The first nine chapters of 1 Chronicles are full of genealogy. A myriad of names show Davids's divine selection through the line of Judah as King. But in the middle of all those names, God singles out a simple but powerful prayer in the midst of a long and tedious reading of genealogy.
“Jabez cried out to the God of Israel, ‘Oh that You would bless me and enlarge my territory! Let your hand be with me and keep me from harm so that I will be free of pain. And God granted his request.” 1 Chronicles 4:10
There isn’t much known about Jabez. His mother named him Jabez because it meant pain. We can only wonder if it’s from physical childbirth or the way she conceived him. We do know he was more honorable than his brothers. (1 Corinthians 4:9)
This prayer gives us a glimpse of who he became, though. A man bold enough to ask God for a blessing so that he could pursue the purpose God had for him. Perhaps he was thinking back to the blessing promised to Abraham when God pledged to make his descendants as numerous as the stars. (Genesis 22:17) Make no mistake though, Jabez wasn’t asking for wealth or material blessings, but the blessing of purpose for his life and how to further the kingdom of God.
The prayer is open-ended rather than specific. He didn't limit God's blessing; he allowed God to do what was best for Jabez and his family. Jabez gave God an empty cup to fill as He saw fit.
“Let your hand be with me.” Jabez knows that he needs the hand of God with him to have the presence of God’s power to lead, strengthen and protect him as well as the blessing he asked for. So simple, but equally important for us to ask for God to lead and protect us.
“Keep me from harm so I will be free from pain.” (Keep me from harm so I will not be grieved -KJV) Jabez understands that there is a whole lot of evil that can keep him from his blessing. The evil of sin, trouble or the enemy are all potential setbacks. Jabez is asking that those things and more are kept from him so that he and his blessing aren’t hurt or grieved, or even make him a man of sorrow. A destiny he is trying to prevent.
Today, I think of all the things we have in our presence that keep us from our purpose. We have a computer at our fingertips with pages of apps to fill our time and minds. We have as many as 800 channels on our televisions to choose from as well as millions of books and games to keep us occupied. Then there are sports to both play and watch, long work weeks, mandatory fun and so much more. While these things aren’t necessarily wrong let alone evil, are they keeping us from fulfilling the blessing we have asked for? Our purpose? Can they harm us?
Jabez’s story started with pain for whatever reason, but that was not his destiny. He became a man with more honor than his brothers and whatever else he did on this earth; he left the world with a precious prayer that can radiate that same light for us today that it did for him thousands of years ago. His prayer helps us define our blessing with God, letting His fingerprints touch every part of our purpose.
Let’s not forget the verse after the prayer either. “And God granted his request.” Don't miss this.
The prayer of Jabez is a beautiful example of faith and reliance on the blessing of God. His prayer became an opportunity of grace. Grace that God kept and blessed him with so that his life did not live up to his name.
Will you allow God to fill your cup and fill it the way He knows is best for you? I challenge you to write the prayer down and keep it close as you choose the blessing you seek from God. Read it throughout your day, reflect on it and make it yours. Then let me know what blessing you choose and what territory you will grow so I can pray for you as you work with God to maintain it.