by: Rich Vaughan
The prayer of Jabez closes with these words, “Oh, that Your hand would be with me! Oh, that You would keep me from evil!” The term, “hand of the Lord” is a Biblical term for God’s presence and power in the lives of His people (Think Holy Spirit in the New Testament). The early church understood that thinking; early believers constantly sought to be filled by God (Acts 4:23-31). I love the way Paul puts it in Ephesians 3:19: all Christians should strive to be “filled with the FULLNESS of God”.
With that said, when was the last time you took a moment to yourself in quiet, and prayed for yourself, your pastor, your church staff, and your church to be “filled with the fullness of God”? We need to be on our knees praying that prayer now. But let me share a warning with you if you chose to be active with this prayer. You will need to pray hard the last sentence of this prayer. “OH THAT YOU WOULD KEEP ME FROM EVIL!” Satan fights hardest against those who become the greatest threat to him and his kingdom. So, the more God answers your Jabez prayers, the more you should be prepared to confront spiritual attack. (You might want to re-watch the Christian movie War Room again to get ready!) If you don’t believe in spiritual warfare you might not want to pray this prayer. The greatest danger today to the church and to Christians is that we laugh off or scoff at the concept of spiritual warfare. I have been on the frontlines of this battle for over 46 years. It is real and in 2020 Satan has launched a massive offensive. As you see the anger, the hate and the violence. As you see many churches struggling to keep active and connected, as you see the hatred in the actions of so many and history destroyed simply because some of it is not pleasant. As you watch politicians scream at each other and the fact that common sense has been lost by a whole generation, you think Satan is not at work? In my lifetime, this has been his greatest hour. It is now when we, as the Lord’s Disciples, we as His living church, must pick up the prayer mantel and find our prayer closets and get down on our knees and open our hearts, hands, and our lives to HIM.
There are two prayers from our Bible that we must thread together to fight this battle. From the Old Testament, the Prayer of Jabez and from the New Testament, the Lord’s Prayer. They are separated by hundreds of years and yet they form a common link. 500 years before Jesus, an unknown ancient Hebrew Jew called Jabez would ask God to bless him, increase his ministry, walk with him, and keep him from evil. Hundreds of years later Jesus would re-echo that theme as He would say in the Lord’s Prayer, “deliver us from evil”. Certainly Jesus would also teach in that prayer about opening our hearts to God’s plans and His will – “Thy will be done”.
So here we are. Pondering an ancient prayer written somewhere around 400-250BC that in some ways parallels the Lord’s Prayer taught by Jesus somewhere around 32AD. Both are a call to faith, both are a call to action. Both are a call to blessings “give us this day our daily bread”, and both are model prayers that if we prayed them and lived them every day, would change our lives, our families, our communities and our churches. And now more than ever we need those prayers and that change! Amen? Amen!