Duane Vander Klok
Most of the people found in the Bible are mentioned because of what they did. In God’s “Hall of Faith” (Hebrews 11), there is Moses who by faith forsook Egypt and delivered his people. There is Joshua who by faith marched around the city of Jericho and the walls fell down. Then, there is Rahab who by faith put out the scarlet thread that saved her and all who were in her house. You can read about Noah, Abraham, Sarah, David – the list goes on and on. God honored them all based on what they did. But have you ever heard of Jabez?
I wouldn’t be surprised if you’ve never heard of Jabez, since he is only mentioned briefly in 1 Chronicles 4:9-10. Although we don’t know anything about what he did, we can see that he was important in God’s eyes – important enough for God to interrupt a long list of genealogies to turn the spotlight on him and tell us this:
“Now Jabez was more honorable than his brothers, and his mother called his name Jabez, saying, ‘Because I bore him in pain.’ 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.”
How can it be that Jabez was more honorable than his brothers? Obviously, his life did not have a great start – his mother named him Jabez which means “pain” or “he will cause pain.” We aren’t told of anything special that he did; we are only told about the one-sentence prayer he prayed. Yet we can see that his life had an extraordinary ending – God granted him everything he requested!
Jabez was definitely different from most of the men and women we read about in the Bible. He isn’t there because of anything he did, but because of what he prayed. His prayer may not seem particularly eloquent and it certainly isn’t lengthy, yet it caught God’s ear and produced a great result. What was so special about his prayer?
“Oh, that you would bless me indeed!”
Many people think they shouldn’t ask God for much for themselves – after all, that would be selfish. But Jabez didn’t seem to be concerned about turning God off with a seemingly selfish request. When he prayed, “Bless me indeed,” he was literally saying, “God, I want you to bless me and bless me big. Really BIG! If you’ve got it and I can have it, I want it. I want it all. Give me everything you’ve got!”
Obviously, God was not upset at this kind of prayer because He granted what Jabez requested. That tells us it is perfectly fine to ask God for His blessing! In fact, there are some blessings you and I will never receive unless we ask for them.
James 4:2 says, “You have not because you ask not.” Don’t worry about bankrupting heaven; God’s resources are unlimited. They are available to you; but if you want them, you have to ask for them. If you didn’t ask God to bless you yesterday, you didn’t get all you were supposed to have – you missed a blessing from Him. Today can be different if, like Jabez, you begin to ask God to bless you BIG!
“Oh that you would enlarge my territory!”
Your territory can be thought of as your coasts, your borders – the places where you have influence. When Jabez prayed this, he wasn’t thinking merely of property. He was saying, “God, give me more opportunities to influence people for You.”
Have you ever thought, “There must be more to life than this?” If so, it’s because God has placed a destiny inside you, and you won’t feel complete until you start fulfilling it. Although heaven is much better than earth, God didn’t immediately take you there once you got saved. Instead, He left you here to make a difference in the lives of the people He brings across your path each day.
Influencing people for the Lord is one of the most important things you can do with your life. When you ask God to enlarge your territory, you’ll influence more people for Him and experience what you’ve been missing.
“Oh that your hand would be with me!”
When God blesses you and expands your territory, the devil gets real upset. You see, it’s his territory that you are taking over. You need God at that time more than ever before. When you pray for His hand to be with you, you are praying for His presence and His power.
It is safe to say that if the devil never bothers you, you must not be doing anything for God. If the devil was the least bit worried about you, you’d face some opposition. But if he knows you aren’t posing a threat to his kingdom, he can just leave you alone.
In Acts 4:29-30, the disciples faced opposition and needed boldness. They asked God for it, praying, “Now, Lord…grant to Your servants that with all boldness they may speak Your word, by stretching out Your hand to heal, and that signs and wonders may be done through the name of Your holy Servant Jesus.” They needed boldness but that was not all they asked for. They also asked for His hand – His presence and His power. When God moved supernaturally as a result of their prayer, we are told (verse 31) that “they were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness.”
If you haven’t seen God move for years, you’ll be afraid to say anything about Him to anyone. But when God does something supernatural – when His presence and His power show up – you can become bold in the power of His Holy Spirit. Jabez knew he needed God’s hand, and we need to recognize that we will never be bold enough to do anything without God’s presence and His power.
“Oh that you would keep me from evil!”
When Jabez asked God to keep him from evil, he was acknowledging how much he needed God’s protection. He wanted God to keep him and everything he owned safe – and he wanted to keep living the right way.
People have a tendency to let down their guard when they start to see God’s blessings flow. Everything is going well: the bills are paid, they’re healthy, their family is intact, and God is doing great things for them. They may not say it, but in their minds they think they’ve arrived. In your Christian life, you can never afford to think that way. As you begin to experience God’s blessing, His presence and His power, you need His protection more than ever before.
Think of it as though you were a football player. You start out as a youngster playing with your friends in the backyard and it’s all fun and games. Then you get to junior high and the game becomes competitive. Then you get to high school and the competition gets tough. From there, you go on to college where things get tougher yet. Finally, you go on to the NFL and are “playing” against guys who are paid millions of dollars to knock you down. That is no time to think, “I’ve arrived.” It’s time to give it all you’ve got and hope you don’t get killed!
The point is, with every advance you make in God, the devil will try to stop you by giving you an opportunity to sin. The bigger the stakes, the bigger the weapon the enemy will use. Yes, God will give you strength to overcome any level of temptation, but remember Jabez. He prayed, “Lord, keep me from evil.” In other words, “don’t let me even have to look evil in the face.” When you pray like Jabez, there will be times when God will keep you from even having to face temptation. Believe me, it’s always good to overcome temptation, but it is better when you don’t even have to face temptation!
Jabez asked God to keep him from evil that he might not cause pain. Sin is what causes pain. It never delivers what it promises; it always takes you farther than you thought you were going to go; it keeps you longer than you want to stay; and costs you more than you ever thought you would have to pay. Like Jabez, you need to pray that God would keep you from sin.
Honorable in God’s Eyes
In Acts 10:34, we learn that God is not a “respecter of persons.” So, how can it be that Jabez was more honorable than his brothers?
While everyone has equal access to God’s favor and blessing, not everyone pursues God the same. Not everyone asks for His blessing. The Apostle Paul wrote, “I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” (Phil. 3:14) That is exactly what Jabez did; he pressed in to God. That is what made him more honorable in God’s eyes.
Know this, God’s favor and anointing will come upon your life when you press in to pursue Him and all He has for you. Jabez’ prayer was inspired by the Holy Spirit. Why not let it help you in your pursuit of God, too?
I challenge you to write out the prayer of Jabez and to begin praying it every day with a sincere heart. Leave behind any low expectations, and ask God for BIG blessings! Press into God and you’ll see that what He did for Jabez, He can do for you!