Summary: This is the final of a three part series on the Prayer of Jabez as an example for praying for God to bless the local Church in effective outreach for His Kingdom.
Jabez, a Role Model for Prayer, Part III
We have been looking at the Prayer of Jabez as a role model for our own prayer life, especially as we look to the Holy Spirit to “increase our territory” as we embrace the lost and the least in our community. We have seen that God’s plan for “increasing the territory” of His Kingdom is by multiplication, not simple addition. The result of Pentecost in Acts 2:47b is still God’s method of blessing His faithful, obedient Churches today: “And the Lord added to their number daily those who were being saved.” Observe, however, that Pentecost resulted in an increase in the size of the Jerusalem Church that was multiplied twenty-six times. The Church began the day with 120 prayer warriors waiting for the Holy Spirit in the Upper Room and by day’s end that number stood at 3,120. That’s 120 multiplied by 26.
Before we can make the prayer of Jabez our own, we have seen that we must be disciples of integrity. We have to come before God with clean hands and pure hearts. We have to be a holy, a righteous, God-fearing, God pleasing people whose Number One priority is serving our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ and His Kingdom. We can not harbor unconfessed, un-repented sin in our hearts and expect God to honor our prayers. The Psalmist is exactly on target when he proclaims in Psalm 66:18, “If I had nursed evil in my heart, the Lord would not have heard it.” James, our Lord’s brother expresses it this way in James 5:16, “The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.” God honored Jabez’s prayer because he “was more honourable than his brothers,” and we must follow in the footsteps of Jabez before God can honor our prayers and increase the territory of our Church.
There are two more points in the Prayer of Jabez, however, that we must make our own. We dare not stop by simply asking “Lord, increase our territory,” we must also pray “Let Your hand be with us” and “Keep us from harm so that we will be free from pain.” The true meaning of this second request is: “Keep me from evil that I may not cause pain.”
I can not stress enough that the goal of our ministry of outreach to the “lost and the least” is not simply adding numbers to the membership rolls of Trinity Church or filling empty pews. Our goal is being agents of the Holy Spirit to lead the lost into a saving relationship with Jesus Christ for all eternity. We are praying for the lost to be “born again,” to “be saved,” to “make peace with God.”
We must pray, “Let You hand be upon us.” Our prayer at this point needs to be that of the refrain of the old Gospel song “Pentecostal Power” composed by Charlotte G. Homer and Charles H. Gabriel in 1912:
Lord, send the old-time power, the Pentecostal power!
Thy floodgates of blessing on us throw open wide!
Lord, send the old-time power, the Pentecostal power,
That sinners be converted and Thy Name glorified!
Increased territory means we must be a soul saving station for Jesus Christ where sinners are converted and His Name honored, His Name glorified. This only happens as the Hand of God, the power of the Holy Spirit rests upon us. As Jesus clearly states it in Acts 1:8, “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” The testimony continues in Acts 4:33, “With great power the apostles continued to testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, and much grace was upon them all.”
In praying for the “Hand of God to be upon us,” we are asking God to baptize us with the power of the Holy Spirit to be His witnesses. We are praying for the Holy Spirit to fill us with His great power enabling us to effectively testify to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus in our personal lives so that “sinners will be converted and the Name of Jesus glorified!” We are asking and expecting Him to pour out “much grace upon us all.” This is what it means for the “Hand of God, the power of the Holy Spirit” to be upon His Church. It results in bringing the least and the lost into His Kingdom, filling them with the “peace of God that passes all understanding,” “the joy of the Lord” for all eternity.
Our final petition is, “Keep us from evil so that we may not cause pain.” Do you realize that this is the heart and center of what it means to be a Methodist or Wesleyan Christian and that has been the case since the Holy Spirit first gave John Wesley our “General Rules” in 1739. The first spiritual discipline, or General Rule for Wesleyan Christians is simply this: “It is therefore expected of all who continue therein that they should continue to evidence their desire of salvation, First: By doing no harm, by avoiding evil of every kind.” [SOURCE: The Nature, Design, and General Rules of Our United Societies as posted on web site: http://archives.umc.org/interior.asp?mid=1658].