The unknown author of the Old Testament books of Chronicles is referred to as the “Chronicler”; sounds like an old school Batman villain. As he recounted the lineage from Judah to David, he chose to pause and highlight a man named Jabez.
“Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, ‘Because I bore him in pain’.” 1 Chronicles 4:9-10
His name meant “sorrowful” or “causes pain,” an ominous foretelling of his future, yet Jabez would not settle for that fate. He believed in the power of God and was fervent in prayer, so much, so that he was more respected than his brothers.
“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 may not cause pain!” So God granted him what he requested.” 1 Chronicles 4:10
The word “indeed” is inserted for the modified Hebrew word for “bless” meaning “intensely blessed”, undoubtedly or blessed in great measure. The Prayer of Jabez by Bruce Wilkinson tells of those immeasurably blessed by repeating this prayer. Though the book was a great success, it rang a bit empty for me as the prayer seems selfish, asking for much more when we already are so richly blessed. This prayer has been treated like a biblical ATM where you mindlessly put in a card, type in a code and money comes out the other end.
In his follow-up book, Beyond Jabez, Wilkinson takes a deeper look into the prayer and his initial concern of its selfish nature. God, in all His wisdom does not answer selfish requests, yet He granted Jabez so there must be more to it. God longs to bless us and does not need our permission to do so; His hand is with us always whether we ask or not. No, this prayer is not some magic incantation; it opens our hearts to the Sovereignty of God and gives us license to dream big and ask big. If offered in faith to bring Glory to God and further His kingdom, blessings will flow like rushing waters.
“You do not have because you do not ask God.”James 4:2
It is not that we do not ask, it is that we do not know how to ask. Jabez boldly approached God and asked for blessings, enlarged territories and not to cause pain as his name suggests. He did not ask specifically for money or fame, but to be blessed, as little or as much as God willed.
Praying boldly has never been my strong suit, as fear of rejection tends to hold me back. Is it more reasonable to ask that my writings touch a million hearts or touch just one heart of one person at the one instant the Holy One chooses? Either outcome would be a phenomenal result of my efforts. So, if I am confident in changing just one heart then why not a million? Perhaps it will take a million to find that certain one. That would be a blessing truly worthy of “indeed.”
Oh Lord, that You would bless me greatly, enlarging my territory, that Your hand would be with me and those I love, that You would keep me from evil, that I may not cause pain!