfish prayer recorded anywhere in the Bible. The materialistic society in which we live today selfishly prays for wealth, success, recognition and power without any thought given to the need of others.
Admittedly, we must admit, for some today, the Christian philosophy is “bigger is better” and “more is better than less” and the extent of God’s blessings on one’s life can best be measured by one’s wealth, status and esteem. I submit that this concept is not the biblical measurement as we “forsake all, take up our cross and follow Him.”
That Jabez “was more honorable than his brothers” tells us little about him except that he was esteemed more highly than his brothers. Since we are told nothing about the character of his brothers we have no standard by which to measure Jabez.
Balak, king of Moab, when seeking Balaam to curse Israel, sent “princes more numerous and more honorable to meet with Balaam. What we are told here is, as with Jabez, that in comparison with others, these princes were esteemed more highly than the princes previously sent to bribe Balaam.
One may ask: “Why did God grant such a selfish request?” The answer might be found in the fact that a person can be tested by abundance as well as by scarcity. Following this great material blessing we hear no more about Jabez. We are left to conjecture as to how he used his newly granted wealth, power and influence. Now let’s look at his prayer.
THE PRAYER OF JABEZ
, ’Oh, that Thou wouldst bless me indeed, and enlarge my border, and that Thy hand might be with me, and that Thou wouldst keep me from harm, that it may not pain me!’ And God granted him what he requested."
His prayer was…
Intensely selfish: "Oh, that Thou wouldst bless me indeed."
Jabez does not ask God to bless anyone else…not his family, not his nation, not the afflicted, nor trodden down and destitute.
Materialistic: "and enlarge my border [territory]."
He asked to have greater wealth, power and recognition.
Egotistical: "that Thy hand might be with me".
He did not pray that God would enable him to bless others; nor to defend Israel against her enemies or assist in the spiritual needs of his people.
For his own personal safety: "that Thou wouldst keep me from harm". No concern for anyone else is even remotely hinted.
That he would be spared pain in life: "that it [harm] may not pain me".
No indication here of any regard for pain that others might feel.
NOW CONTRAST "THE MODEL PRAYER" WHICH JESUS TAUGHT.
"Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed by Thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. For Thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, forever. Amen." Luke 11:2-4.
Let us pose a fair question. In your prayer life…as you seek the Lord’s guidance and direction…which prayer will be the model you will choose?