Summary: Using the prayer of Jabez can help us unleash the power fo the Holy Spirit.
First Baptist Church
May 26, 2002
Prayer of Jabez
Wilma Rudolph was born the 16th of 18 children in a poor black family in middle Tennessee. She weighed just over 4 pounds. At the age of 4 she contracted polio and lost the use of her left leg. The battle with polio left her weakened and she developed chronic pneumonia and scarlet fever. She managed to survive, but spent most of her childhood as a cripple. It was only through years of therapy, and determination that Wilma was able to regain the use of her left leg. She played high school basketball setting a single season record averaging over 30 points a game. In 1960, Wilma represented the United States in the Olympics. She won gold medals in all three of the events in which she competed. She tied the world record in the 100-meters, set a new Olympic record in the 200 and in the 400-meter relay she brought her team from behind to win the gold. At the very least, we can say that Wilma Rudolph rose above her circumstances.
We find that sort of character in an often forgotten man named Jabez. For the next few weeks we will talk about this obscure character who has had a book written about his 1 sentence prayer and what that prayer means in our lives. Last week I spoke about the Holy Spirit and how we can attempt to activate Him more in our lives. Well, I believe that using this prayer from Jabez is one very real way to rekindle the Spirit.
The prayer of Jabez was an unexpected best seller. Considering it is a Christian book, it has been on the New York Times and USA Today’s Best Sellers List. That makes an important statement about what many people in this country are seeking.
There are many, many prayers in the Bible, some are rather lengthy, and others are remarkably brief. When I was first introduced to the book, I was a little skeptical. How is a 1 sentence prayer supposed to revolutionize my life. But, I thought I’d give the book a chance. As I read Bruce Wilkinson’s book, I realized that what he was saying was right on. I liked what he was saying and I didn’t take him in a negative way.
Many people have blasted this book as just another way to cash in on the health and wealth gospel. After all, Jabez prays for blessings and for his territory to be expanded. In fact, the Interpreter’s Bible states, "Jabez’s prayer is crude and selfish. His conscience was not troubled by the thought that others would suffer if he gained his wishes."* Jabez may have been praying for personal things, yet, there was something more in that prayer which led God to answer yes, and for God to want this prayer placed in the Bible.
When I read the book I never believed this was what Wilkinson was writing about. I must admit that Wilkinson does believe we can get blessed and have our territories expanded by using this prayer, but not in the same way that his critics believe.
Today, I want to look at who Jabez is and get into this first portion of his prayer. For the next two weeks, we will talk more about Jabez and then wrap things up. Also, remember that there are prayer cards with the Prayer of Jabez as recorded in the NIV. Take them with you and begin to pray that prayer everyday and I truly believe you will see things happening in your life.
The prayer of Jabez is a daily reminder and invitation to allow God to work in us and through us. It is not some magic formula to get God to act on our behalf. All we are doing is using a specific prayer which serves to call our attention to what God is doing in our life and to His power which is available for all who call upon it. The purpose is not for our benefit, the ultimate purpose is to bring glory to God.
As we get into this prayer, I want you to know that there is a key to making it work for you. The key is trusting and believing in God, believing He is able to do more than you could ever ask. I was reminded of that this week as I read Ephesians 3:20-21. Paul wrote, "Now to Him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according to His power that is at work within us, 21 to Him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus throughout all generations, for ever and ever!" You see what Paul is saying? God can do more than we ask and imagine. Of course, we don’t understand why He doesn’t obey all of our desires, but we must rest in the promise that God is far more powerful and capable than we ever imagined. When we begin to believe that, the power of the Holy Spirit can be unleashed and we experience greater freedom to serve and worship God.