Summary: We must be open to God’s Hand in order to fully experience His Spirit and power.
First Baptist Church
The Prayer of Jabez (#3)
June 9, 2002
I don’t know about you, but I really don’t like to talk to answering machines. Even when you just wanted to say hello, answering machines can leave you speechless. At the same time, it’s fun to listen to unique messages on answering machines. Here are a few —
· Hi. Now you say something.
· Hello. I’m David’s answering machine. What are you?
· Greetings, you have reached the Sixth Sense Detective Agency. We know who you are and what you want, so at the sound of the tone, please hang up.
· I can’t come to the phone now because I have amnesia and I feel stupid talking to people I don’t remember. I’d appreciate it if you could help me out by leaving my name and telling me something about myself. Thanks.
· Hi. I’m probably home; I’m just avoiding someone I don’t like. Leave me a message, and if I don’t call back, it’s you.
Over the past two weeks we’ve been looking at the prayer of Jabez. Jabez was so eager to have God answer his prayer that scripture tells us he cried out to the God of Israel. You see, Jabez wanted God’s full attention and thankfully, he didn’t receive a recording from God. Instead, Jabez received the answer to his prayers.
Thus far we’ve seen that Jabez overcame his early childhood stigma of being considered a pain to becoming the most honorable of his brothers. In the first 2 parts of his prayer request, Jabez cried out to God asking to be blessed by God — meaning Jabez wanted God to bless Jabez in a way that it would have been obvious that only God was behind the blessing. It would be a blessing that would be way above anything Jabez could do himself.
Last week we spoke about the 2nd request of enlarging his borders. In other words, Jabez wanted to have a greater opportunity to make an impact in his world on behalf of God. Jabez wanted to take the blessings of God and extend them to others so that they could experience the amazing grace and power of God. Of course, it takes our trust and belief that God can do amazing things through us.
Today, we enter the 3rd part of the prayer — as Jabez asks God to stay with him, that ‘God’s hand would be with Jabez.’
Jabez didn’t want to stay where he was. So he asked God to break the cycle of dysfunction and despair that hung over his family. Instead of settling for mediocrity and the status quo, he asked God to unleash cloudbursts of blessings in his life. And, the showers of divine favor came pouring down like a torrential rainfall! The same thing will happen in our lives when we ask God to bless us.
I am really hoping that everyone is praying the Jabez prayer. One way to remember it is to use the acrostic B.E.S.T. —
· Bless me "Oh, that you would bless me!"
· Expand my ministry "Enlarge my territory."
· Stay with me "Let your hand be with me."
· Take evil away "Keep me from harm…"
If you want to pray like Jabez, then ask God to bless you. After you do that, then plead with Him to expand your ministry. The third request is to ask God to stay with you. We see this in Jabez’s request, "Let your hand be with me…"
The progression of the prayer makes a lot of sense. When we ask God to send spiritual favor, He will shower us with His blessings. Our job is to take these blessings and with the help of God’s supernatural power, transform them into ministry opportunities. When God expands our ministry, the odds are, we’ll become overwhelmed and we need the hand of God to help us handle the new possibilities, joys and trials.
It’s at this point that we need to increase our reliance upon God. Wilkinson puts it this way: "If seeking God’s blessings is our ultimate act of worship, and asking to do more for Him is our utmost ambition, then asking for God’s hand upon us is our strategic choice to sustain and continue the great things that God has begun in our lives" (Page 49).
Isn’t it a great request from Jabez? Think about praying it like this — "Oh gracious Lord, you have blessed me beyond what I could ever imagine, you have expanded my ministry and the opportunities to touch other lives in your name, now O Lord, I pray that I would experience your touch of love, let your hand, your majestic and holy hand touch my heart, touch my soul and spirit, in fact, O Lord, touch my whole being, let me follow your ways so that I know that your hand is leading me, carrying me, guiding me and even pushing me to bring glory to you."