Summary: Can you pray the prayer of Jabez in order that God can bless you to BE a blessing?
“The Prayer of Jabez: Can You Pray It?”
I Chronicles 4:9, 10
INTRODUCTION: We are a United Methodist congregation. Methodism is a world-wide Christian movement that began in England in the 1700’s with two brothers, John and Charles Wesley. The Wesleys were priests in the Church of England. John Wesley was not the pastor of a local church but had been ordained to Oxford University where he could have spent the rest of his life teaching and preaching. It would have been a good life, but John Wesley looked at his life and thought that he was born for more than that. He believed that God had called him to take the good news of Jesus Christ to the people--wherever they were--not just at Oxford. He began to preach at the gates of factories, at the entrance to coal mines, and in the city square--wherever people would listen, he would preach.
He was criticized severely for preaching outside the four walls of humble churches and massive cathedrals. He was not assigned to a particular parish, but he would preach wherever he could. He said, “seeing I have now no parish of my own, I look upon the world as my parish...This is the work which I know God has called me to and [I am sure] that His blessing attends it.”
God blessed John Wesley and increased his territory and by the time he died in the late 1700’s, there were over 90,000 Methodists in England and in the United States it was becoming the fastest growing Christian denomination. Why? Because Wesley concluded that God wanted more for him than he was currently living. God wanted him to enlarge his territory and to receive His supernatural blessings.
This experience of Wesley is very similar to that of Jabez in the Old Testament. He started out with a lot of strikes against him because his name meant “pain.” His mother said, “he caused me pain,” however, he rose above that. Today’s scripture says, “he was more honorable than his brothers.” From the research I did about this man, I found out that the Jewish writers said that he was an “eminent doctor of the law.” A town was called by his name in I Chronicles 2:55 and the families of the scribes lived at Jabez. The Jews said he left many disciples behind him and he was known as a praying man. He was the son of Coz or Kenaz. He was an educated person who developed his talents and at this point in life was entering an important or critical service. He didn’t place confidence in his own abilities or expertise but looked anxiously for the aid and the blessing of God.
It is thought that his endeavor was the expulsion of the Canaanites from the territory he occupied and this was a war which God had commanded. His prayer takes the form of a vow and was much like Solomon’s prayer for wisdom when he was starting out, acknowledging God in all his ways and putting himself under the divine blessing and protection of the God of Israel. He actually was saying “if thou wilt bless me indeed then thou shalt be my God.”
You might say, “Well, what does a one verse prayer stuck away in the book of Chronicles have to do with me. What is a “blessing” anyway?
Is it what people say when you sneeze?
Is it a “blessing” said over a meal?
STORY: A father was teaching his 3 year old to ask the blessing over her food. After awhile, Jenny was able to say it all by herself. She prayed for all kinds of things and ended it with a big, “Thank You God for the spaghetti.” Then she was ready to eat. She forgot to say, “In Jesus’ Name, Amen.” Her Dad prompted, “In...what?”
Jenny was CONFUSED for a second and then she proudly finished--”In tomato sauce, Amen!”
Maybe we, too, get confused by what the word blessing means to us today. I liked the definition “the SUPERNATURAL FAVOR OF GOD.”
The prayer included asking for God’s blessing along with three other things. Today I want to concentrate on the first of the four things that he asked of God.
“Oh, that you would BLESS ME INDEED.”
1. Bless Me Indeed:
Many people today hesitate to ask for God’s blessing as did John Wesley and Jabez. Many think that it is a selfish prayer or presumptuous to ask. Our problem is that God WANTS to give us more than we have--we are born for more--but we won’t open up our lives to let Him do it for us. Maybe it is lack of faith or fear or the way we were raised. Jabez prayed, “Bless me INDEED!” EXCLAMATION POINT!!! Bless me BIG TIME. Not just enough to get by. Bless me ABUNDANTLY. The term BLESSING meant the SUPERNATURAL FAVOR of God. Not for more of what we can do for ourselves but what God can do in our lives. John Wesley knew he could not fulfill the call of God to preach to the masses of people unless God blessed him in a supernatural way. Jabez couldn’t successfully do his work unless God blessed him in a supernatural way. Like John Wesley and Jabez we need to say, “God, I don’t want the same old same old. I don’t want to live my life in an average way. I want you to do a special work in my life. Let my life we different--be BLESSED.”