by: Rich Vaughan
On Monday, August 3rd, we began to talk about the prayer of Jabez found in the book of I Chronicles 4:9-10.
“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 all Evil.”
In that prayer are four requests: “bless me”, “enlarge my territory”, “be with me” (God), and “keep me from evil”. Some wonder if this is a selfish prayer. I mean, it is all about Jabez and asking God to bless him, walk with him, give him more territory, and protect him. Generally, we are taught to pray for others first and ourselves last. So what is so unique about this prayer and why should we adopt it into our Christian journey? Bruce Wilkerson, who wrote a book about this prayer, still prays this prayer EVERY DAY OF HIS LIFE. He believes that this prayer “is not the self-centered act it might appear, but a supremely spiritual one and exactly the kind of request our Father longs to hear” (page 19, Prayer of Jabez). So, let’s take a look at the first request in this prayer, “Bless me”.
Remembering that the Old Testament was originally written in Hebrew, adds something to this first request. In Hebrew, adding “indeed” to the prayer is like adding 5 exclamation points (!!!!!) or writing the request in capital letters and underlining it. Jabez is not just saying “bless me” he is saying “BLESS ME A LOT!” But here is why this is not a selfish request. Jabez DOES NOT ASK FOR ANYTHING SPECIFICALLY. Jabez leaves it totally up to God to determine what the blessings should be. He leaves it up to God when these blessings should occur and how he should receive them. Jabez is leaving everything in God’s hands. This prayer and this request is a statement of faith. This is living out one of my favorite Old Testament Bible verses that was not in existence in Jabez’s lifetime: “Commit your way to the Lord, trust in Him and He will act” (Ps. 37:5).
Jabez was willing to put his life totally into God’s hands and plans. Jabez’s needs were secondary to what God wanted to do through and in Jabez. Are you and I capable of such faith? Can you and I trust God deeply enough that we can say as our founder of Methodism (John Wesley) once said in the opening of his covenantal prayer, “I am no longer my own, but thine”? The opening request of the prayer of Jabez calls us to faith. It should also remind us that, “God’s bounty is limited only by us, not by His resources, power, or willingness to give. Jabez was blessed simply because he refused to let any obstacle, person, or opinion loom larger than God’s nature. And God’s nature is to bless” (page 29, Prayer of Jabez).
Is Jabez’s request to “bless me”, selfish? No. A selfish prayer is asking for a new car, computer, job, etc. But a prayer that simply involves us standing and opening our hands to the heavens and asking God for his blessings with no restrictions is a step of faith and a milestone in our Christian journey. So my “prayer” for all of us today is that God would bless his Church, his people, you and I “REAL GOOD!” :) (I know that is not proper English – I am making a point) Amen & Amen.