Copyright 2006 Rob Marshall
Bruce Wilkinson’s book, The Prayer of Jabez, became a huge success. It became so successful that many people felt that there must be something wrong with it. But this prayer from 1 Chronicles 4:10 is a great prayer for one simple reason: God answered it. And we need to take another look at this simple, but effective, little prayer.
Oh, that You would bless me indeed,” 1 Chronicles 4:10b
Many people feel that it’s wrong for us to ask God to bless us, but they miss the point. The point is: God wants to bless us.
Psalm 67:1-2 says, “God be merciful to us and bless us, and cause His face to shine upon us, Selah. That Your way may be known on earth, Your salvation among all nations.” When God blesses us He reveals to the entire earth just who He is. And God’s salvation, His power, love, and mercy, are proclaimed when He blesses His people.
“…and enlarge my territory,” 1 Chronicles 4:10c
Jesus’ disciples got into an argument about who was going to be the greatest among them. Jesus knew that they were having this discussion so He confronted them about it. What’s interesting is that He did NOT say to them: “You shouldn’t want to be great.” Instead He gave them specific instructions about HOW to be great.
In Luke 22:24-27 Jesus tells the disciples that the Gentiles believe being great means ruling over people, but that is not how they are to understand greatness. He says, “he who is greatest among you, let him be as the younger, and he who governs as he who serves.” To be great, we must become greater servants. Our greatness is not determined by who we look down on or who works for us, but by the kinds of people we serve, the number of people we serve, and the way in which we serve them.
“…that Your hand would be with me,” 1 Chronicles 4:10d
Most people spend their lives trying to figure out how little they can get by with. They want to get more for doing less.
Jabez knew that by asking God to help him serve more, he was asking God to help him do more than he could possibly accomplish on his own. He purposely asked God to put him in a position where he had to depend on God. As Michelangelo once said, “The greater danger for most of us is not that our aim is too high and we miss it, but that it is too low and we reach it.”
“…and that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain! 1 Chronicles 4:10e
Jesus taught His disciples to pray, “And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one,” in Luke 11:4. Sin and evil are all around us and we need to be aware of our dependence on God to live a life that pleases Him in every area.
But a second aspect of this prayer becomes clear when we read that the name “Jabez” means pain. It was the name that his mother gave him because of the pain he caused her during birth. Jabez had spent his entire life, every time he was introduced to someone or whenever someone called his name, being reminded that he had brought pain into his mother’s life.
We all have to pray for God to help us overcome the wrong beliefs that we have about ourselves. Whether it was our parents, teachers, or anyone else who said them, we all have beliefs about ourselves that simply aren’t true. They are nothing more than what others have projected onto us because of what they were experiencing or what they believed.
God wants to bless us and help us become greater servants. In order to do that He wants us to depend on Him completely in every area of our lives. And He wants us to believe the truth about who we are. We are His children, He loves us, and He is with us every moment of our lives. He wants to do great things in our lives.
At the end of of this simple prayer in 1 Chronicles 4:10 we read, “So God granted him what he requested.” When we pray this prayer that God answers, just like Jabez, our lives will never be the same.