Summary: This is the first 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 of God.
Jabez. A Role Model for Prayer, Part I
I Chronicles 4:9-10, OT, pg 363: “Jabez was more honourable 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.” (NIV)
Dr. Bruce Wilkinson is the founder of the Walk Thru the Bible Seminars which since 1976 has trained more than two million people in God’s Word. In 2000 he published his most famous book THE PRAYER OF JABEZ which Publisher’s Weekly said in 2001 had become “the fastest selling book of all time” [--Source: http://www.brucewilkinson.com/meetbruce.html]. Dr. Wilkinson has been a popular speaker at Promise Keepers rallies across the country challenging more than 400,000 Christian men to live holy lives.
I first read his book THE PRAYER OF JABEZ in early 2001 after the chairperson of our Church Council at Decatur Central United Methodist Church Glenna Apsley used portions of it in her opening devotional for a Council meeting. I have not read the book since that time, but have spent many hours this past week in exegeting and prayerfully studying all that is recorded in Scripture about this obscure, average, man of God in the Old Testament, and in doing so, I want to lift up for us today Jabez as a true role model for us in prayer, especially as we pray for our local Church.
The books of Chronicles are perhaps the most boring books in the entire Bible. Many pages of Chronicles are simply meaningless, repetitious, genealogies of Israel and Judah. President Eisenhower’s Mother once told him that in reading God’s Word he could “skip reading these pages” of genealogies.
Those who do so, however, will most likely never meet Jabez. He suddenly appears and just as quickly disappears in the list of the descendants of Judah; and, since our Messiah and Saviour Jesus Christ is from the Tribe of Judah, perhaps we need to pay closer attention to Judah’s generations much more carefully for various reasons.
When the Lord first led me at the beginning of this week to preach this sermon, I felt He would enable me to cover all bases in only one message. However, it soon became apparent that would not be possible. Therefore, “Jabez, our Role Model in Prayer,” will be at least a two part and possibly three part series. I am convinced beyond all doubt that God wants every one of us, who love Trinity United Methodist Church and want to see us “grow in the grace of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ”, and grow numerical as well, make the “Prayer of Jabez” our personal prayer for Trinity United Methodist Church every day.
All we know of Jabez is recorded in I Chronicles 4:9-10, “Jabez was more honourable 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 find five valuable lessons in the prayer life of Jabez that if each one of us will practice daily in our own prayer lives will bring revival and renewal to our own local Church.
The testimony about Jabez begins by saying, “Jabez was more honourable than his brothers.” The finally affirmation is: “And God granted his request.” We oftentimes become discouraged in our prayer lives thinking God fails to grant our requests, but to effectively communicate with our Heavenly Father and see God truly answer our prayers we must be “honourable disciples.” This does not mean we have to be “super saints.” Jabez was a regular guy, but he was “more honourable than his brothers.”
In other words he was a righteous, holy, God fearing person who made God and his personal relationship with Him his number one priority. We have must a right relationship with Jesus Christ before we can see God’s hand at work in our lives answering our prayers. James 5:16 affirms, “The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective.” David could confidently testify to a victorious prayer life in Psalm 66:18-20 in these words:
If I had nursed evil in my heart,
The Lord would not have heard me,
But in truth God has heard me,
He has heeded the voice of my prayer.
Blessed be God, who has not rejected my prayer,
Nor withheld his loving mercy from me.
Once again he could testify in Psalm 84:11: