The prayer of Jabez
1 Chronicles 3: Jabez prayed to the God of Israel.
Few people had ever taken note of the “prayer of Jabez” before a little book was written about it and this prayer became well known. Here’s the prayer from The Message: “Bless me, o bless me! Give me land, large tracts of land. And provide your personal protection — don’t let evil hurt me.” Then we’re told: “God gave him what he asked.” When everyone was talking about this prayer, I added it to my prayer journal and spent time meditating on it, finding ways to make it “my” prayer. The “Jabez prayer fad” faded and we don’t hear people talking about it anymore. I doubt that this prayer is intended take the place of the Lord’s Prayer or some of the Psalm prayers. We aren’t told to pray this prayer of Jabez but we are told to pray the Lord’s Prayer and we’re wise to keep that in mind. Also, I’m glad that The Message reminds us that Jabez is praying for more land. He wants to increase his wealth. In other words, the “more territory” he prayed for wasn’t a larger Sunday School class or greater spiritual influence. We’ve spiritualized the prayer but he’s asking for wealth. Before I make this into a model prayer I might want to spend some time with the words of our Lord who told us to seek his Kingdom and trust him with the material things of life. Finally, I think his prayer for protection from evil is right on. The reason I know that is that Jesus taught us to pray the very same thing. So, what do I do with this prayer? For one thing, I think I’m free to use it by filtering it through the teachings of our Lord. Jabez asked for wealth and when I ask for “spiritual wealth” I’m stepping away from Jabez but moving in direction of Lord. Also, I can remember that Jabez prayed out of absolute sincerity and faith and that pleased God. In fact, I’m told that God answered this man’s prayer. I learn here that God loves it when I pray in faith. Finally, before I start asking for “more” I might want to spend some time thinking about what it means for me to take up my cross and follow Jesus.
Take Away: Lord, teach us to pray.