Summary: Using the prayer of Jabez we can seek to enlarge our borders to perform ministry.
First Baptist Church
Enlarge My Territory (#2)
June 2, 2002
It’s becoming more and more normal to hear a professional athlete talk about their faith after a big win. In fact, some athletes talk about praying before their games. The typical prayer includes a petition to God to help their team win that game. They don’t pray for their opponents to get injured, or for the other team to play lousy, just for their team to play to the best of their abilities and for victory so they can honor Christ. Obviously players from both teams are praying for victory and in most sports, only one team will win. But, is there anything wrong with praying for victory?
What about the person who runs a business, is there something wrong with praying for more business clients? Or what about the farmer who’s interested in another piece of land, should they pray to receive it? Or what about praying for more responsibility in your job?
On the surface we would say there’s nothing wrong with asking for more. Yet, some people may question what your motivation is when you ask for additional land or more sales or a salary increase. And that’s a good question, because the reason we’re asking for something is contingent upon our motivation. For example, if I want more people in the church because it will boost my ego, that’s wrong, but if I want more people so they have the opportunity to hear the word of Christ and embrace Him and a new lifestyle, then my motivation is appropriate.
When we look at this 2nd part of the prayer of Jabez, we see Jabez asking for his territory to be expanded. Some say that this is a selfish and crude prayer, while others say Jabez is right on. So, who’s right?
Last week we began to look at the prayer of Jabez. Jabez’s name means he was a "Pain", in spite of this, he became the most honorable in his family. He prayed a 4 part prayer: to be blessed by God; to expand his territory; he asked God to stay with him and that Jabez would not be a pain to others.
Last week we looked at the first part of Jabez’s prayer, "Oh that You would bless me." To ask God for a blessing is to ask for nothing more and nothing less than all God has for us. It’s asking God to do for us what we cannot do for ourselves. It’s asking for the blessing and then being aware of how God brings that blessing into our lives. Our attitude needs to be focused on using that blessing for the benefit of others in the name of Christ, not for ourselves. Today we move on to the 2nd part of his prayer.
Bruce Wilkinson calls this section of the prayer, "Living large for God." And I like the way that sounds. Have you ever thought about your life in Christ, as living large for Him? Wilkinson wrote: "If you’re doing business God’s way, it’s not only right to ask God for more, but He is waiting for you to ask. Asking God to increase the people you can influence in the name of Jesus Christ brings delight to God"( 31-2).
I agree with that. And that request is entirely contingent on your motivation. If you want more sales so you can earn more money so you can buy yourself more toys, then don’t expect more sales. But if you want more sales so you can earn more money so you can give more money to the church and to those in need, then expect your prayers to be granted. But watch out, God will be watching to make sure you aren’t giving in to temptation.
We’re called to have a greater impact for Christ. God may allow your business, your investments, your exposure, or whatever, to grow, but with the idea of using that growth to actually influence people for Christ. It means we might end up in some situations that we don’t want to be in, yet often times those are the moments when we have the greatest opportunity to make an impact in the name of Christ.
Ron Hutchcraft is a Christian writer and minister. He tells of the time this year, when he had the flu. He thought it would pass, but he ended up being admitted at a hospital for observation and tests. Hutchcraft wasn’t a happy camper and was grumbling about his situation, when his sister- in-law stopped by and reminded him of something he had told her, she said "Ron, remember who you are, and remember why you’re here."
As a result of this reminder, Hutchcraft and his wife set up a little Christian bookstore in his room. As nurses and aides came and went, he gave them books or booklets that present the love of Jesus Christ. He said there were great spiritual conversations and just before he checked out, one of the hard-core nurses came by and said, "Ron, we know why you were here now. It was for all of us pagans here."