Summary: To help apply what this Jabez prayer challenges a church family to do-and an individual’s role in that challenge
“Asking God to Bless Me!”
--Preview of the Jabez Territory
(The Challenges of the Prayer of Jabez
Part 1 of 6)
(Much of this message was developed from Bruce Wilkinson’s presentation on Visionary Leadership at the “Walk Thru Life with Purpose” Conference in Largo, FL, Feb. 5-7, 2002.)
[I have power point slides and a congregational outline that accompany this message. If you want a copy of the presentation and outline, I’ll be glad to mail you a CD for a contribution to my church’s worship fund and to cover shipping--$10. Email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit web page http://home.rica.net/bethanyum/ ]
There’s a story of boy in store wanting his mother to buy chocolate chip cookies
She refused after several attempts by her son and finally, he shouted:
"In the name of Jesus, I’m asking you to buy A box of chocolate chip cookies!"
Other customers in the store ended up buying him 25 boxes to take home.
What if I told you that the Number 1 best-selling book in the United States of America according to both U. S. A. Today and the New York Times is a religious book based on a two-verse prayer found in the obscure Old Testament book of I Chronicles? That would be surprising! It is certainly demonstrates the spiritual hunger people today have in their hearts. The Prayer of Jabez by Dr. Bruce Wilkinson has sold approximately 8 million copies. It is a short book which can be read in a couple of hours. And it is an exposition of these two verses in the book of I Chronicles:
"Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, ’Because I bore him in pain.’ And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, ’Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!’ So God granted him what he requested." (1 Chronicles 4:9-10) (NKJV)
How many of you have read the book, The Prayer of Jabez? It is the fastest selling book of all time, according to news reports. Do you have any ideas why? What do you think? (Give time for responses)
When I read the book last year, much of what Bruce Wilkinson had to say drew me in-impressed me enough that I decided to attend a conference he led last week on Visionary Leadership as related to the concept in this book on asking God to enlarge your territory. After attending the conference and being in Bruce’s presence I am even more convinced that he was on to something when he discovered the power in this prayer, which up until he made it popular received little attention.
To help give us focus during this season of Lent in our church calendar I asked our church nurture dept to consider a churchwide study on this topic. Lent is the traditional time that we prepare ourselves to celebrate Easter. Lent is observed as a time of confessing our sin, asking God to remove sin from our lives so that we can more clearly understand the meaning of Jesus’ life, death, and resurrection. I believe this church wide focus using the Jabez Prayer as a guide will help us achieve that goal.
Read this verse out loud with me: "Oh, that You would bless me indeed, and enlarge my territory, that Your hand would be with me, and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!’ So God granted him what he requested.
I Chronicles 4 begins with a genealogy of people whose names you can hardly pronounce. 44 torturous names into this list, the writer halts. And he writes, "Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, ’Because I bore him in pain.’"
If this portion of the Bible were preserved on videotape, the camera would be scanning through a parade of people, but on the 44th person it would stop, zoom in for a close-up of this one man and then continue scanning. It is like a prospector sifting grains of sand and suddenly stopping for a pearl. What is there about this man Jabez and the prayer he prayed that we should remember him 2500 years after his death?
Can you imagine a 21st century, high-tech mom, thumbing through a name-your-baby book at Books-a-Million and going, "I know what I will name my brand new bouncing baby boy: Pain." What a pain, what a pain, what a pain. That’s a great name.
Back in Biblical times, your name meant something. When someone articulated your name, they knew what it meant. Jabez had to overcome a negative label.
Maybe someone has slapped a label on your life, maybe a parent, maybe a coach, maybe a teacher, maybe a friend or maybe a co-worker. Maybe they called you a no-count, an idiot, uncoordinated, ugly, someone who will never make it or never amount to anything. Maybe you have been living under this label and reading it so much that you believe it. God is saying to you, "Do what Jabez did. Transform your pain into prayer. Don’t think you don’t matter. Don’t think you can’t make it. Don’t think you don’t have the ability." God wants to do extraordinary things through an ordinary you and you and you, and he will if we simply take some cues from Jabez.