The Prayer of Jabez
1 Chronicles 4:9-10
the well-spring of your life; what is your life’s source?
The source of your life is the force of your life. From the
Christian’s viewpoint God is the source of all life—plant and
animal. But not everyone is connected to the true source of life.
The depth of our lives depends upon the source of our lives, for the
source of our lives always becomes the focus of our lives.
we accept as the source of our lives will shape our lives. This world seeks to be the source of our lives, but you don’t have to
accept the world as the source of your life. The ancients gave their
children names with significant meanings. Jacob’s name meant cheat,
or someone who tripped others up. Jacob was given the name “Jacob,”
which literally means heal grabber, because he grabbed his twin
brothers heal as they were given birth. He spent most of his life
tripping people up until an angel changed his name. Can you imagine
your parents giving you a name they expect you to live up to because
of some fluke at birth?
If we are
not careful we will spend our days living up to the image the world
has stamped upon our hearts.
However, Jacob came to a point in his life when by God’s help he
overcame the image the world stamped upon him.
changed Jacob’s name to Israel.
Do you know why his name was changed? He rose above—overcame the
stigma his birth had placed upon him. The angel spoke to Jacob
saying, "Your name will no longer be Jacob, but Israel, because you
have struggled with God and with men and have overcome" (Gen 32:28
world continues to practice some very ancient beliefs.
I have heard mothers make remarks about difficult children saying,
“I knew the child was always going to be difficult because I had so
much trouble giving the child birth.” How ever you have been marked
by this world's view of you, you can rise above it.
A Born Loser
like for you to look at a passage of Scripture with me.
1 Chronicles 4:9-10
9 Jabez was more
honorable than his brothers. His mother had named him Jabez, saying,
"I gave birth to him in pain." 10 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
from pain." And God granted his request. NIV
verses are found in the midst of a long Jewish genealogical record.
In the midst of scurrying
past a list of names, the writer stops and gives us these verses
know about Jabez is found in these verses.
The name “Jabez,” means to grieve or to be sorrowful. The difficulty
in child labor prompted Jabez’s mother to name her child Jabez. Can
you imagine a mother having such a hard delivery of a baby that she
would give the child a name equivalent to “a pain in the rear?” The
name was a memorial to the difficult child labor, but it also was to
mark the kind of life Jabez was to lead—a sorrowful painful life
full of evil.
eyes of the world Jabez was a born loser.
His name was forever to be a reminder of how he entered the world.
In the eyes of the world he was marked for life. How could a man
with such a dogged name rise above it.
read through the genealogy in 1 Chronicles 4:1-10, you notice
Jabez’s name rises above all the other names.
He rose above the world’s view of him. He rose to a place of honor.
The Bible doesn’t say he did it without difficulty. The writer wants
us to know that he rose to a place of honor in spite of his
life became a contradiction of his name as God enlarged his life.
Stevenson said, “Life does not consist of having a good hand at
cards, but of learning how to play a poor hand well.”
Have you ever been dealt a perfect hand of cards? All you have to do
to win is lay your cards on the table. Some would like to stack the
cards so they would be dealt a perfect hand each time they play. But
the challenge to become a good card player is learning how to play a
bad hand well.
Thy Kingdom Come
doubt felt the weight of this name while he was growing up.
For his prayer was equivalent to saying,
“God grant that the grief implied in my name
may not come upon me”
prayed for God to overrule his life for good.
You only have two choices
when the world proclaims you a born loser. You either succumb or
overcome. Sadly we have a tendency to do what the world expects us
to do. Jabez chose to focus his life on God—he chose to put God in
the driver’s seat.
remember Jesus’ model prayer: “And lead us not into temptation, but
deliver us from the evil one”
(Matthew 6:13 NIV). Essentially this is the prayer Jabez prayed.
Jabez saw himself surrounded by the evil one, and he prayed that God
would keep him from the evil one, so that he might not experience
a Christian you must commit your circumstances to God in faith.
The key is seeking God’s
rule for your life. When Jabez prayed not to be overtaken by evil,
he was essentially praying for God to rule his life. He was praying
For God’s rule to be established in his heart. Before God can
enlarge the territory of your life, he must enlarge you’re his
territory in your heart.
suffering is our lot in life we must do it in accordance with the
will of God. Peter writes,
“So then, those who suffer according to God's will should commit
themselves to their faithful Creator and continue to do good”
(1 Peter 4:19 NIV). Coming to God doesn’t persuade God to deal us
another hand, but it places God in a position to help you play the
hand you were dealt. You may go through the very same
circumstances in life whether you are a Christian or a
non-Christian. But the Christian goes through his/her circumstances
with God. The Christian entrusts the outcome to God.
18 The LORD is near to
those who have a broken heart,
And saves such as have a
19 Many are the
afflictions of the righteous,
But the LORD delivers him
out of them all.
20 He guards all his
Not one of them is
21 Evil shall slay the
And those who hate the
righteous shall be condemned.
22 The LORD redeems the
soul of His servants,
And none of those who
trust in Him shall be condemned. NKJV
the world are controlled by their past.
Their past defines their present, but Christians are controlled by
their future. Jabez refused to allow the implication of his name to
become the focal point of his life. It probably didn’t change the
circumstances of his life that much, but it made him victorious over
the circumstances with God’s help.
was in Jerusalem when the Babylonian army marched into Jerusalem.
Jeremiah was thrown into prison by King Zedekiah because Jeremiah
told him he would not win against the Babylonians. In fact, they
would be taken captive to foreign countries. At that time, the
Babylonian army occupied the land and was taking Jerusalem by storm.
They were going to lead the captives back to their perspective
countries as prisoners. Some would be taken to Egypt, and some to
Babylon. Jeremiah was led captive to Egypt. But Jeremiah told them
that they would return to Jerusalem by the hand of God. No one
believed him on either accounts.
Jeremiah continued to prophesy as he as he sat in jail.
No one believed him. Jeremiah was forced to put his money where his
mouth was. Jeremiah's cousin, Hanamel, gave Jeremiah an option to
purchase the family land which was now occupied by enemy soldiers.
The prophet was asked to "put his money where His mouth is." And he
did it! As an act of faith, he purchased the land and became, no
doubt, the laughingstock of the people in Jerusalem. But God honored
his faith because Jeremiah lived according to the Word that he
preached. He returned to live on the family farm.
being punished for their sins, but Jeremiah refused to allow the
past or the present to control his future.
Jeremiah and Jabez chose to put their faith in God. They continued
to face trying circumstances but they put God in control of their
10 I want to know Christ
and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in
his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 and so, somehow,
to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
12 Not that I have
already obtained all this, or have already been made perfect, but I
press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of
me. 13 Brothers, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of
it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining
toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize
for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
15 All of us who are
mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you
think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16 Only let
us live up to what we have already attained.
17 Join with others in
following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live
according to the pattern we gave you. 18 For, as I have often told
you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies
of the cross of Christ. 19 Their destiny is destruction, their god
is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is
on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we
eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who, by
the power that enables him to bring everything under his control,
will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his
glorious body. NIV
Jeremiah was sitting in prison as he penned these verses.
He was fellowshipping in the sufferings of Christ, but he was
depending upon the same power--the power of Jesus resurrection to
bring victory. This gave him courage to focus his life on Christ.
The key to
experiencing the resurrection power of Christ for living is our
willingness to forget the past as we look to the future.
Paul writes, “All of us who are mature should take such a view
of things.” A mature Christian accepts Christ as the worthy
goal for life. This doesn’t mean that you have a clear picture of
what God is going to do in every step you take. It just means that
your goal is to discover God’s will in every step you take. Your
focus in on the future.
the way as we go forward.
Paul further says, “And if on some point you think
differently, that too God will make clear to you.” Too many
want to see their way clear through every circumstance from the
beginning to the end. It’s impossible. The key is knowing God is
there in every step you take. God will make things clearer as you
seek him. There are times you may play the wrong card, but remember
God is in charge of how others play their hand in the game of life.
writes, “Only let us live up to what we have already
attained.” The key is seeking to live up to what you already
know. Life is static. We may make our plans. We may believe we are
going in the right direction, but be headed in the wrong direction.
How we play the cards in our hands sometimes totally depends on how
others play their hand. The key to living faithfully is seeking God.
God reveals himself as we seek him. The important thing to remember
is that God’s sovereign will rules.
“Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit of the Lord is,
there is freedom. And we, who with unveiled faces all reflect the
Lord's glory, are being transformed into his likeness with
ever-increasing glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit”
(2 Corinthians 3:17-18). When we discover the freedom to seek
God in each circumstance we discover that God transforms our lives
according to his will.
God came to set you free:
18 "The Spirit of the
LORD is upon Me,
Because He has anointed
To preach the gospel to
He has sent Me to heal
To proclaim liberty to
And recovery of sight to
To set at liberty those
who are oppressed;
19 To proclaim the
acceptable year of the LORD." NKJV
going to live under the dread and fear the world seeks to impose
upon your life? Nothing is
more enslaving than fear. The world drives many of our kids through
fear—the fear of not measuring up—the fear of not being good
enough—the fear of not being smart enough—the fear of not being
strong enough—the fear of their ancestral heritage.
When I was
a child the older people always told ghost stories.
They seemed to always tell them just before bedtime. When all the
kids went to bed, we always covered our heads with the blankets. We
would leave just a single opening around our nose and mouth so we
could breathe fresh air. Chaining us in our bed wouldn’t have been
any more effective in keeping us in bed than tell us ghost stories.
I think they were telling us those stories to keep us in bed. Fear
kept us locked under those covers until first light.
haunts, enslaves and drives us.
I grew up in an age where we were raised
on fear and disciplined with guilt. Too many lives continue to be
driven by guilt and fear. We find ourselves enslaved and imprisoned
by the painful memories of our past failures. The major Bible
characters faced their traumatic experiences, their abusive
childhoods, the world’s unrealistic expectations and even their
genetic depositions with the help of God.
3 You will keep in
him whose mind is
because he trusts in you.
4 Trust in the LORD
for the LORD, the LORD,
is the Rock eternal. NIV
The key is
trusting God through prayer.
Many use prayer as an opportunity to inform God of their plans as
they seek his help in fulfilling them. When we pray “Thy kingdom
come, thy will be done," we are praying for God to work out his plan
in our lives. This means relinquishing control of your own life, so
God can promote your life in whatever way he desires.
The kind of
prayer Jabez prayed can be difficult because we tend to be
preoccupied with ourselves. But concentrate on submitting your life
to God's purposes.