The Prayer Of Jabez
May 5, 2002
1 Chronicles 4:9-10
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.
Introduction: "Own a computer? Work from home! Be your own boss! Earn $1000/wk part time $3000/wk full time"
Vain human compulsion to get rich quick-to take the easy road. (Always wanting the upper hand)
Dot Com rush
$200 Million lottery Jackpots; expected to reach new levels of $300- $500 Million
Forever a human endeavor to get rich quick. Unfortunately that humanism invades the church and distorts our ministry and purpose.
Why do some churches grow while others decline? In terms of success is there really such a thing as a formula? If so, can we use it? What would be the results? Would we be prepared?
This morning we look at what some have deemed as a short formula of success. The Prayer of Jabez.
1. Jabez (Pain)
Interesting segment of scripture
-strange location; sandwiched in genealogy
-first 9 chapters are genealogy from Adam to return from Babylonian exile; a census as it were
-forty-four names into chapter, from out of nowhere we are blindsided with an immediate break- The Prayer of Jebez
Why? What’s so important about Jabez to be mentioned thus? Nothing. Because nothing more is ever written. All we have, all we know about Jabez is contained in these two verses. And little has to do with Jabez, but quit a bit with his little prayer.
Now the prayer can be broken up into four sections and we’re going to take a look at each one.
"Oh, that you would bless me indeed"
Blessing. Lacks meaning for us, but for ancient Israel it would mean the world.
Jacob and Esau-stolen blessing
to wish good fortune; the best place in life.
to be #1; there can only be one #1.
Jabez is asking God to bestow good fortune/ favor upon him. He’s saying, "God, I want the best you have to offer and which you have intended for me."
Mr Jones goes to heaven:
[Wilkinson, Bruce H., Dr. The Prayer of Jabez. (Multnomah Publishers: Sisters, OR, 2000). pp. 25-27.]
There’s a little fable about a Mr. Jones who dies and goes to heaven. Peter is waiting at the gates to give him a tour. Amid the splendor of golden streets, beautiful mansions, and choirs of angels that Peter shows him, Mr. Jones notices an odd-looking building. He thinks it looks like an enormous warehouse–it has no windows and only one door. But when he asks to see inside, Peter hesitates. "You really don’t want to see what’s in there," he tells the new arrival.
Why would there be any secrets in heaven? Jones wonders. What incredible surprise could be waiting for me in there? When the official tour is over he’s still wondering, so he asks again to see inside the structure.
Finally Peter relents. When the apostle opens the door, Mr Jones almost knocks him over in his haste to enter. It turns out that the enormous building is filled with row after row of shelves, floor to ceiling, each stacked neatly with white boxes tied in red ribbons.
"These boxes all have names on them," Mr. Jones muses aloud. Then turning to Peter he asks, "Do I have one?"
"Yes, you do." Peter tries to guide Mr. Jones back outside. "Frankly," Peter says, "if I were you..." But Mr. Jones is already dashing toward the "J" aisle to find his box.
Peter follows, shaking his head. He catches up with Mr. Jones just as he is slipping the red ribbon off his box and popping the lid. Looking inside, Jones has a moment of instant recognition, and he lets out a deep sigh like the ones Peter has heard so many times before.
Because there in Mr. Jones’s white box are all the blessings that God wanted to give to him while he was on earth...but Mr. Jones had never asked.
The blessings are not about what we can do ourselves-If I can get it myself, why do I need God’s added favor? The blessing is about what God is able to give us beyond what we can get for ourselves.
"Oh, that you would bless me indeed and enlarge my territory"
A man had a problem finding a parking space. He finally parked in a no parking zone and left a note on his windshield that read: "I’ve circled the block for 20 minutes. I’m late for an appointment and if I don’t park here I’ll lose my job. Forgive us our trespasses." When he returned later that evening he found a parking ticket on his windshield and a note that read: "I’ve circled the block for 20 years and if I don’t give you a ticket, I’ll lose my job. Lead us not into temptation."
[Hawks, Don. Overcoming Obstacles–Principles of the Jabez Territory. Http://www.sermoncentral.com.]
Opportunity knocks. Jabez not only prays for God’s blessing but for greater opportunities of influence as well.
"Enlarge my territory"
"God I want more influence, more responsibility, more opportunities"
"I want to be more for you!"
"If we keep doing what we’ve always done, then we will continue to get the same results."
God is calling us to expand our horizon; to increase our borders of faith.
Do you know what the biggest temptation is that keeps us from enlarging our territory? Disbelief.
"There were once two shoe salesmen who went to Africa to open new sales territories. Three days after they arrived, the first salesman faxed a message: "I will be returning on the next plane. I can’t sell shoes here. Everybody goes barefoot all the time."
There was no report from the second salesman for about two weeks. Then came a fat airmail envelope with this message for the home office. "Fifty orders enclosed. Prospects unlimited. Nobody here has shoes." [unknown source]
Are we going to be a church that talks the talk, but doubts the walk. Or, are we going to be a people of enlarged territory.
"Oh, that you would bless me indeed and enlarge my territory, that your hand would be with me."
Now, we Americans prize our independence. We praise the individual who single handedly conquers the greatest of odds and rises to the top. Our motto is "God helps those who help themselves."
A 1996 poll conducted by Barna Research Institute indicated that 82% of Americans believed that this statement, "God helps those who help themselves" was a quote from scripture.
Actually, the saying comes from Aesop’s Fables. The story goes like this: "A Wagoner was driving a heavy load along a very muddy way. He came to a part of the road where the wheels sank half-way into the mire, and the more the horses pulled, the deeper the wheels sank. So the Wagoner threw down his whip, and knelt down and prayed to Hercules the strong. "O Hercules, help me in this hour of distress." But Hercules appeared to him, and said, "Man, don’t sprawl there. Get up and put your shoulder to the wheel. The gods help them that help themselves.""
[Strite, Jeff. God Helps Those... Http://www.sermoncentral.com.]
"People who think they do it all become arrogant; People who think God does it all don’t do much." [Ibid., Hawks.]
We need to be a well balanced people. We need to pray for God’s blessings. We need to seek an enlarged ministry. But when God begins to pour out His blessings; when God opens doors of ministry we don’t need to fall into those two extremes of taking up the task and working in our own strength and resources, nor of neglecting the work altogether. Rather, we need to put our hands in the Father’s and allow His strength to be our strength, His wisdom our wisdom.
"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."
The best defense is a good offence. The best war is the one prevented and not fought.
As God begins to bless us and our ministries expand, as we begin to put ourselves in His hands our adversary will seek to destroy us and thwart our ministry and purpose. But we must choose to win the war before the battle is fought.
"The most effective war against sin is to pray that we will not have to fight" [Ibid., Wilkinson, p.68.]
Matthew 6:13 Lord’s Prayer
"Lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one."
¼ of prayer is for deliverance
Conclusion: "So God granted him what he requested"
Would you like to see God come alive in your life once again? Would you like to see the church bursting at the seems?
Pray for more of God.
Pray for opportunities to give a testimony.
Pray for dependence upon His mighty power.
Pray that God would keep you focused by removing all distractions.