by: Rich Vaughan
Twenty years ago, a small book (92 pages) took the religious world by storm. Written by Dr. Bruce H. Wilkerson, it was entitled, “The Prayer of Jabez” (By the way, spell check does not like Hebrew names!). Found in the Biblical book of I Chronicles there is an interesting story behind Jabez. In the 4th chapter of that book there is a continued list of over 500 Hebrew names covering the official family tree of the 12 Hebrew tribes. This list actually covers 9 chapters in I Chronicles! Chapter 4 continues that list with these words: “The descendants of Judah: Perez, Hezron, Carmi, and Hur, and Shobal … (my spell check just went crazy!). It goes on, listing name after name after name until verse 9. There we find these words in scripture: “Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, ‘I bore him in pain’. And Jabez called on the God of Israel saying, ‘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 EVIL, THAT I MIGHT NOT CAUSE PAIN!’ So God granted him what he requested” (I Chronicles 4:9-10). In the next verse the long roll call continues as if nothing has happened – “Chelub, Shuah, Mehir…” (I think my spell check just crashed!).
I Chronicles 4:9-10 is an interesting break in the scripture. What a unique and unusual one-sentence prayer. There are 4 requests in this simple prayer:
Enlarge my territory
Be with me (God)
Keep me from evil
I am currently rereading this book and over the next several days we are going to discuss how this ancient moment in time, how this little known Old Testament Hebrew from the tribe of Judah can speak to our spiritual journey today. If you have the book, reread it. If you don’t, at least look up I Chronicles 4:9-10. While Jabez’s payer is from the Old Testament and ancient it is also very relevant and important for us Christians and the Lord’s church today. In this simple prayer is the key to how we keep the church strong and we disciples engaged and active. It’s prayer time warriors. So get ready. Amen and Amen.