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What Does God Say When
People Pray? (part 7)
1 Chron. 4:9-10
And Jabez was more honourable than his brethren: and his mother called
his name Jabez, saying, Because I bare him with sorrow.  And Jabez
called on the God of Israel, saying, Oh that thou wouldest bless me indeed,
and enlarge my coast, and that thine hand might be with me, and that thou
wouldest keep me from evil, that it may not grieve me! And God granted
him that which he requested. [KJV]
Jabez is one of the obscure characters in the Bible, whose name appears
in passing. Actually, this is the only place he is mentioned. All we know
about him is that he was a man of honor and that God answered this prayer.
In his prayer, he asked for four things: (1) God's blessing, (2) an
enlarged border (3) God's guiding hand, and (4) that God would keep Him
This wasn't an obligatory prayer, it obviously came directly from Jabez's
heart and resulted from reflection. We sing of a "sweet hour of prayer"
and tout men to be great spiritual giants if they pray a long time, but
this prayer doesn't pass the "length" test, does it? It is short, but it
is power packed with insight and foresight.
Jabez began by asking for God's blessing. There is not the anxiety in
his voice when he prayed, like there was with Jacob who wrestled with the
Angel of the Lord in Genesis
32:26 Then he said, "Let me go, for the dawn is breaking." But he said,
"I will not let you go unless you bless me."
But Jabez still desired to live his life, walking under the umbrella of
Centuries later, Paul would
write, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ,
who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places
in Christ," (Ephesians 1:3)
Charles Schultz created a character that always walked around in a cloud
of dust. Wherever he was, the dirt followed him. Schultz aptly named him
Pigpen. As the cloud of dust
always hovered over Pigpen, so God's presence abides with those he blesses.
Wherever they go, whatever they do, there is a sense of God's blessings
Jabez prayed to be one of
the blessed ones. Like Abraham. When God spoke to Abraham in Genesis
12:2 He made him this promise: "And I will make you a great nation, And
I will bless you, And make your name great; And so you shall be a blessing;"
The promise was that Abraham would be blessed, and that he would be
a blessing. Blessings do not abide in those who are blessed, they flow
from God through the blessed to others.
Jabez also prayed that God
would enlarge his border. This is the most ambitious part of his prayer.
Ambition is not necessarily bad. God gives his servants a vision that is
often larger than their reality. In Isaiah 54:2, Isaiah wrote, "Enlarge
the place of your tent; Stretch out the curtains of your dwellings, spare
not; Lengthen your cords, And strengthen your pegs."
Aren't you grateful for people
who can think big? Conquerors like Joshua who inspire people to conquer.
"And Joshua spoke to the house of Joseph, to Ephraim and Manasseh, saying,
'You are a numerous people and have great power; you shall not have one
lot only,  but the hill country shall be yours. For though it is a
forest, you shall clear it, and to its farthest borders it shall be yours;
for you shall drive out the Canaanites, even though they have chariots
of iron and though they are strong.' [18:1] Then the whole congregation
of the sons of Israel assembled themselves at Shiloh, and set up the tent
of meeting there; and the land was subdued before them.  And there remained
among the sons of Israel seven tribes who had not divided their inheritance.
 So Joshua said to the sons of Israel, 'How long will you put off entering
to take possession of the land which the Lord, the God of your fathers,
has given you?'" (Joshua 17:17-18:3)
God gave the children of
Israel the land, but they still had to rise up and conquer it. I'm sure
the same thing applied to Jabez. God extended his borders, but Jabez still
had work to do.
Knowing what lay before him,
Jabez also requested that God's hand would be with him. The Psalmist wrote,
"Let Thy hand be ready to help me, For I have chosen Thy precepts." (Psalm
119:173) Without the might of God's hand, Jabez knew he could never fulfill
the vision that was on his heart.
Could any of us? Dare we
attempt anything for God without His hand empowering us?
But with His hand, we have
nothing to fear. In Isaiah 41:10, the Lord said, "Do not fear, for I am
with you; Do not anxiously look about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen
you, surely I will help you, Surely I will uphold you with My righteous
God's blessing and a vision
are crucial, but without God's power, Jabez could do nothing.
Luke 1:37 says, "For nothing
will be impossible with God."
Too often we settle for too
little, dream too small and fail to understand what God can do. Like Jabez,
we shouldn't settle for any less than God's blessings. If we have to wrestle
for it like Jacob, we should do whatever it takes to get that blessing.
Neither should we settle for small dreams, instead, we should pray that
God will extend our borders and increase our influence. But then, we cannot
settle for man's power, we must pray for God's power.
But then, when it is all
said and done, we cannot throw away our blessing, vision and empowerment
with evil living. Jabez also prayed that God would keep him from evil.
Jesus taught us to pray, "And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver
us from evil." (Matthew 6:13) Paul warned us to "abstain from every form
of evil." (1 Thes. 5:22)
Even blessed people, with large visions and God's power can fall into
Satan's snares. Think about King David. A man after God's own heart. The
anointed King of Israel-a powerful, godly man, stumbled into iniquity and
brought shame to his entire family.
Paul wrote, "and to make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend
to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you;
 so that you may behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any
need." 1 Thes. 4:11-12
Last Summer, while we were on vacation, I interviewed a couple of Pastors
that I wanted to write about. One of them was a cutting-edge pastor doing
innovative work in his community. The other was a steady-as-you-go kind
of a fellow. No splash or flash, just a solid, godly pastor.
I always admired him. Fifteen years ago, we pastored near one another
and played more than one round of golf together. He'd been in his present
church for over ten years and had shepherded the church through an intense
season of conflict. Their previous pastor had violated the church's trust
and had multiple affairs.
My friend patiently loved them through terrible conflict and survived
several attempts to oust him from his pulpit. On Friday, about six weeks
after the interview, I put the finishing touches on the article and emailed
it to my editor. The title was simply, "He Stayed."
I was proud of him. He didn't abandon his church in their difficult
days-he stayed even at a great personal cost.
The next Sunday morning, I was greeted by him with an email that said.
"Jim, I know you just wrote an article about me, so I wanted to email you
and let you know, this morning I am resigning from my church because of
an inappropriate relationship with a woman that was not sexual in nature."
This was a good man. A man who walked with God's blessing, had a vision
and ministered under God's power. But he stumbled, and when he did, he
Pray the prayer of Jabez if you will. Pray for blessing. Pray for vision.
Pray for power. But when you do, don't forget to pray for God's protection
What does God say when people pray? To Jabez, He said "Yes, I'll bless
you, honor your vision, empower your ministry and protect you from evil.
For more Information on the Prayer of Jabez, go to http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/1576737330/freshministry